Democrats Misunderstand the QAnon Phenomenon
The Democratic Party Has a Fatal Misunderstanding of the QAnon Phenomenon, Osita Nwanevu, staff writer, The New Republic.
We are smarter than they are or at least better educated or are we?
Commenter Dale Coberly: I am offering this post to AB because I have seen a great deal of “us smart, them dumb” in comments. I might agree with part of that, but it’s bad politics and dangerous self-deception. Rather than just post a “read this” with link in comments, I thought AB readers deserved a longer look at it, and the author is a better writer than I am.
Their belief that this surreal conspiracy has arisen because of the poor education of its adherents is based in classism, not reality.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee intends to focus on QAnon in its messaging, ahead of the 2022 midterms, in the hopes that [this] will push more people away from the GOP. DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney:
“They can do QAnon, or they can do college-educated voters. They cannot do both.”
Actually, they can. Trying to tether the GOP more tightly to the extremism it’s cultivated makes sense . . . But polls have shown few differences on QAnon between voters with and without college degrees – Civiqs’s latest survey, for instance, registers 72 percent opposition and 5 percent support for the theory among graduates. The split is 71 to 5 among nongraduates and 78 to 3 among postgraduates.
Of all the “big lies” distorting our politics, one of the largest and most popular — — has been the notion that our political divisions are the product of under or miseducation. The Republican Party’s flight into lunacy, it’s often suggested, has a fairly simple cause. The unwashed aren’t getting “The Facts” in school or from their media sources, and it’s up to the enlightened to shower “The Facts” upon them – perhaps, as some “disinformation” experts recently suggested to The New York Times, with a “reality czar” at the White House manning the hose.
This week, The Atlantic published what amounted to a rebuttal. According to court records . . . a full 40 percent of the 193 people charged with breaking into the Capitol grounds were business owners or white-collar workers.
“Unlike the stereotypical extremist, many of the alleged participants in the Capitol riot have a lot to lose,” they wrote. “They work as CEOs, shop owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists, and accountants.”
There were plenty of graduates and good students in the mob that day. Plenty of dropouts and poor students looked on in horror. And as much as the right’s critics might prefer an understanding of what’s happened to our politics that flatters their intelligence, the challenge we’re facing isn’t that millions of hapless and benighted yokels have been bamboozled by disinformation. It’s that millions of otherwise ordinary people from many walks of life – including many who went to and even excelled in college – have a material or ideological interest in keeping the Democratic Party and its voters from power by any means possible. And those means include the utilization of narratives, including conspiracy theories, that delegitimize Democrats and offer hope of their eventual comeuppance.
In a result unsurprising to those who follow this research, they found that higher levels of political knowledge actually deepened the likelihood that conservatives with low trust in people and major institutions would endorse right-wing conspiracy theories.
There isn’t much to be done about any of this:
We won’t do away with motivated reasoning without wholly reinventing human beings, and
We can’t contain the spread of disinformation without wholly reinventing the internet and the media as we know them.
And while the second task would be easier than the first, it doesn’t seem much more likely. Doing something about the power of the Republican Party seems more plausible – as long as those fighting it frame the battle as right against wrong rather than smart against dumb.
Democrats should try campaigning on the truth:
The Republican Party is controlled by intelligent, college – educated, and affluent elites who concoct dangerous nonsense to paper over a bigoted, plutocratic agenda to justify attacks on the democratic process.
That agenda and those attacks are supported by millions of reasonably intelligent voters who believe or claim to believe anything that furthers the objective of keeping conservatives in control of this country forever…. Instead, Democrats should present voters with a material choice between a party that has nothing to offer the majority of Americans but abuse and conspiratorial flimflam and a party committed to building a democracy and an economy that work for all. If they don’t, the lizard people who run the GOP will be running the government again in no time.
