Friday, January 22, 2016

The post-argument far-right base

Amanda Marcotte in Salon nails Sarah Palin's appeal.
Palin understands what other Republicans are just beginning to get, which is that the conservative base is an audience that is post-argument. ... Sticking with the argument and evidence-based structure in the era of climate change denialism and creationism is a fool’s game and Palin knows it. Better instead to focus strictly on emotions and tribal identity, eschewing not just argument but even structuring your speeches to resemble arguments. Imagistic speeches that arouse passions while silencing doubts is not stupid, but brilliant.
Palin is an avatar for her audience, and as Marcotte notes, "other Republicans are quickly following on her heels". The kicker — and the reason people like Palin and Trump (which is to say, everybody who holds sway over significant chunks of the Republican Party today) scare the hell out of the rest of us — is the obvious consequence of this rhetorical approach:
Anger is turned into hate is turned into more anger, until it spins off, completely unmoored from any considerations like “why” or “how.”
Nobody short of a dictator is going to satisfy the angry mob ginned up by this kind of speech-making, so either the country's going to "elect" a dictator (admittedly unlikely, at least for now) or the mob's going to eat its own until it eats itself. The thing is, the latter process is going to do immense damage to society in the process.

Far right opinion-makers aren't just playing with fire any more. They've started little spot-fires everywhere, and they're fanning the flames.

I don't see a way to stop or to counter this movement. It feeds on opposition and victimization, and of course is immune to argument: it rejects any authority other than itself.

I only hope the likes of Palin and Trump and Roger Ailes and Alex Jones come to feel some measure of the pain they're inflicting on the rest of us. It would be only the smallest measure of justice if they did. They brought us here.

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