‘My Descent into the Right Wing Vortex’
– Vanity Fair
“Upon Trump’s win, I consumed only right-wing media for a week, where I learned about “snowflakes,” “self-respecting Nazis,” and the future of our divided country.
“I have learned a few things over the last few weeks. In general, it seems like the Democrats have become so fascinated with the demographics of 2050 that they have forgotten the demographics of 2016. Whites with less than a college degree are still a potent group in this country. Limbaugh, Levin, Breitbart, Hannity, and others—not to mention Trump—have not forgotten this fact.
In this day and age, connecting with that audience begins not with the candidate but with the media. Breitbart did not succeed because of Trump; Trump succeeded because of Breitbart, and there is no analogous media organization from the left that connects with this audience. Rachel Maddow likely isn’t playing as well in Youngstown, Ohio; Paul Krugman is probably not performing in Pikeville, Kentucky.
Limbaugh, Levin, Breitbart and the rest are a success because they have perfected how to channel and drive both the resentment and the aspiration of their audience. As Trump proved this year, it is more about attitude and a sense of being on the same team than it is about policies and ideas. In the days of labor unions, Democrats knew how to connect with the working-class audience, but that connection has been co-opted by others. In fact, most of the things that Trump spoke about this week on YouTube—trade, job creation, and ethics reform—were Democratic issues long before they were Trump’s issues.
The events of the last month make clear that progressives need an effective counterweight in media to the Breitbarts of the world. Right now, the counterpunching is entirely around trying to discredit conservative, alt-right media. That may be fine for today but in the long run, the left wing will need to find its own voices of passion, authenticity, and, apparently, a certain amount of outrage. If you don’t believe me, you can search it out for yourself, Snowflake.”
….Continue reading @ Vanity Fair
Is my Facebook page a liberal echo chamber?
After I defriended an old acquaintance, I had to wonder: Why have I grown so intolerant of any dissent?
“A few months ago, for reasons I don’t quite understand, I thought it would be a good idea to become Facebook friends with some people I knew in high school. Nostalgic, bored, procrastinating, emotionally unguarded after wrestling the kids into bed, Facebook’s algorithmic magic produced these old classmates’ names and before I knew it, I’d reached out to them with a click.
Why? I wondered almost immediately. These were people to whom I hadn’t spoken in more than 15 years, people I hadn’t much liked at the time, people with whom I’d had little in common besides geographic proximity and attendance at the same underperforming high school in central Virginia. I regretted it instantly, but tried not to worry. After all, I’m Facebook friends with plenty of people I don’t know well or like much, second cousins in south Florida, random playgroup moms, people I’ve met on planes or at Starbucks. What did it really matter — having a few more virtual strangers in my life. That was what I thought. Then, a day or two later, I read one of their posts.
President Obama had just given a televised speech on the economy, and this particular gentleman, someone I’d never known well but with whom I’d shared a neighborhood and a classroom for most of kindergarten through 12th grade, a fellow I remember as being pleasant, a bit on the quiet side, a member of the marching band, certainly not a bully or a jerk, had written, “Just turned off the t.v. More lies from B. Hussein Obama.” Within a few minutes, 10 people had “liked” this comment. Within a few more minutes, others had begun to add comments of their own, nearly all of which made reference to the president’s skin color, “questionable” national origin, or socialist death-panel agenda. I nearly fell out of my chair. My heart was racing. I squinted at the screen. I read the comments again and again. This was the real deal, not on Fox News but right here on MY computer, on MY Facebook page. I’d invited it in, that horrible place I’d left the day I graduated from high school. I looked down at my keyboard and saw that my hands were shaking. I decided to add a comment of my own: “Don’t like! Boy, am I glad I don’t live in Richmond anymore. You are un-friended!”
Trying to distract myself, I browsed the status of my other Facebook friends, listened to a little NPR, and yet I kept returning to that moment of profound disorientation, that feeling of having slipped into some alternate political universe. Where am I? I’d felt like asking. Who are these people? Am I truly that out of touch with the place I grew up? Have I actually constructed an enclave of liberal, secular, urban-dwelling, like-minded 30-somethings so sealed off from the rest of the world that a tiny breach in the form of a Facebook post could so thoroughly floor me?”
….Continue reading @ Salon