My experience agrees with this article resoundingly. In my life the failure of Democrats has been in being that “party committed to building a democracy and an economy that work for all.” It is just much easier to resort to pandering, gimmicks, and half-baked attempts (which is redundant in context with pandering and gimmicks). Sure there have been good things along the way, but always with an eye to the pandering rather than plugging the holes in the unintended consequences. Of course it is possible that holistic systems theory is beyond the grasp of the self-anointed smart partisans.
What does it mean to be educated? I’ve known Doctors, engineers, Naval Academy Grads, … that weren’t. Up until ~1980, it wasn’t all that unusual for engineering majors to be functionally illiterate. Today’s MBAs aren’t even all that educated about but an aspect of business.
Mo betta for all to get the liberal arts, then do the technical?
Good article and likely more accurate than the common perception that the GOP is made of gap toothed goobers and self-serving sociopaths. While the advice to be seen as truth tellers is sound, the Democratic Party has been running on that for a long time yet the GOP remains monolithic. The answer lies more in the media they consume and the messaging they digest on Sundays. When you are constantly fed a storyline that if you are not one of us, you are the enemy, after a few decades you start to believe it. Try listening to Mark Levin for a whole show and come back and explain to us how any decent human being could possibly listen to that man for more then five minutes and not go insane.
This is why the FEMA reëducation camps are needed.
With QAnon and the GOP, we find the same predicament that William F. Buckley Jr confronted with an earlier conspiracy theory organization, the John Birch Society. I suspect that the only way that QAnon will be driven underground is when another Buckley arises in the GOP.
While I have only contempt for Buckley and his supercilious mannerisms he tried to pass off as intellect, I do give him credit for possessing the mindfulness to recognize the threat the JBS posed to American society, and the testicularity to confront it.
We should change to be more like them? No thanks.
No, it isn’t about education. It is about being attracted to cults; about thinking.
So, do tell what is about these, – . -, – , that attracted them to Trump, to QAnon, to autocracy? What was the attraction for them in harming Nancy Pelosi?
The Republican Party willingly allowed itself to be co opted; first by the former Dixie-Crats, then Gingrich, then Trump. From Buckley on, they allowed this in order to have a chance at power. Twas but a small step to being willing to accept an autocracy.
Americans are a manipulable lot, always have been. This might be something worth addressing in our education system. Today, most k-12 text books are meant to form the thinking along lines such as, if you work hard and do the right things, …, What if we taught our young to think for themselves?
The problem is not with the Democratic Party. We could have allowed ourselves to be so co-opted, we didn’t.
What if it is in the genes?
I’m sorry if I confused you. I never said or implied that the JBS and QAnon were the same organization. They are obviously not.
The rest of your post is ahistorical bafflegab.
How come global warming has people in Texas freezing to death? Climate change was harder to explain, albeit also harder to screw up. Other great visions come to mind. Globalization makes us all better off except for me. Urban poor should have enlisted in the war on poverty. We legislated equal rights for all, so what is the problem?
If nothing succeeds like success, then also nothing fails like failure.
Texas had a go-it-alone energy infrastructure. Similar to repeatedly rebuilding housing structures near the gulf only to have them flood again, the state government refuses to take the necessary precautions to protect their citizens. So the Federal government bails them out each time like Biden just did. This has little to do with climate change in the short term, it is the “don’t tread on me” attitude until they get in trouble. Do you remember the old slogan of the South, “freeze a yankee out?”
The latest: “co-host Mika Brzezinski cited the Dallas Morning News’ reporting that thermal sources such as natural gas and nuclear power, not renewable ones, caused the major outages, Scarborough said, “I know this will come as a shock to nobody, but Greg Abbott is lying through his teeth when he’s blaming renewables for the grid going down. The facts in his own state by the Texas government, by people that follow this show he’s just lying through his teeth.” “Lying trough his teeth“
“What if it is in the genes?”
I suspect it is. We are a tribal species. In the beginning, tribes were sine qua non to the survival of our species. But as we grew more numerous, this tribal trait manifested as sorting humans into in-groups and out-groups. When access to resources (land, water, women) becomes limiting, tribalism allows us to strip the other of humanity.
