I don’t want to live in the right-wing’s id — Part II.
I’ve been thinking about the weird way right-wing policy does the things the right accused others of doing.
Trump’s reliance on executive orders is a case in point. Obama’s (much more limited) use of executive orders drove right-wing opponents apoplectic. It was the first reason listed by people who wanted to impeach him.
His supporters accused Obama of twitching to order martial law, of inviting a foreign power to take over, of hiding ill-gotten gains. They enthuse over Trump, as he muses about invading Chicago, cavorts with Russians, and doesn’t really distangle business and office. That’s all fine, because “they” deserve it, meaning the right’s opponents.
It’s tempting to label their apparent hypocrisy an unconscious expression. That’s partly true, but I don’t think the reason it happens in unconscious. Instead we have to step back.
Radio, cable, and websites promote views that supporters voice. We know this, because media penetration and opinions correlate.
When right-wing media tends to accuse opponents of things their supporters do, like using federal social programs, it’s sophisticated media strategy.
Advertisers first generate self-doubt, then provide its antidote. Right-wing media exploits their audience’s self-anxieties by remapping them onto their opponents.
In a way, it’s almost trivial. We all do it, deflecting our own flaws onto others. Boston Red Sox fans say Yankee fans are the real racists. (I know, a cheap shot, but, hey, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. So what if I’m a Yankee fan.)
But it takes real chutzpah for right-wing media to tell audiences that liberals are drug addicts, Bill Clinton abuses women, scientists are losers, and blacks are privileged. It’s chutzpah because their audiences include opioid abusers, their colleagues abuse women, listeners aren’t winners, and they enforce good ole boy culture.
Trump supporters might not be too bright (what, I’m supposed to pretend otherwise?) but they know, or suspect, the truth. It bugs them, makes them anxious. Listening to addict Limbaugh destroy liberals for their drug use is very cathartic.
Trump has gone one better than talk radio, by calling out their condition. “I like the uneducated,” he says. Whereas right-wing media promoted hatred to counter self-hate, Trump seems to say “go ahead and hate yourselves.” He’ll defund their programs, their medical care, and they may not object, because they deserve it.