• scottforbes

America’s Political Paradigm Shift

Hello and Happy New Year.

In this post I'm sharing an academic paper that I’ve summarized below.  I think it does an exceptional job of describing the political divide in society today, and why (and frankly why this is not just contained to the US--e.g., BREXIT in the UK and the Yellow Vest Movement in France).  The recently published paper is titled “America’s Political Paradigm Shift,” by Rachel Wyman, of King’s College, University of London.  The author is a language/linguistics researcher, so the paper is 500 pages long and very data analytics heavy, looking at the use of language in speeches, debates, etc., across presidencies.  


I’ve been interested for some time in how symbolism and language and its structure, cadence of presentation, etc., are used to communicate to and influence a population of people, as well as to share messages amongst those that understand what is being said and why we "normal" people don’t (aka "hidden languages and meaning").

The author says that we are in the midst of a paradigm (thought/mind) shift in this country and "one that is misunderstood on an international scale.”  "More and more people in the US are not trusting the systems of society, like the financial system, government, politicians, and the news media.”  The author says this paradigm shift, or any, is particularly painful for society—as change is very hard for the majority.  "This (the paradigm shift) is mentally arduous for those experiencing it because it concerns the re-ordering of a subject’s reality.  This process of mental de-stabilization is also reflected within the institutions that have been most integral to the creation and promotion of the old, existing paradigm."


This paradigm shift is why it seems that people are experiencing different “realities” and fail to agree on many topics.  It’s why some hang onto what is said by the "old" news media and politicians as their truths, when others don’t, question what they are being told, and then seek alternative sources for their truths.  It’s why we see such profound differences between what people believe is true, even amongst family members.  In short the author says, “The current political paradigm shift is a result of a greater consciousness shift unfolding within the United States today, and while a destabilizing time of transition, this is also a period of transformation and great hope.” This is such an important point to understand. While many are transforming their way of thinking and in what they believe, there is extreme resistance to this change from many others. This is not at all a statement of right versus wrong, but simply that people participating in this paradigm shift are changing their perceptions of reality and in particular their trust of the systems of society.

The author says  “And yet due to the nature of how slowly paradigm shifts may occur, millions of Americans also continue to support the establishment system, continuing to hope for reform...adhering to the mainstream media narrative in which Trump is deserving of a swift impeachment.”  "For a segment of society looking to Trump for change, the failure of the old paradigm—Bushes, Clinton, through Obama--is causing widespread anger and despair.  As said, these individuals simply represent a system that many believe is corrupt, and has been some too long. The result is a rupture within American society which can currently be seen in the staggering divides that are growing along political party, cultural, geographical, religious and ideological lines.”


The effect is of this paradigm shift will not be known for a long time, and we know that the pendulum can certainly swing back, and has over time. The 2020 Presidential election in the US will be a good indication of whether it's contained or gaining in momentum and numbers.


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The abstract of the paper follows and then the paper’s introduction section.

“As representatives of the government, U.S. politicians are tasked with inciting and sustaining the American people’s belief in the system. Their speeches work to reinforce the policy trajectories and ideologies that construct the political paradigms which may last, across presidencies, for decades. This thesis describes and analyses how Barack Obama utilized his presidency to sustain the last great political paradigm to grip America – that of the globalist ‘New World Order’ project (1990 – 2017) established in America under George H. W. Bush – and how he ultimately failed when Donald Trump successfully challenged this paradigm, most markedly within his 2016 presidential debate performance against opponent Hillary Clinton. Utilizing an innovative mixed- methods research design combining corpus linguistics and qualitative coding with argument reconstruction-based critical discourse analysis, this study employs advanced methods to illuminate the complex ways in which political rhetoric is used to sustain institutional power over extended periods of time. A new research approach, based on the analysis of complex argument trajectories through critical comparison and the identification of linguistic patterns, is additionally introduced and applied to examine longterm political policy trajectories as well as the conflicting mainstream and alternative media narratives currently being produced in reference to the political and economic sectors. The results of this study show that the Obama administration’s inability to produce an even economic recovery despite the doubling of the national debt, the failure of the Affordable Care Act and the White House’s covert funding of the Caliphate in Syria have resulted in a severe degree of corrosion in the population’s belief in institutional power, a decline that largely began under George W. Bush due to the fallout from the 2003 Iraq War and the 2007-2008 Great Recession. Largely as a result, a general paradigm shift has been triggered and is manifesting among the American people; this shift is now being narrated by a new alternative media sector – which includes ‘QAnon’ – which is introducing and promoting political, economic, and occult-based theories such as New World Order Theory, Deep State Theory and Global Oligarchy Theory, which heavily influenced Trump’s successful election campaign. This situation is having a profound effect on the nation as it additionally concerns a broader scientific shift out of the materialist construct of ‘reality’ which has defined the globalist model and into a quantum-based ontological construct; this new model broadly overlaps with the view of reality upheld within the spiritual and religious systems which have traditionally defined the belief structures of the American people. In short, the current political paradigm shift is a result of a greater consciousness shift unfolding within the United States today, and while a destabilizing time of transition, this is also a period of transformation and great hope.“

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This is from the Introduction section of the paper.

