Tuesday, August 09, 2022


This seems to be the most common right-wing response to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago:

Do liberals think like this? I don't remember any ordinary citizens responding to the Monica Lewinsky scandal by saying, "That guy had sex in a room just off the Oval Office and now they're persecuting him. This could happen to me, too!" When they went after Hillary Clinton because they thought she was personally responsible for Benghazi, Democratic voters didn't say, "The next time Americans are killed at a diplomatic outpost overseas, they'll probably blame me!"

But for years conservatism has been like one of those rock and roll fantasy camps where you get to play rhythm guitar with washed-up fifth-rate rock musicians and imagine that you're a big star. The gun community has been selling fantasies of power and importance for years, telling gun owners that they're personally keeping freedom alive in America, when all they actually want to do is drink beer and shoot cans off a fencepost.

Tucker Carlson routinely tells his audience that the day's news is a dire threat to you.

Use the Fear, Tuck.

Donald Trump uses this formula as well. We think his appeal is that ordinary people believe he's really just like them, only rich and powerful -- a "blue-collar billionaire." But looked at another way, the Trump message isn't so much about Trump being as ordinary as his fans as it is about the fans being as world-historically important as he is. That's what got them to the Capitol on January 6. That's what leads them to demand 2020 election audits conducted by people like themselves. In the context of QAnon and vaccine skepticism, it's what inspires them to boast, "I do my own research." They see themselves as heroes of their own story. In the Tea Party era, they used to wear tricorn hats and imagine themselves as soldiers of the American Revolution. They give themselves names that suggest hero status: Oath Keepers, for instance, or Three Percenters (from the belief that "During the American Revolution, the active forces in the field against the King's tyranny never amounted to more than 3% of the colonists").

In fact, they're being manipulated for the benefit of someone else -- Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, billionaire GOP donors. But they always fall for the fantasy.

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