Cults are a manifestation of tribalism. So are religions, political parties and sports teams. We will never eliminate tribalism, but to survive, we need to sublimate that impulse in healthy ways. The history of India after Gandhi provides a useful, if not totally untroubled, template for “success.” The history of Yugoslavia after Tito provides an object lesson in failure.
Yeah, funny how Grandpa and Grandma do keep showing up. From a personal development standpoint; I’ve come to suspect that this one of the most significant things we deal with.
There was a study a few years back that the more education Republicans have, the less they tend to believe in climate change. It turns out more educated Republicans are listening to highly partisan news sources more than less educated Republicans. Here’s a link to the study:
Chris Mooney has also written about this issue, including in his book “The Republican War on Science”.
In an interview w/ Amanpour’s Michel Martin, the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow tells Michel that the road into, the only road in, the militias is Facebook.
From my own experience in the military, they are unrelenting. Even if you help them, they fall back into their prejudices. It is taught, it is rote, and passed from generation to generation.
My extremely intelligent younger son and I were sitting in my daughter’s family room in Denver. I consider Denver to be a younger and more liberal area where I can relax rather than the Republican backwaters north of Ann Arbor I live in today and constantly in a teaching mode. Teaching them, you are messing with the wrong “librul.”
My married daughter invited a friend over and she brought her daughter and a male acquaintance-friend with her. The friend was a tenant.
Things were going nicely in the family room with the three males drinking our Basil Hayden bourbon. Suddenly and out of the blue, the visitor said something (I forget what) which caught my son and I off guard. There was no mistaking him as anything else but a white-supremist. My 40 year old son glanced at me and directed the conversation to sports. Later, we were talking after they left. What was shocking was the boldness in front of a polite group which was expected to be totally acceptable.
Was it ingrained by environment, a learned position, acceptable in his family, etc. I am not sure. Here in Michigan, I see it openly displayed. It leads to a question of; can environment cause a learned trait to be inherited? I wonder what Mendel would say?
yeah, it’s probably all in the genes, but if you mean you have good genes and “they” have bad genes why not declare yourself a member of the master race and be done with it?
on the other hand, if you mean “human genes” and we are all struggling with the problem of human limitations in the face of complex problems… then we still need to try to find better ways of dealing with that fact–those facts.
i suppose i believe that R’s have discovered how to exploit some facts of human nature — they are by no means the first to do so-and the dems have been relatively unsuccessful in solving some of the problems of living with each other that lead to the expression of those aspects of human nature.
but while the dems as a party seem to me to have a better grasp on what needs to be done, their politics seem sometimes to be trying to exploit the same appeals to tribalism as the R’s, but just a different tribe. and their polices in fact seem to owe more to the pragmatism of power (rule by the rich) than to a serious effort to protect the poor…. or in any caase to fall short of what needs to be done.
i’d like to follow this thread up with another article that i ran across that i think is either showing us what we are up against, or what we need to be doing. i’ll either copy and paste it into a comment on this thread, or just supply a link. later.
Leaping into the manure pile?
The rich number < 1 million households. If you wish to expand it to a lesser rich, we increase to ~ 3 million households.
this is a reply to your note to me “stepping into the manure pile?” [which i got in email but does not appear here]
always. but what particular BS did you have in mind?
suddenly your comment appears.
i don’t understand what the number of rich refers to. am i saying something that does not take that into account?
Have you cleared your cache lately?
AS ADVERTISED…useful article for further thought on this topic
the following is copied from a newsletter i received. i think that Whitehouse is either making clearer what the problem is: democrat timidity. or making clearer what we need to do: be careful not to fall into the Republican trap of total war, which will destroy any possibility of the Dems being able to do what we need to do, not to mention destroying government of the people by the people for the people from the earth.
Feb 16, 2021
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BY SAM STEIN
With help from Renuka Rayasam
MONEY, POWER, RESPECT — The most thought-provoking quote of the Biden era was uttered months before his presidency began. In the heat of Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) warned Republicans that the raw political power they were deploying would be reciprocated in due time.
