For years we called it the "Echo Chamber."
It is a place where Conservatives speak only to each other, about only conservative ideas. It originally consisted of talk radio plus a few conservative newspapers like the New York Post and the Washington Times. With advent of Fox News the Echo Chamber grew and amplified. The expansion of the Internet meant the birth of conservative websites like FreeRepublic, TheDrudgeReport. NewsMax and WorldNetDaily which allowed conservatives to speak only to each other even more.
The arrival of the blogosphere ushered in conservative blogs like RedState, Politico and a few dozen others. Soon the contents of the Echo Chamber began reverberating off the walls at a fevers pitch, creating an unintelligible noise like the sound of a thousand ducks quacking for no reason, toward no end, forever. The quaking became so loud and so dense, that no outside ideas could penetrate the walls.
Bill Maher calls this "The Bubble"
I do not know if Bill Maher coined this term or if he simply borrowed it, but the idea has been around for what feels like a very long time. Year after year conservatives seek to further isolate themselves from the facts of the real world. It has gotten to the point where we no longer argue about how to solve real problems, we argue instead over whether or not some problems are real.
Inside The Bubble lies and half truths are repeated without question. Sometimes they are tweaked, exaggerated, and retold with a new twist. But more often than not they are repeated verbatim. These are not just talking points, they are scripted lines of thought. Political programming, if you will. Programming that is never challenged. Inside this type of environment lies eventually feel like common knowledge. Because of this it becomes easy to believe something ludicrous, such as the idea that President Obama was born in Kenya. If you never hear that idea being challenged, you're more likely to just accept it as truth.
This is a problem, but it is not as irrational as it may seem on it's face.
The bubble exists for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that there are plenty of conservatives ready, willing and able to scam the more gullible among them via the propagation of these lies.
Look at Donald Trump. The man has remained (somewhat) relevant over the last 4 years coasting almost entirely on his exploitation of the "birther" allegations. How much money did Orly Taitz raise over the course of her 10 Electoral Campaigns? How many "birther books" have been sold over the last 4 years from who knows how many authors, all peddling the same lines of crap?
That's just one Obama lie that has been marketed to the stupid, gullible guardians of The Bubble at great profit. There are so many more. The FEMA political prisoner camps. The non-existent attack on religious liberty. The non-existent death panels. The vaccines that somehow lead to brain damage, sexual promiscuity, amateur pornography and vegetarianism, or some such non-sense.
Mitt Romney even launched his Presidential campaign with a book of his own called "No Apology" framed almost entirely around The Bubble's belief that Barack Obama went around the world apologizing for America. The NRA has raised untold millions this year alone on fundraising lies that claim Barack Obama is coming for your guns. This despite the fact that President Barack Obama hasn't done anything about guns, except make them okay to carry into national parks.
It is straw-man politics at best, but manipulation of partisanship/racism at worst. Yes The Bubble exists because conservatives are slowly retracting from reality, but it is spoon fed fuel for the fire by greedy, scam artists looking to make a buck off of fake controversies and outright lies. It has become an industry on it's own. Not just for partisan politicians looking to rally the troops against our side, but anyone with a wild imagination and a willingness to spread bullshit for a buck.
Another aspect of The Bubble is the apparent fact that conservatives treat politics as a sort of Sport. An ideological exercise, if you will, with no consequence for reality. Everything is thought of in an abstract, hypothetical sort of way.
I will give you an example. When Mitt Romney's past statements on FEMA suddenly became news in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, one of my co-workers (who is a very conservative Mormon) tried to reassure me that Mitt Romney doesn't actually want to defund FEMA, send it back to the states or possibly the private sector. That Romney wasn't speaking literally, he was speaking hypothetically.
When I asked for clarification he said...
He was speaking in terms of what he would do with FEMA if we lived in a "perfect world."I thought about that for a few minutes and suddenly a lot of conservative ideas started to make sense. Conservatives practice what I am now calling "Perfect World Politics."
Think about it. It would be immoral to continue funding FEMA in a Perfect World, because there would be no natural disasters! The States wouldn't depend on the Federal Government to prop up their budgets, the whole economic system would just work in perfect harmony. At some level conservatives base all of their ideas on how the world ought to be instead of how the world actually works!
Their crazy ideas are the bi-product of interpreting reality through a Perfect World prism. Gays don't need equality, in their perfect world there would be no gays. Abortion should be illegal because in a perfect world there would be no unwanted pregnancies. I'm willing to go one step further on that and submit that in their perfect world all sex would be procreational.
In a perfect world you don't have poor people, so why do you need Welfare? In a perfect world old people will have saved for their retirement all their lives, so why do we need Social Security? In a perfect world everyone has a well paying job with medical benefits, so why do we need Obama Care? Global Warming is a Hoax, why do we need to stop polluting?
This is how they view these issues. When they propose cutting these things, they don't think about the actual people who will be affected by it because in their mind those people shouldn't exist. And in some cases they actually believe that in order to get to this perfect world, you have to first put the policies in effect. Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of thing. But these things don't work in reverse. You can't glue fruit to a bunch of sticks, twigs and leaves and magically end up with a real life apple tree.
Likewise needing a job is not by itself enough to find one. You can't eliminate poverty by kicking people off of social programs into a job market in which there aren't enough jobs. The foundations of a growing economy have to be laid down first. Only then can people be expected to move out of poverty and off of Government programs. Yet the inhabitants of The Bubble continue to think of these issues in the abstract. Like pieces of a puzzle to fit together. Their perfect world doesn't worry about in which order you assemble them.
Since their ideas work in their mind, the fact that they won't work out in the real world never enters into the equation. I am fond of saying (every chance I get) that Ayn Rand's books are filled with ideas that only work in the fictional worlds she created for that purpose. This truly is her party now. In the minds of the GOP rank and file her ideas of a conservative utopia have all but fully replaced the realm you and I call reality.
Finally there really is an actual rationale behind the irrational ideas that occasionally burst through the walls of The Bubble and find their way into non-bubble news items. You could call it a skewed rational, not to put too fine a point on it. I use that word skewed because the recent obsession with Party Affiliation numbers in polling is a great example of this sort of warped rationale being supported by a misinterpretation of real, actual facts.
One of the ways the unskewed poll sites "unskews" the polls is to look at the Party Affiliation numbers and then decrease the number of Democrats. So in a nutshell if there are +6% more Democratic respondents than GOP respondents in a poll, the site decreases Obama's margin of victory in the poll by that 6% or sometimes more.
Why do they do this? Well it's not just pure wishful thinking, though there is certainly some of that at play. It has more to do with how they decide how much to unskew that number. The answer is that these sites use the Voter Turnout numbers from 2010 as a model for predicting turnout in this years Presidential Election.
No sane person would ever do this. Anyone with half a brain knows the 2010 Election was a Midterm Election. So while it was in fact the most recent Election we have had, which may initially make that data seem relevant; the fact remains that comparing Midterm Elections and Presidential Elections is like comparing the attendance of a community organized play, with that of a Broadway show.
It's Apples and Oranges.
Turnout is always lower in Midterm Elections despite their obvious importance, with turnout among Democrats particularly lower than Presidential contests. Conservatives have always believed this nation is secretly far more conservative than our elections would suggest. The 2010 Election simply vindicated that belief in their minds. They think the 2010 Electorate is the new normal. The True Majority if you will. Therefore people inside The Bubble expect Tuesday's electorate to look like 2010.
Old, White, Under Educated and mostly Male.
That is why they are so confident. They aren't simply demented, or delusional. They are poorly informed because of the fact that all of their information comes from an angry orgy of half baked conservative ideas, shaped and twisted by an industry of conspiracy theory spinsters which is then passed around like a virus until it seems to them like everybody on the planet instinctively knows it to be true.
That is The Bubble. That's how it's ideas are formed, nurtured, warped, and rationalized. That is what we have been up against, and what we will continue to be up against. Understanding this sort of thinking will better prepare us to debate it, and guard against a similar fate overtaking this community.
I hope you enjoyed a non-election diary on this Election Eve. Happy Voting Everybody!
11:59 AM PT: Wow thank you everybody. Did not expect this diary to be community spot lit... lighted? Whatever. Thanks everyone who read my diary and commented on it. Sorry about the few grammatical errors I will try to fix those when I get off work today.
I really didn't think this diary would get very much interest do to this being such a busy time for all of us. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment.