The Egg and the Chicken

It’s a fact of the 21st century:  any news outlet will tell you that the United States is a country deeply divided, perhaps more so than ever before.  It seems as if reports are constantly full of “what the Republican base wants.”  Every diversionary or stalling tactic that Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy put into play is always a result of demands from their supporters, to hear them tell it.  Every off-the-wall conspiracy theory that Marjorie Taylor Greene spews is in line with the beliefs of GOP voters.  Ditto Jim Jordan’s wingnut pronouncements.  In short, they’re simply giving the people what they want.

I learned in Public Speaking 101 that the most effective way to communicate information to a group is to follow three steps:

  1. Outline for the audience what you’re going to convey in your speech.
  2. Relate your subject matter.
  3. Recap what you’ve just told them.

Or, as my prof put it, “Tell the audience what you’re going to tell them, then actually tell them, then tell them what you told them.”  Keep the message tight, laser-focus on the topic with no deviations, and repeat.  Of course, “short” and “simple” are also keys to comprehension and retention.

The Republican party has internalized the above strategy to a truly remarkable degree.  With very few exceptions, they are always, eternally, on message.  They are monolithic that way.  Outliers are quickly suppressed, which is why Liz Cheney no longer has any status in the party.  Is this welded-together front merely a vehicle for relaying to the world the wishes and beliefs of the GOP base?

The teaser for a NY Times article on August 31st reads, “As several Republican-controlled states confront their worst [virus] outbreaks yet, their leaders — following the base — have doubled down on resisting vaccine and mask requirements. [emphasis mine]”  I submit that such a statement is disingenuous in the extreme.  I highly doubt that, in the spring of 2020, some anonymous Republican supporter in some town spontaneously decided that COVID was a hoax, then roped in all his friends and family, and they convinced all their connections, and so on, and so on, until the majority of GOP voters nationwide began condemning masks and social distancing, and only at that point did Republican representatives throughout the country take up the refrain.  No, I think the screaming demands for “freedom,” and then the escalation to armed protests in various statehouses, which have morphed into militant anti-vaxxing rallies, just MIGHT have had something to do with the manic spewing of the former occupant of the Oval Office.  Call me crazy, but I’m convinced that the troglodyte followers of the Orange One took their cue from him.  And then, knowing on which side their bread was buttered — or from where their campaign war chests were coming — the rank and file of the GOP fell into line behind their dear leader. 

Likewise, the concept of the Big Lie arose, not from a voter or two in podunk precincts, but rather, from the continual, relentless, bawling insistence of the Orange One that he was robbed of a second term, covered on all news and social media platforms.  He said it, then Rudy said it, then McCarthy said it, and on down the line.  Invocation and endorsement of the Big Lie has become a litmus test for any GOP candidate hoping to survive a 2022 primary. 

The hysteria that spawned the January 6th insurrection didn’t originate with run-of-the-mill Republican voters.  It was wholly created at the top and stoked at every level below.  It wasn’t the original will of the people that the Capitol be attacked; rather, extremist groups and rabid individuals watched the narcissist-in-chief and learned that radical, violent actions were not only acceptable, they would be glorified.  They got their inspiration and encouragement from the person supposedly in charge of the country, who formed a vast echo chamber and feedback loop to implement his will.  Eventually, denial of the cause and the violence of the attack became synonymous with betrayal of the party.  Even supposedly moderate Republicans, such as Mike DeWine of Ohio, refused to point a finger at TFG.

My point here is that every time a source of any kind, any media outlet that speaks with authority, goes along with the fallacy that Republicans are totally receptive to and reflective of the beliefs, wants, and desires of their base, the nation moves further from the truth.  Left-of-center pundits, publications, and social media platforms that let this fallacy slide are reinforcing GOP propaganda.  It’s simply lazy to fail to call out the mealy-mouthed canard that Republicans live to serve their followers, that their raison d’être is the well-being of the little guys.  It’s also dangerous, compounding an error that gives legitimacy to an authoritarian movement.  Mitch, Kevin, Marjorie, Jim, DeSantis, Abbott, et. al., want us to buy the story that they don’t make opinion, they just bow to it.  In reality, they make up the tinfoil-hat claims, push them down to their followers, and then seize on and amplify the craziness when it echoes back to them.  It’s an inside-out perversion of the process of conveying information.  We need to call them on that twisted ploy at every opportunity if we don’t want to see history completely rewritten and national divisions cemented forever.

