We’ll start with an optimistic Juxtaposition that is at the heart of Liberal/Progressive thinking, which is that, if you do a good job of explaining things to people, they will make good choices.
I say that only as an observation, not a condemnation, because, as a writer, I devote all my energy to explaining things, so it’s not like I don’t share in the concept.
Similarly, Rogers would be a fool to devote his life to drawing “those damned pictures” if he didn’t feel they had impact.
Matson’s point is more a reflection on the old adage of being able to lead a horse to water but not make him drink. I’ve led horses to water when they didn’t want a drink, and not only can you not make them drink, but their necks are extremely powerful and you can’t even force their lips down to the water.
The Mueller Report was released and the horses didn’t want to drink it in.
It doesn’t help that the ever-present “mainstream media” keeps describing it as 448 pages long, adding to the OMG fear of diving in, and revealing that they haven’t read it, either.
Not that it’s not 448 pages long, but if you take out the tables of contents, the introductory pages, the blank pages and the footnotes, it’s more like around 224 pages and no I didn’t actually measure that.
And it doesn’t matter, because, if it were 24 pages long, a lot of people would have still been content to take someone else’s word for what it says.
It’s been turned into a graphic novel and it’s been dramatically read, and I’d love to know how many Trump supporters filled the auditorium for that latter attempt.
I rather suspect it was an exercise in self-congratulations rather than a serious attempt at persuasion. Which is not a bad thing as long as we all acknowledge it.
We’ll get back to that.
Meanwhile, Mike Smith suggests the futility of hoping a televised set of hearings will persuade very many Deplorables to change positions,
I wish I disagreed. My good intentions do. My experience does not.
I’ve referred to fringe dwellers as “True Believers,” thinking mostly in terms of the nutty people who volunteer for campaigns and whose work is necessary but whose absurd loyalty is so bizarre that you have to stick them in the back stuffing envelopes lest they scare away more rational supporters.
And, a half century ago, it didn’t matter whether they were idiots who spoke of “our brothers in Cuba and North Vietnam” or idiots convinced that anti-war people were getting their orders from the Kremlin.
However, I’ve recently seen the Deplorables described, not as “True Believers” but as a cult, and I’m inclined to accept that as a more useful definition.
Dana Summers, who is no raging liberal, notes the lack of effect of any attacks on Dear Leader.
I don’t know if he’s celebrating it or bemoaning it, but he’s certainly right: Simple, well-documented scandals that would have driven anyone else from office have no effect on Trump, which is to say, no effect on the Deplorables who support him.
Political differences can be discussed and debated, but attacks on a cult leader are dismissed as lies, or as part of a conspiracy, by his followers.
So, back in the days of the Children of God and the Hare Krishnas and the other cults, O Best Beloved, there was a fellow named Ted Patrick, who used to kidnap cult members at the request of their families and “deprogram” them.
Typically, that consisted of taking them to a motel, tying them to a chair and badgering them for four or five days, arguing scripture and otherwise attempting to shake their faith in their cult.
It was not universally successful and it was not universally popular.
First of all, it’s illegal to kidnap people and tie them to chairs (who knew?), but it is also a classic example of leading a horse to water and assuming you can force him to drink.
And, by the way, tying them to chairs might be the only way you could force Deplorables to watch the Mueller hearings or, to cite a parallel fantasy, to watch impeachment hearings.
Nostalgic memories of Watergate likely overplay the impact of the hearings on Nixon defenders, but they most certainly ignore the fact that, in those pre-cable days, the hearings were one-sixth of everything available on television.
The days when a Presidential election or even a Presidential address would bring television to a grinding halt are long, long over.
You can’t even lead the horses to water anymore.
Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold the hearings, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reduce the report to a comic book or have actors sit on barstools and read it aloud.
Of course you fill the trough. And you bring the horses over, as many as will come.
The ones who will drink deserve to drink, and you never know who might join that thirsty crowd.
The fact that some will not drink is simply a hard truth to be accepted.
Anyway, let’s release that battered metaphor in favor of this Matt Davies desert island metaphor, and talk plainly.
The challenge in reclaiming the nation is not to persuade cult members to change their beliefs. That’s not gonna happen.
The challenge, and the solution, is to persuade the fence sitters to climb down: Register them to vote and then give them a ride to the polls to be sure they actually cast a ballot.
Clipboards and shoe leather beat Jim Crow and they can defeat this horror as well.
But we’ve got to stop wasting time trying to deprogram Deplorables and put that effort into reaching those who can be reached.
Because if you think the Deplorables are any less a cult than the Moonies or the Children of God or the people who followed Jim Jones to Guyana, you haven’t been paying attention.
Here’s a film about their programming, and here’s the trailer for that film: