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Democrats Misunderstand the QAnon Phenomenon

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The Democratic Party Has a Fatal Misunderstanding of the QAnon Phenomenon, Osita Nwanevu, staff writer, The New Republic. We are smarter than they are or at least better educated or are we? Commenter Dale Coberly: I am offering this post to AB because I have seen a great deal of “us smart, them dumb” in comments.  I might agree with part of that,  but it’s bad politics and dangerous self-deception.  Rather than just post a “read this” with link in comments,  I thought AB readers deserved a longer look at it, and the author is a better writer than I am. Their belief that this surreal conspiracy has arisen  because of the poor education of its adherents is based in classism, not reality. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

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The Democratic Party Has a Fatal Misunderstanding of the QAnon Phenomenon, Osita Nwanevu, staff writer, The New Republic.

We are smarter than they are or at least better educated or are we?

Commenter Dale Coberly: I am offering this post to AB because I have seen a great deal of “us smart, them dumb” in comments.  I might agree with part of that,  but it’s bad politics and dangerous self-deception.  Rather than just post a “read this” with link in comments,  I thought AB readers deserved a longer look at it, and the author is a better writer than I am.

Their belief that this surreal conspiracy has arisen  because of the poor education of its adherents is based in classism, not reality.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee intends to focus on QAnon in its messaging, ahead of the 2022 midterms, in the hopes that [this] will push more people away from the GOP. DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney:

“They can do QAnon, or they can do college-educated voters. They cannot do both.”

Actually, they can. Trying to tether the GOP more tightly to the extremism it’s cultivated makes sense . . . But polls have shown few differences on QAnon between voters with and without college degrees – Civiqs’s latest survey, for instance, registers 72 percent opposition and 5 percent support for the theory among graduates. The split is 71 to 5 among nongraduates and 78 to 3 among postgraduates.

Of all the “big lies” distorting our politics, one of the largest and most popular — — has been the notion that our political divisions are the product of under or miseducation. The Republican Party’s flight into lunacy, it’s often suggested, has a fairly simple cause. The unwashed aren’t getting “The Facts” in school or from their media sources, and it’s up to the enlightened to shower “The Facts” upon them – perhaps, as some “disinformation” experts recently suggested to The New York Times, with a “reality czar” at the White House manning the hose.

This week, The Atlantic published what amounted to a rebuttal. According to court records . . . a full 40 percent of the 193 people charged with breaking into the Capitol grounds were business owners or white-collar workers.

“Unlike the stereotypical extremist, many of the alleged participants in the Capitol riot have a lot to lose,” they wrote. “They work as CEOs, shop owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists, and accountants.”

There were plenty of graduates and good students in the mob that day. Plenty of dropouts and poor students looked on in horror. And as much as the right’s critics might prefer an understanding of what’s happened to our politics that flatters their intelligence, the challenge we’re facing isn’t that millions of hapless and benighted yokels have been bamboozled by disinformation. It’s that millions of otherwise ordinary people from many walks of life – including many who went to and even excelled in college – have a material or ideological interest in keeping the Democratic Party and its voters from power by any means possible. And those means include the utilization of narratives, including conspiracy theories, that delegitimize Democrats and offer hope of their eventual comeuppance.

In a result unsurprising to those who follow this research, they found that higher levels of political knowledge actually deepened the likelihood that conservatives with low trust in people and major institutions would endorse right-wing conspiracy theories.

There isn’t much to be done about any of this:

We won’t do away with motivated reasoning without wholly reinventing human beings, and

We can’t contain the spread of disinformation without wholly reinventing the internet and the media as we know them.

And while the second task would be easier than the first, it doesn’t seem much more likely. Doing something about the power of the Republican Party seems more plausible – as long as those fighting it frame the battle as right against wrong rather than smart against dumb.

Democrats should try campaigning on the truth:

The Republican Party is controlled by intelligent, college – educated, and affluent elites who concoct dangerous nonsense to paper over a bigoted, plutocratic agenda to justify attacks on the democratic process.

That agenda and those attacks are supported by millions of reasonably intelligent voters who believe or claim to believe anything that furthers the objective of keeping conservatives in control of this country forever…. Instead, Democrats should present voters with a material choice between a party that has nothing to offer the majority of Americans but abuse and conspiratorial flimflam and a party committed to building a democracy and an economy that work for all. If they don’t, the lizard people who run the GOP will be running the government again in no time. 

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