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Scott Galloway@profgalloway

Published on January 8, 2021

8-min read

On my podcast last week, public health expert Dr. Abdul El-Sayed highlighted that while viruses are naturally occurring, epidemics are a function of human action or inaction. This week, as a mob overran the U.S. Capitol, his observation registered increased purchase.

Extremism, misinformation, sociopaths stewarding profit-incentivized algorithms: All viruses. What we witnessed Wednesday afternoon — and have seen at least since November 4th — is an epidemic. Record deaths from Covid-19 and the U.S. Capitol overrun by a mob on the same day. How did this happen?

The virus has broken containment, preying on our comorbidities.  

The ascendant comorbidity is the steady denigration of our public institutions, particularly government and its agencies, over the last four decades. Since the Reagan Revolution in 1980, a conservative philosophy of limited government has morphed to an anti-government creed. President Trump is the manifestation of that narrative. The President blames the “deep state” for every setback and has stocked his cabinet with appointees opposed to the departments they lead, from a Secretary of Education who doesn’t appear to believe in public education to a Secretary of Energy who once proposed eliminating the Department of Energy. 

Skepticism of government is healthy, when tempered with respect for the mission and those who serve. Otherwise, we risk a population that lacks faith in our mission and each other. Keep in mind, all elected representatives are Americans schooled in U.S. institutions, who carry the same passports and were elected by other Americans.  

A similar assault has been waged against the press. Just as elected officials helped hollow out the government they are charged with leading, the mandarins of media bear blame for the weakness of their branch. Conservative outlets have shelved citizenship as they recognize that novelty and tribalism make more cabbage than truth. Social media firms are doing the same — but at greater scale. Liberal media, terrified of being labeled “elitist,” has fallen back on a feeble bothsidesism that normalizes, and brings oxygen to, outrageous conduct. Progressives have a guilty need to understand and feel the pain of anybody who claims victimhood. Among liberals, being offended and angry means you are right.

Shadow Government

As our institutions have retreated, private capital has emerged as a shadow government. Banks command our economy, the shareholder class commands the politicians, and big tech reigns over it all. Our idolatry of innovators equates wealth with virtue, and does not hold the innovator class, or their firms, to the same standards as old economy firms (or the general population). Twenty-four hours after a failed coup, the lead story on Twitter is Elon Musk becoming the wealthiest man in the world.

When Trumpism began its march, it wasn’t the government or the media that we turned to for help, but big tech. Today, we plead with @jack to suspend the President’s account. The FBI, voters, our laws … all of them sit secondary to thirty-something innovators who hold the real power: algorithms that decide who sees what, how often, and from whom. 

In this rudderless environment, where information flow is not a public good but a revenue stream, is it any wonder that misinformation — call it what it is, disinformation — has taken hold? 

What can be done? A virus should be monitored. An epidemic must be cauterized. 

The striking arrogance of our American exceptionalism allowed us to ignore the virus of fringe ideas fueled by algorithms and profit. The sight of a mob overrunning the U.S. Capitol, under the direction of a U.S. President, forces us to acknowledge that we have an epidemic that demands swift, severe action(s). Put another way, putting the President in a social media timeout is insufficient.  

We need greater attribution and accountability. President Trump should be stripped of power immediately. The incitement of violence against a co-equal branch of government is grounds for impeachment, conviction, and removal from office by Congress. If he had just one day left in office, Trump would still be a clear and present danger to the republic. More importantly, the first declaration in years that our leaders face consequences for their actions should be in bold type.

The people who broke into Congress should be arrested and prosecuted. A selfie desecrating the office of the Speaker of the House should be a hi-res Go Directly To Jail card. 

If there is any question that big tech is our new government, then register that these are the only entities whose actions seem to have a meaningful impact (or what we view as meaningful).  Which has had more impact? Futile discussions about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, or Facebook and Twitter suspending President Trump’s accounts and Shopify closing MAGA stores? Applaud these actions if you like, but accountability for sedition should not be meted out by private companies (in the case of Shopify, a foreign one). We should not be pandering to part-time CEOs to save the nation they demonstrate no regard for.


Count me as the dad who walks in to see his 17 year-old son vacuuming the living room, and isn’t impressed. Great, thanks … but why? Because he threw a 400-person rave while I was away for the weekend, the garage is on fire, and the dog is pregnant. 

The only reason Mr. Zuckerberg has done anything is Stacey Abrams. Specifically, the realization that after Tuesday’s runoff, the House and Senate subcommittees who oversee Facebook will soon both have chairpersons that are fed up with the sociopath and his lipstick. This is not progress. Until there is more competition, meaningful economic penalties, and perp walks, social media firms will continue to do exponentially more harm than Drexel or Enron.

Big tech and the shareholder class will not do more than Band-Aid over crises unless there is a financial disincentive for their systemic misconduct. To the contrary, it appears the wealth of the top 1% (who control more wealth than the entire middle class) and our nation’s health are inversely correlated. A year of death, a day of anarchy … and the markets boom … both times. Why would we expect the ruling class to participate in the fight against the virus when its march enriches them? 

We are quick to borrow against our children’s prosperity when things are bad, but find it anathema to ask people to contribute more when things are good (see above: adding the GDP of Hungary to your wealth). We should eliminate the favorable tax treatment of capital gains, and disincentivize externalities that damage the commonwealth. A good start would be a “digital carbon tax” on the profits of the algorithmically-served media that, in a nano-second, can determine if Mark Zuckerberg will accrue wealth if it (the algorithm) finds content that pits us against one another.  


In The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, former Berkeley professor Carlo M. Cipolla posits that a stupid person causes damage to others while deriving no gain, or even possibly incurring losses. We invariably underestimate the number of stupid individuals in circulation as the probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of other characteristics or credentials (e.g., they can have a Ph.D. or be President). We (the non-stupid) are vulnerable to the stupid and their actions as we find it difficult to imagine and understand — or to organize a rational defense against — an attack that lacks rational structure or predictable movements. Or, as Friedrich Schiller put it, against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain.

Under some f*ked up version of wokeness, we have decided that stupid people are a special interest group who warrant empathy and latitude re the damage they levy. We excuse Trump’s mob, as they are the ones America left behind or who didn’t have access to higher education. No, they’re just stupid — even the ones with “Senator” before their name. The President and his mob registered a deep blow to our democracy and global standing … with no commensurate benefit. If Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao have reached their limit, the insurrectionists and their dear leader are either going to jail or losing advertisers for the launch of his network. We are only awakening to the profane assault on America, our forefathers, and the sacrifices of previous generations after the unprecedented events of Wednesday.

We need to recognize that stupid is a thing and, per Professor Cipolla, encourage our youth to discern how not to be stupid and to aspire to be “intelligent,” which also is a thing … and a noble thing, and not derived from a place of privilege that demands apology and self flogging. The right has become so weird, the left so weak, that we should see something resembling a third option (e.g., Independent) accrue momentum and elected leaders. But that’s another post.

At a deeper level, we must find ways to reassert the primacy of truth and reason in our discourse. No sooner had the mob been cleared from the halls of Congress than did Representative Matt Gaetz take to the podium to knowingly spread disinformation: that facial recognition determined the mob was Antifa. (It wasn’t.) Elected officials who knowingly spread disinformation should be censured and denied federal and state matching funds for their next election. 

We are justifiably concerned about the declining state of math and science education, but it won’t be enough to teach more calculus. We need to teach our kids the tools of science: statistics, critical thinking, and then … civics. Mark Zuckerberg is what happens when you replace civics with computer science. We must also find a way to inculcate empathy and commitment to the commonwealth in the next generation, as the evolution of our economy leads to dispersion and segregation. 

The invader with his feet on the Speaker’s desk is an agent of the President’s chaos. The disinformation and disaffection coursing through the mob surrounding him is a virus. All this has come together in an epidemic. We must address this epidemic swiftly, and vaccinate our nation with a new respect for institutions, greater accountability, and incentives that foot capital to the well-being of our commonwealth. We must recognize that there is a stupid and a truth.

This AM I am hopeful, as it feels the American corpus, similar to a vaccine, has (ideally) received enough of a tyranny pathogen to inform an immune response to future viruses before they seed another epidemic that forces (again) our elected representatives to barricade doors to the House Chamber with furniture. I’d like to believe we are getting less stupid.

Life is so rich,

P.S. My next Brand Strategy Sprint kicks off February 2. 94% of the people who took the last one said it had a positive impact on their professional development and 88% said they learned something they could immediately implement in their work. — sign up here.



  1. John says:

    How can someone fit so much stupidity and misinformation into one terribly written opinion piece? This is proof that journalism is completely dead and only partisan hacks are dumb enough to put their idiocy on an article for all to see. The left has completely lost its mind, so pathetically insane

  2. Joanne says:

    As the left rip down statues, rewrite history, question the validity of our constitution….how do you reconcile not understanding the rage at the Capitol Building? If everything we held dear and patriotic is wrong then why the Sacred standing of a facility that slaves built ? Why is the workplace of politicians more important and sacred then all the ruined business of working class people by BLM? Please don’t attack me…just trying to understand. I witnessed my town burn. That’s far more tragic then what I saw on 1-6.

    • John says:

      You’re just logic and reason. Leftists don’t understand anything other than conjecture and emotionally charged stupidity

  3. Joanne says:

    Politicians are the least respected career. It’s hard to respect these people when they often are not working for the people.

