Change, Delusions, Reality

New York Times, Michael H. Keller and David D. Kirkpatrick, 23 Oct 2022 (on front page for 24 Oct 2022): Their America Is Vanishing. Like Trump, They Insist They Were Cheated., subtitled “The white majority is fading, the economy is changing and there’s a pervasive sense of loss in districts where Republicans fought the outcome of the 2020 election.”

Long piece, continuing on three full interior pages, with charts and many photos. It begins by profiling Fort Bend County, in Texas. The gist is this:

Like the former president, they have been unhappy with the changes unfolding around them.

The essence of conservatism. You see the photo of grumbling old men, above. One more example, concerning a district in southwest Virginia:

Residents, roughly 90 percent of them white, gripe that the educated elites of the Northern Virginia suburbs think that “the state stops at Roanoke.” They take umbrage at what they consider condescension from outsiders who view their communities as poverty-stricken, and they bemoan “Ph.D pollution” from the big local university, Virginia Tech. After a long history of broken government promises, many said in interviews they had lost faith in the political process and public institutions — in almost everyone but Mr. Trump, who they said championed their cause.

Resentment of the “elites,” a familiar theme.


Then there’s this.

Washington Post, Philip Bump, 25 Oct 2022: Yeah, Ted Cruz’s book doesn’t show any voter fraud, subtitled “This does not come as a surprise”

Claims without evidence, from conservatives? What a surprise. Here is the writer, quoting Cruz and then responding as a member of the “corporate media.”

“This book is the first inside account of what happened on Jan. 6,” Sen. Ted Cruz said in his practiced manner. The book was released on Tuesday.

“And so I take the reader through the events of the 2020 election leading up to Jan. 6. I take them through the evidence of election fraud and voter fraud in November 2020, which the Democrats and the corporate media insists doesn’t exist.”

This particular “corporate media” outlet can now report that, in fact, rampant fraud continues not to exist — as demonstrated, here at least, by Cruz’s failure to present any of his promised evidence of election or voter fraud.

Elsewhere is this tweet:

In several months, we will find out which PAC/billionaire is currently bulk-buying Ted Cruz’s new book to create another vanity mirage on the NYT Bestseller List.

To echo comments a made recently about how conservative books in particular get onto bestseller lists through mass purchases (bulk-buying) by organizations, not by many many actual readers buying the books individually.


More about conservative delusions about crime, from Paul Krugman.

NYT, Paul Krugman, 24 Oct 2022: Red Delusions About Purple Reality

He recalls that bit about how Oklahoma has a higher crime rate than New York or California, which I mentioned a few days ago.

Public perceptions about crime are often at odds with reality. And in this election year Republicans are trying to exploit one of the biggest misperceptions: that crime is a big-city, blue-state problem.

Americans aren’t wrong to be concerned about crime. Nationwide, violent crime rose substantially in 2020; we don’t have complete data yet, but murders appear to have risen further in 2021, although they seem to be declining again.

Nobody knows for sure what caused the surge — just as nobody knows for sure what caused the epic decline in crime from 1990 to the mid-2010s, about which more shortly. But given the timing, the social and psychological effects of the pandemic are the most likely culprits, with a possible secondary role for the damage to police-community relations caused by the murder of George Floyd.

While the crime surge was real, however, the perception that it was all about big cities run by Democrats is false. This was a purple crime wave, with murder rates rising at roughly the same rate in Trump-voting red states and Biden-voting blue states. Homicides rose sharply in both urban and rural areas. And if we look at levels rather than rates of change, both homicides and violent crime as a whole are generally higher in red states.

So why do so many people believe otherwise? Before we get to politically motivated disinformation, let’s talk about some other factors that might have skewed perceptions.

He discusses population density, the human tendency to believe stories that confirm our preconceptions, and how people always seem to think crime is increasing — elsewhere, though not in their area.

Such misconceptions are made easier by the long-running disconnect between the reality of crime and public perceptions. Violent crime halved between 1991 and 2014, yet for almost that entire period a large majority of Americans told pollsters that crime was rising.

However, only a minority believed that it was rising in their own area. This tendency to believe that crime is terrible, but mostly someplace else, was confirmed by an August poll showing a huge gap between the number of Americans who consider violent crime a serious problem nationally and the much smaller number who see it as a serious problem where they live.

I wonder how pollsters respond to their own surveys when they reveal that so many people believe things that simply aren’t true. I suppose they don’t care; they’re just reporting what people say.

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