The results are in and despite what you have observed in your own life and on-line, Biden’s Gates of Hell speech was a huge success. According to a new poll close to 60% of Americans now think Donald Trump and his nefarious “MAGA movement” are a threat to our democracy. Not only that, 60% of Republicans do not think the MAGA movement represents the majority of the party. It looks like it is all over for Trump and the tens of millions who support him.
Now, most MAGA people will dismiss the poll as just another example of the craven efforts by the regime to prop up their chief stooge. This is, of course, the result of Putin’s propaganda and disinformation campaign. These conspiracy theorists questioning the veracity of polling, especially this poll, are just doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin and are probably semi-fascists. They are semi-fascists because they do not know they are being turned into fascists by the Trump movement.
Granted, the details of the poll are not available so there is no way to examine the crosstabs to see if it supports the press release. The only clue in the press releases is that the poll was weighted toward self-identified Democrats. It also subtly suggests that only 25% of the self-identified Republicans in the poll agree with the claim that Trump is a danger to the planet. There is growing evidence that the dispossessed are no longer identifying as Republican, so there is that.
In all seriousness, this is the sort of story that underscores the problem with mass democracy in the mass communication age. This poll could be a complete fraud, but there is no way to know. More important, your favorite news site is never going to check or question it. They just pick it up as a part of the automated service they use to plug into news feeds like Reuters. The left-wing news highlighter Matt Drudge is running this poll in red at the top of his site.
As de Maistre said, “False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.” Drudge is a left-wing partisan, but his site is like most news sites these days in that it relies on feeds to populate itself. Even with site-created content, there is little editorial control. It is easy to inject a false opinion into the system and see it get repeated a million times in minutes.
Of course, there is the other problem. Who cares if a majority of people are falling for the latest conspiracy theory? That is, after all, what all this hysteria about Trump and the MAGA movement is, when you examine it. It relies on the assumption that there are sinister, unseen forces at work behind the scenes. The old people wearing red Trump caps at the diner are not just people who hold contrary opinions. They are part of an invisible army of fascists and evil doers.
Imagine a poll that reported a majority of people thought there are little green men visiting earth on a regular basis. You do not have to imagine it. There was a big global survey half a dozen years ago that claimed a majority of people on earth think there are little green men out there. A majority of Americans believe in ghosts. More people think psychics are real than think Ron Paul is real. Big Foot is ten times more popular than the vice president of the United States.
The point is, most people are stupid, at least when it comes to understanding things that have no direct impact on their lives. They may know accounting or chemistry, but they can also think disagreeing with the government is bad for democracy. This has always been the argument against democracy. Most people lack the desire or capacity to master the material necessary to make good political choices. Giving them a ballot is like giving a toddler a hand grenade.
Of course, opinions change. Fifty years ago, when Joe Biden entered politics, few people thought he should be elected to anything. When he ran for president in 1988, he was laughed off the stage. In 2008, he was seen as a joke candidate to give the media some entertainment. In 2020, his own party preferred an item from the museum of communism, but then everyone changed their mind all of a sudden. The same change of heart happened on election night. Opinions change.
Clearly, a polling outfit would know that their polling is a snapshot in time and may not mean anything in a week. That Reuters poll also reports that close to 60% of the respondents think the speech will make things worse. Half never bothered to watch it and two thirds think Biden is a bum. In other words, the poll is invalid on its face, but it makes for a handy false opinion, so it gets minted and passed onto gullible dupes like the rent boys running the Drudge Report.
This is the problem with mass democracy in a mass media age. Our culture, including the political process, is a giant lie machine. Imagine if people went about their day with people from the state following them around with a bullhorn, constantly shouting random slogans at them. This is what we have today. We are awash in nonsense from the mass media but are expected to have sensible opinions. It is no wonder that the political system is unresponsive to the public will.
It is the irony of mass democracy. The stated point of democracy is to make government more responsive to the public will. Instead, it reveals that the people who are in charge have no interest in the public will. They serve other interests. That means those who oppose the prevailing order should ignore the public will as well. Instead, the focus must always be on who decides. The solution to the ills of democracy is to let democracy murder itself and be ready to bury the corpse.
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