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An asymmetric understanding of time: the GOP long game versus Twitter-speed retail politics

This essay is a rough sketch of a topic that will be discussed in my upcoming book Death by Populism. One of the key differences between the Republican and Democratic parties is how the two groups regard issues of expectations of political achievement and time. The years of the Trump administration represented the fulfillment of a four decades long plot by the Republican Party to secure control of the United States government. That plot began in the early 1980s when a variety of conservative organizations started organizing to support conservative candidates. Those organizations would eventually turn into fundraising behemoths like the Heritage Foundation and the State Policy Network.

Those groups all focused on promoting an ideology that was derived directly from the Southern Baptist prosperity gospel ideology that came to dominate the American South during the antebellum era, and which persisted throughout reconstruction and into the modern day. The goals of these Confederate Evangelicals have always included:

  1. The elimination of hate-crime laws – including laws designed to prosecute criminal syndicates like the KKK
  2. Promoting attacks on the rights of workers to organize in unions, as well as to seek redress from employers for workplace injuries
  3. The elimination of environmental protection laws
  4. The elimination of the income tax

Over the years a spider-web of various groups was created to promote all of the goals listed above. The election of Donald Trump was a gift to these far-right Confederate Evangelicals, as they finally had a President whose behavior created so much distraction, and who had so little concern about the appearance of political corruption, that they could fill the government with far-right appointees who were eager to do the bidding of the Conservative far-right. The notion that Trumpism was a new event that popped up out of nowhere was a myth. Trump was a tool for a group of very wealthy men, who had been laying the groundwork to impose their will on the United States government for four decades.

By contrast, the Democratic Party has no comparable structure to achieve its political goals. There are a variety of non-profit groups that align themselves with the Democratic Party that wish to protect existing political rights, but those groups are typically so strained by their mission to provide public services and address the needs of the general public that they don’t engage in anywhere near the same level of coordinated political spending that the right-wing does.

The Democratic Party has been overwhelmed by a “Twitter-speed” timeline where it must deal with the stresses created by a complete lack of coordinated campaign resources for obtaining political objectives, a fickle “Twitter-speed” peanut gallery that is heavy on snark and condemnation but critically weak on political analysis, a media that seems intent on bringing back Trump so they can reap the easy ad revenues of “the Outrage Presidency – Part 2,” and a social media environment where Progressives insist that if a President cannot deliver on every single campaign promise in just his first year in office then he’s a complete failure.

It appears that paid trolls and bot-nets are being used to amplify all of those conditions for Democrats. It appears that foreign governments have recognized that one of the great weaknesses of the United States is an affluent population that was raised in a retail environment and seems to think that they should be able to order massive change in government as easily as they order a latte. A key factor to understand in how foreign influence operations work is that the Russians created very little unique content when they tried to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election. The overwhelming majority of their efforts consisted of using bot-nets to create and boost existing domestic content, so it would be seen by a larger audience. This kind of “social media evolution,” where agitative content is selected and promoted based on its ability to appeal to the easily frustrated and extremely impatient works with both Republicans and Democrats.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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