In the last few days since the infamy of the Washington DC “insurrection” purportedly fuelled by US President Donald Trump’s messages sent over Twitter and other social media platforms, I’ve been seeing social media posts and various articles on news sites and blogs describing its aftermath. The interesting ones I’ve noted are those to do with how the Establishment has started to clamp down on the ability of Trump’s supporters and Trump himself to connect with one another over traditional social media and consumer digital devices. Notable of all is how the current go-to of the “far right” — social media site Parler — is being starved of essential services that keep its lights on as its infrastructure providers shut it down and distribution services like Google and Apple stores delist its mobile apps. Various payments services have also stopped processing payments to Trump’s campaign websites and other financial services will likely start to apply greater scrutiny to financial transactions associated with the broader ecosystem of conservative groups and movements.
Partisans on the other side of the spectrum are, as expected, enjoying their moment of schadenfreude as they revel in news of the suffering to the “bad guys” this is all causing. That’s fair, considering they had been marginalised “victims” of four years of the Trump administration (or so they felt they were). However, even as they go about their revelry, it is evident that worry is creeping in to spoil their party as they increasingly lose sight of these “bad guys” and wonder as to what might happen next as “impolite” conversations are driven out of mainstream digital communities and private — even analog — networking options are explored by some conservative blocs to continue their chatter.
Indeed, the more important thing to consider now is what happens next. Jim VandeHei writes about a “new reality” of Three Americas, “blue America, red America, and Trump America — all with distinct politics, social networks and media channels.” More disturbingly…
Parts of Trump America, canceled by Twitter and so many others, are severing their ties to the realities of the other Americas, and basically going underground. There will be less awareness and perhaps scrutiny of what’s being said and done.
Indeed, this is cancel culture taken to its logical conclusion. Whereas, in the last, cancel culture has mostly targetted specific events, brands, individuals, or character traits, it now applies a broad arbitrary brush to what likely is a significant chunk of the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump in this year’s elections. Even discounting those who would have been turned off to Trump following his astounding behaviour in the lead up to the “insurrection”, I’d be cautious about outright dismissing the continued significance of Trump’s supporter base.
New York Times‘ Will Wilkinson asked the question “Why Did So Many Americans Vote for Trump?” just after the the elections closed but the question may well have to be pondered for months — even years — to come. This is specially so now that Trump and his people are going underground on account of their being cancelledt by “decent” Americans.
Among other things, Wilkinson points out, “Democrats needed to present a competing, compelling strategy to counter Republican messaging.” But…
Instead, they whined that Mr. Trump’s negligence and incompetence were to blame for America’s economic woes and complained that Mitch McConnell wouldn’t even consider the House’s big relief bill. They weren’t wrong, but correctly assigning culpability did nothing to help working-class breadwinners who can’t bus tables, process chickens, sell smoothies or clean hotel rooms over Zoom.
A failure to compete. Sounds familiar, right?
If the winning team kicks the “losers” off and locks them out of the playing field, they leave themselves no choice other than to play with themselves and, as a result, literally go blind doing just that. The “losers” for their part are left no choice but to come up with a whole new ballgame and make their own rules, even perhaps craft that Third America VandeHei warns us about; one that may be dangerously invisible to the willingly blind.
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