25 thoughts on “The Egg and the Chicken

  1. a ‘coup de foudre’ of ponderous perpendings, denise. your ponderments are electrifying and, as you absorbed from your public speaking 101 prof, the apotheosis of brevity, concision, consistency, and argutely manicured simplicity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very perceptive. Who exactly is “the base,” what is their platform, and how do they define it and enforce it? “The base” is a convenient myth and a product of lazy thinking (at best) or of opportunistic manipulation.

    The MSM is deeply compromised and driven by ratings and profit. They tell it like it isn’t, as Rodney Dangerfield would say.

    The real “base” in America wants affordable health care, a living wage, better schools, a cleaner environment, much less war, and perhaps most of all an honest government that would serve them instead of the moneyed interests. That’s the base we don’t hear from in the MSM. That’s the base Mitch and Nancy Pelosi refuse to serve.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly—leaders only make noises about serving the public, without actually doing so. But because….why? As various analysts have pointed out, a healthy populace with adequate means will definitely contribute to our consumer economy, and that’s a good thing, right?

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      1. They’re not concerned about the consumer economy per se. They’re concerned about monopolizing wealth and power. It’s staggering how much money has flowed upwards — with only a few drops trickling down to “the poors.”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Agree whole-heartedly about trickle-down to the poors, Bill. However, to paraphrase Henry Ford’s savvy observation, the workers have to be paid enough to afford cars. Or cell phones, or restaurant meals, or big-screen TVs. With their perennial [willful?] myopia, corporations oppose what’s in the best interests of the buying public, and ultimately, their own bottom lines. Politicians follow suit. While the masses remain functionally powerless, eventually a tipping point will have to arrive, likely due to climate change disasters. There’s no predicting the outcome, but something’s gotta give. I can’t accept a foregone conclusion of authoritarian rule, general serfdom, and mere subsistence for the bottom 90%. Granted, we’re close now, but if Joe Average can’t have beer and football on Sundays, there’s gonna come a reckoning.

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  4. You are correct, Denise, in your assessment.

    For decades the policies of right-wing Republicans, I think, are responsible for much of the political and economic discontent experienced by many Americans today. Now ironically posing as the nation’s righteous “savior” of democracy, these extremist elements within the Republican party’s leadership have little or no problem convincing their base to accept almost any lie or disinformation they put forth.

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  5. I’m no fan of party politics. Every politician is corrupted, period. You don’t get to Washington unless a 1%’r floats your boat. And you’ll do what the Admiral says. I believe it’s telling that any candidate that starts to smear the billionaires during a campaign gets silenced! There’s your first clue that the media are poodles… properly, and meticulously groomed for the “Washington Westminster Show”. Every point that the common sense solutions that would improve the quality of every life, that remains obvious to we the people; has been betrayed by both parties. Their ignorance to the needs of the people has been on display every day of my human journey. Nothing is attended to on purpose; and quite frankly they now see most labor as expendable. The nuts and bolts of “Automation of the body” and the mechanics of production are just about complete and the roll out has begun. Here’s the first clue, and we all know this point well from experience. When you find a possession useless, you ignore it; and it sits degrading right before your eyes, until you decide to throw it away because it has no benefits for enhancing your own experience. Well, sadly, today the handwriting is all over the “manufactured creations” of mankind. Everything is in a state of decay…infrastructure, wages, quality of food and soil, the air we breathe, atmosphere up to the ionosphere, the water and all its biology, species, bees, housing and the systems within their walls, health and the systems that manage our well being, costs of living in the material world…..etc. I’m not painting a masterpiece, I’m painting a
    disasterpiece! I’m coming to the conclusions that the billionaires can live their experience without our help, and will get their ya-ya’s out through an artificially mechanized world, void of heart and soul. I stopped preaching the back and forth of propaganda politics with those I know. The villains have a B in front of their party, no R no D ….
    The Billionaires must be called out and I’m letting those around me that these are the enemies of we the people who have paid their legislators to be the face creation for this phony fiasco…
    I believe I have used up all the soap in this box I’m standing on; so I’ll just pick it up and walk it over to the recycle bin…
    Happy Labor Day!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Knew what you meant. And to finish my reply that got truncated, you see clearly and speak truth, Utejack.

