Per Baudrillard etc: The items/clothing/appliances we acquire/use are signifiers constructing our internal and external personas, through public display and the construction of our personal environment (the space in which we internally perform our “private” self.) The purchase of or refusal to purchase commodities is the primary means by which human identity is constructed in late capitalism.
The president is a commodity. The US population has been purposely trained over several decades to see their political choices as being primarily lifestyle signifiers. “I voted for X because I am this sort of person.” vs. “I voted for X because X furthers x, y, z causes.”
Implied lifestyle associations is the primary way language by which data collected on everyone through the internet, grocery store etc is actually sorted and catalogued. The Amazon “If you liked Tucker Max you might like 12 Pack Men’s Shaving Razors” became the Facebook “If you like this page or check in at this location you likely have this income level and work in this industry.”
It can cross reference face recognition tagged photos that are posted. This is how FB and Google analyze your activities in order to target advertising. “Smart billboards” and “smart cities” shows a social organization that developed as much from the shopping mall as the stasi. This is a noisy gaudy fascism. The aspirational fantasies that were pacifying the populace cease to do so. The customary reassurances of eventual reacceptance into society, the endless fictional romances and killing sprees that seasonally reiterate our self-actualization fantasies, serve as the delayed payoff for the unbearable neurotic loneliness that is the actual experience of our myths of “self-reliance”.
Of course, no one can ever feel “actualized” in the current environment. The cultural monomyth doesn’t hold. Few outside the self-proclaimed meritocracy cult (perhaps even few within it) actually believe what they’re doing benefits society in any way. “Ethical consumerism” is largely a socially self-imposed sin tax.
The irrational behavior on display on all sides is not the behavior of a society fighting for its life but one with different factions bitterly set on which hole they want to crawl into and die. On some level, by going to the brink they think they will prove that they can’t die.
People around the world are turning to the new fascists because climate change, automation and other horrors bring about universal cultural mortality salience. Mortality salience makes individuals cling to cultural norms aggressively because the seeming immutability of the society itself is largely a constructed blinder against the awareness of death. The culture shifts to the right and becomes isolationist. Increased mortality salience has been linked to increased religiosity and would go some way to explaining why the Christian right embraced Trump, a man who superficially embraces none of their values.
The racist mob embraces the charismatic leader because the charismatic leader is willing to lie to them. When Trump tweets obvious lies, this is taken by his followers as a sign of virility because it represents a convincing umbrella against the possibility of death. Death being the pervasive tenor of the era, the denial of death in this case becomes the denial of reality itself. Post-truth etc etc
I’ve run into many people while walking dogs who say “Well I hope that it succeeds.” Which is sort of like seeing your house burning down and saying “Well I hope it all burns down. Fuck it.”