  4. JP says:

    When “stupid” is our assessment of others, we ought to recognize that we’ve reached the limits of our understanding. When we believe “they” are “stupid” and “we” are “intelligent”, we ought to recognize our ironic self-deception.

  5. jf says:

    Scott- thanks for making the hard points here, the media has been so forgiving of the capitol riot it takes brave individual like yourself to shine a bright light on this dark stain in our nation. Screw the stupid people, right?

  6. JRuss says:

    “registered a deep blow to our democracy and global standing”. Okay, I’ll buy the second one, but not the first.

  7. Diane says:

    Let’s distinguish between stupid and lazy or short-sighted. The folks who rioted did so at the behest of a leader who has done and said egregious things for four years without consequence. They had every right to believe that they, too, would emerge with selfies and stories to share, not criminal charges. They feel powerless or resentful that they’re not doing better, so they spit hate. And the idea that you have to work for what you get was dispelled long before Trump came to office. Somehow, we’ve come to define American exceptionalism as some god-given right to be exceptions to the rule that you have to play nice, work hard, and sacrifice a bit to get ahead.

  8. Paul Gersten says:

    Superb analysis and proposals! Being and Economist and Statistician, 60 years old, and loving innovation and human development, I have decades proposing that we need Civic Education in the same dossis of STEM, vaccinating each of our generations, in order to have a healthy society and democracy and not only a lot of wealthy inhabitants who live together but which not achieves the category of society in its real deep sense. Congratulations for your reflections!

  9. Mac Bogert says:

    Spot on. The “stupid people” brand may not be as effective as “practitioners of stupidity,” actually. And the second would make a great name for a band. Would you care to appear on my ‘back2different’ podcast, brother?

  10. Justin says:

    Not that this is an especially original insight, but your little diagram (I suppose I’m ‘Helpless’) would make me proud to be Stupid — as it substitutes economic values for real ones in order to create, At Long Last, a class we smarts can hate indiscriminately. I had high hopes for you, I like your writing style. But I feel like I learned around 14 or 15 years of age that the people that I thought were Stupid were mostly different, and that they thought I was an asshole. I guess I forgot that many people accrue impressive clout and yet still never figure that out.

  11. Gwoog says:

    Ah, the ignorant leading the stupid doing lazy. Why do you just regurgitate the same crap the MSM puts out? You scrape a little information off the top and this is the best you can come up with? All those cities/businesses burned to the ground by those “protests” and you call what happened in DC stupid? Pretty short sighted/one sided essay.

  12. larry callahan says:

    Why does this insurrection aimed at the Capitol remind me so much of the attempted (purported) coup in Turkey that solidified Erdogan’s power? I don’t know if the coup was real or theatre- does anyone?

  13. John says:

    Please understand that many have characterized these folks as stupid for years and the outcome keeps getting worse. Don’t delude yourselves in thinking the pandemic didn’t put Biden over the top, or that Trumps vindictive ways that led him to advocate for $2000 cash payments to US Citizens, over the $600 that his party endorsed, didn’t throw the senate to the Democrats. Before the capital was “bumb rushed” Trump ostensibly said that the Democrats don’t understand you (working and middle class people) which in many ways is true. If the lead talking points for Democrats are Med For All (complicated to understand even by major economists, almost zero chance of passing congress) college loan forgiveness (selective decisions around whose predatory loans get settled and whose don’t) , free four year college for all who qualify (half of the freshman at US colleges don’t finish) 15$ minimum wage (who will pay for this increase, small business owners and consumers who might not have a lot of money in the first place). Instead why not train people for the millions of skilled jobs in America that, in spite of the pandemic, remain unfilled. Jobs that start at a living wage and come with benefits and pathways to additional earnings and career opportunities. Use the term “burden sharing” when passing legislation that makes the ultra wealthy pay their share in taxes instead of “wealth tax”. Listen to Dems that win in red areas like, Jon Tester, Val Demings, and Cheri Bustos (when was the last time any of them appeared on MSNBC) and ask them what needs to be done based on what their constitutes are telling them. And finally understand that marketing matters so that statements like “Defund the Police” aren’t used in the first place and can’t be weaponized to work against whose that actually want to positively effect change. Even the best sports teams religiously watch game tape to see where they can improve so too should the slightly over 500 (sports term for barely more wins that losses) Democrats.

    • Joanne says:

      I learned a lot from that comment. I wish you would read my comment and help me understand.

  14. Carlos Montelongo says:

    Thank you for your thoughts!! Finally I found someone with integrity & leadership

  15. Srikanth Iyer says:

    They aren’t stupid. They are racists and extremists who would love to turn back back clock where they enjoy first economic dibs. They know exactly what they are doing. Poor babies manipulated by evil politicians- they most certainly are not.

  16. MS says:

    This piece sounds like it was written by and for the NY Times. There is no balance only accusations, blame, and anger. And the readers applaud this?

    • Mark says:

      You realize this is his personal blog, right?

    • FG says:

      It was written by an intelligent thinker who is completely disgusted with what he sees around him. I applaud him👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻. I am not American nor live in the US. One has a different perspective when you’re not in the eye of the storm. Scott Galloway is , and he is able to see how all the players he includes here converge and describe the reality in the US now.

    • kp25 says:

      Do you know what an opinion piece is?

  17. JeanieDivaNYC says:

    There is no cure for stupid. People who are easily duped may or may not be educated. Rational thought is often not rational although people always think they are operating rationally. What and who could be more stupid than Trump and his family, his minions, including Congress, his lawyers, media types and the mob of thugs? The return of high level quality public education MUST include the arts and humanities. Science and tech geeks who do not have interest in the arts or music, in drama or poetry are robots. Sensitivity to the human condition is part of being intelligent and compassion is recognizing that you, too, could one day be in someone else’s shoes. There can be no NO civilized society that operates on “who has the most money.” THAT, alone, is a profoundly stupid attitude since it doesn’t and has never succeeded in the population at large. The arts teach us how to be more humane humans. Education doesn’t make you less stupid. At its best it gives you the opportunity to enlighten your attitude about being alive. There is no “stupid wins” playbook that sustains.

  18. michael maser says:

    Thoughtful and poignant, what I”ve come to expect from you, Scott. Thank you.

  19. Rebecca Gremore says:

    You have the wrong idea of government’s reality. It has devolved for many years into a revenue model for kickbacks for politicians and bureaucrats. Even at the local level, a simple building permit is an opportunity for a shakedown in many communities. A read of Homeland security Senate report “Hunter Biden, Burisma and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns. U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Majority Staff Report” might be a good starting point. It should be obvious to all that such conflicts of interest present national security risks. Additionally you could do a little background and history on corruption of American politicians by reading Peter Schweizer’s book “Secret Empires.” The Intro Describes how the laws to prevent it drove the bulk of stealing overseas and promoted the use of family proxies. The results are, as actual Whistle blower, Tony Bobulinski, quotes Jim Biden, “Pausible Deniability.”

    • Joanne says:

      Thanks for that comment. I am having difficulty reconciling the lefts willing to tear down our monuments, rip up our history and constitution, burn our cities and yet hold the Capitol Building full of dishonest grifters as sacred?

      • BlueDolphin14 says:

        Joanne. Protesting is protected in the constitution. BLM are an example of grassroots protests against real everyday police brutality. It is no secret in America that the police are completely out of control and militarized. We have a right to protest out government in the streets.

        That being said, protesters do not have a right to burn businesses and tear things down. People have been arrested for those actions and will be held to account. I feel bad for those victim business owners. I hope they have insurance. They were definitely done wrong and I support the purpotrators being prosecuted.

        On the other hand about the insurrection, in no country is it ever OK to storm your countries capital. When you do that, you have passed the point of peaceful protesting and you have crossed the line into an illegal insurection against democracy and your country.

        It is truly bizarre that the right somehow tries to conflate these very different circumstances as the same thing. Truly baffling. They are not even close!!!

  20. Kirill says:

    The ban of Trump and Parler will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world. Crap regimes would use this “common practice” to ban opposition leaders or even social medias, like youtube or Facebook to feel safer. Disclosure: I don’t like Trump. However, I believe it’s better to reiterate for his misbehavior with a law. Arguably, a sort of elected committee should vote on ban with option to appeal their decision.

    • kp25 says:

      I don’t think the enemies of freedom of speech (e.g. Xi, Putin) are really looking for cover to do what they do.

    • Kirill says:

      @kp25 They want to look nice and credible. I bet they will use it this year. And again, I’m not defending Trump, I’m stand for the laws and principles. We need a credible regulation in social media. Not a discussionary actions.

  21. Julie Shapiro says:

    Society also needs to realize that people who are poor, people of color, and immigrants are not all stupid. I do think that it is important to corral the media from spreading non-factual information. Many of those “stupid” people at the capitol insurrection got their information from FaceBook, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News. What happened to just reporting the news instead of creating crazy people.

    • Rebecca Gremore says:

      Well I guarantee you that the curiously bussed in instigators get their ideology from a non-critical limited academic environment that doesn’t include debate and challenges to defend various ways of thinking nor use of honest data. In other words their ideology characterizes the liberal institutions that pass for colleges these days. I doubt they read the Wall Street Journal nor have background in nor studies of economics nor finance nor even accounting and they sure as hell haven’t read the Constitution. And I doubt any of them have ever created jobs for others and met a payroll. A retired police commissioner for New York City said he was there and it was was vastly peaceful and he estimated the crowd at about 1 million people. Comparatively few were involved in the capitol intrusion. I would think the radical liberals who infiltrated have already submitted their bill for security consulting services and will, like all government contractors, write up a report of recommendations that will never be implemented.

