Featuring essays by Elizabeth George on the future of our country

Some thoughts on opinion control

First, please forgive me if you've received part of this content earlier. I was having trouble with my contact list on Friday, so part of what is written here might be something you've already read.

I've been puzzled by the steadfast opinions held by supporters of Donald Trump. Some of the loyalty given him appears to come from hardened right wing gun enthusiasts, ultra conservative evangelical Christians with singular interests, admitted racists, ardent xenophobes, and unabashed misogynists. But there are other individuals who believe in him based upon what he promised in 2015-2016 and in what he might be promising in 2020, and there are those who refer to him as "the greatest President in [their] lifetime." With all evidence to the contrary, they seem to belief that:

He holds the answer to putting an end to the violence in America.
He fully understands COVID-19 and how it is and isn't transmitted.
He is the best Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces since __________.
He has adhered to the Constitution and to his oath to preserve, protect, and defend it.
He is a victim of various hoaxes and fake news produced by "the failing___________.
He inherited a broken economy that he turned into the greatest economy the world has ever seen.

The question I've asked myself over and over is How on earth can anyone believe any of this from a man who:

Has suggested the use of a household disinfectant--either consumed or injected--to sure COVID-19
Declared COVID-19 a "Democratic hoax" for more than a month
Suggested less testing so we would have less cases
Side-stepped condemning torchlight marchers shouting "Jews will not control us"
Side-stepped condemning the killing of peaceful protesters via automobile and gun shot

I could go on, but what I mean to question is the how and the why of it all, given the support of people who are otherwise educated and in possession of all their faculties.

At first I thought there were four possible reasons:

They fear the decreasing in value of their 401Ks if Trump is defeated
They secretly agree with Trump's various positions
They secretly are racists, misogynists, xenophobes, LGBTQ haters
They simply don't care what happens to anyone besides themselves

But I decided there had to be more, especially when I received a "read this and then we'll talk" from someone. This constituted an article whose source I had never heard of, so I tracked it down. It took only one question to Siri for me to be taken to a site that evaluates publications. This particular publication was listed not only as a source of "fake news" but also as one of the hate groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But the person who sent it to me didn't know this. This person was intelligent and well-meaning and identifies as "a patriot."

Which brings us to what's called the social media algorithm. You've probably noticed how, if you've searched for something via the internet, you suddenly start receiving advert after advert featuring various sellers of this item. In my case, face masks are a good example. Early on, there were none to be had in Seattle, so I had to go online. Now daily (I would say hourly), I receive offers from companies making face masks. This happens because our movements (clicks, searches, whatever) are followed and analyzed. So what we look at gets identified and as a result we get more of the same.

That being the case, it's likely that the Trump supporter is inundated with material attacking Black Lives Matter, Joe Biden. Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, the DNC, Jill Biden, Hunter Biden, President Obama, Michele Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, etc. That being the case, it's likely very little else gets through. It's also likely that recipients of this material have their televisions tuned to Fox and listen to Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and others like them comment on the events of a given day.

Which brings us to what to do about this. I am open to your suggestions. I have only one: We must vote, we must urge everyone else to vote, we must donate to Democratic candidates, we must vote for Democratic candidates down the entire ballot. I think we must also do what we can to help people vote where and how we can because the effort is enormous to suppress the vote through the closing of polls, striking people from the voter registration lists, removing sorting machines from post offices, and outright gerrymandering.

We've heard it over and over again: This is the election of our lifetime. I absolutely believe that this is the case.

Elizabeth George



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