America is first in many social and political trends. Insurrection triggered by fantasy is one of them. Imagine scaling the walls of the Capital and breaking in based on the fantasy that President Trump won re-election, and it was stolen from him. Evidence to the contrary, right-wing activists sought justice for his claims. Most Republican representatives and Republican National Committee continue to support him in open defiance.
Stupidism is the hottest social and political trend in America. Say goodbye to fears of socialism or communism and hello to stupidism. Stupidism is defined by several attributes, including fantasies of omnipotence, denial of facts and belief in alternate states of reality. This is often coupled with anger or rage and self-justification for violent acts against any authority.
The individuals that scaled the capital walls, incited by President Trump, are shining examples of stupidism at work. Unfortunately, they reflect the core of the Republican Party and millions of Americans who have spent the last four years cheering for the leader of stupidism. Few, if any, Republicans have demonstrated the critical faculties necessary to govern appropriately. They are the mouthpieces of stupidism.
Stupidism goes well beyond ignorance. Ignorance is about the need to learn something that requires training to grasp, like learning to read, driving a car or wearing a Covid-19 mask properly. Ignorance can be addressed with education over time. Most stupidists, on the other hand, suspect or know something isn’t true, or know that they lack the skills to address the real problem, but choose to believe in lies or fabrications based on their perceptions and collective illusions. Stupidity is not just a lack of knowledge, but also the illusion of having it and promulgating a personal version of it. Stupidists pride themselves on their ignorance, wearing it like a badge of courage.
One is tempted to see President Trump’s tactics as one of a ‘sore loser’, but it’s more serious than that. It is a calculated attempt to create an alternate reality to promote insurrection. Republican Senators like Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and nine others have denied election results based on wishful thinking. The truth is that supporters of stupidism despise democracy, and complain every time it doesn’t fit their homespun reality. Thankfully, President-Elect Biden has been approved as President.
The problem is that roughly 74 million voted for Trump in the recent election, and if only 30 percent—22 million— of those are stupid, rather than ignorant, we are in deep trouble as a nation. Stupidists remain certain that President Trump is a first-class leader committed to making America great again—a real winner.
The Proud Boys, President Trump’s favorite hate group, makes a calling card of stupidity thrown in with violence. They are characterized by omnipotence and self-righteous behavior. Like the individuals breaking into the capital, they are proud of their acts and think of themselves as patriots. President Trump’s daughter Ivanka, tweets “these people are patriots”; all based on vacuous claims by a family of stupidists.
News for stupidists:
Facts are meaningless to stupidists. They prefer elaborate stories that are seemingly true, but misleading. Whatever Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity say on Fox News, a leading news outlet for stupidists must be true. Recently, they tried to blame the break-in at the capital on Antifa, a loose collection of left-wing radicals. This didn’t work because facial recognition technology was used to establish personal identities. However, the falsity of claims in the news doesn’t matter because there’s no downside for lying. The more false claims the better to incite stupid fans.
Fox News, until recently, had a monopoly on stupidity. Rupert Murdoch’s cash cow TV channel generates $1.3 billion a year for its parent company Fox Corp. By comparison, this is as much money as Disney’s entire broadcast business. Roughly 20% of voters in the last presidential election, according to interviews, called Fox News their primary news source to vote. Murdoch is trying to do better, why only 20%; so, he bought the Wall Street Journal to influence business opinion as well.
Stupidists, however, have a plethora of emerging news channels and shows to choose from, including The First featuring right-wing talkers Buck Sexton and Jesse Kelly—-bankrolled by Viacom, which acquired Pluto TV free streaming service with 18 million users. News Max, One America News Network, Parlor, Daily Wire, QAnon, Breitbart News, Salem Media Group and Epoch Times are all positioned for a cash grab. It’s free for all designed to compete with Fox and capture the attention and minds of individuals who love rumormongering and confuse fantasy with facts. Their psychographics is the stupidest.
One thing is for sure: the clamor of self-righteous, outrageous and false claims passing as the news will continue to grow significantly as right-wing stations and programs compete for ad dollars and market share. We are in the early stages of fiasco stupidism. This will make it increasingly difficult to govern.
