Donald Trump spoke for 75 minutes at the Republican National Convention last night, alternately aggrandizing himself, predicting doom, and assuring us he’d fix it. The theme of the evening was Make America One Again, which was a refreshing change from Monday’s theme, Make America Scared of Brown People. Yet Trump seemed to double down on separation. He adjusted his promised ban on Muslims to a ban on people from countries Muslim terrorists have “penetrated.” He did not mention any black lives that may have mattered, but he presented cop killing as epidemic, even though fewer officers have been murdered during the Obama administration than during any administration in the last 30 years. Then Trump promised to “end crime and violence very soon.” Today is Friday, and the Republican Party has nominated for president of the United States an ethnic nationalist campaigning on law and order. Won’t you consider fixing up the attic with me?
The Republican National Convention has blown out of Tampa with a whoosh of salt air, leaving behind it only litter and fact checkers. By all accounts, it was a fine affair that Combat! blog covered not at all. I don’t go in for political kabuki. I only like political Noh, on which the RNC verged several times. A bunch of crazy stuff happened in Florida this week, and none of it was true. Super PAC and campaign operatives stayed in the same hotel, not coordinating at all. Paul Ryan blamed Obama for a bunch of stuff that happened before he was president, and Clint Eastwood did a ventriloquist act with no dummy. Also, a Montana man was killed while impersonating Bigfoot, in what for now seems to be an unrelated story. At this point, though, I woud believe anything.
Back before we divided off into people who think it was founded on the Bible and people who think it was a tax evasion scheme, I was taught that the United States of America was founded on rational debate. Citizens in a democracy disagree about stuff, and the only way to figure out who’s right is to put our ideas in a metaphorical marketplace and start convincing one another. Of course, the democratic process doesn’t actually determine who’s right; it just identifies the most appealing argument. This wrinkle could potentially give an unfair advantage to those unscrupulous arguers willing to employ sophistry and fallacies, but fortunately our populace is too well-educated for that to work. I’m fucking with you—our populace is home watching Man Versus Food and coming up with race-based theories of identity. The dirtiest argumentative tactics you can imagine are on proud display in contemporary discourse, so that any particular argument is now subsumed in the larger argument between Deductive Reasoning and Whatever. It’s us against them, deductive reasoners, and they’re winning. This week’s link roundup is about winning the argument, even at the expense of obvious considerations of true and false. That’s the beauty of a democracy: if you can put some destructive idea into other people’s heads—optimally one that puts the very people who believe it at a disadvantage—you become more powerful yourself. It’s like the way Renfield keeps eating spiders in Dracula. Won’t you choke down a couple of tarantulas with me?