“Don’t think when you have established the rule of ‘because we can,’ that should the shoe be on the other foot, you will have any credibility to come to us and say: ‘yeah, I know you can do that, but you shouldn’t,’” Whitehouse said.
Whitehouse’s warning was specific to issues of the courts. But he was also illuminating the fundamental question at the heart of most contemporary political debates: When should you flex your power simply because you can?
This is the question vexing Joe Biden and fellow Democrats. The president has taken an historic number of executive actions. He’s all but dispensed with bipartisan negotiations around a Covid relief bill. And he’s signaled that, on judges, he’ll utilize his powers to put his imprint on the courts. The result has been affection from the left, not necessarily for the content of the acts — but for the manner of execution.
“I think, yes,” Whitehouse told me, when I asked him if we are seeing the execution of the Because We Can™ doctrine. “There is a much stronger willingness than there was the last time we were in the majority to make sure the things Americans want and need are being addressed.”
But Whitehouse also conceded that some of his fellow Democrats are uncomfortable with the political power they wield. “There are some things that just because we could do, we still won’t do because they’re wrong,” he said. He added another caveat: “There are some things, because we can do, we probably should do, but we may not be able to get the necessary votes to do.”
Those “constraints,” as Whitehouse called them, have become more visible in recent days. Over the weekend, Democrats were given the chance to call witnesses for Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, only to quickly balk. They explained their reluctance as a matter of caution. They didn’t want the trial to derail Biden’s actual agenda.
But it’s not actually clear that calling witnesses would have done that. And the cost of that caution was not just the illumination of the historical record (important!) but the potential to inflict political pain on the opposition. To borrow Whitehouse’s cliché, if the shoe were on the other foot, would Republicans have made Democrats sit through a national re-airing of a horror show sparked by their leader? Um. Yes. Gleefully.
As for that Biden agenda, there too we are seeing circumspection. Biden has all but conceded he won’t get a $15-an-hour minimum wage hike in his Covid relief bill, citing a potential ruling from the Senate parliamentarian that it is non-germane to reconciliation rules.
At least one House Democrat has called such acquiescence to an unelected bureaucrat absurd. “I’ve never heard us put everything on the balance of what the Senate parliamentarian says,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.). But Biden’s team has shown no desire to overrule the parliamentarian, which hasn’t been done in four decades and would require a vote from the vice president and 50 Senate Democrats.
Why not? Well, there’s a host of reasons: reputational considerations, institutional prerogatives, and those oft-maligned norms. Caution is a component of the Democratic Party’s DNA. Some of its lawmakers simply don’t support a $15-an-hour minimum wage as law. Biden could call their bluffs. He could work their votes. But in this case at least, “because we can,” appears to be “perhaps we shouldn’t.”
For many Democrats, that’s fine. The president was elected in large part because he pledged not to be driven by Trumpian thirsts for power. Keeping that image intact matters. It’s why there currently is next to no momentum for eliminating the legislative filibuster.
But for others, the question is not if the party should optimize the powers it has, but, rather, when its members will realize the need to do so. Raising the minimum wage may not be the triggering cause, but is a voting rights bill? How about climate change legislation? Immigration reform?
“Someone unwilling to vote to get rid of the filibuster as an opening bid might very well change their mind if several good faith efforts on important issues are stymied by bad faith Republican obstruction,” said Whitehouse.
Conspiracy theories are fun and satisfying. They’re a delicious form of junk thought. I’ve known very intelligent people who have gone down the conspiracy theory rat hole on both ends of the political spectrum. I’ve even indulged in conspiracy theories. When someone is slow to start and I miss a green light, my usual remark is “Now, I know why their parents had children.” Do I actually believe that the guy in the green Kia was only born because his parents were part of a conspiracy to make we wait an extra minute at a particular intersection? Of course not, but it is comforting thought to play with while waiting for the light. The people who just did conspiracies for fun, were just fine. If killing JFK required a secret army of 23,457 to set up everything and do the cover up, hey, that’s a whole evening of happy talk, and it takes some intelligence to come up with something vaguely coherent.
