When it comes to policy arguments around complex issues like climate change, the messenger can be just as important as the message in mobilizing support for policy responses.
In a post-fact landscape, Trump’s highly effective swipes at “fake news” have repurposed a venerable leftist critical tradition into a political bludgeon to which progressives have no real answer, other than to defend a handful of corporate entities as torchbearers of democracy and consensual factual reality. What is needed is an approach that speaks to the real problem, which is that the relentless expansion of capitalized digital media (including but not limited to ‘the news’) is deeply anti-social, and thus anti-democratic. This is a position that spans our political and class spectrum in unexpected ways, as I examine in this article. Ironically, a renewed leftist skepticism of ‘the media’ is thus both necessary to our moment, and potentially an interesting point of political convergence.
The United States and the world have now spent two years trying to figure out how to deal with an anti-social president. The task holds even more import over the next two years as Democrats and Never Trump Republicans consider how to challenge an incumbent president in 2020. Formulating an effective strategy should start by recognizing the ways Trumpian discourse adheres to prototypical “trolling” behavior and responding accordingly.
Trump’s immigration metaphors set a divisive tone from the top. His immigration metaphors do not constitute “plain speaking,” “strong language,” or “passionate debate,” nor can they be innocently excused as his “own style.” His language is textbook demagoguery, and his immigration metaphors help constitute our current sociopolitical moment.
Words take center stage in the verbal sparring of the Twitter age. But, amidst the endless talk and noise of today’s political landscape, we often overlook the powerful communicative potential of silence.
To defend his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, Trump uttered several bald-faced lies to deflect responsibility for the humanitarian crisis he created. Although the lies he and administration officials repeated seemed to represent a new nadir even for this presidency, the constant flow of misinformation from this White House has vexed political journalists from day one. How do you cover a president who frequently utters false claims without giving credence to the misinformation?