Monday, July 25, 2016

A Tree Mallow, and Trump


This amazing bush, a tree mallow, is located around the corner from our flat. It's less amazing now, though. I took these pictures in late June, when it was spilling over the garden wall in floral abundance.


Since then, someone decided the mallow had to be pruned back to the wall, and most of the front of the bush was chopped off. Argh! Was it an inept gardener or maybe someone from the council, trying to clear the sidewalk? Who knows.

I'm going to remember it as it was.

There's an article in the July 11 & 18 issue of The New Yorker about fans of Donald Trump, and I found it fascinating. I know very few people who are likely Trump voters, and I'm always curious to know what's going on in their heads. I genuinely cannot conceive of a reason that anyone would support Trump. The article explores that, as well as the political conditions that gave rise to Trump in the first place.

There are lots of terrific snippets in the piece, by George Saunders, but I especially liked this one, given my background in newspaper journalism:
"Where is all this anger coming from? It's viral, and Trump is Typhoid Mary. Intellectually and emotionally weakened by years of steadily degraded public discourse, we are now two separate countries, LeftLand and RightLand, speaking different languages, the lines between us down. Not only do our two subcountries reason differently; they draw upon non-intersecting data sets and access entirely different mythological systems...In the old days, a liberal and a conservative (a "dove" and a "hawk," say) got their data from one of three nightly news programs, a local paper, and a handful of national magazines, and were thus starting with the same basic facts (even if those facts were questionable, limited or erroneous). Now each of us constructs a custom informational universe, wittingly (we choose to go to the sources that uphold our existing beliefs and thus flatter us) or unwittingly (our app algorithms do the driving for us). The data we get this way, pre-imprinted with spin and mythos, are intensely one-dimensional."
In RightLand, he points out, Vince Foster really was murdered, children are brainwashed by left-leaning universities and Obama really is a Muslim (and maybe not even an American!). To me, those are all laughable assertions, repeatedly disproven. In RightLand, they're facts.

How does a Democracy function when so many people willingly believe outright falsehood?

14 comments:

e said...

It does not function, it declines, as we have and will continue to do. Love your garden.

MaryAnn said...

You cannot have a discussion with someone who holds on fast to the lies. Even if they are a family member, the silence is total otherwise there would just screaming. I know this from experience.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Have you heard this one Steve - and I am not bullshitting - many in RightLand now believe that Michelle Obama is in fact a man and the Obama daughters were adopted! Incredible lunacy.

By the way I can't believe that Trump could have ever lived on a street with such a lovely name as Honeybourne Road. He's have changed it to Ignorance Avenue.

Vivian said...

the upcoming election has many wondering who to vote for
i am not happy with either.

Ms. Moon said...

It's almost as if a horrible disease has overtaken our country. We, as a whole, are the patient, and the infection has grown to such an extent that I fear that it's too late for any sort of treatment.
All of us are taken mortally ill. All of us.

Red said...

I like the terms rightland and leftland. These two do not communicate with each other. There is no middle ground. There's too much fiction in our politics today.

ellen abbott said...

my husband thinks the country won't be healed until all us baby boomers are dead. I kind of agree with that except for the fact that the haters have passed their hate on to their children. We're still fighting the Civil War I think. It might have been best for the country to have just split in two back then. I don't know what's in store for this nation. If Hillary gets elected I think she will do a good job as long as she has a democratic congress. otherwise it will be more obstructionism for another four years and I'm not sure the country can survive that. if Trump gets elected, we can just kiss our asses goodbye. The man is completely unsuited to be president and I don't think he really even wants the job. you asked why my BIL supports him. I didn't talk to him, just listened to my husband's side of the phone conversation but when he got off the phone and I asked why, he said because his brother believes that 'white people are under attack'. I can't even imagine how my BIL absorbed that ridiculous sound bite as I can guarantee he has never suffered one damn thing for being white. as my husband told him, white people are not under attack, white people own the casino.

and that bush mallow is gorgeous. too bad the pruned it back.

Linda Sue said...

https://medium.com/@theonlytoby/history-tells-us-what-will-happen-next-with-brexit-trump-a3fefd154714#.bgbzmchhg

I was brave, I listened to Trump supporters...utter madness, terrifying,weirdest election ever and no one looks pretty. Trump has a very good chance, and there is no where to run. As Ms. Moon said Infection, always has bubbled beneath the thin veneer of decency, Palin opened the box, Trump let out the demons and they have stirred up the ugliness that has been laying somewhat dormant. Also agree with Red, fiction in politics and now Putin is to blame. ridiculous - media having a great time ushering the demons into our homes, on the streets, certainly on line. We don't need the grief, take care of yourselves and the ones close by whom you love.- oh, and take a holiday while you are able!

