Left and Right: Please Meet in the Center Our Survival Depends on It

Over the last decade, the alt-right infiltrated the Republican Party infecting all the way into what was once the center right. Church ladies and working class moms are now liberal-hating, anti-immigrant, socialist fearing, non-existent ‘deep state’ fearing, government hating, anti-democratic pro-autocratic fascists believing somehow that their seditious behavior is patriotic. They are unknowing victims of the misinformation and propaganda of right-wing media that spews lies and false fear, and they, unbelievably and uncharacteristically, now vote in concert with white supremacists, neo- Nazis, and anti-government militias! The world turned upside down! Sadly, this worldview benefits the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary people. People are voting against themselves.

This alt-right information (disguised as legitimate news) takeover of Republican ideology explains how people I know and respect could vote for and support Trump. Answering that question was the impetus for this blog. My Republican friends and acquaintances are acting on false fears and a false perception that all government is bad. They see government as the “other” and not us, we the people. They see themselves as disgruntled outsiders instead of debaters willing to compromise. They are voting for the dismantling of our government at the expense of our democracy. Once the people give up their democracy, it gives way to plutocracy which is rule by a few really rich Americans who have no idea what it means or what it is like to be an ordinary American. It will no longer be government by we the people for the people. Unfortunately, any facts or truths that counter their alt-right views are seen as leftist lies and quickly dismissed leaving no room for discussion and understanding.

America has changed and is changing culturally and economically causing great uncertainty for many. This unease led some to search for its cause, and their feelings were affirmed in the grievance politics of right-wing media. They long to return to their fictional ideal of America as a white, Christian, straight, male dominated society. In their mind, all of our problems can be blamed on immigrants, other races, other religions, atheists, feminists and the LGBTQ+ community. In reality, this aggregate of American people has always existed ever since the first Europeans set foot on the American continent. Its just that white, Christian, straight males were allowed to usurp the rights of everyone else in America for a really long time. As we, as a society, evolved socially, emotionally and scientifically we, rightly, granted civil and human rights to all our citizens, not just a privileged few. Diversity is hard, but shouldn’t be feared. However, a functioning democracy is absolutely needed to successfully navigate a society that honors the civil and human rights of all. And, we can only do this together.

Rather than blaming people who are different for our changing circumstances, we need to look at the bigger forces of change. Globalization, automation, self-isolation of the upper-middle class from the rest of America, anti-union sentiments and the lack of livable wages for essential workers are the real cause of our uncertainty. The only way to change this is for the middle and working classes to vote as one, but this won’t happen as long as the Republican/billionaire/Christian nationalists conglomeration feeds half of us misinformation in order to steal the power and wealth of the nation for themselves. Trickle-down economics have proven not to work over the past 40 years. It’s time for everyday Americans to be paid their worth on the front end instead of accepting what’s leftover. I don’t know what it will take to unify us when over 73 million people voted for the greatest threat to democracy ever for a second term as President.

Together we became the greatest country and greatest democracy the word has ever known, divided we will be sure to fall. About a decade ago, our right leaning friends made a hard right and wrongly demonized not only far-left and left-leaning Democrats but those in the middle too. The vast majority of Democrats are not socialist, we are just hard working patriots trying to provide for our families, just like you. Our division only benefits the ultra wealthy and our adversaries. We need livable wages, affordable healthcare and housing, and investment in infrastructure and education through a functional government not tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation that puts us all at risk. The economy will flourish with well paid workers, who will spend now and save for the future. The democracy will fail if economic inequality continues to grow unchecked. If we lose our democracy to a plutocracy, we will lose our rights as citizens and the ability to protect our individual economic futures. We need to vote together and we need to vote to protect ordinary Americans and their livelihoods. Please come back! Together, we can do this!

Please get your news from a neutral source (AP, NPR News, CBS News, and BBC News), and not from social media replete with unsourced opinions and made up memes that very well may be from China, Russia or Iran or from opinion shows with celebrity hosts using unsubstantiated fear tactics and conspiracy theories to boost their ratings. Their declaration that mainstream media is “fake news” keeps their followers from real fact checking allowing them to spread dangerous falsehoods to make millions at the cost of the truth. Our constitution grants them freedom of speech without censorship, but it is our responsibility as citizens to discern the truth. Learn to identify the propaganda techniques and lies being used to undermine real truth. Come back to the middle so we can work things out. Lies are dividing us and destroying America! Let’s work together!

