If you talk to a Republican these days, chances he’s going to talk about “Antifa.” In fact, he’s probably not going to talk about anything else. For the typical Trump supporter, the anti-police brutality uprisings of the Spring of 2020 are the result of gangs of “antifa” organized by George Soros (dogwhistle for “the Jews”) for the benefit of Joe Biden and the Democrats. Never mind the fact that there were anti-police-brutality protests in the Summer of 2014 when Barack Obama was President, or how social unrest is the very last thing the Democrats, who are counting on a fragile alliance of southern blacks and upper-middle-class professionals, want in 2020, or even that “antifa” is just the latest synonym for “anarchist” or “black bloc.” It doesn’t matter. No amount of evidence is going to convince a Trump supporter that there are structural problems in American society dating all the way back to the New Deal and even Reconstruction that have locked white people under 30, and all black people out of the economic mainstream. In fact, the typical Trump supporter won’t even try to make an argument. He’ll simply repeat the word “antifa.” Antifa. Antifa. Fake news. Fake news. Triggered much liberal?
If you talk to a liberal these days, chances are she’s going to talk about “Russians.” In fact, she’s probably not going to talk about anything else. For the typical Clinton supporter, the anti-police brutality uprisings of 2020 are the result of gangs of “Russian trolls” organized by Vladimir Putin himself for the benefit of Donald Trump and the Republicans. Never mind that there were anti-police-brutality protests in the Summer of 2014, when Barack Obama was President, and in the 1960s, when Lyndon Johnson was President, or how property destruction and social unrest is the very last thing that Republicans, who are counting on the idea that Trump is handling the Covid-19 crisis better than George W. Bush handled Katrina, want. Never mind that “Russians” is just the latest dogwhistle for “Asiatic Jewish Bolsheviks,” it doesn’t matter. No amount of evidence is going to convince a Clinton supporter that there are structural problems in American society dating all the way back to the New Deal and even Reconstruction that have locked white people under 30, and all black people out of the economic mainstream. In fact, the typical Clinton supporter won’t even try to make an argument. She’ll just tell you to “go back to Soviet Slovenia” (where Melania Trump was born).
There are of course differences.
The typical Trump supporter is dumb, and stupidly rebellious. Everything that happens is part of a conspiracy to take his guns. Climate scientists aren’t sincere professionals warning of us the dire results of global warming, they’re liberal know it alls who want to take your SUVs (and your guns). All news is “fake news,” except of course for the reports that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. That was true. Bill Gates is trying to “depopulate” the earth and is the reason your ugly son can’t get laid. The typical Trump supporter is easy to hoodwink by fake populism. He doesn’t have a class analysis or an understanding of history. All you have to do, in his mind, to be part of the working class, is drive an overpriced pickup truck, own a gun collection, be rude to liberals, and hate women and black people, something every right wing politician, however well off, does anyway.
The typical Clinton supporter is well-educated, but stupidly deferential to authority. She’s gone to the best Ivy League Schools and has a law degree (which she’s quick to tell you all about on social media). She’s actually read the Mueller Report and is convinced that somewhere on page 123 or 149 there’s proof that the pee tape actually exists. She closely follows a long list of “intelligence experts” (grifters who know they’ll never starve repeating “Russia Russia Russia” on MSNBC) in Washington DC, and is convinced that in the brutally cold Winter of 2019, Putin was planning to take down the power grid in the Midwest and kill homeless people in Chicago. She never questions anything that an expert with the right credentials says, and if you do, she’ll probably call you a racist and a sexist.
But there’s one thing they have in common.
The Trump supporter and the Clinton supporter, both of whom are probably over 30 and well off financially, have one important thing in common. They see the world through the lens of a conspiracy theories, not conspiracy theories invented by crackpots and misfits that have bubble up from the bottom, but conspiracy theories carefully disseminated through the corporate media by the ruling class for the express purpose of keeping us all stupid. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want to confront an uncomfortable reality. Neoliberal capitalism is broken. For the past 20 years, the American ruling class has lost so much of its legitimacy in the rest of the world that it has tried to destroy any country out of its control (Venezuela, Iran, and now Russia and China) through sanctions and dirty tricks. Now it’s all come home. While there are of course agents provocateurs and destructive opportunists among the largely young protesters of the Spring of 2020, it’s a movement that’s been organized from the bottom up, through social media, affinity groups, grassroots political organization, rank and file Democrats who were pushed out of the Presidential primary in 2020, and above all by ordinary black people sick of being killed by undemocratic, unaccountable, racist militarized police departments in all of our big cities. Our ruling class can’t accept the fact that their time is over. So they’re going to take as many of the rest of us down with them as they can shoot, gas, gaslight, or throw in prison.
Welcome to the age of trickle down conspiracy theories.