Saturday, October 31, 2020

People Believe What They Want to Believe

Raging true-believer-ism is never good for you, personally.

I noted before that I have no truck against those who believe in different things than I do.  On the other hand, I have little respect for people who believe in nonsense.   If you are a developer, for example, and want your taxes lowered, regulations reduced, and those pesky inspectors from the County to leave you alone, I can understand why you might vote Republican.

Or, if you are of a religious bent and think abortion is unholy, I get it that you vote Republican, even if the candidate in question seems more like the anti-Christ than an angel.

Similarly, if you are young, burdened by student loans and without a good-paying job or a decent place to live, I can understand why the snake-oil of Socialism sounds appealing.  Or maybe, you want to have health care but can't afford health insurance - and want to see Obamacare preserved.  Voting in your own self-interest isn't hard to understand - everyone does it, to some extent.

But believing in utter bullshit - crazy conspiracy theories that really don't intersect your life - well, that's just craziness.  Saying you support Trump because he is going to dismantle Hillary's Pizza-Kitchen pedophile ring is just insane talk - yet so many do this sort of thing, on both sides of the political spectrum.

Sadly, both sides of the spectrum are pushing these "stories" which are pretty much bullshit.   A friend of mine breathlessly reported that Joe Biden confused Donald Trump with George Bush - by calling him out as "George".   A sure sign of dementia!  And as we all know, since Biden is three years older than Trump, he must be too old to be President.   As others have noted, both candidates are older than the last three living former Presidents - Bush, Obama, and Clinton.  Only Jimmy Carter is older.

The reality is, of course, that Biden didn't confuse Bush with Trump. He was talking with George Lopez at the time, whose name happens to be the same as GW's.   But hey, a carefully edited video makes it seem otherwise - and obviously, that's a good reason to vote for Trump!  The weird thing is, my friend was predisposed to vote for Trump (the abortion angle) so the edited video didn't really convince them of anything. And I doubt it convinced any "undecided" voters anymore than stories about Hunter Biden's laptops - of which there are apparently four or more in repair shops in Bethesda or the Ukraine or whatever.   That guy has a lot of laptops, which like "e-mail" we know to be a dirty word.

We are so used to "October Surprises" that we discount them these days.  Sean Hannity now claims he has "secret documents" but that UPS stole them or someone broke open the package and took them.  How convenient for him - on the eve of an election.   Does anyone, other than someone already predisposed to vote for Trump, really believe the timing of this?  Of course not - you can't "October Surprise" forever, even the dullest among us catch on.

Meanwhile, on the Left, people are chuckling over Rudy Giuliani's hands-down-his-pants, which conservative pundits are falling all over themselves to explain as a mere tuck-in.  I have no doubt that Sasha Baron Cohen has heavily edited his videos to make them appear to show something that really didn't happen - that is is shtick.  He does outrageous things and then edits the videos to make it appear that people are racist or whatever. In a way, it is sort of cruel, particularly when the people he victimizes are just ordinary folks who don't deserve to be skewered on a national stage.  But Rudy Giuliani?   Skewer away!

Seriously though, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his "tucking in the shirt" excuse, but don't give him a pass for going into a hotel room bedroom with a young woman "for a drink" - he should have known better.  And the fact he didn't figure out something was wrong after Cohen's odd behavior as the "sound man" shows a lack of judgement.  But as Trump famously said, "Well, that's Rudy!"

On the other hand, you can see the video is carefully edited to show the same scenes from different angles, to make it appear Rudy was doing more than a tuck-in.  And maybe he was.  The point is - does this change anyone's mind about Rudy Giuliani one bit?   Probably not.  It does provide a cathartic release for some on the Left, just as the altered Biden videos do for Trump supporters - it provides a confirmation bias that their side is "right" and that the "other guy" who supports the opponent has to be insane or deranged.

And maybe that is where these Pizzagate and Qanon people come from.   Their primary motivation to support Trump isn't based on these bizarre conspiracy theories, but they are just another reason to support him - and demonize the opposition.   After all, anyone who supported Hillary (or today, Biden) must like ping-pong, pizza, and pedophilia - such folks are beyond help!  They probably like Hawaiian Pizza to boot!

Thus, the political debate is shifted from policies to nonsense.   It doesn't matter what polices Trump has enacted or what Biden is proposing, we are told that what is really important are the wild claims that Osama Bin Laden is still alive and Biden "ordered" Seal Team 6 to be liquidated (because as we all know, Vice-Presidents have so many duties and authority - beyond being a tie-breaking vote in the Senate and attending funerals of foreign dignitaries).

Political hacks call folks who fall for these gags, "Low-Information Voters" - people who follow gossip and drama, but have little grasp on the real issues of the day.  My friend who barfs up anti-Biden attack videos also watches "Dancing with the Celebrity Chef Bake-Off Home Flipping Voice Stars!" or some such dreck and can't understand why I don't follow that sort of nonsense with breathless enthusiasm.  Television, alas, creates low-information voters - people who think "Reality Television" is real, and vote for a Reality Television star for President.

The issues are what is important this time around.  And I can't say I 100% agree or disagree with each candidate on the important issues of the day.  But on the whole, I have to say that four years of Trump hasn't been a good thing.  Yes, the stock market has gone up (not as dramatically as during either four-year term of Obama) but at a price that we will have to pay down the road - in terms of deficit spending and increasing national debt.

During a recession - the greatest seen since the depression, as was inherited by Obama, or during a national crises, such as this pandemic, one can understand why "priming the pump" through government spending might be a good idea.   But what about the first three years of the Trump administration?  What was the point of the tax cuts and profligate spending then?  Shouldn't we have been paying down our debts rather than increasing them?

It is a trend on Wall Street to jack a company for quick profits, ramp up the stock price, and them dump it all before it goes horribly wrong.  Sadly, it seems the current administration is doing just that to the economy, and it appears that once again, a Democrat will have to pick up the pieces, re-institute the regulations that were designed to prevent such shenanigans, and try to slowly claw our way back to prosperity.

Four more years of Trump, I'm afraid, will only dig ourselves in deeper.

Postscript: My friend who thinks Biden is demented, promised me that Trump has a "beautiful plan" to replaced Obamacare and that "Trump will take care of you!"   I am curious as to why Trump won't show us this plan, however (perhaps because, like his taxes, it is being audited?).    We are being asked to buy a pig-in-a-poke, to "trust" Trump to do the right thing, when he could just as easily show us what his plan is.   I suspect this is because either (a) he has no plan, or (b) the "plan" is no plan at all, but to just abolish Obamacare and revert back to the system we had before, where health insurance is expensive and covers little or is utterly unaffordable for most Americans.

When choosing between a known (Obamacare) and an unknown (Vague Promises by Trump) it isn't hard to make a decision.  And again, you have to expect people to vote in their own self-interest.