Sunday, September 30, 2012

Doctor, Doctor, Come Quick-- One Of Our Political Parties Is Dying Of Severe Epistemic Closure Before My Eyes


The media is beginning to predict more than just an Obama win next month; words like "blowout" and "landslide" are being bandied about. It looks like Obama could well take all the states he won against McCain other than Indiana. North Carolina is still too close to call... but Arizona is moving in a blue direction and if Obama decided to start advertising there, he could probably take it. Recent polls point to the nail in Romney's coffin: Obama up 10 points in Ohio, 9 points in Florida and 8 points in Virginia. I'm sure the Cayman Islands would make him and Ayn and Duke and Duchess if they need to be cheered up. Romney's got the Mormon states and the most racist parts of the Old Confederacy... and he's got the Fox viewers and Hate Talk Radio listeners (i.e., the right-wing bubble), but that's basically, all he's got. And that's not enough. Chris Hayes on his MSNBC show yesterday:

Glenn Beck left Fox News to create his own hermetically sealed media environment, where he has his own website, radio show and TV network, where the latter routinely runs stories first reported by the former... The increasingly claustrophobic parallel conservative universe isn't just something that lefties like myself have noted. Julian Sanchez, a CATO libertarian who moves in social circles of both liberals and conservative, coined the term "epistemic closure" to describe the alternate reality found in, as he put it, the "multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News" where "whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they're liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!) This epistemic closure can be a source of solidarity and energy, but it also renders the conservative media ecosystem fragile."

I think we are seeing right now, just how prophetic Sanchez was. The political problems the Republican party are now facing-- losing ground not only in the general election but a wide swath of congressional races, is due, I think to the fact that the elites of that party have become so used to operating within the confines of conservatism they've forgotten how to persuade people that don't already agree with them.

As you know, no Republican has ever won the presidency without taking Ohio. And pundits are already asking how Romney let it slip away in such a big way. Walter Shapiro tells us that "many of the well-known Ohio Republicans I interviewed offered their blunt assessments only after they were guaranteed complete anonymity. That is often the Faustian bargain of political journalism in 2012: robotic talking points on the record or something resembling honesty with no names attached. The reason, though, that I am emphasizing the don’t-quote-me part of the equation is that I was stunned by the vehemence of the thumbs-down-on-Mitt verdict. All but conceding the state to Obama, these Republicans were offering what may be the biggest rejection of Ohio since Philip Roth wrote Goodbye Columbus."

The Romney problem in Ohio is not so much campaign strategy as the candidate’s inability to transcend who he is. “The Obama people have convinced Ohio voters of two things,” says Curt Steiner, a well-connected Republican public relations strategist. “That Mitt Romney doesn’t believe anything. And what he does believe is all anti-middle class.”

...Republican insiders privately concede that Romney’s “47 percent” comments at a fund-raiser have been devastating because they validate pre-existing concerns about Bain Capital, the candidate’s wealth, and his impolitic affection for overseas bank accounts. Fifty-eight percent of Ohio voters in a recent Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS poll predicted that the policies of a Romney administration would “favor the rich.”

No doubt, inside the right-wing bubble, the GOP pup tent, something else entirely is going on to rationalize this. And if they lose control of the House, which is looking more likely everyday, they're really going to have to figure out what to do about it. Does anyone have the intestinal fortitude for a real look at what the party has become... or will they just say Romney was "too liberal" and inauthentic and dragged the whole enterprise down?

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At 9:30 PM, OpenID ferrellgummit said...

Do you guys watch MSNBC? Maybe you love how they reedit videos so it looks Romney is losing.


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