You’ve heard plenty about how nuts Trump people are now, but I saw something today that brought it home for me in a new way.
We already know that there is a substantial segment of the Trump-American population that, taking their cue from their reality-averse idol, has become impervious to reason and even to objective matters of fact. The whole idea that Biden stole the election, for example, is ridiculous, and no one has made anything resembling a sound case for it.
Making a case, however, is increasingly not what they’re interested in. Even The Epoch Times — the cult paper that for weeks bannered its front page with a “CONTESTED ELECTION” graphic claiming that the winner in swing states like Pennsylvania had not yet been settled, and kept it up even after the states certified their votes and appointed their Biden electors — has stopped running that graphic. They still give big play to stories like “Trump Legal Team to Continue Challenge for Election Integrity Beyond Jan. 6: Jenna Ellis” — mainly just letting readers know someone’s still working to overturn the thing, without much bothering with the fictive excuse of a Democrat steal.
There has been much discussion of the retreat from reality among Trump people, and even the papers that usually bothsides everything have started acknowledging it, running essays like “‘Reach Out to Trump Supporters,’ They Said. I Tried./I give up.” Wajahat Ali’s point is that the Trump voters he tried to engage responded, not with arguments, but with non-sequiturs like “They’ll never take my guns. Ever,” and he had just run out of reasons to talk to them.
Others endeavored to explain what was particularly insulating about Trump fandom as opposed to other political movements. In Salon, Amanda Marcotte basically says (as I have said) that the whole premise of Trump support has always been, not a political platform, but the belief that “he’s a liar, a cheat, and a crook” and thus would make his followers vicarious winners by cheating the establishment — most spectacularly by stealing the 2020 election. But he hasn’t pulled it off, so his followers are throwing a “nationwide tantrum... Trump’s voters never believed he was an honest man,” Marcotte says, “yet they got snookered by the biggest lie of all: that he had almost god-like powers to cheat the system.” In their bitterness, says Marcotte, they’re letting Trump drag them into a “miserable black hole of rage and paranoia,” from which there can be no communication with those of us still in the surface world.
The garden-variety signifiers of this, with which we’re all familiar, are either some poor dumbass on Twitter spouting off QAnon/Deep State conspiracy theories, or crowds of dumbasses yelling same at the denialist rallies they’ve been holding since the election. It’s all very creepy, but what I saw on Twitter today seemed next level.
You know about the new stimulus bill, which has the shitty $600 payment no one likes and that everyone’s complaining about. Naturally Democrats blame Republicans and Republicans (and horseshoe leftists) blame Democrats. Now Tubby is claiming he won’t sign the bill without $2000 payments instead; the arguing still goes on in the same vein, with Democrats saying great, let’s do it, and Republicans and horseshoe leftists claiming Democrats are the real stumbling block.
This is all expected, even (on our current debased terms) normal. But I saw something on Twitter by someone called Chuck Callesto, one of a seemingly endless series of wingnuts who have hundreds of thousands of followers for no discernible reason: He advertises himself as a “Father and Former Candidate for Florida's 3rd Congressional District.” Anyway the guy put this up:
You may notice that the screenshot is from July and has nothing to do with the current bill. But never mind that — whether the words “Nullifies the President’s use of the Insurrection Act” or anything like that, indeed anything with “Insurrection” in it, is in the bill can be checked very, very easily, by downloading the consolidated bill and using control-F. And it’s not there.
Every one of Callesto’s followers could have gone to look, if only so they could marvel at the diabolical evil of Congress trying to strip Trump of a tool that some conservatives say he needs to kill enough Democrats to hold the Presidency. But then you read down the comments — “@realDonaldTrump they are clearly scared of your use of it. Not only should you VETO it but you should use the Insurrection Act immediately!” “This election must be overthrown,” “I wonder who noticed ?!! Wow. This is incredible!! They are really panicking !!!” etc. — and you realize none of them checked.
And it wasn’t something hard — they didn’t have to collate varying opinions or eyewitness accounts; they just had to use a search function. And they didn’t do.
A few wingnut websites are pushing this story — this one not only has no link to the bill, but also contains the same reference as has Callesto’s tweet to the July legislation, which is clearly marked as something different than the stimulus bill but is treated as if it’s the same thing. (The author, one Kari Donovan, “is an ex-Community Organizer who writes about Voter Engagement, Cultural Marxism and Campaigns.”) Then there’s this gun nut site — typical comment: “If we are going to war, we kill every fucking commie we can find and take back the entire country. Or we die trying.”
Now, I'm not actually concerned that a lot of these guys will go kill-crazy over this; America has long had too many armed psychos, and I think they’re no more ready to go off now than they were in the days of biweekly mass murders. But I am bothered by this Insurrection thing.
I mean, every day we see people claiming things, or supporting claims by other people, that aren't true. Hell, sometimes I’ve been careless enough to pass along a false lead myself. We all move a little too fast on the internet and there’s enough motivated reasoning to go around.
And even in the world of election conspiracy theories, there’s a grain of truth, or at least arguable supposition, in the general idea that our elections are shady. As I’ve observed, conservatives aren’t the only one who think so, either.
But this thing’s a little different. Sure, there’s the lust to see Trump use extraordinary powers to kill his opponents. And there’s the usual devotion to pleasing fictions. But it’s the fact that literally all they had to do to find out it was fake was hit a few keys and they wouldn’t do it. Because they’ve gone beyond Fuck Your Feelings, and into Fuck Your Facts.