Trump Opened My Eyes to the Deep Deep Lies

The election of Trump led me to look closer at the modern conservative movement. I found that Pro-Trump people had a completely different set of “facts” or “truths” than me. I was appalled by Trump’s immorality, ineptitude and autocratic behavior, while they saw him as the savior of American values. We were living in two different worlds. First, I noticed some unusual opinions or actions in others. Then I explored where these other views were being seen or heard. Then I discovered the source of these views and the underlying motivations. Surprisingly, Trump was not the source of the message, he was just the messenger. The fact that he was so brutish and un-clever in delivering it, made me sit up and take notice and to search for what was wrong. My search began with individuals, and then through right-wing radio, Fox “entertainment” News, and finally onto billionaires, the Christian Right and Republican operatives. Not where I expected to end up.

Back around 2010 a co-worker came to work like chicken little proclaiming that Obama was instituting Marshall law! I hadn’t heard that on my news station. When I looked into it, I found that every President reviews the plan once a year and this is what was reported, a review not an implementation. This person had said other odd things that didn’t fit in to my worldview, for instance, saying shareholders are more important than stakeholders, an unexpected anti-working class stance from a worker. I didn’t understand that point of view. Later, a waitress made an anti-immigrant comment when she saw that I was reading I Am Malala. That was shocking. Then I found myself on the totally opposite side of the political spectrum with a friend whom I thought I had a lot in common with. These are just three examples of my encounters with people living inside an alternate news reality.

I knew about right-wing AM radio shows with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, but saw them as fringe and not mainstream, appealing mostly to working class white males. Little did I know that these shows were creating and building the basis of a liberal-hating, anti-intellectual force that would eventually be visually crafted and disseminated to the masses by Fox News who was only in it for the money.

According to Tobin Smith, 14 year Fox News veteran contributor, “Roger Ailes and Fox News… got rich scamming…” Americans and selling out the soul of America. Fox News culture was focused on hating the liberal elites and all Democrats. Ailes scripted the shows to create an us versus them universe in an addictive professional wrestling format in which the Fow News show host scares and manipulates the viewers with outrageous claims before tearing the “…smug condescending know-it-all East Coast Liberals to pieces.” Smith continues, Fox created an “entertainment product of political/military/economic news and opinion that by careful design and staging… manipulated… (and ultimately addicted) people to the most powerful drug cocktail ever: Visceral gut feelings of existential outrage relieved by the most powerful emotions of all… the thrill of your tribe’s victory over its enemy and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.” The trusting Fox News fans do not understand that in the Fox partisan performance art programming (aka propaganda-like), the outcomes of the ‘panel debates’ have ALWAYS been carefully fixed (a staged scam) so that the home team (the conservatives) ALWAYS win and win on the side of justice. “Just like pro-wrestling, the panel opinion programs are carefully staged and choreographed… so the home team always wins over the poor pathetic (often fake democratic strategist analysts) ‘libtard.’ The Fox tag line “Fair and Balanced” is in reality “Fear and Unbalanced.” Ailes “…knew it was easy to manipulate fear and loathing…” in the viewers due to “…their endless desire to confirm the righteousness of their right-wing tribalism.” He knew “…they would NEVER see the Big Lie perpetrated every day to them by Fox News.” Fox fools people into believing they are watching a “fair fight,” and they don’t want to confuse everybody with a lot of facts and statistics. Fox News insulates their audience “…from opposing views – in part, by continually denouncing the mainstream media as liberal, biased and not to be trusted.” Viewers have lost touch with the non Fox reality. Many viewers believe that higher education destroys people as they (Fox viewers) consume a daily diet of right-wing fury, that is erroneously labeled as “news.” Ailes “…perpetrated the biggest TV scam ever.”

