Friday, August 19, 2011

Another Study Telling Us What We Already Knew

A new study featured in the New York Times ( ) tells us exactly what we already knew about the Teabaggers: They are, and always have been, the conservative base. The Teabagger "phonomenon" was only ever a Koch-funded rebranding of the same coalition of groups that make up the GOP's base: Racists, borderline fascists, outright fascists, anti-government kooks, backyard anarchists/Libertarians (I'm aware that the two have differing meanings but the Teabagger's variety of Libertarianism is essentially just anarchism), Randroids, single issue anti-gay and anti-abortionists and theocrats, united by living in a completely manufactured reality supplied by Faux News and the talk radio barkers.

The Teabaggers will take offence at both the study and my description of them. They'll dismiss the study the same way Bill O'Lielly dismisses studies he dislikes: By repeating the main points in a sarcastic tone (which stupid people think is a rebuttal) and describing the conductors as far-left radicals or extremists. It's so predictable as to be laughable, a worldview immune to self-knowledge or self-examination, "pay no attention to the nasty man" for grown-ups.

But this is the reality the Teabaggers live in, one where the way things are morphs into The Way Things Ought To Be and the teachinjgs of Jesus are filtered through Ayn Rand. This is a world where the left were just as bad to Bush as the right are being to Obama; where fascism and socialism are pretty much the same thing and Glenn Beck is a prophet. Where Reagan shrank government and balanced the budget while Clinton did the opposite, where Bush was a liberal (yeah, I only just heard that too), Social Security adds to the debt and Obama is a far-left socialist.

Now, none of the above is actually true. In most cases, they're the exact opposite of truth. The fact, for those of us living in a reality where facts matter, are that the left were nowhere near as bad to Bush, that fascism is corporate control of a nation and directly opposite to socialism; Reagan both grew government, never submitted a balanced budget and exploded the debt while Clinton shrank the debt and submitted several balanced budgets; Bush was ultraright and Obama is a fairly wimpy moderate.

But the Teabaggers, who are now the majority of Republicans, have a seperate world manufactured just for them. It's a world which not only tells them the above non-facts but provides a source they can quote. They have think-tanks like the Heritage Foundation that pushes absurd reality-denials from the right fringe into the mainstream; they can turn on their TV and listen to Fox tell them, they can turn on their radio and hear the barkers repeating their preferred "truths" all day long. Often, they can listen to them from an increasingly conservative mainstream media (in fact, the flat denial of reality that insists the most conservative media in the free world is actually liberally biased was probably the forerunner to all of this). This is a world where facts are not decided by things like verifiability or accuracy but purely by whether they agree with what Republicans are saying. If something agrees with a Republican talking point, it is revealed truth, gospel and unquestionable. If something disagrees with a Republican talking point, it's a scandalous lie and everyone knows it to be a lie. It's a completely self-insulating world where the gate-keeper of truth is purely convienience, whether it accords with the talking points or not.

One cannot reason with these people. It is a mistake to try because you are approaching the discussion from two completely incompatible angles. You, being relatively liberal, are approaching from a position of using verifiable facts. They, being conservative, are approaching from a basis where talking points are automatically gospel truth because they are talking points. Anything which disagrees is, by definition, a lie and can be disregarded. You're not just speaking a different language; by questioning the talking points, you're speaking heresy.

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