  22. Gee says:

    Preach, such a good angry polemic, I too remain hopeful, despite being repeatedly presented with action and evidence to the contrary

  23. YourName says:

    The best irony is in the post script. Your next Sprint should not benefit from the readers of this letter.

  24. Maria Kydonieus says:

    A good article. I add the need for added emphasis on the Arts, as well as Gardening, in schools. Art teaches non-linear inner thinking in compliment to the linear training of Math/Science. Gardening teaches respect for others (starting with plants – living entities with different and similar needs to ours), patience, and responsibility. All critical to good citizenship.

  25. robert smalley says:

    Good effort President Trump but I am afraid the swamp is still stinking the place out. The stench is nauseating. Plenty of proof here.

  26. Srinivas Ramdas Sunder says:

    WhatsApp users around the world are getting a notice this month that says all of their data is now going to be shared with Facebook. If you don’t accept this change to their Terms of Service, you have to delete WhatsApp. In the US, this is no big deal – WhatsApp is not widely used. In Europe and Asia, WhatsApp is HUGE, and is THE primary mode of inter-personal communication. It seems oddly coincidental that FB is doing this just as the Justice Dept and Congress are increasing their scrutiny of its practices and of the acquisitions it has made of possible competitors such as Insta and WhatsApp. Through these changes to their ToS, Facebook is trying to turn the acquisition into a fait accompli by tightly integrating it into the core of FB, and will likely use that as an argument with the Justice Dept and Congress to argue against reversing those mergers. Ideally, the Justice Dept should file a lawsuit staying FB’s integration of WhatsApp until resolution of the probes. Or at least make enough of a ruckus and issue a public warning or two that they should cease-and-desist, and that a failure to do so will not be sufficient grounds to reverse that merger in the event that is ruled in violation of anti-trust laws.

  27. Mike Lane says:

    I blame most of the problems in the US to all the Fundamental religions. These religions have turned their followers into a bunch of morons. Most peoples hazy idea of reality has allowed this pandemic to thrive. Putting your future in the hands of foolish leaders and following ignorantly behind them puts you in the stupid class. This stupidity is a recipe for disaster with deadly consequences.

  28. Mike A says:

    Great thoughts. I’ve said all week the dominant media’s treatment of Trump voters is analogous to students on the left that demand safe spaces from micro aggressions and ideas they find offensive. At the macro level Trump’s base is losing economically and culturally because they are willfully ignorant. Their resentment of educated people thriving accelerates their embrace of anti-intellectualism. These people shouldn’t be pitied and coddled. They should be ostracized from the benefits that accrue to members of society in good standing. The invasion of the Capitol symbolized how they want to burn the world down because they can’t adapt to changing realities.

    • Jj says:

      You seem to have a very narrow view of what a Trump voter looks like. Here in California I know Trump voters of all races and education level. It’s comments like yours, the mentality that every trump voter is some redneck with no education, that actually drove more people to vote for trump

    • Pete says:

      What are you suggesting Mike when you say “they should be ostracized from the benefits that accrue to members of society in good standing”? Your tone is very concerning. To imply such a thing echos the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. We need to be careful how we treat those whose values don’t aline with ours. History can teach us how slippery this slope is.

    • Rob says:

      @Pete???? Those people resigned from their benefits once they broke into the capitol armed bringing chaos and mayhem.

    • Mike A says:

      @Pete Values? What are their values other than absolute fealty to their cult leader? They rationalize their behavior with farcical lies about something being stolen from them. They should be cut off from social media, commerce, and other activities members of society in good standing earn. We have a social compact of behavior. We shouldn’t reward those that don’t adhere to those standards because they threaten to burn down the world.

  29. Bill McGrath says:

    Thanks for this. We the non stupid need to organize and address these issues before they consume us. Trump committed treason as did the mob that answered his calling. If this was 1921, Trump would probably have been hung on the steps of the capital and the mob would have been shot. We cannot let this go by with a slap on the hand. Serious consequences should follow.

  30. JimC says:

    Good commentary & great follow up letter by Shane Cunningham.

  31. Bruins_fan says:

    Please study the civil war in Rwanda — the USA is heading down the same road. Pray for peace, safety and opportunity for all.

  32. Shane Cunningham says:

    Well written and a wonderfully illustrative use of language! As a center-right leaning, Libertarian-oriented 59-year old, who listens to and loves your various podcasts, I must insert a couple of provisos. First, people are skeptical of institutions because, for forty plus years, institutions have behaved badly and abused the public trust. And I include business, education, government, and religious organizations in my list. I am a life-long “unaffiliated voter” because I have an ongoing disgust with both parties. And while it is easy to see the inherent problems with historical Republicanism, I am continually astonished at the lack of introspection and self-criticism coming from my intelligent friends who orientate further to the Left. We continue to loft figurative moral salvos at those with whom we disagree from a fictional moral ‘higher ground’. Maybe it is time that we all got down off our metaphorical emotional elephants (thank you Jonathon Haidt) and started a rational conversation, centered in neighborly compassion for each other. I enjoy your wit, your keen insights, and your own ability to be self-effacing. Keep it coming!!!

    • Andrew Henke says:

      Shane, Is it really a fictional moral higher ground though? I think most of the left leaning folks you’re talking about ARE indeed trying to have the rational conversation you speak of centered around neighborly compassion for each other. Almost everything the progressive left stands firm for today in our modern politics is centered around helping those who are more needy/deserving, providing fairness, and implementing future initiatives that make the lives of people more sustainable and fair. Those things are very “neighborly compassionate” right? Name one libertarian policy or right leaning policy that embodies this “neighborly compassion” you speak of? I am not aware of even one but welcome being better informed.

    • cb says:

      @Andrew Henke Re: neighborly compassion. From a rightish POV… If we want well-adjusted, confident kids, we don’t wrap them in bubble wrap. We let them learn to ride their bikes and fall and scrape a knee and let them hop back in the saddle and try again. It is compassionate to allow people to make their own decisions and actions and then reap the consequences. Both pain and success are powerful teachers; this is how we learn, and the harder the learning, the more valuable it is in developing people, and thus societies. I know this is simplistic and there are lots of caveats, but just because “conservatism” has been usurped by an immoral, lost, bitter crowd (hopefully not permanently) doesn’t mean there is an absence of compassion in real, classically liberal conservatism.

  33. Lynn Emmolo says:

    The President and his crew need to be held accountant to set a legal precedent for any other looney tune who would think of trying this again. Wednesday was shocking and heartbreaking. Trump must be disabled NOW! Stupid is more problematic as we are as a nation indoctrinated to the concept of all equal (though some may not practice it). It took me a long time to realize that people aren’t what they say they are and willfully practice disingenuous/dishonest behavior. First how do you recognize and deal with it. And second, stupid when angry can be very dangerous as we saw this week. Go forward we need to as a nation press a reset button. It will be a long hard road but worth the trip. We need new faces in govt and most importantly new intelligent, purposeful thinking. The News…I try not to watch it. AND I don’t go on facebook!!! Right on PG Great read.

  34. Mark L says:

    I agree with every word of this piece. America is overrun with stupid, and stupid is a disease that is killing us all. Stupid is what allows QAnon to metastasize into the spreading cancer that it is and created the disgusting, disgraceful events of this past week. As Galloway wrote, let’s hope this horrible part of our history starts to innoculate us against the worst and most stupid in our society.

    • Harry says:

      So smart! Just call those who disagree with you stupid, and voila, no problems! Cute for sure.

    • Joe says:

      @Harry that’s all you got from the article? They are not stupid for disagreeing, please revisit what has happened in this past 4 years

  35. Marjorie Lynch says:

    This hit the mail on the head. It has given me a way to process these events and the state of our country as nothing I have seen since the event happened. Also some hope. Thanks, Prof. G.

  36. David Pressley says:

    Actually, it’s “the toilet won’t flush and the cat is pregnant”, but I’ll add this one to my “ba-dump-BING” quiver too. Great post.

  37. Michael says:

    Scott, you can’t have it both ways. On one hand, you call out the social media titans for their manipulation and censorship of the narrative of legitimate self expression. (by those you don’t consider part of the “stupid class”) Yet on the other hand, you’re applying your strategic common sense and unique insights to advise the Board of Directors of Twitter as to how to enhance shareholder value. And you have decided to invest in that platform (a.k.a Pravda). with the hope for expectation that the board will boot the pompous part-time CEO, add a pay wall and yada-dada. In spite of your investment transparency, it’s still the most hypocritical move of the year. Don’t provide petro to the arsonists. Divest my friend!

  38. Justin Yan says:

    Fresh perspective as always, Scott!

