Our entire news media environment is pretty toxic right now. Without any kind of positive policy agenda aside from “owning the libs” and enriching themselves and their donors, Republicans are going to extremes to keep their rabid base in a fit of rage over shallow culture war issues. The right-wing media complex backs them up, making their money off of an increasingly unhinged audience they’re chasing right down a rabbit hole of fringe theories. And of course, at the top you’ve got a president of the United States who’s all too happy to lead the way.
These forces manage to distort reality and warp our national conversation in a way that benefits the GOP. People have limited time and attention, and when politics is consumed by good faith liberals trying to engage with bad faith Republicans, everyone loses. That’s exactly what this thread demonstrates.
Twitter user @JuliusGoat kicked off this meta-commentary on the state of national discourse with a fairly simple metaphor:
The “Me” in this imagined dialogue is a stubborn right-wing personality refusing to engage in the actual issue being debated and instead resorting to victim blaming, obtuse logical fallacies, and shifting what the argument is actually about in order to gain some sort of edge.
This is how the right-wing commentariat subtly shifts the ground underneath the issue to move the conversation towards more favorable terrain:
Its brilliance is its simplicity and it works for almost every issue ranging from racism to the #MeToo movement.
Then “reasonable” faux-centrist right wingers join in with a smokescreen of over-intellectualization, scrambling for some kind of “hot take” while completely missing the point:
Viral news sites aren’t spared in this satire, and they often promote a narrative that reinforces the status quo rather than challenging it:
Of course, the right-wing media machine joins in on the side of the trolls and cranks the gaslighting up to Trumpian levels:
Trump’s own henchmen join the fray to both elevate their version of the controversy while avoiding grappling with the issue:
And “reasonable” cowardly GOP politicians take whatever cover they can get to avoid doing anything about it:
Somehow, Republicans manage to both deny the issue is serious while blaming the other side for it at the same time:
And what laughingly qualify as “conservative intellectuals” join in with some historically dubious talking points:
In their quest for clicks and eyeballs, the right-wing fever swamp throws gasoline on the controversy, ratcheting up the stakes and twisting the debate into something that bears no resemblance to reality:
Our very dumb president uses his Twitter account to completely reframe the conversation, which leads to an entirely new conversation about his fitness for office and how this will all play out electorally:
Then his press team comes out to chastise the media for taking Trump’s bait:
The result is a truly broken political process. Republicans have demolished the credibility of mainstream news outlets with conservative voters after their decades-long smear campaign. Now, Republicans in the United States get most of their news from propaganda outlets that do more to spread ignorance than actual news. GOP voters get their daily dose of outrage, receive no new information, and never bother to check the facts themselves.
You can see the toll this toxic cycle takes in the political campaigns Republicans are running for the midterms. They’re not trying to convince voters they have the right answers or that their policies are working (because they’re not). Instead, they’re talking about kneeling during the anthem and Hillary Clinton and anything that might get their shrinking base angry enough to keep supporting them. Rinse. Repeat. Vomit.