As I write this, we are quickly wrapping up 2021. We are being told by the legacy media we are much better off today than we were a year ago when the world was gripped by Middle East peace, low oil, and stable inflationary pressures.
One of the takeaways from 2021 is a rehabilitation of the old phrase, “gaslighting”.
We heard it in Death of a Salesman and it had an old, timely sounding resonance.
Bold-faced lies told with such sincerity that, though ample empirical evidence existed to the contrary, the listener was inclined to ignore it and focus on the fantasy. There are two reasons for this: First, acknowledgment of the truth would require acceptance of an uncomfortable reality; second, the liar held an air of authority and to question him would be to assert independence or even superiority over the authoritarian. The second aspect has potential dire consequences.
We are now as a nation being gaslighted.
There is a “thing” about Americans, though, that makes gaslighting more difficult. We don’t trust authority, or at least for most of our history we didn’t. Perhaps that is changing.
Last week the Progressive Caucus of the Washington Democrats… (You know… I hate that title. They are not progressive, not even close. They have adopted that moniker and it needs to be stripped from them. A better, more descriptive phrase would be the “Authoritarian Caucus”… Yes… I like that much better.)… In any event, the Authoritarian Caucus lost its mind.
Senator Manchin decided not to play ball when it came to their social spending bill. Effectively he killed it in its current form by announcing he would not be voting yes. With a 50/50 split in the Senate, that means it does not pass.
My colleagues at the Capitol have informed me that at least four Democratic senators who are in serious jeopardy begged Senator Manchin to do this so they would not have to vote on the monstrosity during their election year. I believe my sources, and it does seem to make sense.
The legacy media, though, was left apoplectic. Talking heads, and, yes, even elected members of Congress started screaming the fact a bill like this could die at the hands of a single Senator was fundamentally undemocratic (perhaps un-Democratic?). Regardless… something needs to be done NOW! We need to fundamentally change our Constitutional system to allow for whatever the authoritarians want to be pushed through with little to no resistance. Compromise, political wrangling, even elections themselves are so…well… inefficient when it comes to getting things done (as long as the policy promulgated is consistent with the party in power).
What is worse, the Authoritarians cry, is that it flys in the face of good policy! After all… they know what is better for us, and how dare we question their agenda or, for that matter, their competency.
The media holds their water… hence the gaslighting.
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When I was in graduate school, playing at getting my PhD, we had a discussion on normative vs empirical studies. Empirical studies have a purity to them. True, they can certainly be biased, but the goal is to study the way things are. The overlay of ethics comes as a secondary analysis. What we really want to know is the “what” first, followed by the “why”.
Normative studies are different. In a normative analysis we want to know the way “things should be”. Oftentimes this is completely divorced from the empirical evidence.
Everyone should have access to subsidized secondary education at no cost: normative statement. Subsidized education creates low value, and spiraling tuition costs: empirical reality.
This is not to say that normative analysis is not without merit, quite far from that. Hell… we became a country because our Framers were willing to put their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on the line in search of a normative change. But a normative analysis has more to do with ethics and agendas.
Something has happened, though, that I have never witnessed before. Well… I never witnessed here. It was always on display in the Soviet Union: complete abandonment of the empirical.
“The Biden agenda is lowering costs and making the world a safer place.”
“Americans, for the first time in years, feel that the country is moving in a positive direction.”
In the past, politicians and talking heads would edit the negative, marginalize its importance, accentuate the positive… now they simply argue facts that don’t exist.
As I said, Americans have always been distrustful of centralized power. We don’t like it in the commercial world… we break up monopolies all the time… and we definitely don’t like the greatest monopoly of them all: the government.
We organized our governmental system to limit its power, and we have a fundamental distrust of the pontificators that populate the Temples of Democracy.
This distrust does not work well with an Authoritarian. After all… as I said earlier, they know what is best for us, or, at the very least, what is best for them. They can, of course, gaslight, but at a certain point, The People will recognize the emperor has no clothes.
2022 comes barreling towards us and with it a promise for a recalibration. The Authoritarian Caucus is about to become significantly more marginalized and they know it. Like an anvil chained to the bloated body of the once great Democratic Party, it is plummeting both them and their cheerleaders to the dark depths of obscurity.
Yes… as the sun rises on the first of January, I will be sitting on my porch sipping my first cup of coffee… and from that porch, I can clearly see November.