The last place we need to worry about fake news is on the Internet
Gaffes. Alternative facts. They are the reason Donald Trump is the President, and why his opponents have all failed to stop him.
All the hand-wringing against the avalanche of fake news on the Internet ignore the most important and scary aspects of the phenomenon. First, the guy in the White House, and his backers, actively employ the tactic to advance their political agendas. (So other Internet fake news are of secondary concern.) Second, fake news have been around for thousands of years.
The problem goes to the heart of Donald Trump’s successful campaign. It is the culmination of decades, nay, centuries of religious renewals, and of capitalist expansion. There are two areas where facts don’t matter: religion and business. More people have come to accept that facts don’t matter as much as the heart, the opposite of Enlightenment. And more people now accept that the primary and even sole aim of any enterprises is profits.
Barack Obama was elected at the nadir of free-market economics in the United States, when a house of cards (and fake mortgages) almost brought down the world. But he didn’t go after any of the people guilty of fleecing the rest of us. Eight years went by and not a single Wall Street CEO went to jail for destroying trillions of dollars. Consequently, he and his party became the source of evil in the eyes of many Americans, and free market crony economics staged an improbable comeback, culminating in the election of a businessman to take over the U.S. government.
The other battle in American society has been religion’s role in people’s lives, in schools, in governments. There, too, facts matter not. We are told that faith is what gives our lives meanings, that spiritual beliefs are more important that facts on the ground. Taken to its logical extreme, we can ignore everything from global warming to charter schools to discrimination. Life is so much simpler when all that matters is what you believe.
Democrats have failed to stop a single nominee of the Trump presidency, despite historically unprecedented disapproval ratings for a new president. They are losing the war because they don’t realize who they’re fighting against: white supremacists for whom money is everything. Many are too idealistic and still believe money can’t buy everything. But when everything, even schools, are for sale, it can and will.