Most of the Republican distortions and lies seen in our local paper, The Central Virginian appear to originate from a peculiar cultural delusion commonly known to the rest of the world as FOX derangement syndrome. A unique form of cognitive disorder cheer lead by a cadre of blond talking heads, who’s only qualifications apparently consist of being blonde, and not particularly swift ones at that.
Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, understanding how this virus affects us all is the first step in making informed decisions.
No one should ever believe everything they read and hear, especially those of us who are old enough to have witnessed the past four decades of cultural, social and political changes. Particularly the rise of Reagan Republicans, economic greed, the Christian right, and a news media which over the past few decades has consistently failed to inform us.
Many simply accept whatever information they hear on the news media, and especially Fox News as the gospel truth, particularly viewers who are 65 years and older.
Since it’s inception, Fox News has been a corrosive influence on viewers of all ages ability to understand the world around them. Their style of dismissing all other sources of information has been slavishly copied by many other mainstream media outlets, and has lead to the creation of a self reinforcing feedback loop where viewers are only exposed to the things they already believe.
Information which confirms opinions you already have isn’t news — it’s Fox News.
This brand of “fair and balanced” cultural indoctrination has lead the way in accelerating the nation’s polarization, and is one of the primary reasons why our families and the nation continue to be divided by their viewing habits. . Fox’s aging audience remains the countries largest reservoir of class and racial privilege, a damaged legacy hopelessly addicted to tribal thinking.
A way of looking at the world characterized by an intense dislike of “outside” groups. Which is important, because Fox’s brand of dog whistling is not about bigotry as such. It’s about the manipulation of bigotry, and the manipulation of those stereotypes against “outsiders“.
A cultural phenomenon mirrored by the rise of the Christian right within the Republican Party. Religious zealots who have moved from the parties’ fringes to becoming their primary voting constituency. A dangerous confluence of bitter old men and religious ideologues whose worldview drives virtually all of the Republican parties agenda; from care of the poor, the sick and elderly, women’s rights, human rights, and voting rights.
Fox viewers and the Christian right have become partners, joined at the hip, consistently on the wrong side of morality and social progress, united in their determination to remain relics of the past. Who would be lost in their own angst and anger without constant reassurances from FOX and Friends that their voices are the only ones which really matter in our society.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party has been implementing Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” for over 40 years; stoking up so much anger, class and racial resentment that this country has become divided along ideological lines that have not been seen in this country since just before the Civil War.
It has been noted in several studies that Fox News not only consistently misinforms their viewers.
And the misleading nature of their messaging, makes them essentially the propaganda arm of the Republican Party.
Thanks to the Supreme Courts, Citizens v. United ruling in 2010, and their recent decision to do away with any meaningful limitations on political funding, the Republican Party has a virtually inexhaustible supply of money to spread their manipulative messages.
Allowing them to use compliant media outlets like Fox to further their biased messaging , while continuing to fund to their candidates in Congress all the way down to the state and county level.
Especially since 2010, Republicans have demonstrated their determination to abuse their bought and paid for political power by manipulating laws at the State and Federal level, changing whatever they don’t agree with, further isolating themselves and their supporters from the mainstream of society in the process.
In practical terms, the function purpose of Fox News is to indoctrinate what Joseph Stalin’s called societies “useful idiots.” Their sole purpose is to stir up fear, constantly reminding tribal members of the conservative tribe that they must all band together lest they be swept away by the tides of change, and the deviancy of “outsiders”.
Here in Virginia, look no further than the arrogance displayed by the Republican dominated House of Delegates during their special legislative session. Where they openly displayed their contempt for the legislative process with fraternity house antics, as they clapped and laughed their way over to the closed Senate Chambers to deliver their latest “budget bill”.
Their complete avoidance of any discussion about the budget shows the depths of their deception and fear about what will happen once the public begins to understand the positive impact that Medicaid expansion will have on the states economy. Then like petulant children, they posted “Gone Home” signs on the Senate doors and adjourned their special session.
Recently, Speaker of the House Bill Howell addressed the Stafford County Board of Supervisors requesting they approve a resolution supporting withdrawal of the Virginia Medicaid expansion budget from Gov. McAuliffe’s latest state budget. Claiming that if this was not done, House Republicans would not approve the budget and state government would shut down on July 1, 2014, and local jurisdictions like Stafford would not receive state funding for education, social services, transportation, etc.
Essentially telling them, “Nice place you have here, shame if something were to happen to it.”
According to Howell, the reason for the Republican majority’s position are “concerns” that in the future, the federal government will not be able to pay its share of the states Medicaid funding. Considering that Virginia derives ~25 percent of its budget from government funding, and that for decades, the Commonwealth has had one of the highest levels of per-capita federal funds received of any state his pious concerns about the sustainability of federal support for Medicaid expansion funding in the Commonwealth are disingenuous distractions.
At the end of his term in office, President Eisenhower warned us about the influence that the Military-Industrial Complex has over our government. Today, along with Wall Street financiers, and unlimited political funding of ideologue’s like Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell they are affecting our lives in a manner which makes his words seem like a serious understatement.
Politicians like Speaker Howell are able to continue stacking the deck in their favor because he and his party have convinced the most unhinged elements of our society to come out in droves and support them at the polls. In the meantime, over these next few elections we must choose between two radically different visions.
On one hand a fearful tribal mindset scarcely removed from the Dark Ages. On the other; a fact based recognition of how the world operates, a starting point to where we can begin demanding that both parties’ start representing our interests and address our many social and economic problems.
Anything else is simply empty words — just like Fox News.