The Glib Dismissers Who Helped Trump, Probably Without Meaning To

Glibness. People who make glib, hollow remarks like “both leading political parties are the same” or “voting in this country is a waste of time” or “social progress doesn’t happen in this society” are both intellectually dishonest and intellectually lazy; they’re engaging in a tactic of unconscious self-aggrandizement, casting about for a chance to sound important without doing the work (and perhaps without having the mental means) to justify their outrageous, easily disproven claims. They repeat logical fallacies with a dismissive smugness that they suppose disarms argument. Their claims are so broad and all inclusive they momentarily mask vagueness behind the appearance of cleaving the Gordian Knot; they mask hollowness behind the appearance of incisiveness.

They are either unable to follow up after being challenged with facts, or they do it only with an internet link to an opinion piece–it may happen that, in their patronizing way, before vanishing, they toss off an observation that, for example, “both Democrats and Republicans voted for the Iraq war”, as if that proved that the parties always have the same policies. If we respond by demonstrating that, again and again, Democrats and Republicans have overwhelmingly different policies with different results, that voting for Obama resulted in our taking our troops out of Iraq, that Civil Rights laws represent progress, that the word progress is not a synonym for perfection…well, they quickly bail out.

Really, these people are engaging in a cocktail-party-social, interpersonal gambit, not a political one; they’re trying to make a striking statement without having to defend it, and they’re hoping to harvest a gratifying attention for it. It’s flailing for one-upmanship. The tendency has replicated in social media, spread like a contagious skin disease on the internet…

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