Tuesday, July 26, 2022


Paul Krugman writes this about right-wing beliefs in 2022:
What I don’t think is fully appreciated ... is that the Big Lie is embedded in an even bigger lie: the claim that the Democratic Party is controlled by radical leftists aiming to destroy America as we know it....

The other day The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, reporting from the campaign trail, noted that many Republican candidates are claiming that Democrats are deliberately undermining the nation and promoting violence against their opponents; some are even claiming that we’re already in a civil war.

Some (many?) of these candidates have been winning primaries, suggesting that the G.O.P. base agrees with them.
He's right -- the base absolutely believes this. The base thinks high gas prices are caused by Democratic policies intended to force an end to the use of fossil fuels. It thinks liberal approaches to policing and bail are meant to cause increases in crime. It believes that border crossings by undocumented immigrants are a Democratic scheme to change the makeup of the U.S. population. There are similar nefarious schemes in the area of foreign policy, right-wingers will insist.

So why do right-wingers think Democrats are saboteurs? I think it starts with two words uttered on the campaign trail by Barack Obama in the fall of 2008.

On October 30, 2008, a few days before Election Day, Barack Obama spoke at a rally in Columbia, Missouri. He said:
After decades of broken politics in Washington, and eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush, and 21 months of a campaign that's taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.
I've highlighted the two words that broke right-wing America's brains.

Now, what did Obama mean by that? He went on to say:
In five days, you can turn the page on policies that put greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street.

In five days, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class, and create new jobs, and grow this economy, so that everyone has a chance to succeed, not just the CEO, but the secretary and janitor, not just the factory owner, but the men and women on the factory floor.

In five days, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election, that tries to pit region against region, and city against town, and Republican against Democrat, that asks -- asks us to fear at a time when we need to hope.

In five days, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need.
This is standard Democratic talk. But the notion that Obama wanted to fundamentally transform America became a right-wing shibboleth, a short-hand way of saying he wanted to tear it out of the ground root and branch and replace it with something strange, non-European, socialist, multi-racial, and probably gay.

So on the radio in 2010, Glenn Beck said:
I'm going to give you a hard concept to get your arms around: It's the concept that there are people in this country who want to intentionally collapse our economic system.

How could it be that any American would or would want to do such a thing? Well, those involved sleep just fine at night because they tell themselves that they're not collapsing, they're transforming — transforming — America into something better.

... as we discuss this, keep in mind that you're watching all of this through your eyes; you see this as trying to collapse our economy. But progressives see this as a fundamental transformation — something better than we've ever had — as promised by Barack Obama...
In 2015, right-wing radio host Mark Levin said:
... when somebody says they want to fundamentally transform America, well, then you must not love America. It’s like saying I’m going to fundamentally transform my wife, or my girlfriend, that means you must not love your wife or your girlfriend. And Obama has shown no indication that he loves the Constitution. He never talks about capitalism. He’s always bringing up the past. He’s always picking at scabs. Even now he’s a patsy for Islamic terrorism. Half of his speeches are about how terrible America is and America shouldn’t react in [a] negative way.
Joe Biden is president now and Barack Obama has been retired for years, but the right is still using this phrase -- in part because many on the right believe that Obama and his former aides are secretly controlling the Biden White House from afar. Here's a Glenn Beck Facebook post from a couple of weeks after Joe Biden's inaugural. Note the caption:

Here's Senator Ron Johnson on Twitter a couple of weeks ago:

Here's Sarah Palin talking about the Biden presidency:
“It’s purposeful,” said former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who is running in next month’s special election for the state’s sole House seat, in an interview with former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon. “It’s all about the fundamental transformation of America. You only fundamentally transform something for which you have disdain.”
Obama's Blackness and (in their eyes) foreign-ness made them crazy, and even with Biden in the White House, they're still that way.

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