There are still two big problems. There are the people who actually believe the conspiracy theories. They usually have bad motives and are bad people, but the conspiracy lets them justify their baser feelings. Their beliefs tend to be incoherent: poor [choose your group here] get everything from the government for free which is why they have to work nights, have three jobs, share an apartment with ten others, won’t save and can only be reached on the pay phone in the lobby of their rooming house. I’ve heard this more than once from different people with regards to different ethnic groups.
The other big problem are the people who cynically manipulate them, and I don’t mean Dan Brown types who pander to the fun conspiracy sorts. There is a whole political party and more than one television network that does nothing else.
So I guess that the weather had nothing to do with the freezing cold in Texas :<) ???
And the ERCOT Chairman lives in Michigan.
i am again responding to a comment i received in email that does not appear on AB, probably it will pop up after i post this.
i don’t know what “clear your cache” means.
“the weather had nothing to do with Texans freezing.” Garrison Keilor used ot make a joke about why Minnesota was such a nice place to live: the cold drove out people with no character. Perhaps this is what the Texans are trying to achieve with their survival of the fittest beliefs. Thing is, though, that people in Minnesota don’t freeze to death even though, I hear, that it gets cold there. I wonder if it’s someting they do as individuals, or do they get together (something they call government) and plan for these things?
“Was it ingrained by environment, a learned position, acceptable in his family, etc. I am not sure. Here in Michigan, I see it openly displayed. It leads to a question of; can environment cause a learned trait to be inherited? I wonder what Mendel would say?”
susceptibility to racism or conspiracy theories is genetic: we all have it. birds and bees and even educated fleas have it. the particular form of racism or conspiracy theory is taught, mostly by example. but after the seed is planted, people tend to self-select the examples they surround themselves with. not a damn thing you can do about it by preaching or confrontation. you might, if you were a government, try to create situations where people were forced to live or work confronted with counter examples and let stimulus-reward do its trick.
Where in Michigan?
i said forced – confronted. this was the idea behind bussing middle class kids to ghetto schools. that didn’t work. couldn’t work. too close to the bone. just made people who otherwise would not have been perncicious racists or anti-government conspiracy consumers become rabid in defense of their children.
another comment in my email not found on AB. you asked “where in Michigan?” i ask “hunh?”
i did spend some time in UP when i was very young. first place i ever heard about racism. my mother made clear the contempt she had for it: friend of hers wa disowned by her family for marrying a black man.
so i was fated to be a liberal from an early age. it’s in the genes.
Your last comment to RON should have been to me. You did use RON and I thought you were telling him you were in Michigan.
another comment from you in my email that I can’t find on AB
several comments i remember writng AND reading also do not appear now.
after too much of this my wires get overheated and start to short out.
I will mention it to Dan. They are working on this. WordPress has been problematic now and with the old system. I would always have to approve some people.
The Texas nexus electric power disaster happened at the corner of climate change and electric power deregulation. If climate change only made everyone warmer, then this was not to be expected. But instead the winter pole begins to warm up faster after the solstice, then in late winter expanding the frigid winter polar region deep into the lower latitudes. Some late winters will be worse than others depending upon the state of ENSO and NAO. We are in La Nina now for which this winter has been an uncharacteristic twist. The climate, they are a changin’.
When the politicians in Texas deregulated electric power then they only told the public that their electricity would be cheaper and not that there would be longer outages after storms. This was bad enough after tornados, but ice storms make it an existential error.
Clearly this event is changing the perception about deregulation of critical infrastructure, which was always worse than just a bad idea. With out the oxy, then it was just the work of morons. Climate change is a heavier lift. At this point, then our focus may need to shift to preparing to live with the consequences. I understand the rhetoric well enough to know that few understand the extent of the problem.