  39. Joe Hartnett says:

    Costy – my beloved grandfather, the Rev. T. F. Butler taught me that the bible is for reading and following, not thumping and cursing. Read the part about “Love Your Neighbor” and then see if you can summon the decency do that. Scott – I’m happy to report that the stupid seditionist you reference, who sat in Speaker Pelosi’s chair has been arrested: Also, all those facing prosecution for their deeds on Wednesday, 01/06/21 could face 10 years in prison! President Trump signed an executive order in June 2020 to “prosecute to the fullest extent permitted under federal law” those who vandalize government property. “I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues – and combatting recent Criminal Violence,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!” Federal law allows 10 years in prison as maximum punishment for such vandalism. However, it appears as though the order may backfire on the president, resulting in harsh sentences for his supporters that stormed the capitol building on Wednesday. After all, the capitol building is federal property. It’s ironic that the law he enacted to punish those who protested him could wind up resulting in maximum sentences for those who rioted in his honor. Trump clearly supports their act of sedition. “We love you, you’re very special,” he told the domestic terrorists in a Wednesday address.

  40. Lou Sylvester says:

    Well said Scott. But I fear the courage to change amongst the Republican side will not come. They stood by during the past 5 years and watched Rome burn. Without real accountability starting with the purveyors of misinformation we are in for a long bumpy ride.You are correct to hold Zuckerburg and those who have been complicit in the creation of the beast that is intent on consuming us and in the process our democracy. What would the hero’s of Normandy think ? How about the young kids in Afghanistan.? And what about the Patriots at.Gettysburg and Trenton.

  41. Courtney B says:

    I’m extremely disappointed, though not surprised, at this analysis, which omits any reference to white supremacy and our failure as a nation to acknowledge it as foundational to America in explaining this week’s events. Your analysis wreaks of the “bothsideism” you claim to decry. Perhaps read The Racial Contract by Charles W. Mills if you need some further education? While liberal/progressive whites are just as much the problem as are conservative whites, making blanket criticisms about progressives (sans race specification) needing to feel the pain of everyone claiming victimhood is just odd and dangerous. Aligning (however imperfectly) with those who are the target of racial, sexual orientation-based and other oppression is the same problem as those fighting to uphold white supremacy? What you’re really describing is the unaddressed problem of whiteness. Whether liberal or conservative, those who benefit from the social construct of whiteness consciously and unconsciously uphold it in different ways. This isn’t a problem that began four decades ago—not sure if you’re aware, but we had a genocide of indigenous people, enslaved Africans, disenfranchised women, Japanese internment camps, etc prior to Reagan. If we need to pick a recent beginning, as opposed to our founding, it would be the failed reconstruction after the Civil War. We need thought leaders like you to make these connections and include it in your work. Your failure to make these connections indicates that our educational system has never been that great.

    • Tom says:

      Courtney, you are making this more complicated that it is. For the most part, White supremacy is a by-product of stupidity. people who have the capacity to think, self criticize, and regulate themselves tend not to be racist. Those who don’t (ie stupid) will align themselves with any movement (KKK, Q Anon) which will make them feel better about themselves. Time to stop molly coddling stupid people of every stripe, and make them responsible for their actions. The people who stormed the capital, and their enablers/inciters, is where we should get serious about it.

    • irene says:

      I enjoyed Prof G analysis but totally agree with your point that the construct of white supremacy and white privilege was a BIG missing gap in the assessment. Also, your observation that framing the issues of the left and right as though they are equal polar opposites is not fair (the hypersensitivity of the left “who need to feel the pain of those who claim victimhood” has not been helpful in advancing rights of the disenfranchised) and have made us weak, but this is not at all equal to the violence and danger of the extremists of the right. In Prof G’s defense, he was also adding a point that there are plenty of ‘stupid’ actors among us who do nothing to advance the cause of a better society but do plenty to bring us down and destroy democracy, so there’s that. Anyway, your pointed observation of the gap in including the critical issue of white supremacy /institutions that underlies the week’s events is fair and helpful to keep in mind.

    • ESA says:

      If Courtney’s post is OK, then so is what follows. What does solving the “problem of whiteness” really look like? If we aren’t euthanizing the white (or the studid), then what is the proposed solution? It’s ver disturbing that posting this stuff is OK these days.

    • Izabella Bray says:

      It isn’t a “problem” to be solved as much as it is a reality to be made keenly aware of and therefore applied in analysis of these kinds of situations. One of the biggest problems with the “white supremacy” argument is that so many people refuse to accept it as reality. I agree with Irene that Courtney’s point is valid, but also agree with Tom that in this article’s context, it falls directly under the stupidity argument. But again, it seems Tom, Irene, Courtney, and I are keenly aware of the reality of white supremacy’s existence and effects. Your somewhat dismissive reference to it as the “problem of whiteness”, @ESA , leads me to believe you have not yet become fully aware.

    • Harry says:

      Those whites… Lol. Courtney seems so delusional that racism against white people is A-OK in her book. Not a good sign.

  42. Sally Hodgson says:

    We’re u foaming at the mouth when you composed this ditty?Attempted coup why don’t you reduce to conservatives baad your side good?

  43. Mark Long says:

    Stupidity is not Contagious… However, ignoring Stupidity is Contagious.

    • Ignorance is endemic. Most people most of the time don’t actually want truth as much as they want affirmation that whatever they already believe is true. This tendency is hard wired into us (i.e. endemic). says:

      Ignorance is endemic. Most people most of the time don’t actually want truth as much as they want affirmation that whatever they already believe is true. This tendency is hard wired into us (i.e. endemic).

  44. Scott Delaney says:

    Your most importantly and best blog yet. We must start to stand up and call out STUPID when we see it.

  45. Gavin Palmer says:

    Thank you Professor A good solid and valuable contribution My best wishes Gavin FL Palmer

  46. Catherine Fitzgerald says:

    Really well written Scott! Intelligent vs Stupid… so right.

  47. Naresh CHAND Gupta says:

    How do you inculcate the culture of “truth” when all that politicians do is lie, make false promises, and spread misinformation. To fix the system is to fix the political system first.

  48. Linda says:

    You are totally on target with this post. I have always believed that Reagan began the assault on participatory government. And the deification of him makes me sick.

  49. James says:

    Scott, where was the disgust and outrage when a mob of some peaceful, but also some violent protestors brought destructive behavior to your NYU backyard this summer? In case you weren’t in NYC you may not know that private property, residential buildings, and public statues within a stone throw of your employer’s campus were vandalized and damaged. Residential buildings hired private security to ensure safety. Private businesses who did not were looted. You are 100% correct that the DC mob should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest. But the liberal mentality to selectively get on a high horse is why nearly half of Americans still voted for an incompetent leader in Trump.

    • Tim says:

      Rioting and destruction of property is always wrong, should be condemned and prosecuted. However, this consistent chorus of “whataboutism” needs to stop. A presidentially incited insurrectionist coup is nowhere near the same thing. It’s not even close and calls to the comparisons are part of the problem.

    • Bill says:

      James, while it may look similar, taking over the US Capitol is different from protests that might have gone too far. It’s really not hard to see the difference. Unless you don’t want to.

    • James L. Somers says:

      Another assertion that property crimes are more serious than crimes against persons or governmental institutions.

    • Tom says:

      @James L. Somers easy to say for a guy who hasn’t watched all he has worked for get violently carried off by a looter.

  50. Sharon says:


  51. Dr.Iffat Hussain says:

    Great summarization of the truth. Wonderful read! -Iffat Hussain

  52. Rosamund Else-Mitchell says:

    The best synthesis of so many issues facing us all at once right now. God Bless Biden – he had one helluva job ahead.

  53. Brad says:

    Thank you for a clear and articulate statement of the current situation. Well said.

  54. Penn says:

    The Maoist cancel culture now emerges into full bloom, as it is interpreted by Western neo-Marxist Progressives and Big Tech corporations. Josh Hawley gets his book publishing canceled. Meh. Not enough. He should be horsewhipped. He’s small potatoes, but he must be made to pay. Trump gets canceled by Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Reddit, etc. Not enough. He should resign immediately. Apply the 25th amendment. Institute articles of impeachment. He should be arrested today. A mighty throng of blm/antifa/leftists would cheer his hanging. Mimetic desire and the scapegoat mechanism is very real: There is a silver lining. Social media is not reality. It is a fantasy world filled with packs of snarling, barking dogs. Bark, bark, bark. It is the Matrix. The President, the Senate, and the House are now absorbed into the Matrix. The more people break away from these packs, or who are forcibly broken off, the more the real world around them becomes concretized and important. Eventually, mimetic desire is a spent force, and revelation breaks through and we can move forward again.

  55. Steven K. Bruns says:

    As anyone who has led a successful team understands, listening to different points of view and through discourse, reaching consensus, will outperform teams led by someone who only tolerates like minded individuals. Acknowledging disagreement is a core value of this Country. What happened on January 6, 2021 in Washington D.C is not a disagreement, it is criminal. Citizenship is a right, but it comes with responsibilities. Those that invaded the Capitol building should be tried for sedition against the US Government, and if found guilty their citizenship, and all that entails, should be revoked. In addition egregious offenders should be deported. Making an example of these people would be more of a deterrent for dissidents who are contemplating illegal acts, than a fine or a suspended jail sentence.

  56. Adam says:

    Thank you for this incredible articulation. It is so difficult to understand what has happened to this country. As you point out, social media has become our conscious, government and soul. The consequences for our children is just heartbreaking.

  57. Hugh Massengill says:

    Democracy is about one person one vote. If you are against that, you are an enemy of my country for the alternative is fascism. Democracy demands independent media but it also demands that the victor in an election takes the job and the person who loses graciously finds another way to spend the day. Those people at the capitol hate democracy, so they hate America. Simple enough to say, simple enough to say. Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon

  58. Michael V Conley says:

    Clarity is painful and avoided by many people, but healthy. The social/political clarity you offer is delightful, refreshing and an effective direction for our America. Many thanks!