Many consumers of Fox News and right-wing media are pro-business, pro-small government and pro-deregulation while being anti-union, anti-public school, anti-intellectual, anti-expertise, anti-civil rights, anti-gay rights, anti-women’s rights, anti-pluralism and anti-multiculturalism. It seems like ordinary people are counter-intuitively giving up their rights to big business and corporations. Sadly, this modern “conservative movement” has been funded by a small group of billionaires to promote Republican, fossil fuel, financial, chemical and Christian nationalists causes. In fact, this handful of billionaires secretly funded the, so called, “grassroots” Tea Party movement.

Author, Anne Nelson, writes in Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, that there is “…a small group of archconservatives (American billionaires) who realized that the tides of history had turned against them.” As increasing numbers of people of color, immigrants, “queer” people and atheists were “poised” to become a “decisive majority,” the archconservatives “…believed that their policy priorities would fail at the ballot.” To counter this, “…the media of the Christian Right, the finances of western plutocrats and the strategy of right-wing Republican political operatives…” joined forces. They have “…effectively taken over the country.” They have been enormously effective at lowering taxes and eliminating regulations that help them to the detriment of everyday Americans.

Scott Stern writes that “…the rise of the far-right is the result of a deliberate organizing effort by a small coterie of uber-wealthy industrialists and financiers;” ….their motivation is “…greed of such a scale and an intensity that it led them to take a wrecking ball to the most beneficent American institutions; to destroy any lingering shred of independence within the media or judiciary; and literally let the world burn-so long as they got much richer,” (newrepublic.com “How Powerful is the Shadow Network” 2/19/2020). Stern continues that this small group of billionaires “…powered the modern conservative movement and have taken over the Republican Party.” This conservative movement is top down not bottom up as it may seem. The rise of authoritarianism and the government’s unwillingness to address climate change is caused by these few individuals who have “…set the world on fire in order to make more money.” Stern continues, “…Trump’s team effectively sold their campaign to hedge fund billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer (who actually backed Ted Cruz first), who bank rolled the failing operation in exchange for control over its messaging and ideological orientation.” Was Putin and Russia just a distraction from the real string pullers?

Also, “The Council for National Policy (who’s members are archconservative billionaires and Christian Nationalists) founded vast media empires that blanket airwaves in the Bible Belt and plains states. They control hundreds of stations (Salem Media Group, Botto Radio Network and American Family Radio) in 46 states in places where CBS, NBC, ABC and NPR coverage is sparse” (Nelson). These stations are pro-life, anti-gay, anti-Islam, pro-business/deregulation and climate science deniers. They are conservative platforms that demonize liberals and Democrats.

This small group of uber-wealthy archconservatives have funneled billions to support conservative candidates effectively controlling the conservative message and implementing anti-democratic policies. This was illegal before the passing of Citizens United. Therefore, Citizens United must be overturned and strict campaign reform must be implemented in order to restore a fair democracy.

Due to the growing diversity of the United States, white people will soon no longer be the majority. This demographic change makes it difficult for Republicans to win office and they have resorted to gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics instead of developing a platform that would win more voters. The billionaire funded right-wing message is that liberals are evil corrupt socialists that will destroy America. They use this false fear to win over ordinary folk convincing them that small government, reducing taxes and eliminating regulations are good for America. These things are not good because healthcare, education, infrastructure, environmental and consumer protections, livable wages and worker safety are all dependent on a well funded functional government. The only winners are the billionaires at the expense of everyone else. They are no longer vested in protecting our democracy, not if it includes everyone!

