Welcome To Post-Persuasion America

Welcome To Post-Persuasion America. By Jeff Deist.

Speaking way back in the pre-Covid days of early 2020, [Steve] Bannon asserted the information age makes us less curious and willing to consider worldviews unlike our own. We have access to virtually all of humanity’s accumulated knowledge and history on devices in our pockets, but the sheer information overload causes us to dig in rather than open up.

Anyone who wants to change their mind can find a whole universe of alternative viewpoints online, but very few people do (especially beyond a certain age). For Bannon this meant the Trump campaign, and politics generally, was about mobilization rather than persuasion.

Because we can always find media sources which confirm our perspective and biases — and dismiss those which don’t — the notion of politics by argument or consensus is almost entirely lost. And no matter what our political or cultural perspective, there is someone creating content tailored to suit us as stratified consumers. Thus liberals, conservatives, and people of every other ideological stripe live in vastly different digital media worlds, even when they live in close physical proximity.

This overwhelming amount of curated and segregated white noise comes at us every day, from 24 hour news to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Idiotic platforms like TikTok and Discord vie with video games for the attention of our children. All of it leaves us numb and exhausted. Our attention spans suffer. We slowly lose our aptitude for deep thinking and serious reading. We attempt to replace wisdom and understanding with data and facts. …

So how should those interested in policy outcomes proceed?

We should focus on those who can be reached, not some mythical majority. Our task is to reach some people narrowly and deeply, not a majority of people superficially. We stand in contrast to the white noise, and opposed to the superficiality and anti-intellectualism of our age. Mobilizing the few is far more important and far more effective than foolishly trying to persuade the many. …

We need to recognize that tens of millions of Americans are likely beyond persuasion in the direction of sensible political or economic views. Millions more are committed socialists who would readily agree to nationalize whole industries and radically redistribute property. …

Post-persuasion America requires us to think about how to separate and unyoke ourselves politically from DC. Our immediate future lies in hard federalism, which dovetails with the soft secession which is happening already as millions of Americans vote with their feet. Mobilization and separation, not persuasion, is the way forward.