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Response to KingCharlemagne (Original post)

Mon Oct 27, 2014, 12:15 AM

88. Many reasons

Firstly, remember that 19% of the US population thinks the sun orbits the earth. A fifth of the electorate are dumb as dirt, in other words.

Then you have to allow for a media that is, on the whole, right-wing. Contrary to the mantra that the public have been brainwashed into believing, all US media (outside of three hours on MSNBC in the evenings) tilts right to a greater or lesser degree. And that's a direct result of the fact that almost all broadcast media is owned by a small number of corporations and corporations tend to be conservative.

That's important for two reasons. Firstly, the human mind is incredibly susceptible to repetition. Hear it often enough and you will believe virtually anything (and I do mean anything). The RW media acts as an echo chamber that constantly reinforces the Republican message and doesn't call out Republican's outright lies. Secondly is the phonomenon known as "incestuous amplification". What that means is that, when you keep people getting their information from sources which agree with them, their beliefs tend to get more extreme. Take a few guys who think W was an ok president, lock them in a room for a while and they'll come out thinking that W was the best president ever, the sun shone again on his watch and he should be on Mount Rushmore (and yes, this has already happened with Reagan).

Media is also what shapes your ingroup and outgroup. Put simply, your ingroup are people like you or who you aspire to be and your outgroup is everyone else. All of you automatically and unconsciously discriminate in favour of our ingroup and against our outgroup. That's automatic, happens even in the very young and has been shown to operate even when the assignments to groups is explicitly random. Through teh corporate media have trained people to always kick downward when they are dissatisfied. Trained them to resent the poor shmuck on welfare, not teh corporate suit making millions (and that's in addition to the fact that I have never known a country that hates it's poor like the USA).

The rural population also identifies Democrats with cities, with hated elites, with minorities, with the modernity they hate and fear. Obama caught hell for saying that the rural people, scared of a changing world, cling to their flag, guns and religion but he was entirely right. They also identify Democrats with abortion. In the western world, abortion is only an issue in the US and Ireland and Ireland is virtually a theocracy. Consider also that the USA is one of the few countries where being intellectual is widely considered something to be hated and resented. Egg-headed elites who think they're better than us shitkickers. Education and intellectual achievement are not only not admired but actively resented.

People used to tell me that the USA was a classless society. That was bollocks. The USA is even more classist than my own UK, it's just that your classes are trained to only hate those on teh rung below them. So the people on welfare are despised most of all. The average citizen has been trained to regard every cent spent on welfare as a dollar stolen from him personally. And the USA venerates greed. Only in the USA is libertarianism, a philosophy which boils down to "people should starve rather than taxes supporting them", still a thing. Only in the USA and UK do people still think of poverty as a moral issue, that the poor are poor not through teh vagaries of the employment market or incresing company consolidation or even just because the capitalist system requires winners and losers and requires a certain level of unemployment to keep wages down. In the US and UK, teh unemployed are blamed for their own poverty. The PtB still think in Dickensian terms of the "undeserving poor", that the poor are poor because they drink or do drugs or "don't have the habit of work" (our demonically evil DWP minister).

Consider also the cognitive bias that means if we hold a wrong belief, not only will we resist correction, we will hold the belief even more strongly and resent those who tried correcting us.

Consider that fundamentalism, a theology that, in Weird Al's words "I'll be laughing my head off, as you're burning in hell", a theology that essentially exists simply as a revenge fantasy that promises everyone the believer dislikes will burn, is a powerful political force and Republicanity is now the dominant Republican faith. Republianity is a mixture of lip service to Jesus (while jettisoning virtually everything he actually taught), Nieztchian will-to-power, Randian beliefs to justify psychotic anti-tax beliefs, Nazi-level nationalism and worship of the military and Rapture beliefs that were invented wholesale out of a few twisted-from-context Bible verses about a century ago. It has it's own high priests (Pat Robertson, Limbaugh, Beck), it's own messiah figure (Reagan), it's own devil figure (Obama although really, it's whoever the most high-profile liberal of the time is), it's own designated scapegoats (liberals) and it's own versions of history, economics, psychology, theology and jurisprudence. And a lot of your countrymen have been brainwashed to believe that fictional view of the world.

In addition, the US still have a race problem. A big one. African-Americans are arrested and imprisoned at vastly disproportionate rates. And teh response in much of teh USA to that is not to suggest that there is something deeply wrong with the way law enforcement is doing things but to think that African-Americans are disproportionately likely to be criminals and that criminality is not attributable to their environment (such as poverty, the single most reliable indicator of criminality) but to something about black people in themselves. This is an example of what's called the "fundamental attribution error", a psychological bias that says, when we do something wrong, we will attribute it to outside factors but when someone else does something wrong, we will attribute it to them as a person.

Finally, the Southern US still votes Republican almost as a block. And in much of the Southern US, the education is almost laughable, includes much "USA, best country in the history of ever!" triumphalism and teh Civil War is still viewed as the "war of Northern Aggression" and it totally wasn't about slavery, dammit!

It is not difficult to manipulate humans. Humans are instinctively obedient, Milgram proved that. Humans are instinctively conformist. Asche proved that. Keep the lie simple enough, repeat it often enough and people will believe it. Hitler proved that.

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