Sunday, December 11, 2016
INQUISITION 17: Political Debate in the Post-Truth World
It has become apparent that political debate in the United States has changed fundamentally.
The flutter around the trump Presidential campaign included many false news stories which appeared to confirm the opinions of some voters.
Additionally, trump himself has consistently denied the reality of some well established facts. All 17 United States intelligence agencies have stated that Russia interfered in the Presidential campaign.
President-elect trump denies it.
This is the new political debate.
And yet, some politicians and commentators still rely on the idea that once the truth is revealed, their argument will be sustained, even in the face of relentless false news claims to the contrary.
That is no longer the case, if it ever was. It is no longer sufficient to prove that an assertion is false. By the time the proof is offered, there will be many other, equally absurd allegations.
The only successful argument against an onslaught of false information in today's world is a bigger onslaught of false information on the other side.
Relying on 'truth' or 'facts' to support your position will not be successful since the oppostion will consistently deny the veracity of your facts and point to the flood of counter factual information which supports their arguments.
Therefore, when the Senate offers its 'advice and consent' on Cabinet nominees, a successful strategy of denying consent to a nominee requires that voters in a Senator's district are subject to a negative flood of fake news stories about the nominee. Then, and only then, are voters likely to call their Senator and request the Senator to deny confirmation.
For example, imagine that 24 hours before the confirmation hearing for Secretary of Labor Nominee Andrew Puzder, some 'news' stories are released on several 'news' websites and circulated via social media:
1. BREAKING NEWS - 12 year old girl charges Puzder with forcible rape!!
2. Labor Secretary Nominee Puzder won't release tax returns because they will show Mob ties in NYC!!
3. Homeless teens have video of Carl's employees forcing them to perform fellatio inside a Hardee's restaurant!!
4. Puzder caught cheating on college exams while still a student!!
5. KKK cheers Puzder nomination!!
6. Puzder funds pedophile ring in Las Vegas!!
7. Puzder fails to deny allegation of 'love child'!!
8. Puzder seen at gay bar!!
9. Puzder has cocaine problem!!
Etc., etc., etc.
Here's the wonderful thing about these 'news' items: it make no difference whether or not they are true.
The damage is done by releasing them.
Like it or not, this is the world now.
It would appear that to serve our country we may have to step in the sewer.