Sharon Anck said...

Oh wow, what a great question you have posed. I'm so afraid we are headed for a new kind of civil war and I might be the only person on my block without a gun.

jenny_o said...

It's hard to educate those who don't want to learn, who don't have even a cracked-open door in their minds. And wrong thinking is passed from generation to generation and social media mis-educates and props up wrong thinking and its victims don't even realize it. Let us just hope that there is still enough of a silent majority of calm, collected, sensible folks that vote - if not "for" a candidate - at least "against" a worse one.

Sabine said...

It functions barely but we allow this. Because we in LeftLand have taken things for granted for ever. We sit here on our high horses and with all our understanding and analysis we think we actually have a choice whether we participate in democracy or not, that we can decide whether we want to watch the news or read about politics and xenophobia and racism or maybe better not because it may be too upsetting. Because we lazily think that democracy is a strong and stable affair (hasn't it been that way since for ever?) and that this uneducated bunch of nitwits and chancers who cannot or refuse to distinguish between reality and outright lies will go back to their corner once they had their fun - as always. And so maybe we will vote or maybe not and then we think we have done our bit and in the end etc. etc.

But in this day and age, - and for your Trump in the US, almost every European country has a bunch of populists shouting hate in some corner of the political stage - I fear this may no longer be enough. Democracy will survive only if we take a stand and stop ducking away with a polite smile every time someone spouts falsehood and hate, racism and xenophobia.
I have started to practice my arguments in front of a mirror to be prepared for the next time someone tells me their bunch of half baked regurgitated "truth" dreaming of somehow being better than others. I try to keep it short, snappy and polite but I have decided to not pretend anylonger that it doesn't have anything to do with me.

Joan@CopperCreeker said...

a lurker here. the madness of these politics and intelligent people boggles my mind.
had to delete a post on my facebook because family members didn't play well with others. I deleted it because I don't want to promote more of this madness.

opinions fine... trying to force a confrontation ... hell No

here where I live in Kentucky we call your tree mallow, Rose of Sharon. they re-seed like crazy. I have white with pink centers, pale blush pink and deep purple.

Alphie Soup said...

Ah so that's what a Rose of Sharon looks like. Yes, today I am commenting on the comments because the very thought of commenting on your lovely Mr Trump is beyond me.

Except to say that we now have the lovely Pauline Hanson here in our Federal Senate, some-one who I consider would make an excellent running mate for Mr Trump. There is a small problem to do with how we could get her out of our country and into the USA.....

Alphie

Steve Reed said...

E: I hope we're not in terminal decline, because I still think Democracy is the best thing out there.

Mary Ann: I agree. I normally stay out of political debates. No one's mind will be changed.

YP: I have heard that. There were persistent right-wing rumors for a while that Obama is gay. Craziness!

Vivian: I can understand being unhappy with both options, but I think Trump is far more dangerous to our standing in the world, our safety and our representative democracy.

Ms Moon: I hope we're not mortally ill. Somehow we have to get back to a place where we can have conversations and debates about the realities -- but as this writer pointed out, we can't even agree on the realities as a starting point! It's crazy.

Red: Agreed!

Ellen: Thanks for the insight on your BIL. Fascinating that he feels so put-upon and persecuted. I think that's a common perspective among many white men, especially of a certain age. I think there's a lot of truth in the Civil War thing -- that these divisions go back generations and run very deep, largely along regional lines. (But that's partly why I don't get the Southern animosity toward the Clintons -- THEY'RE FROM ARKANSAS!!) I almost responded point-by-point to an anti-Hillary screed posted by a woman on one of your Facebook threads before deciding, as I said to Mary Ann above, that I was going to stay out of it because I wasn't going to change her mind.

Linda Sue: Bravo for taking a holiday! Hopefully I'll see you when you visit! :)

Sharon: That's a scary thought! But don't get a gun. That just compounds the insanity, in my opinion. :)

Jenny-O: I hope you're right. I continue to tell people that I don't think Trump can win, and that's exactly why -- at the end of the day I think most moderates will not support him, will want someone more stable and experienced.

Sabine: I admire your willingness to engage. I really wonder whether there's any value in it, though. The right-wing media in the USA simply confirms the worst racist, xenophobic, protectionist tendencies of all of us, and some people eat it up.

Joan: Hello, lurker! We used to call them Rose of Sharon in Florida, too. I didn't even realize it's the same plant, but I guess it is! I applaud your decision not to contribute to the craziness and the conflict. I generally avoid politics on Facebook, though I did post an "I support Hillary" picture the other day, just to state where I stand. Surprisingly, I haven't been attacked for it! I think most of my friends are on my side. :)