"What if the [Republican] 'base' consists of people who live in an alternate world where facts, empirical reality, and scientific reason and truth operate according to a different set of rules? And what if these voters have been socialized into an bizarro reality by a media machine that has created a literal and virtual bubble of information for its viewers and listeners, one where the “news” actually misinforms, thus leaving its public less knowledgeable about current affairs than before?"—Chauncey DeVega
The GOP Debate’s Terrifying Alternate Reality: Inside the Political Delusions of a Party on the Edge
By Chauncey DeVega
When I was in elementary and middle school, I was an unapologetic right-leaning Independent. I admired Colin Powell. I stayed up all night transfixed, watching the real life video game spectacle of the first Gulf War on CNN.
After listening to Rush Limbaugh during the week, and then watching C-SPAN on Sundays, I would put on my best suit and pretend to be the first black president of the United States; naturally I was a Lincoln/Reagan Republican. I then delivered speeches about American freedom, democracy, justice, and opportunity while I looked in the mirror on my bedroom wall. The preferred scenario was my leading the United States into a war or offering up a version of a Roosevelt fireside chat as economic calamity threatened the country (usually caused by the devious and disciplined Japanese). Only I, the country’s first black President, could unite the people in victory both foreign and domestic.
As a child of the 1980s, I grew up watching movies such as “Rambo,” “Red Dawn,” and “Missing in Action.” I voraciously read “G.I. Joe” comics and military-themed magazines like Soldier of Fortune and Take Off. I played military simulations on my Amiga and Commodore 64 computers. I won World War 3 many times over. I vanquished the Russians, Libyans, and Iranians with ease in my Microsoft flight simulations and SSI turn based strategy games. I stopped the Russians and their allies at the Fulda Gap; I sunk the Warsaw Pact battle fleets in the Kola Peninsula and near Iceland. I wondered, how hard could doing the same thing be in real life?
I knew the secret to beating the Russians and creating a Pax Americana that would spread freedom, democracy, and “American values” around the world: Peace through superior firepower. America is the greatest country on Earth. The real problem is that the rest of the world has not yet been made aware of this self-evident fact.
Wednesday evening’s CNN Republican debate featured childish thoughts such as these, thoughts that normally are discarded long ago by reasonable and mature adults, instead now being offered as serious policy analysis from people who want to be President of the United States.
But, what if the [Republican] “base” consists of people who live in an alternate world where facts, empirical reality, and scientific reason and truth operate according to a different set of rules? What happens to a supposedly mainstream political party’s internal dynamics when the most extreme elements are given control over it? And what if these voters have been socialized into an bizarro reality by a media machine that has created a literal and virtual bubble of information for its viewers and listeners, one where the “news” actually misinforms, thus leaving its public less knowledgeable about current affairs than before?
This alternate reality is the world in which the Republican Party and its candidates for president in 2016 exist. It is utterly impenetrable to outsiders. “Normal” politics do not exist there. This cult-like world is vexing, confusing, headache inducing, disorientating, and enraging for those in the “reality based community” who try to process the 2016 Republican debates. Ultimately, if one is not initiated into the right-wing movement’s rites and rituals, you will not be able to translate its political acts of magic and speaking in tongues that masquerade as serious political discourse.