The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. – H. L. Mencken
“The bull wears himself out on the cape and never sees the sword.” – Robert A. Heinlein
I have become ever more convinced that the key to understanding what has been done to us these past few years is prestidigitation: the stage magician’s art of combining flashy misdirections with deft, largely concealed maneuvers “the audience” is diverted from seeing. Or as many of my Web colleagues have said, “Look! A squirrel!”
For example: the effort to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president didn’t begin in 2020 or 2019; it began in 2015, shortly after he announced his candidacy. His appeal was evident almost immediately. The Establishment was aware of the rising dissatisfaction of the populace and knew its position to be endangered. Its “active agents,” the IRS, FBI, and the intelligence agencies, looked for countermeasures it could deploy against him…and found, remarkably for one so hugely and flamboyantly successful, that they had nothing factual with which to tar him.
The Steele dossier, the allegations of massive tax fraud, the rumors of a “pee pee tape,” the Stormy Daniels row were slathered over us by a coordinated journalism / entertainment campaign. However, in 2016 none of it gained enough traction to prevent Trump’s victory over the odious Hillary Clinton. The popular desire to install a plainly pro-American “outsider” with a record of doing as he’s said was too strong. The Establishment, appalled by Trump’s demonstration of his sincere desire to right the nation, realized that it needed more. The Antifa disruptions, the race riots, the allegations of improper meddling in the Ukrainian government, the constant “beginning of the end / walls are closing in” drumbeat from the media, the COVID-19 hoax, and (of course) the claims of voter suppression were marshaled and let loose.
Meanwhile, Establishment operatives were preparing for a real election theft: millions of fraudulent ballots strategically distributed to prevent a second Trump term. Distracted by the flashy events and pseudo-scandals, we paid no attention.
In retrospect, the blatant falsity of all the thrusts against President Trump mattered very little, if at all. As one charge failed, another was thrust upon us. What mattered was the constancy of the coverage: the Establishment’s and the media’s strenuous efforts to keep up the drumbeat, so we’d be discouraged from looking away. Despite the public’s record low degree of trust in the media, we remained diverted.
It’s possible that the prestidigitation is still in progress: that we’re still being diverted from the real action. Joe Biden’s conspicuous gaffes, Kamala Harris’s successive servings of “word salad,” the effort to keep us all alarmed about new COVID-19 variants, and the foofaurauw in Eastern Europe command a great deal of attention. Were it not for those and other over-reported sideshows, what might we notice that the stage magicians would prefer to keep concealed?
We are too easily distracted. Our attention is too easily directed to the “big deals,” and it is the media that determine which “deals” will be “big.” We think we disdain their showy moves, but it appears that they have a firmer grip on us than we care to admit.
Cut cords; sneer at the New York Times and the Washington Post; ignore the “news” broadcasts and the Sunday-morning talking-heads parades. Does any of it matter? It seems otherwise.
Where ought our attention to go? Wherever we look, how are we to know that it isn’t a diversion from other, even more sinister machinations? Consider the “revived” story of the Hunter Biden laptop. At this time a great deal of attention is going to that scandal – but away from what other developments that will prove to be more consequential?
I’d rather not have stage magicians determining who shall sit in the seats of power in Washington and elsewhere. I’d certainly rather not have them deflecting my thoughts from what I must do to protect my home, family, and community. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Yet the Establishment’s prestidigitators have been terribly successful for some time now. What we could do to thwart them, I cannot say.