(Thread) The Outrage Dilemma
Staying sane—and saving democracy— under a Firehose of Outrageousness.
The Rand Corp. describes the extremely effective Firehose of Falsehoods propaganda method: a rapid, continuous barrage of outrageous falsehoods.
1/ Trump, who adopted the method from Putin, is a natural at this.
From the researchers: “Don’t expect to counter the firehose of falsehood with a squirt gun of truth.”(p.9)
Playing whack-a-lie will wear you out. Trump can reel off several lies in a minute.
2/ On the other hand, researching and refuting each lie can take hours.
Simple lies are easy to tell. Complex truths are harder and don't fit well into sound bites.
This is partly why the Rand Corp. researchers conclude that countering lies with the truth isn’t effective.
3/ Instead of trying to refute each lie, the researchers suggest preparing the population to expect lies, which we’ve now done.
Trump's supporters know he lies and don't care.
Trump’s critics also know he lies. After Trump exonerated himself, someone in my town put this out:
4/ Instead of meticulously refuting each lie (which will wear you out & Trump supporters know it's a lie) the researchers suggest countering the effect of the lies.
Example: if the goal of the lies is to undermine public desire to vote, find ways to boost support for voting.
5/ Thus the solution is to “find ways to help put raincoats on those at whom the firehose of falsehood is being directed.”(P.10)
I think we apply the same principle—counter the effect—to what we might call Trump’s Firehose of Outrageousness.
6/ Trump calls the press the Enemy of the People.
He's systematically dismantling the fed. government.
He directed the AG to investigate whether there was corruption in the FBI/ Mueller investigation, and the AG did his bidding.
7/ He tells his border agents to ignore judges.
He says elections are rigged.
This all takes a toll on people.
So we have to counter the effect.
Trump is trying to create a crisis at the border. People are countering this by volunteering to help. . .
8/ (I went last summer) @RAICESTEXAS has received an outpouring of volunteers and donations.
Trump’s larger goal is to undermine democratic institutions.
Trump and his supporters don’t like democracy. (There've always been Americans who don’t.) Someone told me👇
9/ (highlight in tweet was mine from a search)
Trump knows how to undermine democracy. He learned it from Putin: Get enough citizens to lose confidence in democratic institutions.
When that happens, the democratic institutions crumble. Ziblatt and Levitsky explain here👇
10/ Clint Watts (former U.S. intelligence analyst) explains that the goal of Russian propaganda (which Trump uses) is to undermine democracy by getting people “to lose confidence in democratic institutions. . ."
11/ Each time Trump does something outrageous, he accomplishes 4 things:
(1) He keeps his base excited.
(2) He enrages his critics.
(3) He batters democratic institutions, and
(4) He fulfills his campaign promise, which was to protect his followers from their “enemies.”
12/ Their enemies are the Democrats👇 loosely defined to mean anyone who doesn’t support Trump.
Notice that when Trump does something outrageous, he creates a self-fulfilling loop: The more outraged his critics get, and the more euphoric his followers feel. Win-win for Trump.
13/ The more outraged his critics feel, the more they wear out and lose confidence in democracy. Win for Trump.
This brings us to the Outrage Dilemma: How do we respond?
We can’t normalize outrageousness.
But too much outrage👇constant 5-star alarms—feeds the beast.
14/ Angry outrage with people lashing out at Trump supporters helps confirms this👇for Trump supporters. Another win for Trump.
Overdoing angry outrage also persuades liberals that there is no more hope, it’s all over. Another win for Trump.
It seems to me we need a balance.
15/ Dear People Who Underestimate Trump: It's clear to me the Firehose of Outrageousness is brilliant: the nature of it creates a win-win cycle for him by undermining democracy and increasing polarization.
Maybe it isn't hard, maybe he's a natural, but he's good at it.
16/ Back to the dilemma: We must educate people about what Trump is doing.
But some educators go too far. Instead of educating people about the dangers, they persuade people that it's done, Trump succeeded, it's all over.
This is doing Putin's (and Trump's) work for them.
17/ So there must be a balance. Educate people without discouraging them.
This is a sincere resister👇 He could also be a Putin bot.
That's a problem.
Our democracy is in trouble. That means right now it is fragile. What we do (or don't do) can make a big difference.
18/ This is my long-time follower👇(who had a good reason, aside from politics, to feel down yesterday).
Why did he fall into this particular funk?
Because of a whisper campaign that Trump won’t leave willingly, which causes people to lose hope & feel despair. Win for Putin.
19/ For a solution, I think we take our cue from the Rand Corp research on how to counter the Firehose of Falsehoods.
We find a way to counter the effects.
Trump’s goal is to destroy democracy, so we counter his Firehose of Outrageousness by strengthening democracy.
20/ How? Volunteer, register voters, put a sign on your lawn, support publications that do good investigative journalism, get organized for 2020.
I’ve assembled some ideas and put them here:
If you have other ideas, let me know and I’ll add them.
All of my threads are blog posts. You can view this one here:
You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.