While it seems that the people who voted for Trump did so out of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and good-old-fashioned raw hatred, that is only a part of the story.
They voted out of fear.
The right-wing (now alt-right) decision makers at media outlets such as Fox News, Breitbart News, etc.., along with the Republican party, have been whipping people into frenzied fear ever since 9/11, and it has just paid off in a major way.
This last election, and the complete takeover of all branches the US government by the ultra-right-wing is the direct end result of years of relentless fearmongering through any means necessary, including bold-faced lying.
How did we get here?
The answer is clear, though very complex. Indeed, though the means are obvious, the motives are less so.
The means, of course, are the aforementioned ‘alternative’ right-wing ‘news’ outlets (at least they portend to be), which have resorted to outright lying, fabricating stories, and repeatedly insisting, sometimes for years, that these fabrications are true.
Take, for example, the myth that several cities within the Continental US have been taken over by immigrant and/or refugee Muslims and are now ruled extra-judiciously under sharia law
While this story may seem absurd to any educated person (back to that later), it is most certainly not; see this piece by This American Life.
These ‘alternative media’ appeal to people who have not benefited from a quality education (remember when Trump said: ‘we love the uneducated’, that’s what he meant). Sadly, the US has may people who are kept in poverty and ignorance thanks to unrelenting Republican cuts to education budgets, and imposition of ridiculous anti-scientific religious propaganda from their earliest ages.
It is no surprise, then, that people who have been told their whole life that science does not actually offer any valid answers, that those considered by academia to be experts actually have no idea what they are talking about, that truth, in effect, is a mere point of view, would turn to outlets that offer wackadoo fabrications as solid truth.
What’s worse is that right-wing extremists and the ‘alt-right’, have used web sites and social media extraordinarily effectively. Sadly, ‘traditional’ news outlets have largely failed to have a clear vision, or any real success, on any digital media (aside maybe from NPR and its proliferation of high-quality podcasts).
The problem is that the rational exposition of facts is far less attractive to the uneducated than wild and scary fantasies. What’s more, social media sites like facebook allow people to remain in these ‘bubbles of fantasy’ that they share with like-minded people, and are never confronted with reality or rational thought.
Of course, there is motive. I don’t want to be seen as saying that i believe that all the influential Republicans and right-wing media moguls like Roger Ailes got together at the creation of Fox News and laid some sort of plan…
It’s more of a collection of converging self-interests; clearly, the Republican party, at least since its opposition to FDR, has been looking out exclusively for the interests of the ultra-wealthy. All while attempting to convince ‘regular people’ (or the middle class, if you prefer) that they really do try to defend ‘the little guy’. Note that i will discuss this contradiction in another post.
Once we get people to think rationally about politics (which is in their own self-interest), we’ll be able to move forward. However, in this current environment to fearmongering, i have trouble seeing how it’ll ever happen…