Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Matt Christman on the evolution of the GOP

A reader offers a great summary of Matt Christman’s work:

It’s probably one of the best discussions I’ve seen regarding the rift between the GOP elite and the base, and how culture takes the place of economics in politics when economic paradigms become unquestionable. Also, how in general, conservatives are looking for someone to blame, whereas liberals are trying to assuage guilt — which strikes me as generally true, at least in the economic context.

Watching Christman’s live vlogs, one thing I’ve noticed and found interesting is he’ll at times scold people in his chat who will go on about the need for workers to organize, and he’ll agree, but he’ll remind them that most American workers don’t even think of themselves primarily as workers but as “consumers”, which — in context of the global economic system — Americans in general, even the bottom-tier service workers, and even the poor, are.

Another thing I’ve appreciated about his vlogs are his attempts to get into the psychology of various different political groups and sub-groups — the reasons behind the reasons, as it were, that people take the positions they take on various issues. One thing he’s repeated a few times is his belief that American society right now is more or less like a person suffering a nervous breakdown. He also believes (as you’ve also said) that we probably wouldn’t have seen either the George Floyd protests or the QAnon insurrection had there not been the pandemic, which forced everyone to begin to grapple with an already-broken society, and lash out at it in increasingly bold (burning police stations) but also increasingly bizarre and incoherent ways (QAnon). The metaphor he’s used is that the pandemic essentially brought about “no more free refills” — as in, people couldn’t go to their favorite restaurants anymore and get their free refills of soda, which was the last thing keeping many people sane / obedient. Add on precarity (or even just the fear of precarity), and well, here we are.

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