Leftist. Progressive. Liberal. Whatever moniker we on the left use to label ourselves (and if I haven’t included yours please add it to the comments section), we have a problem. I can only summarize it is that we continue to fail because we bring facts to a gun fight. We delude ourselves into believing that a rational discussion will convince those at the other side of the political spectrum to see the rightness of what we believe. And delude is a good word. We are trying to be rational talking to a world where facts don’t matter. Consider the following….
We believed it was all over for Donald Trump in 2016 when the Access Hollywood recording became public. Remember that one? Where he talked about how, being a celebrity, made OK to, well, I’ll stop. Yet it didn’t move the political needle at all, not one iota. How can we offer rationality, facts, to people living in Massachusetts and Florida who believe that COVID was made worse because of people illegally crossing the border in Texas? Who follow the lies that COVID isn’t serious, ignoring the fact that over 1 million of our fellow Americans have died from the disease? They are the same people that think that January 6 was a peaceful protest and that Ashley Babbitt was a non-violent demonstrator who was murdered. Video evidence be damned, they know they are right. They stand believing an election was stolen, lacking evidence to show this as a truth, because some guy who can’t stop lying tells them, and damn-it, they just know it because they can feel it.
Why do we keep believing we can win an argument where facts don’t matter? Ask yourself what is really feeding the people that live in this alternate universe. It’s a simple thing: fear. Fear is what feeds the ideas of the “Great Replacement Theory” (GRT), the idea that non-white people are being “imported” to replace white people. It was behind the chants of “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville. It lead to the killings in Buffalo and at Mother Emanuel in Charleston. And Republicans are good at feeding that fear, building it. It’s behind every part of their so-called “culture war”. But it’s not new. The current fear started to be built by Richard Nixon in 1968 in his “Southern Strategy”. It was behind his call for “law and order”. Almost every part of his campaign was built on white fear of Black people, of using the frustration that lead to the riots in Black neighborhoods and inciting a white backlash. We saw it with Ronald Reagan and his campaigning with the idea of “welfare queens” and other code words about Black Americans. The “war on drugs” was really a war on Black people, ignoring that white people abuse drugs at a higher rate than do Blacks. Statistics don’t matter. Fear does. Fear elected George H. W. Bush in 1988. The images of Willy Horton were to raise white fear. I’ll ask again, when it’s about fear, do facts matter? None of this is new. It was behind the “red scare” and McCarthyism. Our history is replete with examples. And it’s not happening just here. Take a look at right wing politics in Europe.
Are we going to keep bringing facts to a gun fight? If we don’t change our strategy we’ll keep losing. It’s about the fear, not the facts.