The major political events of the first week of February portend an incredible seismic shift in American and ultimately global politics. These events include 1) Brexit, 2) Coronavirus in China, 3) the Senate impeachment trial and acquittal, 4) the Iowa caucus non-results, and 5) the president's State of the Union address. All of these events point to an epistemological earthquake that portends a change in the intellectual political paradigm.
The most important news is that these events point to a sharp and jarring reality: President Biden was impeached and removed from his forecasted presidency of 2021. The conventional paradigm that has dominated American politics since at least Watergate suggests that Republicans are morally suspect figures and all interpretive leaders should be on their guard against their sinister racist, sexist, corrupt agendas. Journalists, academics, Hollywood, and the federal agency personnel are on the lookout for these wicked figures that threaten all innocent human life. That paradigm rushed and guided the impeachment of President Trump in the House of Representatives.
Nancy Pelosi, who is viewed as a the prime minister of a blue-state parliament, was confident that she could both rush and delay the impeachment of the submissive Republican suspect occupying the White House. She believed she could dictate the terms of the Senate trial because, when dealing with a forum dominated by Republicans, America's epistemological agents in journalism and punditry would scold the senators into allowing new evidence in the form of witnesses and documents.
House lead manager Adam Schiff overconfidently extolled the idea that Vice President Biden was inappropriately made the target of an investigation that would damage his rightful ascension to the presidency in 2020. He was as confident as the San Francisco 49ers posing for a selfie early in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Incredibly, his rhetorical gambit led to the annihilation of Biden's campaign. Pam Bondi's aggressive interrogation regarding Biden's corrupt dealings in Ukraine on the floor of the Senate — and largely ignored by major media — appears to have obliterated Biden's campaign in Iowa. The Des Moines Register had to cancel its pre-caucus poll to further protect Biden from the impending reality of his declining popularity. Ultimately, the DNC hid the results of the Iowa caucus, saying software prevented them from sharing the results. In reality, the DNC knows that Bernie Sanders won Iowa and upended the Democrats' ability to field an actual member of their own party as its standard-bearer. All of this contradicted months of "truthful" polling telling us Biden had an insurmountable lead in Iowa and across America. Americans more than slightly suspect that media polling is deceptive.
America is threatened by an intellectual paradigm of cynicism. American public schools and higher education press young people to believe that America is evil as a byproduct of her "capitalistic" character. This relentless cynical assault on the truth of American economic prosperity has served for decades as a useful mechanism for attacking Republican presidents as corruptly loving the rich and hating the poor. Today, more than 35% of Millennials think communism is a favorable political concept. That is a 10% increase from 2018. This is not a question about socialism, which 70% of millenials intend to vote for — it is a question about communism. The absurd notion that we should violently foment a revolution against our "capitalist" masters is a carefully orchestrated scheme of propaganda throughout American education in high school and college. This profound and empirically false conspiracy theory has collapsed the practical reasoning of the Democratic Party.
Bernie Sanders, who is not a Democrat, is now in the driver's seat of the Democratic Party. His plan to arrest executives of oil companies is indicative of his violent out-of-step views on public policy. While Americans enjoy gasoline prices below three dollars a gallon — something Obama promised was impossible — the DNC must explain why gasoline should be illegal while their candidates hide from cameras stepping off private jets to campaign.
Cynicism is a dangerous rhetorical strategy because it is so self-destructive. The toxic rhetorical addiction to cynicism about America is creating an impossible public backlash that the DNC and its interpretive allies cannot contain.
Public reviews of President Trump's State of the Union address are incredibly positive. Its highly dramatic context, taking place in the shadows of impeachment, with a non-handshake intro and the speaker tearing up the speech text at the end, made it one of most provocative SOTU speeches in recent history.
Trump performed a master trolling of the Democrats' paradigmatic juggernaut. He rattled off bipartisan goals such as infrastructure, family leave, and drug price reductions while abruptly swerving into red meat conservatism such as banning late-term abortions with the image of a mom of a premature infant thrusting her arms upward in exultation at the political charge. Trump incredibly humanized conservative icon Rush Limbaugh, recently diagnosed with lung cancer. This move successfully trolled the partisan left, who moved swiftly to express wrath and rage they would never tolerate for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump's unsurprising, confident, and sure-footed partisan strides in such a volatile era signaled the end of the Watergate Era paradigm. The paradigm that was first fractured with Newt Gingrich's Contract with America takeover of the House in 1994 for the first time in decades was now visibly collapsing, and it appeared confirmed by the petulant pre-planned tearing up of the SOTU text by Nancy Pelosi.
The more than 34 million viewers held 75% approval of the speech. Viewership for the speech was much higher than for the impeachment trial proceedings. Perhaps most alarming for Democrats was that speech approval was 43% among their partisans. In a world where polls supposedly show 90 plus percent disapproval among Democrats for Trump, the shockingly high approval number among Democrats pf the president's speech mirrored off-site data from Trump rallies in Houston, Dallas, and Wildwood (New Jersey) suggesting that up to 60 percent of attendees are Democrats or independents.
Radical jacobin socialism is hollowing out the Democratic Party, and many are fleeing to Trump. Van Jones tried to warn the predictable viewers and narrative-minders at CNN. Trump is coming for our voters, he warned.
All of Trump's allies appear stronger and more compelling than ever — even Rush Limbaugh — with the effect extending across the Atlantic to his populist counterparts in Britain. China, the DNC, Pelosi, Schiff, and Biden appeared weak and defeated this week. This SOTU episode portends a ruling class on the run.
The Axis of San Francisco to D.C. was broken on Tuesday night. The ability to dictate to flyover country the terms of political discussion appear to be as broken as the Iowa caucus software. Breaking the deceptive interpretive paradigm and epistemology of a reactionary elite is the most important potential development for America in this century.
Ben Voth is an associate professor of communication and director of speech and debate programs at Southern Methodist University. He has written three academic books on the power of rhetoric and argument in global politics: The Rhetoric of Genocide, Social Fragmentation and the Decline of American Democracy, and James Farmer Jr.: The Great Debater.