. . . please listen to this 60 Minutes interview with Trump appointee Chris Krebs, lifelong Republican, and let me know whether it affects your thinking at all.

Conservative columnist David Brooks decries The Rotting of the Republican Mind, which can only serve to make Trump-Republicans ever more dug-in . . . (as will this parody website for The Trump Presidential Library — don’t miss the Grift Shop on your way out) . . . yet bares airing anyway:

In a recent Monmouth University survey, 77 percent of Trump backers said Joe Biden had won the presidential election because of fraud. Many of these same people think climate change is not real. Many of these same people believe they don’t need to listen to scientific experts on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

. . . [M]uch of the Republican Party has become detached from reality. . . . [Millions] have come to detest those who populate the epistemic regime, who are so distant, who appear to have it so easy, who have such different values, who can be so condescending. [Who use words like “epistemic” — A.T.]  . . .

People in this precarious state are going to demand stories that will both explain their distrust back to them and also enclose them within a safe community of believers. The evangelists of distrust, from Donald Trump to Alex Jones to the followers of QAnon, rose up to give them those stories and provide that community. . . .

For those awash in anxiety and alienation, who feel that everything is spinning out of control, conspiracy theories are extremely effective emotional tools. For those in low status groups, they provide a sense of superiority: I possess important information most people do not have. For those who feel powerless, they provide agency: I have the power to reject “experts” and expose hidden cabals. As Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School points out, they provide liberation: If I imagine my foes are completely malevolent, then I can use any tactic I want.

Under Trump, the Republican identity is defined not by a set of policy beliefs but by a paranoid mind-set. . . . The internet is an ideal medium for untested information to get around traditional gatekeepers, but it is an accelerant of the paranoia, not its source. Distrust and precarity, caused by economic, cultural and spiritual threat, are the source.

What to do? You can’t argue people out of paranoia. If you try to point out factual errors, you only entrench false belief. The only solution is to reduce the distrust and anxiety that is the seedbed of this thinking. That can only be done first by contact, reducing the social chasm between the members of the epistemic regime and those who feel so alienated from it. And second, it can be done by policy, by making life more secure for those without a college degree.

Rebuilding trust is, obviously, the work of a generation.

John Seiffer:  “Yesterday you saidAnd then President Biden (or the applicable governor) should commute that sentence.’  Are you saying just because someone was in a position of power, if found to be guilty they should be spared jail time? If you’re saying something else please clarify.”

→ I was suggesting it only for the leader of the opposition party (whoever he or she may be at any give time).  No one else.  I was suggesting it to emphasize to the world that we are not a country who locks up (or poisons) the opposition.  (But senators?  CEO’s?  attorneys general? Mike Flynn? — have at it!)

My thought is that exposing the full truth and gaining conviction (if indeed a jury convicts) may be enough — in powerful contrast to the “lock her up” and “lock them up” (Obama and Biden) vision that animates today’s Republicans.


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