Projection TV: Real Americans Watch Fox News

A focus-group study by Democracy Corps explains that Republican base voters live in "a world apart from the rest of America."

The Tea Parties of August already made that pretty clear.

Republican base voters believe themselves to be an oppressed minority that possesses "knowledge and insight that the majority of Americans -- whether too lazy or too misguided to find it for themselves -- do not possess." And -- surprise -- they get their special knowledge and insight largely from Fox News.

In 1999, Al Franken wrote the same thing. During the Clinton health care debate, the Annenberg School for Communications found that conservative talk radio listeners judged themselves the most informed on the topic. Testing, however, revealed that they were the least informed.

Franken wondered [my edit],

But why would people so woefully lacking in the basic facts of an issue think they were the best informed? Social scientists call the phenomenon "pseudo-certainty." I call it "being a f*#king moron."

A decade later we have Glenn Beck reinforcing his viewers' paranoid proclivities and helping them project their own darkest impulses onto opponents.

According to Democracy Corps, four core beliefs set the Republican base apart:

1. Deception and a Hidden Agenda -- "Obama is deliberately and ruthlessly advancing a 'secret agenda' to bankrupt our country and dramatically expand government control over all aspects of our daily lives."

2. Speed -- Obama is implementing change rapidly to keep ordinary Americans from knowing what he is doing.

3. Driving Government to the Brink and Total Control -- Obama is deliberately trying to burden America with so much debt that citizens will be unable to resist efforts to implement Obama's ultimate plan ...

4. The Ultimate Goal: Socialism and an End to Liberties -- Government takeover of health care is just the first step towards a complete suppression of liberty by our inefficient, ineffective and corrupt government.

It is a pretty stunning case of projection, as one of Andrew Sullivan's readers suggests:

[Obama] is the out of control spender when they sat on their hands through all of Bush's malfeasance. That is why his talking to schoolchildren is dangerous when our government wiretapping its citizens wasn't. That is why saving the financial system from years of Republican regulation is taking away our future. The more evil revealed about the right's excesses on torture, or wars of choice, or nearly destroying the economy, the more evil Obama will look in their eyes, as they cannot tolerate owning responsibility, because in their own minds they are only good.

Paul Rosenberg explains the viewpoint in a separate discussion at Open Left:

[T]he disconnect is particularly strikingly. That is, until you take a step back, and see the underlying consistency ... in their minds, they alone are America. If they're not running things, then it's not America ... If you are the real America and everyone else is not, well, then, you can do pretty much whatever you want -- and do it all in the name of America.

Conservatives and independents in the Democracy Corps focus group were sensitive to charges that racism is behind their criticism of Obama. So much so, that they came back to it "again and again."

However much it is, their discomfort is not all about race. It's broader. It's tribal.

"Real Americans" are easily threatened, and view those outside their tribe with suspicion, like teenagers in the mall who they are convinced are there to shoplift -- illegitimate, untrustworthy, low-caste Irresponsibles, bad apples who don't deserve America. Those outside their tribe don't deserve to carry the flag, don't deserve to wear the uniform or to enjoy the blessings of liberty. Especially, they don't deserve to vote.

"Real Americans" believe America's bad apples pay no taxes. The "lucky duckies" don't even pay sales tax, property tax, tax on gasoline, on heating oil, cigarette tax, telephone excise tax, unemployment tax, Social Security tax, Medicare and Medicaid.

"Real Americans" would love to repeal the 16th Amendment, but so long as they pay income tax, they'll be the betters of countrymen who they think pay any less. They will rail about how unfairly they're treated and what a drag on the economy and their fortunes are the great unwashed who have turned this once great country into one "where poor people can put billionaires out of business."

These Atlases see themselves stoically carrying America upon their shoulders while being dragged relentlessly down by the grubby, grasping hands of the less well-born; by people not as honest, upstanding and hard-working as they are; by the parasites of capitalism who contribute nothing; by deadbeats and losers who have structured their lives so they can spend them sucking the teat of real America.

No wonder they feel "a world apart." And Fox News is there to remind them, if they ever have doubts.