Ask A Genius 531 – Idealism and Not-So Idealism: Mobilize and Manipulate
January 31, 2020
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the political situation today?
Rick Rosner: We used to think we were fighting wars to make the world safe for democracy, WWI. WWII was fought to fight against fascism. We had the Greatest Generation. Now, you have conservative organizations led by Fox News who are telling people for many hours every day that being a good brave American means being kind of a motherfucker.
Jacobsen: When does this switch from idealistic stuff to not-so idealistic stuff?
Rosner: In the 70s and 80s, conservative thinktanks, one that comes to mind is the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute, supported by super-rich ultra-conservatives, like the Koch brothers, came to realize based on research that dumb people are an exploitable and mobilizable and manipulatable demographic.
One offshoot of this was the creation of Fox News. I don’t know if Rupert Murdoch saw the studies or it happens to coincide with his political beliefs. But Fox News probably celebrated its 30th anniversary or so recently.
Reagan appalled people, non-conservatives at the time. But he was the charming less scary wedge of the new style of conservatism that distrusts government and wants to break government and wants to get people to vote out of anger for people who will further fuck up government.
It is hard to say whether the country can be salvaged and how long it will take the country to be salvaged from the current crop of awful Republican politicians. People have been predicting that the Republicans for decades. They have been predicting it.
Right now, Republicans are only about 28% of the voting population, so are democrats and independents are in the 40s. But there are trends against the Republicans. They are an aging population. The older you are, the more likely you are Republican.
There should be a Republican die-off. They tend to be white. As the Republicans become less white, all this should shrink the party. Also, there should be increasing number of Republicans who are more brutal in their attacks with voter suppression.
Back in 2016, they denied the democratic president, not even allowing him to nominate or hold hearings into voting on the Supreme Court. So, they stole a Supreme Court justice. It is hard to know whether American will get increasingly – the easier term for it is – fascist.
Everybody continues to live lives that are similar to the lives they lived under Obama. We don’t have to fear being arrested for our tweets. But there are whiffs of this all over the place. And there are aspects of life not necessarily unassociated with and not necessarily associated with current terrible politics like the opioid crisis.
Pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to overprescribe opioids for a decade. We have more people dying of opioid overdoses at any time before in history. For three years, the average life expectancy in America dropped for the first time in history.
That was due in great part to the opioid crisis and also to the obesity epidemic. You can’t blame Republicans for all of that. At the same time, it is part of the zeitgeist. You’ve got angry and scared – economic uncertainty is the phrase. It is the phrase used by pundits who want to excuse the behaviour.
They’re afraid that they’ll have enough money to retire. Uncertainty is a euphemism for not wanting immigrants to come in and other stuff.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Founder, In-Sight Publishing
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