For the last decade and a half, the Republican party has pursued an intentional strategy of insulating its base from reality. The goal has been to create a permanent block of loyal Republican voters who will dutifully internalize whatever the party’s leaders tell them.
To accomplish this, the Republican political machine has engaged in a relentless and systematic assault on all of the institutions in our society that have traditionally served as arbiters of truth. They have attacked the press, the judiciary, academia, and even science itself. And they’ve been remarkably successful; we’ve now reached a point where much of the Republican base simply refuses to believe anything that doesn’t come from a trusted partisan outlet.
Any unpleasant news reports can be dismissed as the product of liberal media bias. Any inconvenient studies can be explained away as the work of godless academic elitists. …
… This strategy has an inherent vulnerability, though. Call it the Pied Piper problem. If you train a bunch of people to follow the Leader reflexively, they’re likely to follow him right out of town (or right off a cliff).