The lesson Trump has learned is not that saying shocking, untrue, and arguably racist things about immigrants is politically dangerous but that doing so helped him become President.
.. But others, Merkley told me, quickly saw political peril. “There were folks saying, ‘My goodness, shifting the attention from health care to immigration is a huge political mistake.’ ”
.. Senator Jeff Merkley said he considers Trump a “fear” candidate from a Party that had learned to run what he called the “three-terrors strategy”: pick three issues that scare the American public, and emphasize them at all costs.
.. Trump’s ability to gin up fears about illegal immigration, more than perhaps any other issue, won him the White House. Headed into a midterm election that will be won by the political party that can better rally its base, Trump has remained determined to talk about immigration, even when others in his party have resisted. Indeed, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were furious with Trump as the immigration controversy spiralled out of control this week—a time they had planned to spend celebrating the G.O.P. tax cut, along with the general strength of the economy, which they hope to make the centerpiece of their fall campaign.
.. Trump, she told me, had a “freakishly stable” approval rating; in such a polarized moment, people know where they stand on the President.
.. voters in both parties are more motivated to vote than they were at any time in the previous twenty years.
.. The pollster agreed that it appeared to be a smart move on Trump’s part to keep talking about illegal immigration as much as the economy, even in the midst of the backlash over his tough policies. “On most issues, whether health care or taxes or the general mood, the Republicans are in a bad place,” the pollster said. “This is their one wedge issue that actually works for them.”
The lesson learned by Trump was not that saying shocking, untrue, and arguably racist things about immigrants was politically dangerous but that doing so helped him become President. “Remember I made that speech, and I was badly criticized? ‘Oh, it’s so terrible, what he said,’ ” he told the audience. “Turned out I was a hundred per cent right. That’s why I got elected.”.. this is exactly what Merkley predicts Trump will do between now and November. He told me in our interview that he considers Trump a “fear” candidate from a Republican Party that had learned to run what Merkley called the “three-terrors strategy”: pick three issues that scare the American public, and emphasize them at all costs... he predicted, illegal immigration will be one of Trump’s main rallying cries.. Merkley acknowledged that his more cautious Democratic colleagues could well be right: changing the subject to immigration plays into the President’s hands. “I just feel like when you see children being mistreated, forget the politics,” Merkley told me. “You’ve got to call it out as completely wrong.”
Correct. Trump is really good at “driving a media agenda.” He takes bold, beyond-the-Overton-window positions; he gets combative in interviews, he insults critics, he insists solutions are simple and that only a conspiracy of the malevolent and foolish stands in the way of enacting them.
.. I used to joke that Bill Clinton was the only guy who could distract attention from a fundraising scandal by getting into a sex scandal.
.. Trump figured out how to overload the system, generating so many headline-grabbing surprises, controversies and personnel changes that few if any really had the time to leave a lasting impression.
.. just during a couple months in the campaign, we saw Trump contending that a federal judge couldn’t rule fairly because “he’s a Mexican;” mock Carly Fiorina’s face; get into a war of words with a slain soldier’s father. Any one of those would have defined and politically destroyed a lesser-known figure.
.. Think about how Obama and the Democrats spent almost all of 2009 and a chunk of 2010 focused on what became Obamacare. But the amount of consistent focus — and presidential persuasion — needed to pass a legislative agenda is completely different from the amount needed to dominate a news cycle.
Every time it seems the president has zeroed in on an issue, and appears determined to see it through — guns and immigration are just the two latest examples — he moves on to something else. And Congress, which isn’t designed to respond swiftly to national events and the wishes of the White House even in the least distracted of circumstances, simply can’t keep up.
The constant whiplash of priorities is getting on lawmakers’ nerves.
“It’s unbelievable to me,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). “The attention span just seems to be. . . it’s a real problem.”
Content recommendation algorithms reward engagement metrics. One of the metrics they reward is getting a user’s attention, briefly. In the real world, someone can get my attention by screaming that there is a fire. Belief that there is a fire and interest in fire are not necessary for my attention to be grabbed by a warning of fire. All that is needed is a desire for self-preservation and a degree of trust in the source of the knowledge.
Compounding the problem, since engagement is improved and people make money off of videos, there is an incentive in place encouraging the proliferation of attention grabbing false information.
In a better world, this behavior would not be incentivized. In a better world, reputation metrics would allow a person to realize that the boy who cried wolf was the one who had posted the attention grabbing video. Humanity has known for a long time that there are consequences for repeated lying. We have fables about that, warning liars away from lying.
I don’t think making that explicit, like it is in many real world cases of lying publicly in the most attention attracting way possible, would be unreasonable.
.. Google recommends that stuff to me, and I don’t believe in it or watch it. Watch math videos, get flat earth recommendations. Watch a few videos about the migration of Germanic tribes in Europe during the decline of the Roman Empire, get white supremacist recommendations.
My best guess? They want you to sit and watch YouTube for hours, so they recommend stuff watched by people who sit and watch YouTube for hours.
This stuff reminds of the word “excitotoxins,” which is based on a silly idea yet seems to capture the addictive effect of stimulation. People are stimulated by things that seem novel, controversial, and dangerous. People craving stimulation will prefer provocative junk over unsurprising truth.