Saturday, December 3, 2016

Make Mordor Great Again

One of my bloggy heroes is Tengrain, who I often refer to as the 'Patron Saint of Small Bloggers'. He's been a great supporter of not only myself, but of other denizens of this bloggerhood. I have to note a bit of not-at-all acrimonious disagreement with him regarding this post, a disagreement which stems from my disagreement with the Washington Monthly post to which he links... the author posits that Hillary Clinton's campaign failed to point to a villain, but I think that's bunk... the real problem is that a bunch of bigots decided that fellow victims, people much more marginalized than themselves, were the villains. There's a lot of cognitive dissonance involved in, for example, watching a bunch of Mexican immigrants laboring in a field and characterizing them as lazy moochers (a perennial calumny aimed at African-Americans who toiled without pay to enrich their masters since before this country existed), and there's a lot of cognitive dissonance involved in believing that a serial-prevaricator and kleptomaniac would do anything to stop the immiseration of the working and middle classes.

Tengrain comments on the post:

One of the great archetypes of literature and film is the little guy triumphing over evil. From David and Goliath to Frodo vs. Mordor, the best heroes are the everyday, average people, who find themselves in an extraordinary situation and somehow or other win.

The problem is that the Trump voters believed that Frodo is the villain, sneaking over the border of Mordor in order to commit terrorist acts against Barad-dûr and to put the Ringwraiths out of work by imposing burdensome regulations against Evil Sorcery. They voted for Sauron, and he’s going to Make Mordor Great Again.

Tengrain continues:

We on the left don’t tell stories, we recite facts. We believe (correctly) that the facts matter, but we don’t know how to give them context. So instead of telling a story, we implore our audience to listen to and study our earnest 200-slide Powerpoint presentation, and learn from their betters… and we end up wondering why we lost?

The problem here is that the stories, based on facts, are out there... We have facts about climate change, but the story is written in blood and wreckage in the 'reddest' region of the Heartland. We have facts about Obamacare, but the story is being written about the loss of benefits that accrued to impoverished Trump voters.

The problem with liberals 'telling stories' is that these stories, rooted in facts, cannot penetrate the bubble of epistemic closure (NY Times link, so ration those clicks). The potential audience for these stories has been pre-conditioned in their churches, their firing ranges, their right-wing media cocoon, to characterize any 'leftist' narratives as lies, facts to the contrary be damned. The typical Donald Trump voter could be hit over the head by a wind-borne Ford F-150 and still believe Dear Leader's lie about Anthropogenic Global Warming being a Chinese hoax.

I don't have any answers to this dilemma... I just don't know what sort of narratives could convince the typical Red State Trump voter. I am an uber-nerd who attends science lectures in a bar, I live in a neighborhood with a very high immigrant population, two of my dearest friends and mentors are Muslim men, I have friends and co-workers from a wide array of backgrounds, creeds, sexual orientations. There is no narrative I can communicate with a Trump loyalist which wouldn't be seen as suspect. I've spoken to these people, and they tend to reveal their true ugliness to me because I look a lot like the guy in my profile picture, and they tend to see me as simpatico.

Again, I wish to stress that I have nothing but love, respect, and admiration for Tengrain, but I just can't see this strategem working. Tragically, the aggrieved white bigots who supported Trump are going to have to hit rock bottom before they reconsider their support for a guy who is going to further immiserate them. Even more tragically, they are going to take the rest of us down with them, and I didn't sign up for a one-way trip down the caldera of Mt Doom.


Vixen Strangely said...

I don't think that the "map" is the same for the Trump folks and me--facts are not a part of the key to their map, biases are. I'm active on Twitter, and have been told MSM sources are altogether "in the tank" for Dems. Mother Jones is "fake news". I'm a "social justice warrior" because of white guilt and other assorted pathologies. There will always be a reason with them to deny that our stories have any validity.

Khizr Khan told a story. The Trump harassment accusers had stories. DREAMers have stories. Civil rights legends like John Lewis have stories. Outlets like Breitbart and the Daily Caller make a point of untelling the stories of the Left to lull any awakening sympathies right back to sleep. Sandra Fluke becomes a fat slut, Planned Parenthood and its patients become deranged body parts sellers. They prefer their penny dreadful versions of liberal behavior over our expressions of lived experience.