Science is another myth:
Stupidists are, generally, anti-science. They think science is a con game devised by ill-meaning people to mislead the public. Take the anti-vaccine crowd, for example. Vaccinations of infants and children, according to these people, are certain to cause autism. Many even know someone whose infant was vaccinated and subsequently became autistic. It doesn’t matter that years of controlled studies have indicated no connection between autism and vaccinations. How many of these people will turn out against the Covid-19 vaccine remains to be seen, but one can count on their voices and protests—and news coverage.
Wearing a mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is another area of contention. Instead of trusting that science might have something to contribute to our lives on the spread of disease, stupidists turn the advice into a battle for freedom against our evil government. It matters little that science has tracked increasing infection rates among ‘no maskers’; or that their friends are dying, or hospital emergency rooms are flooded beyond capacity.
Stupidists can be heard subconsciously protesting, invoking the name of Patrick Henry who once said, “give me liberty or give me death”. Historical differences in purpose, time and context, don’t seem to matter. Unfortunately, they’ll spread the disease and kill other people.
Data from the social sciences is also meaningless. If disciplines like sociology and criminology provide years of studies that indicate that ownership and distribution of high numbers of guns in the population lead to unnecessary deaths, over 40,000 annually, what difference does that make; the response is “I’m pro-gun, open carry and anti-government” or “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.
The leveling effect:
Stupidists embrace the leveling effects of democracy, where every opinion is given the same import and respect. Sean Hannity’s opinion on Covid-19, for example, is given the same weight in public discourse, as Dr. Fauci, an esteemed physician and immunologist; and President Trumps’ doctor who treated his supposed Covid-19, was an osteopath, bone doctor.
Professional training and accomplishments in respective fields matter little to stupidists. It’s elitist to think that people need degrees, credentials and pertinent experience to do their job. The leveling effect made it possible for Betsy DeVos to become U.S. Secretary of Education with no training in education. She did, however, graduate from a Catholic high school. Family donations of over $100 million to the Republican Party improved her job prospects immensely.
Ben Carson, a brain surgeon with no experience in housing issues, was appointed as the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Under senate questioning, he said that he was unaware of many of the important accomplishments of the Fair Housing Act.
The Proud Boys, Neo-Nazi groups, KKK and right-wing media have a real opportunity to promote violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, and stupidism. They can all fabricate stories to meet perverted ends. Republicans have stood by and supported it all; they are the party of stupidists.
What to do next?
Stupidists are unreachable. Telling an avid Trump supporter or “patriot” who scaled the capital that their favorite president really did lose the election is like telling a drug addict to get over it. It won’t work.
What might work though is to carefully build bridges with 22+ million (30% of President Trump’s voters) people who may be ignorant, but not stupidists. We are all ignorant about some things, but most of us can learn from others.
I looked at countries and places that are solving highly emotional and difficult social problems that significantly divide society. Argentina was a good bet, as was Ireland on the issue of legalizing abortion. Both countries have voted to legalize abortion with Argentina recently including it as part of a constitutional amendment.
I found patterns in social activism to legalize abortion worth replicating:
- The issue was clearly identified.
- A theme and advantages were created on the importance of women’s right to choose.
- An action plan was devised.
- Building bridges occurs selectively and strategically. Highly committed as well as sympathetic and fence-sitting individuals and groups are asked to participate in dialogue, and join protests, and contact others. Protests in Argentina, for example, started with a few hundred women and expanded to roughly 45,000 in public spaces over a decade.
- Small groups of people make contact with each other; they drive the process.
- Government leaders or employees who are fence-sitting or open to change. They are contacted and invited into the dialogue, including professionals like lawyers.
- The drive for change is top-down and bottom-up is simultaneous.
- Setbacks provide additional fuel to move forward, relentlessly.
- Time frames are long term and small gains are identified and rewarded with social recognition.
Stupidism will only gain in strength and make it difficult to govern. We must marginalize it by connecting with people who are ignorant and fence-sitting or willing to question and learn. It’s better to build bridges and teach ignorant people who may be questioning issues, than waste time trying to get stupid people to change. Our democracy depends on it.