Post-Factual Politics (the website)
Between work, applying for graduate school, and numerous trips to dragon boat races and the mountains, I have clearly been neglecting the website. Of course, the news hasn’t slowed down one bit. Protests continue to grow from Hong Kong to Moscow to Santiago to Baghdad; the United Kingdom prepares for its first winter election in decades as Brexit threatens to end the union; Spain’s latest elections have further entrenched the country’s grid lock; Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu is finally beginning to lose power, to name a few events as the world keeps spinning. For the website, in the coming year I hope to finish two or three larger pieces I have been sitting on, if only because the impeachment inquiry has cleaned me of my last bits of paid time off.
But what I truly want to make note of is a running observation about US politics.
Post-Factual Politics (the reality)
In the United States, the House Democrats have been moving forward on impeachment since Trump admitted to asking a foreign country to investigate one of his political rivals. I feel ashamed for being surprised by the line of defense trotted out by Trump’s Republican Party; it has been the epitome of post-factual politics. Since the summary of the phone call between President Trump and President Zelenskyy came out, the party line has been to double down on Trump’s rather clearly illegal conduct (never-mind impeachable). Every one of the public impeachment hearings has been defined in part by “Nunes Story Time” in which Representative Nunes pretends he is the witness and repeats a series of debunked claims about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. The party apparatus has encouraged him, sometimes developing their own fictitious descriptions of events (often pertaining to Representative Schiff) while the White House claims a procedure clearly defined in the constitution is a coup. The strategy is clearly “if we never stop repeating our version of reality, eventually enough people will agree with it that we can maintain power.” It is the strategy Trump has employed since before he started his 2016 campaign and it is the strategy that will result in an acquittal by the Senate. It is the strategy that coined the term alternative facts and relies on the fracturing of American politics to maintain power. It is, simply, post-factual politics at its finest.
I chose the name of this website as equal parts a joke (I work in research), an observation (see the above), and a prediction (again, above). Unfortunately, like most gallows humor, the amusing aspects are slowly eroding away as the painful reality of the situation holds firm.
This post is largely a note for the future. A reminder that the recent months of progress and accountability have done more to display the depth of the rot than to restore the foundation of this nation’s civic sphere.
In December of 2016 my friends and I named a pub trivia team “2016 sucked because it was a harbinger of things to come.” Three years later, the largest change has been a reduction of uncertainty.