Lakoff’s observations about conservative’s main “issue” being their sense of self worth, and how their identity is tied to their beliefs about what is right and wrong are supported by the observations of a reporter living in the heartland of America. Who called the post election meme that “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, America,” is complete bullshit.
Saying that the real problem is rural America; they don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and don’t seem to care why. And in their world the white Christian God is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped their belief systems, and they are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, and change. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they willing buy it hook, line, and grifting sinker.
It is a belief system that isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone who is not a member of their tribe and in a position of power. And just like trying to negate a frame, presenting them with any information which contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they simply are incapable of even entertaining the possibility it could be true.
And it is one of the reasons conservative America will never listen. Religious conservatives are not necessarily anti-education, they want their kids to read and write. But learning is only valued up to the certain point. Once it reaches the level where it contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist beliefs, it becomes dangerous. Because their beliefs are not built on facts, fundamentalist truly believe that education is not to be trusted, and that it is the enemy. Another problem with rural, Christian, white American is they are racists, people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Once you have this view, it is easy to lower any outside group’s standing and acceptable level of treatment. And the same thought process applies to sexism, misogyny, and homophobia.
While it’s long been known that rural Americans are susceptible to propaganda, their rigid belief systems make it even more so because there are no checks and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn’t get out and because there are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. If someone is allowed into their closed-off system and is deemed acceptable, anything they say will readily be accepted and becomes gospel.
And for decades, rural, Christian, white Americans have let anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted, racists into their lives as “experts.” People like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or any of the blonde Stepford Wives you see on Fox. And when someone isn’t open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much you can do barring a major shock to the system.
Some of Blue Louisa’s readers may recall an earlier 2104 letter to the editor in the Central Virginian which talked about the pervasive and corrosive influence of propaganda, and particularly FOX news has on its viewers, along with the subsequent wave of vitriolic responses spread out over several letters that it generated.
Starting with comments about how liberals “blame the religious right, the Tea Party, and folks over 65 for not understanding,” and how they are trying to “silence them with vicious attacks. “To being offended by the factual observation that conservatives are “consistently on the wrong side of moral and social progress.”
To claiming with a straight face that that “Fox News is the most fair, accurate, and balanced news organization in existence today”, the “only news outlet that has not been co-opted by this government.” along with ending their letters with “thank God for Fox News”, and “God bless the USA!” Remarks to which the comic Ron White might say, “You can’t fix stupid.”
So what does it take to change the beliefs of fundamentalists? Catastrophic circumstances, or when their beliefs clash directly with their personal lives. Both of which are highly likely under the Drumpf administration.