  59. Anony Mouse says:

    While Scott has some brilliant marketing insights from time to time, nothing in this article is one of them. This article simply reiterates the trash regurgitated from the liberal mainstream media over the past four years, but from a slightly less incindiary and more intellectual perspective. The entire leftist idea that the insignificant riot at the capital was an insurrection, sedition, or a coup is utterly baseless and laughable. The BLM and Antifa riots burned down police stations, blinded police officers with lasers, looted retailers, used fireworks as explosive weapons of war, captured and occupied portions of cities, tore down statues, lasted for many months, and required extreme force by our government to bring the disobedient under control just to re-establish peace, and law and order. That’s domestic terrorism and anarchism. The real fear everyone should have now is Joe Biden. He is as one-sided and divisive as Donald Trump. He learned nothing from the failures of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama who were the same. So, Joe Biden is going to have an exceptionally difficult presidency too. His message of unity fell flat on it’s face the moment he called the otherwise innocent people who rioted, “domestic terrorists”.

    • Lucid says:

      I understand you’re threatened by the realization that you support the same vision for America as seditionists and terrorists and that’s why you’re deflecting but the BLM riots have nothing to do with the invasion of The Capitol. While the destruction and violence over the summer is deplorable but it’s nothing like this and if you don’t see that you’re ignorant, plain and simple. On the day of President Trump gives a fiery speech against what he claims is an illegitimate government and rouses his base by literally calling them to action. CONGRESS IS IN SESSION. The Capital Police are sparse in number and disorganized, unable to contain a small mob. The doors of The Capitol are breached while CONGRESS IS IN SESSION. Senators are evacuated with a fascist mob literal feet away. Nobody is arrested. The conspired but unorganized Coup fails. President Trump finally concedes.

    • Anony Mouse says:

      @Lucid Your “alternative facts” from CNN are so wrong, it’s difficult to respond. 0) Since you’re clearly not comprehending the hypocrisy of the liberal and progressive response to the capital riots, as compared to the terrorism and extreme violence of BLM and Antifa riots, I won’t bring up the non-capital riots any further. It wasn’t a deflection, but a point of reference. 1) I don’t “support the same vision for America as seditionists and terrorists”. Claiming that I or others do, is a false presumption that results in a blatant lie. The idea that I or others would support sedition or terrorism is a projection of your fears. Since you’ve been conditioned and brainwashed by the liberal mainstream media into believing in false concepts like white privilege, critical race theory, and everyone not a liberal is a despicable -ist (racist, sexist, misogynist, …), this fear of yours is understandable, but entirely irrational and wholly unjustified. The millennial generation has become part of a cultural war against issues which mostly died out decades ago, i.e., 1960’s. 2) There were no seditionists, nor terrorists, present at the peaceful pro-Trump rally, just ordinary people. The only terrorist acts were from the capital police setting off flash bangs and tear gas. None of the people who rioted had guns, weapons, explosives like fireworks, lasers to blind other people, nor Molotov cocktails. They didn’t burn down anything. It’s very plausible there were a few fascists present, and perhaps anarchists and Antifa members too, but the significant majority of people there weren’t agitators. 3) While there may have been a few fascists present, it’s a lie to portray all of the rioters fascist, as you did by calling them a “fascist mob”. It’s also dismissive of the truth that they weren’t fascist, but were were ordinary people. 4) Trump did give a fiery speech expressing his beliefs by exercising his freedom of speech. He did not call anyone into action. That’s a falsehood. He didn’t incite anyone either. If some of the people were aroused into anger and rioting, it was of their own volition, or the result of agitators. Numerous millions of people watched Trump’s speech without engaging in any violent action at all. Most of the people at the rally didn’t engage in violent action either. 5) There was no invasion of the capital, as you’ve falsely claimed. The people involved in the riot were not part of a military force, nor agents of a foreign government. They were ordinary, otherwise innocent people, wholly unorganized, completely untrained, non-uniformed, who were presumably mostly U.S. Citizens. So, there was a group of people who rioted and then illegally broke into the capital and trespassed. That’s a civil matter of breaking the laws, and not a military matter such as an invasive military force from a foreign power. 6) As for “CONGRESS IS IN SESSION”, would it have been any different if Congress wasn’t in session when it was broken into? No, it wouldn’t have been. It’d still be breaking and entering, illegal trespass, and property destruction. In other words, “CONGRESS BEING IN SESSION” is an irrelevant, non-sequitur, strawman argument, as it has no bearing on the events of the riot. The capital would’ve been broken into during a riot, whether Congress was in session or not. 7) “Nobody is arrested”. The last time the police tried to arrest someone, people rioted and burned down a police station. Antifa and BLM were calling for police to stand down and be defunded. It seems they got their wish. Now, you’re complaining that the police weren’t forceful enough? Make up your mind. Oh, sorry, I promised not to bring up Antifa and BLM riots again, but they are so relevant for comparison between the mildness of the capital riots and the extremism of the other recent riots …

    • Tom says:

      “insignificant” riot? The one that forced the entire house into safe rooms, and resulted in 5 deaths? The one whose only purpose was to disrupt the business of government mandated by the the Effing Constitution? Righties talk about “Trump Derangement Syndrome”. You clearly have “Trump Anal Insertion Syndrome”, whereby every thought and utterance is catalyzed by Donnie sticking his finger in your rectum. Nearly everybody in the NY business community knew Donnie would be an absolute failure as a president. He had a multi decade record for incompetence, and is a complete charlatan. RNC’s backing of him created this unprecedented catastrophe which could well lead to Socialism. So thanks for that – not.

    • chmac says:

      @Anony Mouse When your comments are read in the days and years to come they will be used in analysis of the delusions that overcame sense and evidence amongst apologists for the rise of authoritarian nationalism and the downfall of the USA.

    • Vincent Petersen says:

      @Anony Mouse Are you serious in saying that Trump did not incite the crowds to march to the senate? Read his speech – watch his speech! He even said he would walk with them – only to be picked up by his comfy limo, driven back to the White House where he watched the riots in front of the TV. So he even lied to his followers and showed what coward he is and what respect he is holding for those doing the dirty work. You must be so drunk on the Trump cool aide that you can’t even see what is right in front of you. But at least it is clear for everyone to see… thanks for that.

  60. FM says:

    Matt Gaetz is a poor imitation of a clown. His fealty to Trump and his every utterance qualify him for charter membership in the Heaven’s Gate cult. Even by Florida standards, electing Gaetz is incomprehensible.

  61. W. Colson Schaab says:

    Well said Prof, and I have just learned that there are basic Laws of Human Stupidity. This warms my soul because I have long believed that a vast number of my fellow humans are a stupid beyond redemption. The old saying ” you can’t fix stupid” rings true, education has nothing to do with stupid. Senators Hawley, Kennedy and Cruz have received the best educations on the planet yet prove that point. Thanks for the enlightenment, but wait you’re pregnant? Ciao.

  62. kristi otto says:

    Stellar observations. Thank you. You articulated my frustrations and thoughts brilliantly. Somewhere along the education path, our teachers deemed it worthy to stop teaching civics. At the same time we worship at the feet of the tech, algorithms and all that they dare feed and manipulate us to do. The habits of following only the laws we (those in power) want to follow marks the slippery slide to the end. Taking que from startups when they fail, you have ask to yourself, do you quit or do you erase the whiteboard and pivot? Or, dare I say start something new?

  63. Jason Parmar says:

    This might be one of your best pieces Scott.

  64. Lee says:

    When the tech seed was planted it grew into a tree that is awe inspiring but ugly in the shadows it casts. The roots spread deep and we the soil that feeds it have not yet woken to the fact that our need to feed the tree is manipulated by the roots that strengthen and grow it day in day out. Yet the shadows grow wider and deeper…it’s time we woke up to manipulation fed by algorithms and start making strong independent thoughts collected by pre tech learnings.. gather all information and make your own decisions!!

  65. Donald L Dixon says:

    Excellent commentary! Hold our leaders and their minions accountable. Maybe offer high quality free online civics education courses for each grade level that can be used by educators.

  66. Brad Dawson says:

    The ‘Dumbing Down of America’ has been a real thing and motoring along for a good time now. All one has to do, is look at the cable schedule line up of reality show drivel (and how did good old folks get acquainted with Trump, in the first place?…”The Apprentice”) to know how stupid our country has become. We have become lazy. I can’t say the following enough times….’Where do you get your information from?’ If you only watch Rupert Murdoch’s (please,please Google him to know the damage he has done with his no-integrity media empire) Fox News, you’re the one who is missing the point. While ABC, CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, the AP, BBC, Washington Post, N.Y. Times, and too many more to mention, are ALL reporting the same thing…all agreeing on the SAME STORY…Fox and OAN and Breitbart are ignoring that story worth telling (aka the truth) and pushing their own agenda. The disinformation mentioned in this article is the BIGGEST problem we have in our country today, when we are discussing the divide we have going on. You should be questioning everything,yes…but do it with reputable online sources and tv news organizations that have been around for numerous decades. And Gus…while you said “Actions of the mob were wrong.” you go on to somehow defend them ….””The mob is angry due to allegations of voter fraud that theoretically change the outcome of the election.” ALLEGATIONS and THEORETICALLY are two key words in your sentence. Who is doing the alleging? Is it Trump? Or maybe a media outlet supporting him? Alleging something does not make it true (which BTW, Donald Trump has been doing most of his life). And check out sites like Fact Check or Snopes to see how often Donald Trump has lied to you. Theoretically speaks about something that hasn’t been substantiated. It’s a theory. When Trump says it enough times, people start to believe him. You are being played by a con man. Each state in the election process verifies their votes. Even the courts got into it and…..found no voter fraud. Even the Georgia Secretary of State, who is a Republican, said the same in his state. Just because Donald Trump says there was voter fraud…do you believe it? Because if you always believe everything he says, he’s got some land to sell you. In the end, what happened at the Capitol on Jan.6, 2021 NEVER should have taken place. There are NO excuses for what occurred. The propaganda you’re getting….the fake news you’re getting…is NOT from mainstream media….but from the Murdoch Empire and from Donald Trump himself.

