What do you know? Really, what do you actually know?
If I were to ask those involved in politics this question, no matter the side or issue, I would immediately be inundated with the latest narrative about how Hillary Clinton runs a Satanic Cult and Donald Trump personally performs fellatio on Vladimir Putin, or that Jeff Sessions is a secret Klan member, or Podesta visits a pizza chain for pedophilloic sex. Whether on social media, at work, or at a club eavesdropping on the drunks as I provide security, it is the same viral narratives being spewed with a confidence once reserved for those dealing in facts.
Real evidence for these narratives is often lacking but made up for by the sheer force of will, and total lack of shame, from its proponents. Usually it goes something like this: Reddit thread linked to a cut out foreign site, that then becomes the basis for a blog post, which turns into a radio hit, that then leads Hannity/Maddow, hashtags, reactionaries commentaries on commentaries from the opposition, maybe even a subtweet war … Narrative Established.
Once the narrative is established, well you’d better get your lines straight, or else you will be ridiculed as a leftist/Trumpist/Eurasia/Eastasia … but the truth is most of us are Oceana. There are people on all sides of the political divide that bend the truth to fit with their individual bias. It isn’t an affliction of just the left or right, or just the MSM versus the New Media. Heck, it isn’t even limited to the Establishment or the Base. Nearly any site you choose to peruse will have plenty of narrative items that provide few facts, or the context needed to understand those facts. Facts have become as fluid as they were once stubborn, or at least our use of them has. And if the required facts don’t exist, no worries, we now have alternative facts to make the Victory Gin taste better!
How the hell did we get here?
Well, for my entire existence on this planet the left has been doing this in the realm of climate science, ping ponging back in forth between catastrophic heat and cold spells that would surely end humanity as we know it in a matter of mere years. Of course, this is followed by absolute disdain for the man on the other side of the aisle who hears these very serious people speak of doom and buys guns, ammo, and freeze dried foods for the coming disaster, reinforcing a secondary narrative while they have free time. But I digress.
Back to climate change … With each apocalyptic prediction of our frozen/fiery future we are provided with a new slew of facts to substantiate the narrative of impending doom that can only be stopped by higher taxes on petroleum products.
FACT: Models predict an increase in temperature.
CONTEXT: Models were based on limited datasets and may ignore datasets that do not prove the thesis.
And for 40 years we have been dealing with the unconstitutional EPA and all their regulatory bovine excrement. Not only that, we’ve been dealing with the narrative that the GOP wants dirty water, air, and coal plants spewing soot like we are London in the 1800’s. Conversely, we have the Democrats painted as tree hugging flower children who have no sense.
Reality is somewhere between. Of course, nuance just gives power to the narrative because who wants to think?
Obviously, the GOP is no stranger to narratives — why do you think they called the AHCA a repeal of Obamacare even though it actually wasn’t? Because that has been the narrative for the last 8 years and they wanted to fulfill the narrative. Again, the facts don’t actually matter as long as people get the narrative.
Personally, I believe the conservative movement started on this path towards narratives with good intent. I think it was Dana Loesch who championed the concept that politics is downstream of culture during the Tea Party movement, and at the time I agreed. Looking back, I think this was actually a bit off and helped lead us to where we are today. In short, I think politics and culture are a whirlpool neither up nor downstream from each other, but rather interconnected, self sustaining, and self perpetuating. Change can be effected from either side, but you may get sucked down in the process.
The difference, prior to June of 2015, between the GOP and Democrat narratives was primarily in that the GOP in general, and conservatives more specifically, relied more heavily upon facts within their narratives. This practice became used less with each Trump win in the primary, and by the General Election nearly everyone had abandoned facts in totality and embraced the warm glow of the narrative.
For the GOP this turned out ok. Well, I mean, they won the general election, they still have to deal with President Trump and all that entails.
For the Democrats, that warm glow from the narrative was actually a 5 alarm fire and it consumed them all in a fiery hell from which they haven’t really yet recovered.
Now, I know what some of you, on both sides, are thinking … “F*&^ THEM FOR BEING SO GULLIBLE!!”
Trust me, I get this, I was saying this to myself a lot the last two years.
That said, let me suggest another way to look at this: pity.
Have pity for these souls who fell hostage to the tyranny of the narrative. And yes, I mean tyranny.
An honest man can say that Trump has an abnormal number of people in his circle who seem to come up on incidental collection for conversations with foreign entities with often nefarious intentions in the geopolitical realm.
An honest man can say that Hillary has an abnormal number of people in her circle who seem to have relations with hostile foreign governments as long as the speaking fees were paid in full and on time. Also she got people killed in Benghazi and her email server shenanigans flirted with treason.
An honest man can say both of these things at once.
And that’s when the Tyranny of the Narrative kicks in. The proponents of the narratives, either side, it doesn’t matter, will attack you for speaking outside your tribal narrative. They will berate you to all of their adoring fans and claim your acknowledgement of the facts is really an acknowledgement of your leftist/rightist thinking and the abnormally small size of your manhood.
You have become a pariah.
You know what, be the pariah. Let their anger flow at you, all the while realizing it isn’t you they hate. It is themselves, and their slavish devotion to the narrative that they really hate. As well they should. The more they rely upon the narrative and abuse the facts to fit it, the more they will be doing a long term disservice to themselves and continue to miss the forest for the trees.
A good narrative can be a great tool, but when the narrative itself is the object to be protected, its usefulness changes to a leash. The narrative is no longer a means to an end, social change, policy change, it is the end itself.
The Tyranny of the Narrative is what we live under and what stops us from ever changing.