Feeling Alienated by the Outrage-driven Left but Still Want to Get Rid of Trump? You are not Alone.
If you’re reading this you are part of the exhausted majority who are tuning out clickbait driven news, the social media machine that fuels it, bleating television pundits and even the candidates themselves because it has all become too much.
Most of that exists in the online realm where trolls still reign supreme. Creating chaos is their only directive. And in such a world, Trump thrives. And Democracy fails. It might seem like it’s democracy at work — after all, everyone has a voice, right?
Twitter is too often an unwinnable game where Trump rope-a-dopes his enemies into submission, and the resistance or whatever is left of liberalism and the Obama coalition gets backed into the same corner. Every day he tosses out another piece of red meat for the “do-gooders, elites, and eggheads” to chew on. To lecture, to lampoon, to mock, to puff up, and posture about.
It’s the age-old problem of being afraid to do nothing in the face of the terrible things he does and says — but there is no real solution to it because the game never changes. Trump feeds off of it. It’s the blood he drinks at night to keep the color in his cheeks during the day. Without it, he wouldn’t be President. But he is President, and will likely win a second term because of it and one wonders if any candidate can ever prevail without being able to drive and control the outrage machine online. Is there an end to the madness?
Trump understands the ways that Twitter can bring out our worst qualities. He knows that that desperate humans can be lured into cruelty, and all he has to do is give us a reason. He milks it out of the left, trolling us constantly, making us hate him so much that our hate splatters onto each other, making us do and say things we would never ordinarily do, vanquishing our humanity. By design.
That is Team Trump’s only play for 2020: make the left, the liberals, the Democrats, look “bad.” Not just bad, but as bad as, or even worse, than he is. Amid the lethal tweets flying in every direction, to the exhausted majority (those who aren’t as “plugged in” as those who wage war every day) Trump can seem to emerge as the embattled guy who’s just trying to do his job while being bombarded by an angry, shrieking mob.
He’s like the kid who quietly throws rocks at the dog then cries to daddy when the dog growls at him. Not only that, the dog never get quoted on the news. On and on it goes until finally daddy sees the dog as the troublemaker.
The vast majority of Americans who aren’t part of this chaos find it impossible to take seriously. If they tune into the news for 30 minutes a day, hear the outcry du jour and think, “What in the ever-loving hell are they mad about now? Nancy Pelosi got called a racist? Joe Biden can’t beat Trump because he stumbled and misspoke an innocent phrase? Do what now?” Trump is playing to those people. Our media outlets are playing to their most addicted Twitter junkies — they need to show they have engagement and the only way to do that now is with clickbait, and outrage that grows from its seed. It’s an endless feedback loop. And a sad one.
There is no version of this story where the outrage machine prevails — as long as Trump is the one throwing the rocks at the dog, the dog is always going to seem more out of control if so many don’t know the game being played.
The outrage machine is built to lose because there is no THERE there. Much of it is manufactured outrage. Even if there is a real reason for it, it quickly becomes consumed and recycled into something that means nothing — a reaction to something someone said that was taken out of context:
Kanye said something dumb, no wait, Taylor Swift did, no, that was another Trump tweet. Wait — which famous face are we slapping this morning? Who said what? Who’s the new target. Who’s wearing the kick-me sign today. Seems someone new has to be dragged out in the virtual public square every 24 hours.
Alexandria Octavio-Cortez is a master at driving the outrage machine because she uses the most extreme language: “we’re running concentration at the border,” “This is a white supremacist administration.” She means it, but she also knows how to engage with the kind of language the machine requires. Meanwhile, the mainstream news picks it up, and then the rest of America rolls its eyes at how absurd it all has become. She prevails inside the loop, but outside the loop many scratch their heads wondering what all of the fuss is about since the very next day it’s replaced by something else equally offensive.
There is only one level of outrage — it is at 11. Always. The highest possible amount of outrage — a Coke ad is as bad as the situation on the border. A Biden gaffe is on the level of a Supreme Court seat. It doesn’t matter becuse what matters is that there is unity in the outrage — a chain that links one tweeter to another. Half of them fake. A whole machine with millions of users hooked to it like junkies addicted to the little brain bump that a “like” gives you, or an RT.
The reason Joe Biden is doing so well in the polls is that he doesn’t flip the outrage button. He is mostly calm in his approach. He slips up now and again, as all people do, even Alexandria Octavio-Cortez has on a few occasions, because everyone does. Everyone. But since he can’t control the outrage machine, he becomes fodder for it.
All it took was one threatening speech by Joe Biden against Donald Trump in Iowa to make Biden Trump’s Public Enemy Number one. His entire troll army went after Biden, turning what would ordinarily be a gaffe into something much bigger. Before long, you had respected journalists and pundits tsk tsking on it, and some even taking it much farther than a gaffe, without paying any attention to the curious timing. You see how easy it all was for Team Trump to destroy Biden?
If we were stronger, more united, if we did not let them get the better of us — we would have remembered that this was still the guy President Obama gave the Medal of Freedom to. He’s still the guy Obama vouched for. We’ll have to wait and see whether the exhausted majority cared about it or whether it was yet another “do what now” moment for them.
Trump has complete control of this outrage machine because he knows that the more he trolls, the worst it gets, the worse the outrage machine will react. Trump gets to stand on the side of the side of the still-mostly-white majority of Americans as while he mocks the left for calling “everyone a racist.” He plays the victim by defending himself and then turns that defensiveness inside out, launching his trademark “hit me and I’ll hit you back 10 times harder.” When the sky is crisscrossed with contrails of so many missiles, most people just want the air to be cleared.
Most Americans on both sides do not want Donald Trump as their president — but the democrats in their ongoing insanity and division are going to make it impossible for voters to choose us instead. Why would they invite more outrage and hysteria into their lives? Can we get a grip before it is too late? Can we beat back the outrage, the algorithm that drives it, the media empire that feeds of off it, before it is too late?
In twenty years, if we ever can figure out a way out of this mess, we will look back the things Trump and his administration did while we were tweeting, while we were tearing each other apart, while we were freaking out over meaningless things, and be horrified at what went down on our watch.