APPEAL TO OCCAM

Predictably, a terrible decision to try to hold a large political rally in a medium-sized city right now turned out poorly. For some reason the coverage is emphasizing the role Reddit, K-Pop fans (??), and other groups of Youths on the Internet played in allegedly thwarting the President's attempt at self-glorification.

I don't know why people reach for these narratives other than that it makes them feel a sense of power (People like us can shut it down!) or adds to the larger obsession with understanding politics largely as entertainment. But aside from the obviously ridiculous math of the Tulsa rally (Did anyone actually believe that a million people ordered a ticket?) you have a story that played out exactly the way common sense would dictate, even without the benefit of hindsight.

We are in the middle of three crises – a pandemic, a severe economic depression, and civil unrest – that would strongly argue against people turning out in big numbers for a meaningless pep rally. Not a spontaneous protest in response to a specific incident or issue, mind you – just a big stupid "Thank You President Trump!" event with all the usual D-list hangers-on of the Trump Extended Universe. I'd argue that even without several exogenous, powerful arguments against going to a big stadium event right now, enthusiasm for these things could be waning. It would be shocking and unprecedented if it wasn't.

Beyond that, for all their bold talk and faux-populist defiance about rules intended to prevent the spread of COVID, it appears that some portion of Trump's aging, maybe-not-in-awesome-health base is worried about the potential of getting sick at a big public gathering where it is all but certain that most attendees will refuse even the most basic precautions against contagion. It's cheap talk to boast about how the virus is Fake News, but even the most brain-addled older people have to understand on some level that people over 70 have greater than a 10% chance of buying the farm if they get sick. All but the most slavish Fox News enthusiasts are likely to have some reservations, or to have a spouse unwilling to indulge their fantasies. Again, these events are tired and stale and pointless. Hardly the kind of thing you're going to risk your life to attend.

Much is made, including by me, of how unwavering support for Trump is. You can't find a historical example of a president whose approval rating covered a smaller range. People who are on board with him are on board. They won't be dissuaded, and people who hate him most likely can't be persuaded. I have no doubt that Trump supporters will still vote for him, even if they're tired enough of the circus or worried enough about current events to decline his exhortations to serve as props at his rallies. Even the morons working for the campaign had to have known that this rally was going to be an embarrassment, the kind of thing one will spend weeks making excuses for.

It's worth paying attention to even a tiny dip in enthusiasm among the Trump base, though, given how narrowly he won the last election thanks only to an antidemocratic quirk in the system. In reality, the poor outcome of the rally probably reflects some combination of reduced enthusiasm, worries about getting sick (even if that sentiment is held privately), and the lack of novelty surrounding what feels like a TV show everyone has been watching nonstop for four years. If anything "defeated" the rally it was its protagonist's own lack of contact with reality, not internet interlopers.

9 thoughts on “APPEAL TO OCCAM”

  • To the list of negatives, you can add (in all likelihood) a list of concessionaires and musicians who got/will get stiffed by the PouterUS campaign staff.

    Oklahoma's governor is an idiot for not at least TRYING to stop the thing from even happening.
    I don't mean that he should have called up the campaign staff and ask them to postpone it or something. He should have had his AG hang enough paper to keep the courts going for a couple of weeks.

  • I’ve been saying for a while that an unquantifiable but surely significant number of voters are going to either vote for Biden or stay home for no deeper reason than they are simply exhausted with Trump. MEMEMEMEME every single day for five years now.

  • Given the massive hype around this thing, the fact that they could only pull in 6,200 true believers in a +25 state seems like potential doom for Orange Foolius. However many tickets were dispersed, it was a data-grabbing, list-building op to begin with, and that's all garbage now.

    In a broader "cultural" sense though, a big part of Trump's "appeal" to the cultists is that he's a "winner" who gets shit done, a robust he-man who tells it like it is and pushes back on his opponents. They can't deny the reality of what they just saw — a whiny, pathetic old man who literally spent over ten minutes complaining about a wheelchair ramp, and proving he could drink a glass of water. And his billion-dollar campaign "Death Star" just got royally clowned by a bunch of TikTok teens and K-pop fans.

    Hatred and fear are what they thrive on. But mockery and ridicule are his kryptonite, both in the way he always reacts like a pissy teenaged drama queen, and by how it exposes the "he-man" myth for what it really is. The cultists won't switch over to Biden, but they can be discouraged enough to stay home, if enough people just keep pointing and laughing. A couple of well-placed Grampa Simpson memes, and he might find himself on the ropes.

    And it's not like any other red-state governors are going to be lining up to have the snake-oil circus stop in their state, ripping off their public services and generally being way more trouble than they're worth, for a handful of bozos. If the gov of the next proposed site just says no thanks, that's going to be a body blow.

  • The bigger point, though, is that there is a ready and willing K-Pop Army, Reddit, whatever….to be called into action for things where action can work.

    Honestly, DOS hashtags like #MAGA or #KAG with K-Pop videos. If there's a hashtag POTUS wants to use, co-opt it.
    He has 3 key strengths:
    – Self-aggrandizement
    – Cheating
    – Viagra-ing his base through just about any communication.

    Any dent folks can make in 1 and 3…

  • I think there was real damage done to the Trump campaign by the K-Pop fans and others, and that was to the data mining operation. All the data they thought they'd gotten from this event – names, addresses, high-interest contacts – is all WORTHLESS, and that's a huge blow to a campaign that runs on email and micro-targeting. No one's claiming that the bogus ticket reservations kept the numbers small – that was definitely COVID-19 and Trump's own repellant aspects – but the efforts at undermining their data collection were superb. The kids are all right.

  • Despite the fact that the TikTokers didn't stop anyone from going to that rally, and trump has only himself to blame for that, the campaign believed that they were generating insane hype for it. They believed the numbers, and then to have it come back so spectacularly to earth, on live TV, is just, well, awesome. Trump looked like a defeated man when he stepped off Marine1 Saturday night. He doesn't have the grit to get up off the canvas, he'll tweet and whine, but even his own followers seem to have gotten enough of that. The TikTokers did us all a huge service. We'll see what happens in Phoenix, another state with skyrocketing Covid cases.

  • I think the GEB's campaign got off light, as the very small crowd story has sort of overtaken the slap in the face to african americans/ non- asshole white people of scheduling their '68 Comeback Hate Rally originally a) on Juneteenth (which I assume is a fairly big deal in OK, being right next door to TX) and b) in Tulsa, home almost 99 years ago to the day of the "single worst incident of racial violence in American history" (wikipedia). (I think Native Americans and historians might quibble with that, but we can agree it was very bad.)

    The whole thing was more of a fucking dog megaphone than whistle, and I think that's being overlooked due to its "failure". Actually I'm sure it was very successful in reminding those in the know that the administration is firmly on the side of white supremacy and not at all shy about showing it.

  • @ geoff:

    Yep.

    Stage managed hot'n'burnin'batshitstoopitKKKrazzepantz will STILL be hot'n'burnin'batshitstoopitKKKrazzepantz.

    I am Trumpligulamygdala, listen to me whine.

  • This election will now be won on whether Americans of all stripes hew more towards America Good than America Bad, and more against white supremacy than against demonization of whites. COVIS-19 is a neutral element. The philistines at both edges have framed it thusly.

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