This post I feel will not be long, but perhaps I will be wrong. It’s topic is low fruit this close to the election, but I feel that I need to make it anyway. What has happened to the wisdom of the body politic?
As we grow every closer to the election, just days away, the amount of conspiracy theory posts and shares from those of the political right seem to have increased exponentially. With each post that I see I am ever more shocked at what people allow themselves to believe; what they allow themselves to be fouled by. I fully understand that it is not just those of the political right that post these sorts of things, the political left is full of utter nonsense that has been designed to manipulate people as well.
This fact, for the political left and right, is nothing particularly new. One needs only to look into the not so distant past to see how politicalized new papers were used to manipulate the people. The big difference that I see in these days is that, by and large, people of the past were wise enough to have a general understanding of what was going on. That fact is evident with how the open political nature of these papers has gone away, or at least did*. Now, for some reason, people seem to be far more prone to falling for outright lies. Falling for conspiracy theories, and general misinformation. But why?
I think, in part, it has to do with a reduction in liberal education. It has to do with an acceptance of over-subjectivity in opinion. These two things go hand in hand. As one looses the ability to look at topics objectively, and be able to determine facts, and analyze and synthesis information, one begins to overly rely on individual subjective views of things. This then turns into relying on others subjective views as well, thusly forming a world view that is not based in reality.
Once an individual looses all ability to determine objective fact. Once one looses the ability to seek out truth and facts from a sea of misinformation, one becomes open to manipulation. In a digital age that manipulation is all the easier. With the ability to edit photographs, videos, audio recordings, and general information, people who are unable to question sources begin to believe what has been changed to deliver falsehoods. The begin then to questions the validity of objective sources in preference for those that they believe are telling the truth. Which of course is full of lies.
Now we couple this reality with a President who has built the entirety of his identity, the whole of his business, off of manipulation of reality. Donald Trump, for four years, has used lies, conspiracy theories, hate, and prejudice, to manipulate his base. Far right conservatives have used digital manipulation, to include news paper, TV, and social media, to fashion a whole alternative reality so riddled with misinformation and lies that it has made in nearly impossible for their supporters to tell the difference between truth and a lie. The truest of Trump supporters have become so unreflective of their views, and the media that they ingest on a daily basis that I think we can now longer say that they are rational members of society. They have become like children.
I say this, possibly inflammatory statement, because there is only one other group of people, that is otherwise mentally sound, that demonstrates lack of an ability to make objective decisions reliably, children. Supporters of Donald Trump, and many members of the GOP have shown a complete lack, and unwillingness, to learn. They have shown a total inability to accept facts and abandon lies. While it is true that this is often a truth for the extreme political left, the political right today is at its zenith childlike incompetence.
So, what happened to the wisdom of the body politic? It has been warped, manipulated, and distorted to a point that wisdom is seen as gross. Wisdom is vilified. Questioning is damned. Wisdom is standing before the firing squad of conservative politics and those with their fingers on the trigger believe that wisdom is the enemy.
*Sometime during the Bush Administration in the early 2000’s news media, be they new papers, TV stations, or websites, began to lean toward a openly political tilt. This started largely with Fox News.