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This guy, and people just like him, have always been with us and always will. It's not like such folks were invented in 2020. What's distinct today is that there is a sitting President and a massively funded media operation that says back to him "you are right. Keep going!"
What's also distinct is that one of the nation's two major parties is comprised of "leaders" who will say to such reality-challenged citizens "we hear you, we're with you, and we will do what we can to support you."
Growing up in small town PA in the 1970s, I had a buddy who's mom spent hours in her basement chain smoking and reading National Enquirer and every other rag like it that you could pick up next to the grocery store cash register. That family went hard for Trump in 2016.
But it's not like Trump turned these folks into people who loved conspiracy theories and had no media-literacy skills. They were like that all their lives. But in the 70s they felt alienated from politics, knew little about it, and felt like no one understood or cared about them.
Trump SAW them, he really SAW them, and gave them the confidence to express their views more openly on social media and to their neighbors, even to attend their first political rallies. That's what marks a departure, IMHO.
Anyway, that's why I blanch whenever I see liberals dunk on people like this guy. It's just too easy. This guy, as an individual, likely has very little power in the world. But the political and media figures who feed this sort of political culture should know better.
I know it's a cliche to say "it's a free country," but really, at least for now, "it's a free country." That dude has the right to say his piece at a public meeting like everyone else. But political leaders can choose to either politely ignore him, or amplify his voice.
The fact that the GOP has built its base out of millions of people like this ranty anti-mask guy is a problem for them and for the entire country. Because people like him have great sway over who wins primaries, like in 2016 for example.
Because, let's face it, if a GOP politician actually cared about anti-mask ranty guy, they'd say to him "sir, the coronavirus is very real and dangerous, especially to those over 60, so I urge you to wear a mask to protect yourself and those you love."
This is why some call today's GOP a "death cult." They'd rather lie about climate change than take action that might save the lives of their great-grandchildren. They'd rather see their base infect each other in churches and hair salons than admit the virus is real.
What does it say about a political party that it can't even muster the integrity to say to its own supporters "I hear you, but you're wrong, and if you continue down this path you are endangering your life and the lives of those around you?"
How does someone who understands science continue to be associated with such an irresponsible party and also continue to sleep at night? I don't know what monstrous threats they think Trump's GOP is protecting the nation from...but they must be pretty huge.
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