  67. Ben says:

    Granted: Trump proved he’s really bad at this whole Presidential thing and even as I am in the vast minority of your readers, I’m also very pleased to see a nail put in his coffin as a politician and say good riddance and may your toxic effects cause the GOP to find a next person capable of leadership and worthy of executive power granted by its right thinking people. But The Prof doth protest too much, methinks… on a few fronts A) We ALL want fair elections, B) the predicate to these riots were months of lauded riots spread far and wide and cheered on by ‘your’ NyT crowd, and C) we have nearly a 50/50 country… A–no Intelligent being ever saw sufficient volume of irregularities to overturn–but still we have a legal redress process that must go on per the standing methods and mechanisms (100% not inclusive of marching with thoughts of mayhem on the Capitol); B–you don’t get to like / excuse the cause of some terrorists (BLM, Breonna) and then complain bitterly when some counterprotesters get tired of the narrative nor can any Intelligent person paint half the country as antifa riotoers who all agree with CHOPortlandia expression; C–extending part B, nor can intelligent people accept being painted into a corner with the rioting imbeciles of this week… Any solid belief must be capable of understanding the other side… in my friends I happily count an extreme range going to both sides and seek their conversation and perspectives–happily, most would still agree with an awful lotta stuff that has long since been reduced to out of touch anachronisms by the rioting wokes and neo’s e.g. that one might disagree with the message but fight to death for the message to be said and that, yes, we have flaws but we are an experiment based on laws and those laws must be enduring enough to survive all attacks foreign and domestic… In sum, the parts of your message I most disagree with are those that would sharpen the divides–first, you condescend to believe that your 52% (at best) is way way above and better than our 48% and then you want a tech and other fabric that cheers Your causes and stifles non-Your causes – how un-American, and sad.

  68. Matt smith says:

    Worst article you have ever written. How does a starting artist contribute to Soviet, by collecting food stamps and living on the people who actually pay there taxes? You have went from intellectual entrepreneurs to academic elitist is one presidential term. Congrats.

  69. Vince says:

    Gosh, I don’t even know where to start. As a European, I am amazed, bewildered, shocked by what has happened in the US since 2015… Someone with just money and one slogan can get into the presidential race. He then manages to win the support of the GOP as some opportunists see him as the only answer to another 4 years of Democratic tenure. Then this orange-faced, bleached white hair selfish antithesis of the working man’s spokesperson with more money than probably 99% of his voters together manages to get exactly those votes and becomes their messiah. Scandal after scandal, lie after lie, no respect for his job and what it entails, a plethora of brown (!) and smelly coming out of his mouth every single day – and his base loves him even more, his party loves him even more and the whole bandwagon is getting punch drunk on MAGA. And when you just pray that the whole show is finally over he is even getting more votes than in 2016. This cannot just be explained by stupidity – this would be way too simple. It is way beyond stupidity. And as much as I love your piece here – for me, it is just too stupid to blame it on stupidity alone. And to quote my fellow European/German from an earlier comment: it is not just about “detrumping” the country – I fear Trump is just the tip of the iceberg. And no, I am not taking a European “Ivory Tower” POV – I am very aware of similar patterns in Europe from Brexit/Boris Johnson, AfD in Germany, Front Nationale and “Yellow Vests” in France but our chance on this side of the Atlantic is that the political events in the US of the last 5 years gave us a look into the crystal ball of what could happen here as well. I hope we can grab this chance to not let it come thus far because if ever there was a fertile ground for extremism it is Europe.

    • Linda says:

      You forgot to mention Hungary and Poland. Anne Applebaum’s book “The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” explains how leaders like Trump, Johnson, and Victor Orban, among others, are able to get votes based on simple explanations that are often not accurate.

  70. Lainy leBow Sachs says:

    Really interesting and I agree, even with only a short time left with Trump, he should be impeached in his final days!!!!!!

  71. BBloom says:

    Here is to a new radical centrist citizenry… introspection of the failures of what lead to an occupying mob, regardless of a police headquarters in Portland or Congress is on our institution’s leadership (art, media, education, government, business…). Our progress as a nation (and humanity, for that matter) is through the constant grinding of yin and yang. The USA’s constitutional republic is the best so far in our world’s history. Stop dividing, forgive perceived transgressions of ‘the other’ political view. Listen, learn, compromise… we all really do want the same thing. Access to a cold beer at a decent price. Law matters, civil liberties and civil rights matter. It’s only a republic if you can keep it…

  72. E.J. Cleary says:

    AMEN ! This should be required reading for our elected officials. Enjoy all your columns, with 95 to 100% agreement.

  73. JK says:

    “Elected officials who knowingly spread disinformation should be censured and denied federal and state matching funds for their next election” Well said and I agree. By my count all the Republicans and all the Democrats would be denied funds correct? I am in CA, so this would fix our Gavin Newsom problem 🙂

    • Rebecca Gremore says:

      Politicians can lie Unless they are under oath. The objective is to enforce honesty through elections but now that we no longer have honest free elections, that safeguard has been removed. Oh well, here goes another Venezuela. It will probably take us longer to start starving but I think there will be a pretty quick breakdown of Law and order in the urban areas. Plus outside of doomed urban areas, we’re not stupid enough to give up our guns as easily as the Venezuelans did. After that comes China to the rescue or enslavement depending on viewpoint. By then won’t even need the Democrats to escort them in.

  74. Chris Coles says:

    Prof, your journey through life has made you blind to a very simple fact; that venture capitalism, (as against free enterprise), has created a new form of feudalism, where, instead of kings or other forms of aristocracy, today we have their replacements . . . immensely wealthy individuals demanding, as all aristocrats do; complete control of everyone below them within the nation. In turn, they, are entirely focused on the exercise of the absolute corruption that bought them to where they are today. The way out has to be via a return to law makers never being able to receive any donation; from any source, instead entirely living within the means of a stipend directly related to their role; alongside removing any way, anyone; and I deliberately repeat; anyone; may “buy” their way out of actions taken under the rule of the law. As a Brit, from my personal experience of watching from across the pond; today, your Department of Justice may be seen as not understanding that; if they do not act, at all times and in every circumstance; to the highest ethical standards . . . repeat; at all times and in all circumstances . . . that they place themselves, both individually as well as institutionally as being open to the charge that they are today Ultra Vires . . . beyond the law . . . lawless. The result being that there is a perception that the concept of justice for all is today; no longer a requirement of citizenship.

  75. Gus says:

    Actions of the mob were wrong. But the media continues to miss the point. The mob is angry due to allegations of voter fraud that theoretically change the outcome of the election. To state the obvious, this is of huge importance if you want a civil society; trust in the election process. So we need an open and transparent investigation. But instead the media declares that voter fraud is more fake news even though a full investigation has not been completed. This would certainly help deflate the tension. (I know some investigations have been conducted but we need more exposure. Dont just state that Trump is lying. The mob doesn’t believe the media. Give us more information instead of propaganda. Let the public decide).

    • Tyler W Elwood says:

      Gus – I completely agree that voter fraud allegations need to be heard, vetted, and resolved transparently. This is why we have a long-standing institutional legal process that was called upon to review and, consequently dismissed, close to 60 alleged cases of the exact voter fraud you are pointing out. That IS the process you are requesting and it was followed the same way it was followed when Al Gore lost. You may have noticed that we did not have the same level of delusional misbehavior from Americans when that happened. Ultimately, everyone else has moved on from this subject but the people that have not accepted they did not win the election.

    • Mark says:

      Gus, I think you make some really good points. I have no idea how much voter cheating occurred and whether voter fraud made a significant difference in the election. What I do know is that my neighbor , who moved here 2 years ago, received a mail ballot forwarded from her old address and a ballot from her new address. In addition she received ballots from her 2 grown children who no longer reside in the state. So she voted 4 times. This may be an isolated incident but we can only say we don’t know, without a comprehensive investigation.

    • Bill Lee says:

      Guys, we don’t make decisions about voter fraud or any other criminal manner based on “allegations” or anecdotal stories about a neighbor who did this and such. We make decisions based on evidence, admitted into courts of law by a judge or jury. Trump and his minions filed 67 suits. 66 were thrown our or decided against him. The issue of election fraud is closed. Btw, the accusations by Sydney Powell and others that the voting machines were rigged and corrupt is generating blow back: Dominion has filed a $1B suit for defamation. Good for them!

