Chris Stirewalt, a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a conservative publication, published an essay on Monday in which he mused over how the United States “became a nation of so many dupes and fools” who were overly ripe for a plucking from former President Donald Trump.
After conceding that he once viewed Trump as merely a “symptom” of underlying societal malignancies, Stirewalt stressed that in order to root out the seeds of Trumpism, “we have to be clear about the diagnosis.”
He expanded on that fundamental point:
We all know some of the causes: cultural starvation that created a yearning for rabid partisanship as a simulacrum, economic transformation, weak political parties, atomization of media, the ease of employing mob tactics in the digital age, and on and on. In fact, Trump has been a big and messy enough symptom that one can find his origins in almost any longstanding ill he or she wishes. Confirmation bias didn’t just help make Trump possible; it has confused the work of an honest, complete diagnosis.
The truth about complicated matters such as these is seldom satisfying since no side or group can escape completely unscathed. Indeed, the prevalence of this motivated reasoning is in itself evidence of one of the leading causes of Trump’s acquisition of power and the enthusiastic support by millions for his abuses of it.
Stirewalt provided three examples of this:
Exhibit A: Activists disrupt the administration of coronavirus vaccinations at Dodgers’ Stadium. One of the motivating factors cited by the so-called anti-vaxxers was the recent death of homerun king Hank Aaron at the age of 86—more than a decade beyond the life expectancy for an American male. Aaron died three weeks after he volunteered for a public inoculation to encourage other seniors to follow suit. Notorious crank Robert Kennedy Jr. said it was part of ‘a wave of suspicious deaths among [the] elderly.’
Exhibit B: The government of the District of Columbia, a perpetual motion machine for patronage, goes to court seeking an injunction against a union that represents Washington’s teachers. The aim was to prevent the American Federation of Teachers from striking to prevent schools from reopening for in-person learning. Government workers, especially teachers, are the political behemoth of local politics in our nation’s capital. For city leaders to bite the hand that feeds them means something is seriously out of phase. Here’s what: Despite all of the evidence presented by public health officials not only that schools can reopen safely but that opening them is essential, teachers’ unions are still opposed.
Exhibit C: Timothy Wilks, 20, is shot and killed outside of Nashville’s Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park. Police told reporters that Wilks was trying to create a viral video of himself staging a fake robbery prank for his YouTube channel. Apparently unaware of the hilarity of having a stranger run at you and your friends with butcher knives, one of Wilks’ intended foils drew a pistol and shot him dead.
More broadly, Stirewalt argued, is that the evidence supporting his dumb Americans hypothesis is not only damning, but that it also “transcends divisions of politics, economics, education, ethnicity and gender. You’ve got the nephew of a former president all the way down to a post-adolescent YouTube wannabe. What connects them—the same thing that threatens the health of the republic—is rank imbecility.”
Stirewalt opined that the foundational rot begins with the antiquated American educational system:
We are suffering the consequences from generations of Americans who are both undereducated and miseducated. This many millions of nincompoops didn’t show up overnight. They have been stumbling out of our nation’s failing schools for decades.
Read Stirewalt’s The Dangers of the Derp State essay by clicking here.
What's Your Reaction?
Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.