The NYT “Part of the Resistance ” piece is strategic conservative propaganda, not self-promotion.

J Li
Sep 6, 2018 · 3 min read

The NYT I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration editorial is not about self-promotion. It’s actually dangerous, strategic, and carefully planned conservative propaganda (possibly in direct response to the Woodward book) in order to support midterm elections. It’s filled with small callouts to a large discomforted middle-road conservative base at the edge of turning away from the party, trying to recapture them by powerfully promoting a narrative that, “This Trump thing is a fluke but everything is really fine, and you’re not complicit.”

It’s an attempt to gaslight the madness of the past two years and return to a story that a moderate/mainstream/non-batshit Republican base can have their cake and eat it too: benefit from the policy changes while washing their hands of the stain of the madness. See, you still have heroes who are not corrupt, they’re just operating in secret. See, the world you want to live in (the “steady state”) still exists, and the sun is about to rise again if you stay on course.

This is not a rat fleeing a sinking ship for a book deal:

It’s an attempt to make voting Republican sexy again, beginning now in September.

Read the article again, and this time follow the emotion, not the content. See the romance? See the security and safety? See the slight tickling of your curiosity and imagination?

Beyond that: this is an article that tells a better story about the reader than about the writer. (That’s a sure hint of propaganda.) Imagine you’re historically a conservative, sickened by what’s going on. Track the journey of the reader’s identity through the article.

Note how it starts out with establishing commonality, then validates the discomfort of being associated with Trump’s failings, lays out an alternative interpretation of being conservative during this time period, and finally ends on an affirmation reconnecting the conservative identity to McCain, an idealistic fallen hero, and lands on a call to action for the reader to reaffirm their patriotism.

Remember that the Republican engine is world class at engaging in emotional experience and identity design.

I would bet anything that, in the next weeks and months, we’re going to see a lot more conservative media and discourse that carefully builds on this new story.

It’s one thing to go out in November and vote for more Trumpism. It’s completely different to go out and vote for the “unsung heroes” and the “adults in the room”. Suddenly, there’s a safe place to land that’s not with the Democrats. Suddenly, there’s a new comfortable default path that doesn’t require thinking too hard again. Suddenly, there’s an easy way for your stomach to vote Republican again.

This is NOT the administration falling apart. It’s A+, live action storytelling with a controlled demolition, and it’s actually really dangerous. Behind the structure of the NYT piece lies the strategy for how the republican party plans to catch the pieces as they start falling.

Now is the time we need to get ahead of this. Instead of sitting back and watching the pieces fall, or flipping out and calling for the writer to resign, in the next few *days* we need to pre-empt this new narrative and have conversations with the significant voters in our lives now.


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    J Li

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