    • Mark says:

      @Bill Lee You say the issue of election fraud is closed. Not really. For this cycle, yes but the anomalies are significant and deserve a TRUE audit but this won’t occur in Democrat strongholds. Most of the legal cases you mention weren’t heard due to standing and latches which the courts used to avoid involvement. Some hair-raising books will be coming. I just hope they aren’t stifled like reasoned writings disputing man-made global warming(science is settled) because the election was verified.

  76. Matt says:

    In the last sentence of the second paragraph of the “rave” section you wrote: “… social media firms will continue to do exponentially more harm than Drexel or Enron.” Who are “Drexel” and what harm have they done? Google did not help, they just gave my links to the university women’s basket ball team.

    • Gabriel Brull says:

      That’s Drexel Burnham Lambert, although I don’t know enough to explain clearly the harm they’ve done. Cheers.

    • John K says:

      @Matt, he is referring to an old investment bank from the 90’s called Drexel Burnham Lambert that specialized in junk bonds. Michael Milken went to jail for securities fraud and insider trading I believe. Trump just pardoned Milken so he is no longer a felon. It has been a long time since I saw the movie but I believe Wall Street (late 80s popular movie) is partly based on what happened at Drexel. The Enron fiasco (late 90s to early 00s), is still relevant today because it resulted in Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Sarbox for short. Enron essentially did some very unethical accounting to hide losses and exaggerate gains. Sarbox placated the masses because it stated that executives can go to jail if they sign public financial disclosures that they know to be inaccurate. Fast forward to the 2008 financial crises, and of course not a single executive went to jail even though it was clear many were hiding losses from being on the wrong side of credit default swaps…amongst other inaccuracies that were hidden. The main reason Sarbox is relevant today is because the complicated accounting requirements make it very expensive and difficult for companies to go public. Essentially less companies become part of the public market because of Sarbox. To work around that, we now have SPAC’s. Give it 2-3 years and watch as a SPAC bubble bursts. Sarbox (‘02) was passed about 3 years after Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (99), which reversed Glass–Steagall (1932 I think). Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act made it so insurance companies, regular banks and investment banks could be one big happy company. It only took 9 years for the very same people that championed Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (Goldman/CITI/Chase) to scare the Federal Reserve into bailing out these now too big to fail companies. Hooray for financial legislation that does not solve problems and creates larger ones!

    • irene says:

      @John K This was helpful explanation, thank you. To wrap, @matt the harm was these Enron/Drexel entities got large, unchecked in their power and able to profit off the backs of unsuspecting unprotected consumers of junk bonds or pensions that contained worthless enron stock The analogy is today’s tech companies are fat, large, unmotivated to be ethical, yet causing harm to democracy and are unchecked. That Twitter has more power over Trump’s spewing of lies and causing a riot than envoking govt laws of the 25th amendment, is a problem

    • Rebecca Gremore says:

      @John K Many companies now skirt around that wonderful device of capitalism known as a public corporation and simply go directly to the big oligarch tech people in Silicon Valley and also now China to fund their company. That is cutting out the middle class , retirement funds and others from participating in upside equity growth of our economy . In other words it cuts out participation and ownership in the free market risk of our country. Over-regulation of corporations imposes a tax on businesses and changes behaviors thus curtailing the benefits. The more you’re over regulate, the more you create economic disparity.

  77. Bob says:

    This administration hit the floor running in 2016 with a steady stream of lies-as-misdirection. It used the smoke created by them to tear into the fabric of our country any place it could get a firm hold. Four years later 74,111,419 voters were still blind to it all. Owning some level of common sense and the ability to think critically is not an elitist, or leftist, position. It’s the intellectual every-day-carry we should all have. Cippola’s magic quadrant is a good illustration of why.

  78. A look from the outside says:

    As a German, I am grateful for the US to ‘denazify’ the generation of my grand-parents. However, I ask myself who is ‘detrumpifying’ the US?

  79. Patrick says:

    Outstanding summary Scott.

  80. Costy says:

    Dude, it is not a virus, it is the fallen nature of man. You and all the liberal academics out there…that are arrogant enough to post their all knowing thoughts online. It is you, that are the very cause of the indoctrination of our youth, that is poisoning our society! You call it progress, but all it is providing more evidence of our fallen state… Try reading the Bible. It is good vs evil, and we are being over run thanks to pieces of shit like you!

    • Christopher Karalis says:

      I have read the Bible, and if you ignore the twisted stuff in it, like sending your daughters into a bob to be raped and a woman being unclean for 7 days after her period, it talks about ridding ourselves of greed and pride, and increasing in love, compassion, and care for those in need. Trump and his supporters spread hate, exclusion, lies, and violence – they reflect evilness that is shown in the Bible. Please don’t use the Bible as a reason to spread your hate, bigotry, and close mindedness.

    • Costy1169 says:

      @Christopher Karalis Maybe you should re-read it. You seem to have missed the point, and only focused on the things that mattered to you. I was addressing our blogger who is calling what is going on in our country the result of a virus. When it is his kind who are propagating the evil that feeds it…

  81. John Azevedo says:

    Lots of unloved people who are welcomed by a police force that is infiltrated with white supremacists. Kind of predictable. Answers? Daily meditation and publicly funded elections so that the military/industrial complex and 1% don’t control the politicians and media.

  82. mike says:

    i really enjoy reading all your commentary. Its witty and profound! But on this article, you have failed to call out liberals (by name) as you did with Trump and his followers. We know how you feel. Not exactly what i would call fair commentary. This surely isn’t one parties fault and I am surprised you don’t know that (not talking about social media giants). I don’t know about you but i am not for allowing subgroups to take over Cities and Government buildings in Oregon and Washington (you only mentioned the White House..) or to create division by using race. And why aren’t you concerned about voting fraud?….. All politicians should be embarrassed and apologetic to the people that put them in office. Shouldn’t both sides of the isle want fair elections? The main reason we have chaos right now is because we’ve now confirmed and witnessed how pathetic our political system is as a whole. Your solutions are good but they must benefit all the people. With all due respect, I encourage you to read the sensible comments below and learn from it.

    • Biff says:

      Case in point, right here.

    • Deb Mac says:

      Of course both sides of the aisle want fair elections but after 50 failed lawsuits initiated by Trump or his administration relating to the election, why do you believe there is voting fraud? Honest question. I truly want to understand what facts you have to base this on?

    • Mark says:

      @Deb I have no idea how much voter cheating occurred and whether voter fraud made a significant difference in the election. What I do know is that my neighbor , who moved here 2 years ago, received a mail ballot forwarded from her old address and a ballot from her new address. In addition she received ballots for her 2 grown children who no longer reside in the state. So she voted 4 times. This may be an isolated incident but we can only say we don’t know, without a comprehensive investigation. The lawsuits were only focused on a few swing states. To have confidence in the electoral system we need to study the conditions in all the states and territories that vote in our elections.

    • John K says:

      @Deb Mac Why would both sides of the aisle want fair elections? Both sides only want to win, they do not care how. Do you think it was fair that in 2016 Trump won, possibly due to Russian influence on social media? I am guessing that ‘unfairness’ bothered you greatly. I voted for Biden, but it is fairly obvious to me that with votes by mail, you could easily cast a vote for someone whose bailot was erroneously mailed to you.

    • Claire says:

      @Mark The USPS does not forward ballots in any state.

  83. Alexander says:

    Unfortunately, your hope is in vain as stupidity—and it’s ugly cousin Stone Cold Crazy—are on the rise. It will get worse before it gets better with soup bubbles of wealth, extremism, and industries rising from the core heat—of change—and boiling to the surface till they pop. Something is rotten and it’s not in the state of Denmark. It’s seething and undulating below the surface like the tentacles of some cosmic horror eldritch abomination and most people don’t see it as they are numbed by the variety of addictions on offer. Reasonable and moderate are words for a small minority—if that. Well, I was drowning in a sea of insanity. But now I’m back stroking through chaos as there is nothing that can be done but to wait out the storm. The pendulum swings wide but it will swing back again.

  84. Tien says:

    Wow, another relentlessly invigorating super charged brain food article. Thank you prof G.

  85. Andy says:

    Great article. You properly highlight that both those that loathe government and run social media companies stand to benefit from chaos and disorder. They create a feedback loop where people begin to hate government for its inability to get anything done, or increase their time reading their feed in disbelief and angrily commenting. I wish there were better solutions. If an arsonist burns down a house, we can punish them through the legal system, rather than letting them profit from a reduction in the supply of available houses.

  86. Jeff says:

    Yes! Let’s marry these issues a little more closely and move anyone exhibiting consequentially Stupid behavior to the end of the vaccine line. Start with Elected/Appointed leaders who purposefully mislead a fellow American.

  87. ConorR says:

    Giving Fox a free pass while blaming FB and Twitter is absurd. The stream of liquid manure flowing to people’s living rooms, airports lounges, stores, from Fox is way more influential than the social media. Going after the latter is succumbing to the fallacy of the novel; because it’s new it must be bad. Social media requires a computer and the ability to read. Ask yourself: how many of the Jan 6 mob is comfortable with the printed word?

    • John K says:

      @ConorR Which is further from the Center, CNN to the left or Fox to the right? I vote that it is a tie. And if someone said, ‘ask yourself, how many of the Portland and NYC rioters are comfortable with the printed word’, what would you say about that person? Might as well say that to yourself while looking in the mirror.