    Case in point to prove your point about truth-tellers being silenced, when Dennis Kucinich mounted his first Presidential campaign, at the end of one of his speeches, he slowly turned in a circle on the dais and said, “See? No strings,” meaning he had no ties to any corporations or power brokers. Shortly after that, the DNC put a press black-out on his campaign, and he got no further coverage. Essentially, the same thing that happened to Bernie Sanders a decade later.

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  7. Thought you might like these words from over a century ago…

    Mark Twain said: “There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’ speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press.” He pronounced those words during a talk he gave in 1873 before the Monday Evening Club at Hartford Connecticut titled License of the Press.

    Twain, the father of American literature and a witty journalist himself would knock the state of the popular press.

    “It is a free press — a press that is more than free — a press which is licensed to say any infamous thing it chooses about a private or a public man or advocate any outrageous doctrine it pleases,” Twain said.

    “It has become a sarcastic proverb that a thing must be true if you saw it in a newspaper. That is the opinion intelligent people have of that lying vehicle in a nutshell. But the trouble is that mentally challenged people do believe and are molded and convinced by what they get out of a newspaper, and there is where the harm lies. Among us, the newspaper is a tremendous power. It can make or mar any man’s reputation. It has perfect freedom to call the best man in the land a fraud and a thief, and he is destroyed beyond help.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sending along Mr. Twain’s remarks. He was one of the wisest personages to grace our country, imho. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: by its very nature, the press is biased. The fact that one story is covered and another ignored is proof that what appears in print, in broadcasts, and online is the result of any number of factors, all of them due to some form of subjective judgment. When that bias is malicious and vindictive, or bent on disseminating lies, as Twain says, there’s little or no remedy. The presence or absence of one word in a headline can slant a story beyond redemption.

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      1. Here’s something for everyone to ponder!

        Yet, objective accurate news reporting may only be an illusion since, as TechStartUps reports, six corporations control 90% of what is published in America as of September 2020. Vanguard and BlackRock are the top investors in each of those six corporations, namely Comcast, Disney, ViacomCBS, News Corp, and AT&T.

        As you may note, there are only five corporations listed above. That’s because TechStartUps listed Viacom and CBS separately as the merger between the companies had only recently closed. In other words, the five or six supposedly competitive corporations vying for 90% of the American public are really controlled by two investment firms, Vanguard and BlackRock. And, in an interesting twist of events, Vanguard is the top investor in BlackRock.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, DD, the press is biased, and I would suggest (as others have, especially the people at FAIR.org, whom I highly recommend) that the first and most consistent bias of the US press is a pro-profit-system bias because the MSM institutions are profit-oriented organizations, not charities/non-profits. They employ intelligent, savvy individuals who have rents or mortgages to pay, and know how to write/say what their editors/producers want to see/hear. And, similar to the political system, any radical thinkers get ‘filtered out’ long before they might even get near a position of influence in the MSM.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. These words are taken from a paper on the study of media from TechStartUps.
      But they say a lot about what’s being created and manufactured for all of us to consume. I was listening to Chris Hedges today interviewing an author about the capture of science by the corporate and military establishments that are keeping funding from independent laboratories that would expose the malfeasance. He brought out the compliance of big tech that keep us in the dark about the modern practices that are poisoning us. It’s dangerous when we have to struggle so hard to seek out honest understanding and research that counters the
      “ manufactured narratives”. Most scientific research today starts with a stated premise and then creates
      “research testing” to prove that what they are selling or marketing is good and good for you. Honesty has left the house and healthy alternatives never get promoted. The algorithms hunt them down and marginalize them; rounding these ideas into internet internment camps. You almost have to become very scientific minded to battle Koch or Big Pharma or Big Ag etc. They have a stable of scientists and as William says
      The Ministry of Truth …

      Liked by 1 person

  8. One has to wonder if the news/science monopoly involves a two-pronged strategy. That is, taking control of both news outlets and scientific research wouldn’t be possible in the presence of a discerning, critical-thinking public. Therefore, the public has been dumbed-down via inane, ineffecrive education systems, creating steeple. You can’t fix stupid, but you can fix ignorant, and the powers-that-be want to make sure that fix never happens.

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