Common Symbology Before Common Ideology

This is part of a new series of blog posts produced as I write my doctoral thesis-slash-book about conservative media influencers, technology, and nationalism. See the first one here.

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Credit: Greg Nash for the Hill

Recently, I had a chance encounter over Chinese takeout with a journalist at a major magazine while visiting my fiancé at work. When I told her about my research, she asked, “What do these conservative influencers actually believe? Or is it just about owning the libs?”

While “owning the libs” is certainly a common joy for many conservative media influencers, it is more of a tactic than an ideology. …


This is the first of a new series of blog posts produced as I write my doctoral thesis-slash-book about conservative media influencers, technology, and nationalism. See the second.

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Conservative Media Activists at CPAC | Source: Twitter

“A Night for Freedom.” Symposium at the Wall. CPAC. Turning Point USA. The New York Young Republicans Club. Though far from compromising an exhaustive list, these are conservative events, organizations, and clubs who host quasi-celebrities on the Right. These include famous authors, media stars, and political icons most have heard of like Ann Coulter, Justice Jeanine Pirro, and Steve Bannon. Yet this also includes a brand unique to the Right: more accessible media “influencers,” basically the Republican equivalent to B-List celebrities. These include the likes of former White House advisor slash pundit Sebastian Gorka, #BLEXIT leader Candace Owens, and radio…


Books That Moved Me and Made Me Think

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Some books on my shelf. Despite it being the fiction section, somehow Grace Lee Boggs got improperly placed there. But the colors look good…

Much of my thinking this past year was punctuated by dissonance. How do these two things possibly go together? A great question for a year like 2018.

As a burgeoning tradition, my 2018 reading list gives some insight into the sense of dissonance (no, not David Stark’s book) that I was feeling last year. The diversity of books might make you ponder if I have self-induced schizophrenic reading habits — it made me think so. In addition to works on populism and technology (which I study), I read more fiction than I usually do. This is probably because of some…


Dems Think the Blue Wave is Coming, But More Folks Hopped Aboard The Trump Train

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The Alt-Woke has awoken from all the Woke who are shouting.

As we are from hours from polls opening, liberals are trying to bask in the hope of the #BlueWave. I heard on the subway, “Did you see those MSNBC early voting numbers!?” “Look at all these volunteers!” “I feel so much energy.” Yet if SNL has an accurate cultural barometer, everyone on the Left who also learned something in 2016 has a healthy degree of “scared shitless” underneath the optimism. The newly “woke” are fired up and ready to go because otherwise the believe it to be end of days.

ALAS! Republicans rejoice and Dems, well keep the fear, ’cause…


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Source: Twitter

The Left now has their own QAnon to give them hope. After the release of The New York Times anonymous op-ed on Wednesday, those seeking signs of hope for the demise of a Trump presidency have a talisman, a smoke signal, a sign from a shadowy figure telling them they will be safe.

Those who don’t know the QAnon phenomenon probably have better things to do with their time than watching hour+ long YouTube conspiracy theory videos about posts from an alleged Q-level clearance agent or agents working close to President Trump to bring down the Deep State. “Q Clearance…


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One of my bookshelves!

After seeing some of the people I admire most releasing their favorite media lists for 2017, I could not help but follow suit. As I use this time to procrastinate from work on writing a syllabus on Civic Tech, I could not help but realize this list might be something of a syllabus for my own life in 2017.

This list is for those who grapple with democracy, populism, speech, technology, and free thinking. There are thinkers on here who challenged me and pissed me off (I’ll let you guess who), but are instrumental in understanding our current time. …


Dear PA-12,

I’m sure some of you are pissed after the AHCA vote, which your Representative Keith Rothfus voted “yes” for. Some of you are just realizing what it entails (given it never got a Congressional Budget Office Score and most Republicans didn’t read it). Some of you might be rejoicing that the Affordable Care Act might be replaced with the we-aren’t-sure-how-affordable-it-is-because-it-didn’t-get-a-CBO-score-American Health Care Act.

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PA-12 Map, from the US Department of Interior, courtesy of Wikipedia.

My dearest home district with beautiful rolling green hills and flowing creeks, it seems you got a little played. Just to say, “We repealed Obamacare!” politicians are playing Russian roulette with your health. You, PA-12…


There is a lot of hydrogen peroxide talking about patriotism on CNN these days.

By “hydrogen peroxide” I mean young, blonde twenty-something women who have found careers for themselves in being the “girl next door” version of Trumped-up “conservatism” — if you can even call it conservatism these days. William F. Buckley is doing somersaults in his grave.

Fox News has been perfecting the blonde, fit female newscaster archetype since the 1990s. Even The West Wing made nods to the stereotype of the “Blonde Republican sex kitten.” However, only recently have I also seen this girl squad of right-wing, Trump…


Some reflections on your recent Twitter Stream about White Liberals

Dear Clay,

I’m a fan. I love your work on Internet collaboration; Here Comes Everybody is a great book. Being part of the civic tech community myself and in the true spirit of the Internet, “here I come” in response to your recent Tweetstorm for White Liberals.

Simply put, it just was not helpful.

In fact, I felt it was so not helpful and even damaging to the fight against Trump, that I really need to address a few points. I took a break from my research here in Yangon to pen a few thoughts.

First, you are preaching to…


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Telling Trump He is a Racist is Like Using Oxygen to Put Out a Fire

Dear Arianna,

Can I start by saying that I’m a huge admirer? I’m not much of a fangirl but I really see you as a role model to young women like myself. Your daughter has also been an inspiring guest at my dinner table. Simply put you are the portraits of good, powerful feminists.

That said, being a good feminist who promises to call out his xenophobia (etc., sadly) will not beat Donald Trump, as you did in your recent letter, “A Note On Trump: We Are No Longer Entertained.” In fact, anything with an -ist or -ism at the…

Danielle Lee Tomson

Scholar, Strategist. New York Latitude, Pittsburgh Attitude.

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