In the words of the late investigative journalist I.F. Stone, “all governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone.
This is one reason we’re in such a mess: right-wingers in government, as well as out of it, are now true believers in the delusions they’ve been peddling to the public for years. Take Donald Trump. In addition to being extremely stupid, he’s a long-time Fox viewer who thinks Fox talking heads give him better intel than our intelligence agencies, partly because Fox is less likely to challenge his worldview. So it’s not surprising that, believing other nations are sneakily conducting nuclear tests, President TinyBrain wants us to start up again. And that’s he’s trashing other arms-control treaties (I suspect this also relates to the distaste some right-wingers have for diplomacy and negotiating instead of just sending people who aren’t them or their families to fight and die destroying our enemies).
And now more than 40 believes in QAnon, the crackpot theory of a vast cabal of Satanic pedophiles opposing Trump, are running for office. Even if they don’t win, it’s a very bad sign if this becomes acceptable or worse, desirable in candidates (for another example of right-wing gibberish, check here).
But it’s not just people in politics, but also in punditry. Conservative intellectuals have decided that opposing shutdowns, masks and all other precautions against Trump Virus is a sign of cowardice and weakness — don’t we realize that there are higher things than living! By which logic, why aren’t they opposing bicycle helmets and seat belts? Because those are still accepted as sensible solutions, not bludgeons against the left in the culture war. I think it’s telling that a couple of the pundits quoted at the link frame this is a clash between salt-of-the-earth Real Americans who want the country reopened and the sniveling cowards of the liberal elite who want it shut down. When in reality we have rich elitists (not all of them) and pundits screaming to reopen the country before the wealthy lose any money. The rich can run their companies at a distance; they’re guaranteed great care if they do get sick. And organizing astroturf campaigns to make it look like the people are rising up.
Republicans have embraced a world of unreality where taking sensible precautions against disease is weakness, the government plotted to destroy Trump but held off until after the election and QAnon theories describe reality. Or claiming that the 2018 elections were a victory for Republicans. Honest reporting is treated as partisan lies, an attack on the glorious god-anointed Donald J. Trump. That makes it hard to deal with the reality that Trump has failed at dealing with the pandemic.
And I’m sure Trump’s tossing out baseless conspiracy theories finds fertile soil among his worshippers.
As Fred Clark puts it, we have to respect other’s peoples beliefs — but how do we do that while simultaneously dealing with believers whose views get other people killed? Snake handling or refusing medical treatment to see if God cures you can be fatal, but only to the believer. People who reject masks and social distancing don’t just threaten themselves, they threaten the rest of us.
I wish I had a good answer.