Living in a hermetically sealed bubble has its drawbacks:
Republican consultants are concerned that the combination of their voters’ insulation from reality — and Donald Trump’s fragile ego — could cost the party control of the House.
Midterms in this country are almost never good news for the political Party that’s in power. In politics as well as other walks of life, people naturally get sick of eating the same tuna sandwich and reflexively look for greener pastures. That is human nature. In a digital world where opinions can change with the click of a mouse, this tendency is amplified, quite a bit.
But there’s nothing particularly “human” about what the GOP propaganda machine has done to its base’s critical thinking skills over the past two decades:
For decades now, the conservative movement has sought to keep its core voters confined to a carefully curated media ecosystem — one where the Democratic Party is a Marxist–Islamist organization, America is the world’s most over-taxed nation, illegal immigrants bear sole responsibility for the stagnation of middle-class wages (and/or all violent crime), and there’s never been a better time to buy gold coins.
As effective as those tactics once were, with the advent of Donald Trump we’ve scaled new heights in Republican self-delusion. Trump has provided an invaluable assist to this process, convincing his base that anything said by what was once considered “normal” media is “fake news,” particularly if it reflects negatively on him. While those few members of the Republican Party who still cling to a measure of sanity have devised an “anti-Pelosi” meme to hide the fact that they can’t run on their tax cuts for millionaires or their plans to tear down Social Security and Medicare, the Trump base views these machinations through a lens, darkly, as it squints through a veil of pro-Trump propaganda. Trump himself encourages this, because it is in wholly his own interest to do so:
To acknowledge that Democrats are poised for a landslide would be to acknowledge that the American people do not overwhelmingly approve of his job performance. Therefore, Trump has assured his voters that all those reports about a “blue wave” are fake news, and that Republicans are certain to keep Congress in November. Fox News has dutifully echoed this message, and the GOP base has fully absorbed it.
New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz quotes Jonathan Swan of Axios, on the phenomenon of Republican “Blue Wave” denial:
The president’s contempt for mainstream polling and the media may come back to haunt him in November. Several top Republican operatives working on the midterm elections told me Trump’s fanciful “red wave” predictions could depress Republican turnout and, ironically, serve to make any blue wave even bigger.
At least one Republican pollster has has gone on record saying he’s witnessed this hard-headed denial in focus group interviews he’s conducted:
We’ve seen it in focus groups, with Republican base voters, where you’ll come up with a hypothetical that the Democrats win, and people are like, ‘That’s not going to happen, that’s stupid.’ … They’re like, ‘Oh, to hell with this crap, we were told Trump wasn’t going to win. It’s bullshit.’”
… “They watch Hannity… and hear that a red wave is coming to save the House. They really believe it’s going to be 2016 all over again.”
With every passing day, Democrats are finding new reasons to crawl over glass to vote this November. This outpouring of Democratic passion is likely unstoppable as it is being continually stoked by fresh new outrages from the Oval Office. For the true Trump believers, though, any electoral setback at this point is more likely to be blamed on a hidden, mysterious coterie of fraudulent voters than in an actual popular rejection of Trump’s policies.
If the polls continue to trend the way they are now, a significant portion of this country could (hopefully) wake up in a state of shock on November 7, 2018. If that happens, they’ll be looking for someone to blame. But Levitz says that they’ll probably blow that one, too:
[P]erhaps the GOP base will finally realize that their movement’s “fair and balanced” media outlets aren’t actually interested in keeping them well-informed. But it seems much more likely that they’ll follow their leader’s guidance — and conclude that Democrats are busing more “illegals” to the polls than they’d ever imagined.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.