My questioning and bewilderment began with a few offhanded comments from a few ordinary people. Then the immigrant-hating escalator ride, the mocking of a disabled reporter, the grade school vocabulary and name calling and finally “good people on both sides” in response to tiki torch carrying white nationalists in Charlottesville focused my attention on “how can people I know and respect support this President?” As I tried to answer this question, I found an alternate information bubble where these character flaws were either dismissed or seen as behaviors of a powerful leader who is above “norms,” rather than as a self-serving, incompetent, destroyer of democracy seen outside the bubble. This antithetical worldview seems angry, anti-intellectual, anti-common good and anti-average people, a worldview that doesn’t benefit, but actually harms, the people who hold it. Next, my search uncovered a small cabal of billionaires, Christian Nationalists and Republican operatives who funded and message-controlled the alternate universe bubble and this president in order to fool voters into giving up their power which is embedded in our democracy. Billionaires want reduced taxes and deregulation, Christian Nationalist want to impose their religious interpretation on everyone else and Republicans want power. Together, they created an alternate information bubble to steal power, money and control from their fellow Americans, from us! They have turned us against each other! I fear that most people inside the bubble will dismiss what I found as lies from the left. But, we have to work together because divided we fall. We have to recognize that this division is caused by those who will benefit by it. Their benefit comes at our collective cost. The powerful cabal is trying to trick us into losing faith in our democracy so it can be replaced by their all powerful plutocracy.

Republicans no longer hold democracy sacred and are knowingly or unwittingly carrying out the bidding of the plutocrats. The lies within the bubble imbue unrealistic fear of the evil, socialist, Democrats. Even, otherwise well-educated, intelligent and decent people like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and William Barr, have demeaned themselves by repeating the lies and denying the truth. Either they’ve shut off their minds or their belief in the righteousness of their cause permits them to lie. In their mind, these falsely demonized Democrats threaten their very existence and fighting them excuses bad, immoral behavior on their part. Graham, McConnell, Jordan, Nunes, and Gaetz are just a few of the others who have fallen into this pit. They are so deep into the lie that they can’t even come to the table to govern effectively. Nearly 80,000,000 voters elected a President who has a history of working across the aisle, so maybe there is hope. Seek the truth. Know who is controlling and funding your bubble, why, and at what cost…

This journey opened my eyes! Am I being too cynical if I think that the billionaires directed Trump’s failed response to the pandemic because they would not mind having minorities, the poor, those with underlying conditions and the elderly dying off from the coronavirus?

History of the Right-Wing Bubble

Sometime during or after the 1970s, the Democrats left the working class behind as they began to favor those with college degrees over those without, thinking that as everyone became better educated the playing field would level. But, they overlooked essential workers, vocational programs and apprenticeships. The right did the same thing by over rewarding the entrepreneur at the expense of the workers.

Legislators on both sides began to favor big business with tax cuts and deregulation at the expense of the working class, everyone’s safety and the environment. This resulted in the undermining of labor unions, lower wages and decreases in benefits including healthcare and pensions. There were just fewer good paying jobs after that.

The American promise used to be that if you were willing to work hard and do the right things, you would be respected and financially sound. When this promise was no longer kept, people wanted to know why. They began to blame minorities, immigrants, free trade, globalization and the liberal elite while overlooking the consequences of automation. These aggrieved and disenfranchised Americans found their feelings affirmed in right-wing media which provided them with a villain, the “liberal elite Democrats,” even though, the right was just as complicit in the anti-working class legislation and the detrimental policies that have been implemented.

The consumers of right-wing media are taught to hate liberals who are, of course, scary socialists who want to destroy the country, and, conversely, to uphold, so-called, conservative values that are, of course, the very definition of American patriotism. What is liberalism and conservatism in reality? Liberalism advocates freedom of the individual, governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties, nonviolent modification of political, social or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor. Conservatism endeavors to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change and maybe to even go backwards.

As our society became more diverse than ever, and that diversity is necessary for our economic growth, voters were more likely to be Democrats. Instead of trying to win these voters over, the Republicans engaged in voter suppression, gerrymandering and creating a false narrative of conspiracy theories demonizing the left. This is nothing new.

The right has been demonizing the left for more than 70 years. It has inaccurately accused the left of being socialists, communists and “Antifa” today and just pure evil in an attempt to stop change, change that is dictated by advancing scientific knowledge and the social/emotional evolution of human beings, change that is necessary to stay viable on the world stage. In the 1980s, the religious right joined in declaring secularism as the enemy as the right opposed abortion, gay rights and feminism.

The right has convinced itself that the left is so evil that it justifies extreme behavior (lying to their constituents) on their part. It seems that their only purpose is to fight evil liberals not real policies and governance. Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and other right-wing sources have created this information bubble of falsehoods to assemble a base of Republican voters who are believing the lies and who don’t see the dangers to our democracy as we are being pulled into an autocracy or plutocracy.