I unfriended a dear cousin on FB because he linked to a weirdly misogynist story from hate-muppet Chuck Johnson claiming all Trump's accusers were about the payday. It seemed such a willful denial of even entertaining that women ever had these stories honestly that I couldn't even sort out a response. Linking that sh*t on FB told me where his reading was, I didn't need any more of it in my feed. How do I bridge that gap? "Yes women actually talk about assaults for reasons other than it might be profitable? Sometimes it's painful to admit and people try to hurt you for saying anything and it's like it's happening again but it kind of matters?" It was a spur-of-the-moment case of just too much momentary fuckery and maybe it was a bit peremptory, but I finally felt like this was about choices. He chose to drink from a sewer. And I don't kiss that mouth.

bowtiejack said...

" He chose to drink from a sewer."
Nailed it.

I had the same problem with a friend. He is basically an interstate trucker who drives a million miles a year listening to "talk radio". And my thought was it's like a sewer emptying into his cab.

mikey said...

These frantic post mortems are silly. They cry out that the Democratic party is in ruins, and it must make radical changes to ever be relevant again!

But it's a flawed narrative. Dems WON the election. 80,000 white nationalist bigots desperately clinging to their bibles and guns in three typically 'blue' states chose the empty promises over 'the bitch' and decided the election for all of us.

As I keep explaining over and over, the policies we espouse would benefit the working class, while the Republicans prefer policies that benefit the wealthy. I'm not going to become some kind of white nationalist to appeal to people who can't make simple calculations about their own benefit.

Also, too, the NYT limit of 10 articles per month is entirely cookie based. Anytime you get the warning that you've read 9 of 10 articles, just clear you cookies that start with NYT (nyt*) and you're good to go. I typically have to do this every other day, but it only takes 10 seconds so I don't sweat it...

Emma said...

I actually live in the part of PA that wishes it could join the deep South -- the half of the state that went for Trump, in other words. & I don't know about the "compelling narrative" explanation. I saw this relatively legit-looking Slate story suggesting that Trump's very modest gains among racists and morons would've been a fart in the wind if Democrats hadn't sat down on the job (lol). I think what we need to do, as a party/group/whatever, is throw a lot of manpower and time into getting people registered and helping them vote in person -- especially in battleground states & states with quasi-legal voter suppression laws, in the 2018 midterms. I also wish people could cast absentee ballots without needing a "reason." I was scared to go vote this year, in fact, because in my podunk the guns to brain cells ratio is about 57:1 and my immediate environment was covered in heavy blossomings of Trump signs as early as August (I did it anyway) (I made my dad go with me). I think that feeling might be worse for people who live in places where everyday violence is more normal and/or perpetrated by the State.

I've been shedding family members over the issues that were litigated in this election for years. I lost contact with an entire branch of my family over their irrational, slanderous hatred of Obama (and feminists?) in 2010. Recently one of my cousins made a WHY DO WE NEED BLACK HISTORY MONTH CAN'T WE ALL JUST BE AMERICANS post, also. I slapped her ass down immediately, and I'm waiting for strike two, which will also be strike three. I don't put up with this shit from anybody. Just because I share an incidental quantity of DNA with some idiotic bigot doesn't mean I have to tax myself by interacting with them. I'm not going to sit at a holiday dinner and listen to some sack of shit uncle talk about why 'the blacks' expect the government to give them free stuff forever. It won't happen. I've seen my attitude characterized as harsh and intolerant all over the internet, because blub blub faaaambly blub blub blub, and to that I say, "You must be a straight white non-Jewish person, please go fuck yourself."

As for the underlying lack of connection with objective reality among the hysterical reactionaries who call themselves conservatives in the US, I would say that the things these poor dumb bastards responded to, more even than the bigotry (which they loved, true story), were Trump's prevarications about fixing Wall Street, and keeping "us" safe, and carving out economic protections for (white) people who are too poor or stupid to go to college. That's what they want to hear. Lie to them about those things, rather than pretending to be a chicken-fried racist. Even a Republican would know better than to believe that.