Review of The Divided States of America
The Divided States of America is a current program on CNN that portrays some aspects of our political situation well. However, it minimizes the degree to which propaganda contributes to the problem. It also gets the problem itself wrong. The labeling of our main problem as “polarization” seems to sell well. It’s not the truth.
The main problem is not polarization but corruption — lies, propaganda, criminal behaviors, voter suppression and other kinds of intentional destruction of democracy. The polarization is an effect of the lying and other corruption.
The “Our problem is polarization” frame might also be named the “Why can’t we all just get along with the fascists and use the Golden Rule with them?” frame. It totally ignores the often demonstrated fact that if you give fascists an inch, they take a mile. They are not people with whom the Golden Rule works.
Turning to the TV program, I dislike the “Let’s get all alarmed” sensationalistic music here — as if the events portrayed are not scary enough by themselves. They are.
This program is naive. It denies reality. It minimizes the effects of propaganda and other corruption on the nation. Yet this kind of naive bias sells really well. People want to believe things are simpler and easier to solve than they are.
Zakaria is one of hundreds of people offering similar problem descriptions and solutions. This documentary is well loved. The audience is like children watching The Lion King over and over — feeling comfy while watching the same familiar story, even if it has some scary parts.
The solutions offered are vague naive pretend solutions. These pretend solutions also act like comforting parts of a constantly repeated familiar movie. Below are my comments on the solutions offered.
National service for young people is the only realistic solution here, though it would only work for one age group. I don’t see it solving any of the problems for anyone unless it is designed & executed well. It shouldn’t be put together without a clear sense of how it could offer constructive community alternatives for the young people. It could actually be destructive for some people, if left open for white supremacist groups and politically Right Wing Christian fundamentalist groups to infiltrate it— like parts of the military and police systems are now and have been for years.
“Politics must work.” So how are we going to keep the GOP from obstructing government from working — which has politically benefited them greatly over the decades? No guidance is offered on how.
“Stand up for the truth.” This is a platitude, without any strategy offered for how to do it. The effects of propaganda are mentioned in passing during the program. But the offer of this vague pretend solution minimizes the effects of fear/hate mongering Democrat-demonizing propaganda lies that come from highly organized well funded sources. There’s no highly organized well funded response to the propaganda on the horizon at all. He doesn’t suggest creating any such response.
“The GOP must become leaders, not panderers.” This is another of these solutions that amounts to saying “Let’s politely ask the GOP to stop doing their successful strategy for winning elections that they’ve been doing for generations — a strategy that won them far more down ballot races than Dems, including a pick up of 10 House seats by Republicans in November 2020.”
Zakaria also understates what the GOP is doing. They’re not simply pandering to the level of resentment that already exists. Propagandists always take every small flaw and fissure that already exists and magnify it until it’s Grand Canyon sized.
Republican propagandists use media and social media in highly organized well funded ways to exponentially multiply grievances, resentments, racism and other distresses and vices in their audiences. they do it because it gains them political advantage.
The GOP consists mostly of liars and con artists now. They ARE leading. They’re leading us into more and more lies, corruption, violence and fascism. Con artists are gonna con, no matter how much anyone politely beseeches them to stop conning, for the sake of the nation. Con artists don’t care about the welfare of the nation — only about their individual wealth and power.
“Imagine yourself in others’ shoes.” This is the typical “Empathy is the answer to every problem” liberal solution. Should we imagine ourselves attacking the Capitol and trying to kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi? No matter how much empathy we give to angry resentful narcissistic people, it seldom changes them. The Trump supporter who is open to other ideas or to facts is rare. If you find one, feel free to talk with them. However, you may not ever find such a person, since they’re so rare.
How do you compete with Right Wing TV, radio, “news” sites and organized social media efforts that spew lies, fear and rage thousands of times per year at this audience? As an individual, you usually can’t.
Here are some real solutions that could work to solve the problem, in this essay. Warning: They will not be familiar, so they may not be as comforting as “solutions” that have been discussed, and loved, and that haven’t worked — for decades now.
Right Wing Domination of Media & Politics Keeps Us Stuck in Disinformation and Right Wing Government
(I renamed this article after I wrote it.)