Historically, the right was against the New Deal, Medicare, tolerance, civil rights, women’s rights and Brown v. BOE, while supporting anti-semitism, segregation and white supremacy. For the most part, the current Republican administration has only given tax cuts to the wealthy and packed the courts with conservative judges, while hundreds of proposed bills that would help ordinary Americans sit idle on McConnell’s desk. Compromise and governance has been replaced with hate and paralysis.

This right-wing bubble created the space for the rise of Donald Trump and the cult of personality that developed around his “brand” which is based in lies. His campaign of lies and hate got my attention, and then his continued lies and attacks as President led me to wonder how anyone could support him. Outside the bubble, the ineptitude, immorality and corruption is downright existentially frightening. Several of my friends have entered this bubble of propaganda. The creators of this bubble are motivated by self-interest, money and power, not in a fair system of governance.

We need to work together to make our country great. We need to honor all work and value everyone by respecting all and paying livable wages that keep up with the cost of living. We need to recognize trigger words that instill unnecessary fear. For instance, “socialism” is government ownership of production and nobody is talking about that! The right is simply using the word “socialism” to scare you and keep you from seriously looking at policies that will benefit everyone. Please give the new administration a chance and question your sources. Most of us are centrist, just average hardworking folks who want the best for our families. We are not enemies, we are fellow Americans.

Trumpism: Here to stay with or without Trump?

These are my takeaways from the Wikipedia article “Trumpism.”

Primarily, Trumpism is the political ideology of Donald Trump and its primary focus is acquiring and keeping power as President. He used a version of right-wing conservatism and national populism to gather a constituency to win the election as advised by Steve Bannon.

The followers of Trumpism are reacting to the global economy that has created growing social and economic inequality. They have been disenfranchised and blame it on the established elites who serve neoliberal economics and globalism. They want to be free of the perceived constraints placed on them by these elites and, as a result, oppose the established political establishment and they have lost confidence in the government and the media. They find affirmation of their grievances in right-wing media (who greatly profit from this unrest), conservatism and the religious right.

Trumpism is not traditional Republicanism. Abraham Lincoln Republicanism supported free trade, immigration, equality, checks and balances in federal government, and in the separation of church and state, while Trumpism rests on the three pillars of nationalism, religion and race. The once collegial, issue-driven party has become an aggressive partisanship that is okay with “the best strategy is to play hardball even if it means being unfair.” Trumpism is anti-allies and pro-autocrats.

Trump rallies have a rhetorical pattern that is common within authoritarian movements.

1. Elicit a sense of depression, humiliation, and victimhood.

2. Vividly identify an enemy causing the perceived problems, promote paranoid conspiracy theories to inflame emotions of fear and anger.

3. The final message is a cathartic release of crowd pent up energy and salvation is at hand because the powerful leader will deliver the nation back to glory.

The collective contagion unites the crowd into a near religious frenzy reducing members to barbaric, if not subhuman, levels of consciousness with mindless, lawless goals, reducing participants into an “us versus them” mentality. They are very receptive to fake and misleading statements presented as facts.

Trump is seen as autocratic, but he is actually plutocratic which is government by the wealthy. Typically and sadly, plutocrats are often incompetent. He has complete disregard for the current political system, and the support he received from the Republican Party is dangerous to democracy. His only concern is power and enriching himself.

Sadly, movements like Trumpism dupe their followers into perpetuating their misery and preparing them for further movement towards an illiberal form of government meaning sacrificing our democracy and governing for the people by the people. Giant tax cuts to the ultra wealthy, deregulation that compromises our environment and our safety and the destruction of labor unions only hurts the people that are supporting it.

Trumpism took advantage of the changing times. Instead of working for the common good, the upper class has taken control and convinced average people to vote against themselves.

Trumpian nationalism is not the answer to complex political, economic and social problems since this all happens in a global environment. We need to support a working government where compromise and balance create a system that works for all. We need to heal and leave Trumpism behind.