Those words, uttered by Admiral Ackbar, spelled seeming doom for the Rebellion. Once again, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine had outsmarted them. The shields were not down. The battle station was fully operational.
OK, so what does that have to do with politics? Surprisingly, quite a bit. The manipulation of data that led to Ackbar’s famous line is something we see in our society everyday. There’s a reason many Republicans still believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, or that “the poor have it easy.” That’s right. In a recent Pew Research Poll, more than 80% of people who identified as conservative think that being poor is a cakewalk. Well, getting food from the trash is pretty easy; you can eat pretty well if you find a nice restaurant to dumpster dive behind.
But I digress. The point is that Republicans believe a lot of nonsense, because–cue Ackbar: “IT’S A TRAP!”
So what’s the trap? A bumper sticker that says, “I don’t trust the LIBERAL media.” That’s it. See, Republicans are told constantly by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the other crazies, that mainstream media lies all the time and has a liberal agenda (Chuckingrocks has established, on several occasions, that this is complete bullshit). Think about that for a second: Republicans believe that the only people they can trust are the same people telling them not to trust anyone else. Ackbar? “IT’S A TRAP!”
Oh, but it’s not just an informational trap—it’s a psychological one as well. Because essentially, this trap trains the brain to sort information in the most self-aggrandizing way possible. If the information supports conservative beliefs, then it’s considered accurate and true. But if the information refutes conservative beliefs, it’s just the liberal media telling more lies. In other words, once Republicans have taken the bait, they’re completely insulated from anything that challenges their beliefs.
“IT’S A TRAP!”
And now we gain some respect for Ackbar, because at least that fish-face, bug-eyed son of a bitch realized, “IT’S A TRAP!” And then he turned his ships around and took evasive action.
Meanwhile, Republicans are stuck swimming in a cestpool of bad information, plainly manipulated by the screaming, angry voices in right wing media whose livelihoods depend precisely upon lying to their consumers to upset them about things that don’t really matter. And why? Because they get told what they want to hear, and that everything else (the truth) is wrong.
What’s really insane is that Republican voters still don’t get it. Even though Ben Carson’s clearly lied about much of his past, they excuse it, because the liberal media is supposedly attacking him and being unfair. He’s still leading in the polls!
Ackbar? “IT’S A TRAP!”
The good news: if it continues, it’s going to doom the Republican Party. For while it’s clearly possible to be a lying charlatan or a fool and be popular with Republican voters, it’s not going to work in the general election. You just can’t pretend forever.
But doesn’t the same thing happen to liberals? No. First off, liberals don’t believe things that are patently wrong, like climate change is a hoax or Obama’s a Muslim who wasn’t born in America . Only Republicans do (it’s cause he’s black). A recent study showed that only 25% of Tea Partiers believe the Earth is warming, despite the fact that 13 of the 14 hottest years on record occurred in the 21st centurty. And more than half of all Republicans think Obama was born abroad (it’s cause he’s black).
Moreover, a recent study showed that people who watched Fox News scored far worse on a quiz about current events than people who got their news anywhere else. Fox viewers also actually scored worse than people who got no news at all. Not surprisingly, the same study showed that NPR listeners were best informed.
So liberals aren’t trapped by information the way that conservatives are; sure, people of all stripes like to hear things they agree with, but only Republican media and their worshiping believers declare that everything else is false.
And let’s face it: this is a real problem. In the past week, I’ve had two really bizarre conversations with Republicans caught in the trap.
The first was a good friend we had over for dinner, and the whole immigration/border crisis came up. I pointed out that had House Republicans passed the bi-partisan Senate immigration bill, this wouldn’t be an issue, but my friend seemed to believe that the bill granted immediate amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Thinking he was merely misinformed, I said, “oh no. Immigrants would have to go through a complex process over several years to earn legal status—they don’t just automatically become citizens.”
Him: “They took that part out of the bill.”
“I’m pretty certain they didn’t—it’s in there.”
“Yes, it certainly is—there’s no way the bill would’ve passed the Senate if it wasn’t.”
“Nope—they took it out.”
Admiral? “IT’S A TRAP!” Thank you, sir. By the way, I checked and indeed, the bill establishes “a thirteen year path to citizenship… with several security benchmarks that have to be met before they can obtain a green card.” So my friend was COMPLETELY WRONG, yet insisted his bad information was correct, because he’s caught in a trap that tells him anything he disagrees with or shows his party to be wrong is automatically false. So, either he heard that it was taken out by someone that was lying to him, or he was just making shit up.
A day or two later, I got into a discussion on Facebook in which a Republican attempted to convince me that she wasn’t Republican, going on to say that Fox News “always gets it right.”
First, I had a good laugh. Then I asked her to read my blog, and she refused, because I wasn’t “fair.” Translation: to a Republican, “fair” actually means incredibly biased against liberals, the poor, black people, immigrants, and women. Or just plain crotchety.
But I digress. When I pointed out that this wasn’t very open-minded of her, she stated that she doesn’t have to read conflicting views to be open-minded. And I was like, wait, doesn’t being open-minded mean you’re willing to look at things you might not necessarily agree with?
Ugh. Fish face?
“IT’S A MOTHERFUCKING TRAP!!!” Whoa admiral—this is a family blog.
OK you’re right. By the way, anyone notice the irony that conversations with people who support the party of “no” always end with “no?”
Anyway, the question then, is what do we do about it? I think Admiral Ackbar has the right approach: we’ve got to point it out. Because on it’s face, it’s completely ridiculous—not to mention unbelievably selfish and narcissistic. To think that EVERYTHING one wants to believe is right, and ANYTHING they don’t want to believe is wrong, and that instead gathering information by reading dozens of newspapers and doing their own research, they can just listen to Rush in the car, and turn on Fox News when they get home–I mean, someone call Staples. That was easy. Can you believe those blacks? So lazy, but I’m not racist. Look, the poor have it easy, Obama’s spending trillions by executive fiat, Democrats hate free speech, teachers are lazy, over-glorified baby sitters…
Awful stuff really. But that’s what happens when you’re trapped. You start believing all kinds of terrible things that have no basis in reality.
So next time you talk to a Republican and they start spouting shit off that isn’t true, don’t try to prove them wrong—they won’t believe you anyway and your conversation will end with “no.” Instead, ask them what it’s like to have everything they believe vindicated by people who tell them they have an exclusive handle on the truth. And when they look at you funny, pull an Ackbar:
“IT’S A TRAP!”
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