This is not the first time this has occurred. 2011 was the second time and the first was in the 1990s. It appears they have 10 year events. They are also their power grid and do not associate with the east or west power grids which are conglomerations of states. When one state has issues, they draw off of the other states in emergencies. Texas can not turn to its conglomerate power grid as there is no one else in it. Neither has Texas established a reserve in which to draw upon for those 10 year events which have occurred.
There are reasons for this:
1. States Rights: By purposely keeping its grid within the borders of Texas, the state limited the impact of federal standards and regulations. The deep-seated aversion to regulation prompted former US Energy secretary and Texas Governor Rick Perry to quip, “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.” What the hell, what is a few lives lost when you can be independent? I did not see Gov. Abbott reject aid from the Fed either. If you have an issue in Texas, you just escape to Cancun.
2. Texas believes in its independence: “From 1835 to 1836, Texas fought to gain independence from Mexico, and the resulting victory meant a new flag for the newly independent Republic of Texas — the lone star, clearly labeled, “Texas” made its first appearance. This flag, and subsequent variations of it, all featured a lone star, representing defiance, pride and — most importantly — “independence.” It also believes it electricity is cheaper as a result of breaking away from the grids and regulation of utilities under common carrier laws.
3. In 2002 Texas lawmakers deregulated the states electricity market by passing Senate Bill 7 with the promise that an open marketplace would bring about competition and lower prices. They did get cheaper prices and also all the issues that go along with it such as the outages. Generators of electricity and retailers (sellers) are governed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which attempts to balance the power grid’s electricity supply and demand by purchasing small amounts of electricity at 15-minute intervals throughout the day. It is a great shot-sighted plan which delivers cheap electricity in the short term. However when there are shortages, the price sky-rockets as there are no contracts to protect consumers.
4. Chair Sally Talberg of the private solely Texas company is a citizen of Michigan who also served under Gov. Snider as a member of the Michigan Public Service Commission (electricity). She is one of 5 other members of the ERCOT Board who live out of state or Canada. Kind of hard to have skin-in-the game if you are not even in the state for which your company serves.
Is climate change an issue? Sure it is. This occurrence as are the other two incidences which resulted in similar catastrophic events is independent of climate change the same as building homes on flat lands that flood rather than stilts, embankments, or not at all near the gulf. Texas, Perry, Abbott, Cruz-“the-A** screwed up and the people are paying for it with their lives in some cases.
BTW, this is the same La Nina that back in August and September 2020 had us running out of alphabet naming hurricanes because of the reduced Atlantic wind shear it gave us. Climate change is forecast to slightly reduce the frequency of La Nina events while greatly increasing their impact upon our weather.
…This is not the first time Texas has dealt with rolling blackouts.
The 1989 blackouts came amid a cold snap in December, while the 2011 blackouts took place during the first week of February when wind and unseasonably cold temperatures hit Texas and neighboring New Mexico.
In total, approximately 1.3 million electric customers were out of service at the peak of the 2011 event on Feb. 2, and a total of 4.4 million were affected from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4.
In a report following the 2011 blackouts, FERC and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation recommended steps including increasing winterization measures.
The report said electricity generating companies operating within the ERCOT system “failed to adequately prepare for winter,” citing inadequate insulation and a failure to train operators and maintenance personnel on winter preparations…
The Best of Enemies (2019 film) – Wikipedia
[Read the article then watch the film a couple of times. The answer to the nature or nurture question with regards to white supremacists is written between the lines of this film’s dialogue. Useful to note that the film is a dramatization of true events and even in real life civil rights activist Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis did end up becoming true friends for the remainder of their lives.]
I have been trying to tell people for years that cold weather is not proof there is no global warming. warming increases heat in the atmosphere. warm air rises, drawing colder air in under it. and driving big circular global air currents. this is by no means the whole story (effect on gulf stream of ocean warming may lead to new ice age). but it should be enought to get people who want to think to start thinking about complexity and not just “warming means warmer.”
thanks for the rest of your information. i let you and Run do the heavy lifting.