MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2021
For today, (gruesome) survey says: First, we had the election itself. After that, we experienced the lunacy of the commander's post-election crusade.
We had the (deadly) riot at the Capitol, then we had the impeachment. After we had the impeachment, we had the Senate trial.
Along the way, on January 20, the commander voluntarily left the White House! Within hours, he'd left Washington altogether. He was on his way to Florida and his old Mar-a-Lago home.
Even including the deadly riot for which his crazy claims had laid the predicate, it was never clear that we were going to get off this easy. But at this point, it's actually over:
Except, of course, it isn't over. Nor is it obvious that there's a way out of this mess. For starters—but only for starters—consider the brand new survey by USA Today.
USA Today conducted a survey of 1,000 Trump voters. The paper says these voters were "identified from 2020 polls."
We aren't sure what that statement means. The statement serves as a reminder that polls and surveys of this type are always approximations of the truth.
We'll assume that this survey was conducted in a reasonably competent manner. What did the survey show us about the views of Trump voters?
We'll start with the question of what happened on January 6. Who was involved in that deadly riot? Here's what the survey says:
PAGE AND ELBESHBISHI (2/22/21): Most Trump voters embrace a version of events on Jan. 6 that has been debunked by independent fact checkers and law enforcement agencies.
Asked to describe what happened during the assault on the Capitol, 58% of Trump voters call it "mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters." That's more than double the 28% who call it "a rally of Trump supporters, some of whom attacked the Capitol." Four percent call it "an attempted coup inspired by President Trump."
"It looked horrendous, but how are we to know who was actually taking part?" asks Christine Rodriguez, 79, a Republican from Galveston, Texas, who was among those surveyed. "You could have somebody planted there from the left ... pretending to be a real Trump supporter."
"There were a variety of people who were there," says William Case, 40, an electrician and independent voter from Vacaville, California. "I mean, outside there was a bunch of Trump supporters that didn't go in, but there's video proof of other groups that did, antifa being one of them. There were also reporters that broke in and followed everybody."
According to this morning's report, 58 percent of respondents said the riot was "mostly an antifa-inspired attack." There were also reporters!
Things only got worse when respondents were asked to assess November's election:
PAGE AND ELBESHBISHI: Trump voters aren't ready to acknowledge Joe Biden as president despite his margin of victory of 7 million votes nationwide.
Three of four, 73%, say Biden wasn't legitimately elected. Most don't want their representatives to cooperate with him, even if that means gridlock in Washington.
According to this new survey, roughly three-quarters of Trump voters seem to believe some version of the claim that the election was stolen.
Can a large modern nation hope to function in the face of such widespread false belief? More and more, and more and more, the indications don't seem to be good.
We're starting today with the views of Trump voters. It seems to us that one more result from the new survey is ominous.
Things look bad for Fox News, today's report says. Based upon the survey result in question, we'd have to say that things look even worse for our floundering nation:
PAGE AND ELBESHBISHI: There are disquieting findings in the poll for Fox News, which has prospered as the dominant news source for conservatives. In a USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll in October 2016, 58% of Trump voters said Fox was their most trusted source of news. In the new poll, that drops to 34%.
Trust has risen in two relatively new outlets that have made their reputations by championing Trump. Newsmax is the most trusted among 17% of Trump voters, followed by 9% for One American News Network, or OANN.
David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, says the findings could reflect "a seismic shift in the landscape of trusted news sources for conservatives in the country."
Newsmax and OANN were cited as the most trusted source by a quarter of these voters. Increasingly, Fox News is no longer dumb enough—no longer sufficiently partisan.
Just for the sake of clarity, we'll state a basic point:
These voter, fellow citizens all, say they think Trump won. They say the riot was staged by antifa.
Just for the sake of clarity, when these people say these things, they almost surely aren't lying.
Presumably, most of these people believe these claims. These are the things they've been told at their most trusted "news sources," and by the commander himself.
The commander won't be going away. Neither will false belief. When false belief becomes so fundamental and so widespread, it's hard to see how a modern continental nation can expect to function.
Those findings help define a modern Babel, a modern Babel which extends from coast to coast. Putin may be getting of all the winning when he sees survey findings like this!
Newsmax and OANN won't be going away. The same is true of Fox News, which is already moving to deepen its investment in propaganda. This Babel won't be going away, unless we find a way to make it.
Here in Our Town, the findings of this new survey define a major challenge. OANN won't be going away. Neither will those Trump voters.
Given the way the Electoral College works, Joe Biden barely squeaked out a narrow victory in November's election. Meanwhile, Our Town's party achieved extremely narrow majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Indeed, our majority in the Senate is no narrow that it isn't a majority at all! Political history suggests that Our Town's party could easily lose control of each body the next time around.
The rise of crackpot partisan media has created a type of Babel on the other side of the aisle. That said, what forces may exist in Our Town which affect our ability to create a more perfect, less ridiculous union?
It's easy to spot the mess Over There. But does any part of The Crazy, however tiny, obtain over here in Our Town?
We think we see the building blocks of Babel in Our Town every day. Are there ways in which we encourage the Babel?
Tomorrow, we'll start right there.
Tomorrow: Good God! Where to begin?