I usually don’t discuss politics. There’s not a lot of intersection between music and politics, except for matters of copyright, which I do talk about. Copyright has gotten pretty far afield from its intended purpose and there are many difficulties as a result: from bogus social media takedown notices; to DRM protections preventing playback of one’s own original content; to the difficulty of trying to track down the true copyright holder to request permission to use their work; to a song that shares no chords, lyrics or melodies with another but simply similar instruments and arrangement being found as copyright infringement (Gaye vs Thicke “Blurred Lines”); etc.
I’m a Republican and have been pretty embarrassed about admitting it since the days of Newt Gingrich and President W. (Bush), and of course it’s only gotten worse.
I was surprised and shocked when Trump won in 2016. Not by Trump himself. It was pretty obvious long before the election (before he ran for office really) that Trump was a con artist with no moral integrity of any kind, who cared only about himself. No, the surprise was how many people were fooled by his bluster and clumsy nonsense statements and willing to make excuses for his behavior. But it didn’t make me question the election or claim that Hilary won because she won the popular vote. It just made me disappointed and disheartened that so many people were fooled. And for the first time, provided an inkling of how someone like Hitler had come to power, something that had always been more than a bit mystifying before.
Now, the Republican Party, with Trump’s “help”, has created a base of supporters with an anti-Utopian view, insistent on believing the worst of any situation: government and institutions are all corrupt; the FBI and Department of Justice are mere tools of the party in power; immigrants villainously take advantage of our system, collectively intent on fundamentally changing our nation; masks and vaccines are attempts to strip us of our right to control our own lives; gun control advocates use mass shootings as an excuse (or even fake them) to try to strip Americans of the ability to defend themselves; knowledge and expertise are merely elitists attempting to dominate us; calling out lies is an attempt to prevent free speech; newspapers and news organizations are just organs of propaganda; Climate Change and even Covid are fake issues designed to make our lives more difficult and needlessly challenging; elections that don’t turn out the way we voted must be rigged; a constant stream of smoke from questionable Trump actions doesn’t mean there’s a fire, it’s clearly a vendetta by people who can’t accept that Trump “won”; anything we don’t agree with is obviously fake news; Democrats and progressives are evil and will stop at nothing to “win”; etc, etc.
It’s a fascinating and bleak world view. And that very bleakness is used to justify ever more extreme “responses” to the world around them. Like any utopian view (positive or negative) their explanation of the world is more real to them than reality. They seem to have an endless capacity to explain away evidence that they are wrong about any one conspiracy theory. Like the Hydra, lop off any one head, and two or three more grow in its place. And it’s the collective weight of the hodgepodge of theories that seems to make it so compelling. Everyone else is working together against them in a vast conspiracy. There are no accidents or coincidences, everything that happens is intentional and by design and focused on making their life worse because they know the truth and that knowledge makes them important and a threat to the terrible status quo around them.
I don’t know how you combat that. You can’t do it with reason. Reason wasn’t involved in their adoption of this world view. It’s like trying to reason with a mental patient.
It does make you wonder about our education system, that so many people don’t know the difference between being rational and rationalization. Or maybe it’s the constant bombardment of (often exaggerated) advertising claims, or the influence of social media where everything is treated like “news”, or the news organizations themselves who have become increasingly sensational and tabloid-like in a desperate attempt to regain a sliver of our attention. All these things seem to imitate one another to make one homogeneous, undifferentiated pool of content that makes it ever harder to find what’s important, to know who is the source of that content and whether it is reliable. Ironic in our age of instantly available info, don’t you think? Add to that the ever increasing rapidity of the dissemination of that content, whether it be essential news or wild rumor, and some healthy skepticism is vital.
The one ray of sunshine in all this is the Republicans have given us one easy litmus test of truth and sanity this year: is a candidate willing to admit publicly that Trump lost the 2020 election? And will that candidate commit in advance to abiding by the results of the 2022 election?
How can I vote for someone who doesn’t believe in election results? As hard as it is to believe these candidates hold fascist views, in this one area at least, I think we have to take them at their word (or lack of it).
That means, despite being a registered Republican, this year I can’t vote for any of my Republican candidates at the local or national level because they all fail that pretty simple test. I’ll take a sane candidate who disagrees with me, but who will listen to science and reason and rational argument, over an irrational candidate any day. Who knows what ideas the irrational candidate might get into their head or what they may do?
Maybe, but sad to say only maybe, if we hold the Republican Party accountable for its continued support of Trump and election lies, and don’t put them in office, the Republican Party might return to being Republican, instead of being merely anti-Democrat and, more importantly, the anti-democracy fascists they seem to think they must be in order to maintain their “base”.