Charles Sykes at Commonwealth Club on "How the Right Lost Its Mind"

Here are some takeaways from this Commonwealth Club interview

[28:20] - Propaganda

The point of lies is not to convince you of the truth of those lies but an attack on your critical sensibility, an attack on truth itself to get you to the point where you no longer know what’s true or necessarily care what’s true.

Democracy can’t survive if we don’t respect facts and truth.

Our system of checks and balances is a metaphor as opposed to a hard and fast thing. It’s like an honor system. In many ways, the president is above the law and the system is based on the assumption that an honorable person is in the office. What happens when you don’t?

[42:50] - Perpetual Outrage Machine

“We are always outraged all the time and we know what we are against but we don’t know what we are for, anymore.”

Growing industry of outrage and opposition without much constructive thinking.

[44:00] - What is populism?

What does populism mean? what exactly are we talking about?
If it’s acting in the public interest? That’s a good thing.
If it’s playing on resentments and class warfare, if it is the desire that if we want something we should just impose it on others…?
It’s careful balance, ordered liberty, suspicious of an authoritarian government but also suspicious of the populace nativist brand of thinking.

Simply because you have a demagogue that comes in and exploits grievances doesn’t mean that we didn’t have those grievances (that they didn’t exist).

[46:00] - Is politics: Ideas, Issues, Accomplishments… OR It’s all about attitude and tribal identity?

Center right and center left can talk to one another.

How about a politics with a little bit of moderation, openness, inclusion, modesty… and people will think, yeah! Well, try to fill a rally hall with that. Try to get a million clicks for your website - go moderation! You know… There’s this tremendous appetite to have a conversation across the lines but the economic and political incentives seem to be empowering the most bombastic voices on either side.

[48:00] - Trolls and Flying Monkeys

Does this [Twitter] just expose something that was out there that we just never knew or does it actually create it? Because it encourages otherwise normal, rational human beings in anonymity to express thoughts and make threats that they wouldn’t make otherwise.

This has a chilling effect on voices of dissent.

[51:30] - Cuckservative

The Daily Stormer created an app for you to put anyone you wanted into a gas chamber and have Trump press the button. Sykes was one of them.

Did I contribute to this? We had succeeded in delegitimizing the mainstream media. Instead of just being the other side of the story, we had created this hermetically sealed bubble that became impenetrable. Fake news. If news came from outside the bubble it could not penetrate. We had destroyed people’s immunity to false information.

We have as a people not only created intellectual ghettos online, we have sorted ourselves geographically. Dealing with gerrymandering on its own will not solve the problem. We will need to find some other way to deal with the issues.