It’s a pretty simple concept and it’s important.
On some level I think speaking directly to voter’s concerns were the strength of both the Sanders and Trump campaigns.
Trump spoke to like-minded Americans directly through frequent informal interviews on cable and directly through his prolific use of Twitter. Although I believe his candidacy is all about manipulation, I think many of those who voted for him believe they are in on it and stand to benefit from a little lie here or there.
Here are a couple of hints that Trump voters don’t mind being lied too because some or most of the time they know what is going on, and presumably, those times they don’t, they trust the man has their back.
Exhibit A: A link by fellow local blogger Fred Mangels to an article by Justin Raimoneo about those of us suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). (Yes, this rhetoric is starting already.)
“Especially when discussing Trump’s views on immigration, hysterical TDS victims assume there’s no difference between the president-elect’s rhetoric (get out!) and his proposed policy (deporting known criminals who are in this country illegally).”
Exhibit B: This amazing call by a conservative caller “Rick” to Rush Limbaugh during the heat of the election when Trump’s chances seemed impossible, even to most conservatives.
Rick: With all due respect, Rush, on Chuck Todd’s show, he specifically said, when asked the question, “You mean you’re going to rip the families apart?”
He said, “No, I’m not going to rip the families apart, they all have to go, even the U.S. citizen children.”
He then got into the middle of the debate, and the argument between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, when Ted wanted legalization and Marco wanted citizenship as part of a comprehensive plan. He said that they were both wrong, that they were both being absurd, that they all had to go “or we don’t have a nation of laws.” Come on! You were watching the debates as well as the rest of us were. You know exactly what he said and you know exactly the way he ridiculed everybody on that stage.
Rush Limbaugh: Yeah, well I guess the difference is—well not the difference, I guess the thing is, this is gonna enrage you. You know, I could choose a path here to try to mollify you, but I never took him seriously on this!
Rick: 10 million people did.
Rush Limbaugh: Yeah, and they still don’t care. My point is they still don’t care. They’re gonna stick with him no matter what.
Rick: But this is why Trump is going to get annihilated. Because nobody called him out early on about his absurd policies. (me: … oops…)
Rick, I wish you would have been right. Turns out Republican voters value power over principle or truth and both Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump get this.
(A great article on this call from Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic can be found here.)
Of course voter manipulation isn’t only a conservative vice. From Hillary’s complete avoidance of her connections to Wall Street to Bernie’s promises of free college education, all politicians are guilty on some level.
But we are entering unchartered territory in 2017 with an impending Trump Administration and we all have to do what we can to make sure truth and reality are integral to our public discussions of politics and policy. Minimizing manipulation will lbe a continuing resolution of mine even if I hadn’t consciously made this a priority previously.
I contend that those politicians and/or organizations who work to maximize truth-telling and minimize manipulation will, eventually, be rewarded. I think Bernie and his approach to politics was a sterling example of this from 2016. Let’s hope for hundreds or thousands of more Bernies in 2017 and beyond.