There was one post yesterday, “The Opposite of Carnage:”
Trump’s inaugural speech was, of course, full of lies — pretty much the same lies that marked the campaign. Above all, there was the portrayal of a dystopia of social and economic collapse that bears little relationship to American reality. During the campaign Trump got away with this in part because of slovenly, craven media, but also because of persistent misperceptions. The public consistently believes that crime is rising even when it has been falling to historical lows; it believes that the number of uninsured has risen when it has also fallen to historic lows; Republicans believe that unemployment is up and, incredibly, the stock market down under Obama.
The interesting question now is whether fake carnage can be replaced by fake non-carnage. How many people can be convinced that things are getting better under the Trump-Putin administration even as they actually get worse?
Will they actually get worse? Almost surely. Unemployment will probably rise over the next four years, if only because it starts out low — historically the unemployment rate has a strong reversion to the mean, and it probably can’t go much lower than it is now but can go much higher. The number of uninsured will soar if Republicans repeal Obamacare, whatever alleged replacement they offer.
Crime is less clear, since we really don’t know why it fell. But big further declines don’t seem highly likely; certainly we won’t see an end to the prevalence of urban war zones, because, you know, they don’t exist in the first place.
Oh, and this team of cronies is unlikely to help raise real wages.
But can Trump voters be convinced that things are getting better when they aren’t? The truth is that I don’t know. Views on many issues are driven by motivated reasoning, and when people say that things got worse under Obama, what they may really be saying — whatever the actual question was — is “I hate the idea of a black man in the White House.”
Still, I suspect that claiming vast job creation when people are actually finding it harder to get work and losing insurance won’t work as well as the claims of carnage did. I guess we’ll just have to see — which may be hard if, as I fear, the statistical agencies are a prime target of the new regime.