Republican Army of the Gullible

Republican Party (United States)

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Here’s the good news: the number of birthers (people who believe that Barak Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.A.) has declined from 20% to only 10% of the population following the release of Obama’s long form birth certificate.

Here’s the bad news: the number of people who believe that Osama bin Laden is still alive is sitting at 20% of the population.

So what’s going on here. Why do so many people believe things that facts show are false? Many theories abound. Maybe it’s part of the wave of the internet–where anyone can broadcast whatever bogus information they want. Maybe it’s because people are so suspicious of authority. Maybe it reflects a decline in public education.

I think there are many reasons, but I believe that one of the primary reasons has to do with politics, plain and simple. After losing the last presidential election so significantly, the Republican Party adopted a strategy as outlined by Rush Limbaugh, who famously said that he hoped that Obama would fail. After winning a majority in the House during the mid-term elections, the Republican Speaker of the House echoed Limbaugh by naming his top priority as defeating Obama. It was no longer about what was best for America, or even what was good for America, it had been reduced to a purely political calculus: the Republicans just want to be in power.

Obama identified this tactic last September when he commented “If I say the sky is blue, [Republicans] say ‘no.’ If I said fish live in the sea, [Republicans would] say ‘no.'”

Because Rush Limbaugh has been inoculating millions of listeners against truth and fact for a generation, the Republicans have a gullible core of people who are primed to disbelieve and dislike Obama regardless of who he is or what he does. This sets Republicans up to make their strategy effective. They can oppose even dire needs of our country (like fixing the financial system or not defaulting on our governments obligations) because it works to the benefit of their political party. If the economy tanks, that’s great news because they can blame it on their bogey man, Obama. If Americans die because they can’t go to the doctor, that’s great news because they can blame it on Obamacare.

And every time Obama outshines his Republican predecessor (as in actually finding Osama bin Laden), then they’re ready with their whisper campaign of doubts to sway their army of the gullible.

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Comments

  • Jim Wheeler  On May 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    JW,

    You said, “Why do so many people believe things that facts show are false?”

    Such phenomena have been happening for a long, long time. One notorious instance of course was the peculiar success of Josef Goebbels as Adolph Hitler’s propaganda minister when he rediscovered the power of assertive repetition. Now the internet has made the endurance of memes, both true and untrue, much more powerful. This mornings paper had an AP article on how al Qaeda has embraced the power of the internet since 9/11 to powerfully boost its influence.

    I posted yesterday on memes and the internet at the below link. For sure the expanding “cloud” is a growing influence in human affairs.
    http://jwheeler59.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/memetically-yours/

    Jim

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