“On Tuesday, November 8 , 2016, one of the most shocking political events in modern American history occurred: businessman and reality television star Donald Trump won the Presidential election, defeating Hillary Clinton, one of Washington’s most powerful political insiders. This event ushered in a severe power shift within the U.S. government and evidence of this shift can currently be seen in the period of instability that has followed President Trump’s inauguration.

The Trump election is a widely and deeply misunderstood event, particularly on an international scale. While there are a myriad of reasons for this – most visibly the American mainstream media’s exclusive support for Hillary Clinton – one factor stands out among the rest as having played a crucial role in both the election and in the world’s subsequent alarm and confusion over it. This factor is the occurrence of a paradigm shift which is materializing among the general population in America, one which the outside world is largely unaware of both the existence and complexity of. Triggered by the fallout from the 2003 Iraq War and the 2007-2008 Great Recession, this is a shift that is defined by a collapse of belief among the population in the nation’s oldest institutions, most markedly the financial sector and the mainstream media, along with the overall de-legitimization of the government as a whole. Originating among the American people, it has been fueled and defined by the creation of a complex alternative media apparatus, the role of which has been indispensable to the Trump movement, constructing the foundation for both the Trump campaign and his debate performance in America’s most important pre-election event: the Presidential debates. Following Trump’s election it became clear that the shift occurring among the population had come to be reflected within the political sphere, resulting in the now currently unfolding political paradigm shift which has so greatly stunned the world. A great deal of the shock felt in the aftermath of the 2016 election is due to a general lack of perception concerning how America is changing today. The effects of the new paradigm and its implementation among segments of the population – and not among others – is having a highly de-stabilizing impact on society. There are two major reasons for this. Firstly, paradigm shifts are noted to involve a process of cognitive reorientation as the ideas that had become normalized in a society, structuring the belief systems of the population, begin to radically change (Kuhn 2012; Hay 2007). This is mentally arduous for those experiencing it because it concerns the re-ordering of a subject’s reality. This process of mental de-stabilization is also reflected within the institutions that have been most integral to the creation and promotion of the old, existing paradigm; their decline is a part of the paradigm shift and the witnessing of this decline is additionally traumatic for the people. Secondly, paradigm shifts are de-stabilizing because they occur over significant periods of time (Geddes & Guiraudon 2007: 334). While key events such as the Iraq War and the Great Recession caused large numbers of people to lose faith in the political system, triggering and accelerating the shift, it has been slowly materializing for decades, a consequence of what is perceived to be the corrosion of American democracy and a heightening level of corruption within high levels of government. As America has grown into what is perceived by much of the population to now be more of a corporatocracy and/or oligarchy than a healthy democracy – and scientific studies are beginning to confirm this (Gilens & Page 2014) – much of the general population has come to distrust and distain Washington and the system as a whole, viewing it as unconstitutional and working fully in the service of an elite class, as evidenced in the nation’s staggering rate of inequality. It is not a coincidence that both Barack Obama and Donald Trump successfully won the Presidency with campaigns in which they promised to fight for change, vowing to challenge “the entrenched special interests of the status quo” (in Obama’s case) and promising to “drain the swamp” (in Trump’s case). And yet due to the nature of how slowly paradigm shifts may occur, millions of Americans also continue to support the establishment system, continuing to hope for reform. Adhering to the mainstream media narrative in which Trump is deserving of a swift impeachment, for this segment of society the failure of the old paradigm is causing widespread anger and despair. The result is a rupture within American society which can currently be seen in the staggering divides that are growing along political party, cultural, geographical, religious and ideological lines. While the paradigm shift’s main triggering events occurred under the Presidency of George W. Bush and the Trump election is largely a consequence of this shift, it is the Presidency of Barack Obama that is most vital to examine when considering the role that politicians play in creating, developing and sustaining the paradigms that come to have an immense effect on the lives of the citizens and in America’s case, the lives of the world’s population as a whole. The ideas that become normalized within paradigms are largely conceptualized by the powerholders within a society in the political sphere and introduced and molded within the arguments and speeches that elite politicians such as Presidents make. These ideas underpin, justify and incite support for the political actions that determine world events; analysis of these speeches is therefore critical in determining not only how paradigms are created and sustained over time but additionally, how they fail. Obama began his first term in office facing the formidable task of sustaining an existing paradigm that was in a state of crisis, with the system he had been elected to lead rapidly becoming de-legitimized in the eyes of the people. His ultimate failure and the end of the paradigm in which he played such a vital role, is one of the most pivotal events in modern American history and one which has yet to be understood or analyzed in sufficient depth. This thesis investigates America’s last great political paradigm through the speeches of the final President to support it along with how the underlying ideas that acted as its foundation came to be defeated in the 2016 Presidential debates, resulting in the rise of a new era in American politics.” 

© 2020 by Scott Forbes