  88. Joshua Graham says:

    2 thoughts… First, I usually find a sentence/paragraph or two in these that deeply appeals to me. In this one, I am unable to choose because the whole thing makes sense. Second… agree that you might want to think about a way to monitor or force commenting through a tighter funnel to ensure relevance and balance between expression and vitriol if you are going to get into more overly political content, even from a business POV.

  89. Greg says:

    Wow, Scott. A magnum opus of a post. Thank you.

  90. Cole Inman says:

    Scott, you should just turn off comments or make people post them with Yappa. Every feeling of disgust when stepping away from a session on the internet stems from the comment section (the virus of the internet if you will) and I think there’s huge money in fixing the cesspool (Yappa is a good start, my idea is a Chrome extension that hides all comment sections. I’d rather have all comments hidden and endure advertising.) Unrelated, are you and Kara about to get acquired by Spotify? I usually listen to Pivot and Prof G on Overcast or Apple Podcasts, but the last few episodes’ metadata showed up, but wouldn’t play on either. They play perfectly fine on Spotify! As much as I wish you’d go behind a paywall and offer a Pivot and Prof G rundle, make your cabbage big dawg!

    • zack porter says:

      @coleinman #Podcast Addict app works as a perfect aggregator on your phone. Pivot, Sway, ProfG, All-In, Decoder are all on single home page.

  91. zack porter says:

    Prof Cipolla wrote of The Stupids: “it is an unorganised unchartered group which has no chief, no president, no by-laws and yet manages to operate in perfect unison.” The updated version of his book will need to correct this assertion.

  92. Rob says:

    Good stuff. Please write more about how we can get more vaccines into more people. So important right now. It needs to be our national focus.

  93. Gregg Lewis says:

    thanks for the morning engagement, always learn something from your thoughts and views, regardless of full agreement or not. One thing I’d like to add is that this isn’t just the stupid (whatever that really means). It’s about how we tossed out critical thinking, the primary goal of our earlier last century, liberal arts-based education system — in exchange for the “get a job”/career based one of today. The rise of the MBA along with all its degree title mutations, is the same time chart as Reaganism, Trickle down, Neoconservative, Religious Right, Wealth worship movements, and its own mad mixture of Trumpism (please define that definitively for us while you’re at it). We see what happens when ethics and values are now after thought programs, or reactive ones in universities when they once were a staple of things learned in high school and college. My long way of saying you can be smart and stupid too in today’s world.

  94. Chicken says:

    Good Professor, what hath caused the American institution to fail? Perhaps the Iraq war your friends at the NYtimes sent us into or did Jeffrey Epstein, someone you have crossed paths with die by accident? Pray tell, please oh wise one.

  95. Mike says:

    I love 99% of this essay. It validates what I’ve been thinking as I witness America morphing into a (hopefully) muted version of 1930’s Nazi Germany where propaganda, scapegoating and the big lie won the day. The 1% I didn’t like: “We should eliminate the favorable tax treatment of capital gains…” Remember, there are a large and growing number of seniors who exited the workforce for their own good and for the benefit of the job prospects of the younger generations (does that make us “intelligent?”) whose retirement calculus was based on the favorable tax treatment of capital gains – please don’t amend the rules after our point of no return.

  96. alexander w says:

    Amen. But what of the role of Citizens United in getting an likely keeping us here? Who could have conceived 8 years ago that Mitt Romney would find himself to the right of his party and the only non-enabling Republican in the senate.

  97. MikeC says:

    Ambition = Drive + Health. What we have at this time in history is a toxic ambition of leadership in government and business. Their sick drive is influence and power and their poor health is a total disregard for the wellbeing of people and planet. toxic ambitions kills and destroys the very progress sought. scary times.

  98. Jeff says:

    Agree with a lot of this, but only hacking up one side of the aisle comes off as a political hit piece and misses the larger problem. The Right is having a sobering look in the mirror right now, and hopefully taking their medicine and STFU for a bit. Meanwhile I hear ideologues, university elites and journalists droning on with the same lecturing, China-enriching, woke piety that disgusts many blue-collar types. If you’re gonna be be a voice of moderation (while counting your millions), find the middle – not your middle.

    • Greg says:

      Superb commentary.

    • Mark says:

      On target.

    • Chris Wagner says:

      There is no chance in hell the Right is having “a sobering look in the mirror”. The Right is looking for damage control, for this to blow over until their next shakedown of the Treasury. This is a joke.

    • Matt says:

      100% agree. This is a trend from Scott, and really unfortunate. We need truth tellers more than ever right now, not folks looking to just book appearances on MSNBC

    • Cay says:

      @Chris Wagner The right is pretty universally horrified that this occured.

    • Jeff says:

      @Chris Wagner I’ve got several conservative friends who are pretty disturbed about what happened at the protest. They aren’t ranting, talking heads. I’ve also observed liberals who are wise enough not to see this as an opportunity to “score” or seek vengeance. Hope moderate heads prevail.

  99. louis wi says:

    Well said professor. Thank you for taking the time. the right wing crazies are too far down the rabbit hole for you to have much affect. IMHO…

  100. Thann says:

    Great insight. Thank you!

  101. Dave R. says:

    Well said. The problem starts with the fact that this is a country that asks literally nothing of its citizens, and yet is surprised when people act selfishly. Start with two years of mandatory national service after high school (i.e., community service, military, etc.) require those folks to spend time with others different from themselves, and in return we pay for your college, lifelong training, or the money to start a business. Increase the tax rate to 50% on every dollar over one million, and for those who don’t like the above we facilitate their permanent emigration to another country.

  102. Baron Bar says:

    You really think this can be turned around, don’t you? American persistent optimism. Here is why the American Experiment is in its terminal phase. Read this:

  103. John Sweeney says:

    Well, at least you got the title correct. Let’s hope you get better informed. Right now, you’re not exactly avoiding that Ivory Tower label that will simply make you another of the bewildered “non-stupid” (oy vey!) scratching their heads asking “how did this happen?” Look closer. It’s not the President.

  104. John MacDougall says:

    Right on.

  105. Julie Priestlee says:

    Completely misses the point. I didn’t see this “Stupid” moniker when BLM crowds were quite a bit more literally destroying cities. This polarization in the US runs deep, and it may be more helpful to understand what the angst is about than to perpetually denigrate it as deplorable or stupid. From a policy perch, the only stupidity is visible in ivory towers of the likes of NYC. This oblivious little missive is a good spotlight on what’s wrong with the country.

    • John MacDougall says:

      On the contrary, Ms. Priestlee. It was pretty much spot on and perhaps you thought it was pointed at you. Your false hyperbole and “whataboutism” is a CAUSE of the polarization. To equate the BLM protests and the domestic terrorism we witnessed at the Capitol is ludicrous. The BLM protests were legitimately in response to 200 years of being murdered and violently oppressed. That tends to cause some of the real “angst” you speak of, and rightly so. What were the people who broke into the Capitol protesting other than the completely delusional idea that the election had been “stolen” from them. This is the height of STUPIDITY on SO many different levels. First, they think Trump is their savior when, in reality, he doesn’t give a fuck about them. And yes, the election was stolen from them – buy the voters and democracy. But see, when you’re in a CULT, reality doesn’t matter. Only you’re stupidity matters. And it makes life hard and worse for the rest of us. I believe the property in Guyana where Jonestown was is still available. Trump should buy it, (name it Trumptown of course) and he and all his followers can move down there (with a large cache of lemonade, of course) and live in Shangri-la. —- So yes, STUPID.

    • Mark says:

      @John MacDougall Ignorant Republicans Riot And Don’t Even Get Any Big-Screen TVs WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ignorant Republicans rioted yesterday but didn’t even snag any free big-screen TVs out of the deal, sources at the Capitol Building reported

    • Henry Hayes says:

      Group A believes: Black Americans encounter systemic racism, one symptom of which is being on the receiving end of higher levels of police violence = objectively true Group B believes: The election was stolen = objectively false Group A engages in a series of almost entirely protests around the country, with some episodes of violence and destruction of property. The police react seriously to this, at times with excessive force. Group B, at the direction of the president, hoping to overturn the results of a legitimate election, storm the halls of government to disrupt the certification of the election of the new president. They do so largely unimpeded by a police force who seem to be sympathetic to their cause, despite the literal telegraphing of their intent in the months leading up to the event. Julie Priestlee, I believe you are the ‘stupid’ Scott was referring to in his article.

    • Rebecca Gremore says:

      @John MacDougall And WHATABOUT the Antifa terrorists who attacked and assaulted and terrorized the attendees leaving the White House this summer after the Republican national mention? The Capitol was a set up and the group infiltrated by Antifa or other actors and operators. A minuscule minority in comparison to the million people Estimated to of been there by Bernie Kerik, the former police commissioner of New York City. Democrats play dirty and they’ve always play dirty. And I wrote this post without having to use any ad hominem.

    • james a fitzpatrick says:

      Julie you lovely, lovely woman, keep it up. John MacDougall you leave her be you feckless, ummm, ummm, scott help me with the right words here… stupid person?

  106. Mary Ann McGrail says:

    Always appreciate your insights. Thank you.

    • Julie Priestlee says:

      Of course, when life is “rich”. For half the country suffering this kind of diatribes are completely pointless.

    • DAVE says:

      @Julie Priestlee Life can be rich regardless of your current status. Bitterness is a way of life. I feel sorry for you.

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