Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the greatest zing of all.

the new york times and more detailed new yorker op-eds on the tea party got me started on some ideological introspection today. both referenced the john stewart video i posted earlier. a couple caveats: while john stewart and i are ideologically dissimilar, as long as he has his sense of humor, he'll keep pointing out the easy target... the ridiculous contradictions of ideological ambiguity, which are far more dangerous than any of our disagreements. and the other caveat: this post might strike some of you as incredibly biased, but i kinda don't care. this is mostly about my own personal perspective in a very abstract sense, so yes, it's biased.

the op-eds got me thinking, again, about the strange dynamic of the right in america's two party system. the competition to pitch the largest party tent has always forced some element of doublethink into american politics, but to me, the right has always seemed to be a particularly strange union between two disparate groups. there is a small but powerful elite: politicians, businessmen, and intellectuals like george bush, rupert murdoch, and william kristol. and then there is the other much larger group, the populist and religious self-proclaimed masses, who the powerful elite either pretend to identify with and co-opt or avoid and hide from altogether.

the peculiarity of it all is that the populist masses profess to loathe politics, elitism, and intellectualism; the defining traits of the powerful elite. their contempt of intellectualism is matched with an almost idiocratic love for idiots like sarah palin, a "rogue wildcard" whose foreign policy ignorance was probably more of a selling point than a liability. their jingoism is matched with an almost xenophobic fear of foreigners and immigrants and a tendency towards modern-day mccarthyism. these are the kind of people who take to nonsensical terms like islamofascism, protest mosques, and simply don't know enough to see the hilarity of glenn beck's conspiracy theories.

the powerful elite of the right is fully aware of the ridiculous hypocrisies that the masses subscribe to. the ground zero mosque zinger is a perfect example, wherein fox news reported that the ground zero mosque was being funded by a saudi that funds radical madrasas. what fox failed to mention is that this radical saudi, a 7% owner of fox news and business partner of rupert murdoch, is being enriched by the mass hysteria peddled by fox news. conservative jingoism and xenophobia is being used to enrich its foreign target, but this game is nothing new... it's the same game john mccain played when he held up joe the plumber as an actual plumber and not the owner of a multi-million dollar plumbing business, and it's the same game karl rove played when he gave george bush his folksy "i talk to god" makeover, wherein conservative anti-elitism and religious superstition was used to deliver voters into the hands of the political elite.

this deceptive populist image is precisely why it always looks so funny when george bush and rupert murdoch are caught hanging out, hugging, or holding hands with their middle eastern family friends, men who's portraits could easily adorn the center of one of those in-the-crosshairs bumper stickers you might find on the back of a pickup truck.

(kumbaya, my lord our competing lords... kumbayaaa.)

does anyone in the powerful elite really believe that george bush talks to god? of course not. but does some bible thumper in the midwest who will vote against their own interests? yes, and that's the whole point. and does upper management at fox news really believe that one of their owners is a terrorist? of course not. and he's not, but if you flash enough pictures of a saudi with an ak-47 to the typical fox news viewer, you will illicit the desired response, and the elite is fully aware of how they stand to benefit if they can steer these captive and suggestible fox news viewers.

(this guy is funding the terror mosque?! burn it down! oh wait- he owns my favorite news channel? uhm... i... ahem...)

to be sure, american leftists like michael moore and generally retarded conspiracy films like zeitgeist use the same style. fahrenheit 9/11 used those same pictures of bush and the saudis and both moore and zeitgeist used the same ridiculously stretched connect-the-investment-dots to connect bush and bin laden through the carlyle group, which of course means bush did 9/11. (duh.) but here's the thing... the left doesn't peddle their crap half as well, unless there is some poll out there showing about 27% of americans have bought their bullshit.

this has all given birth(er) to a new kind of voter... a republican who in a sense, doesn't really care about the veracity of what their party claims or implies, so much as what they claim to stand against and whether or not the straw man fits with their delusional but self-exalting worldview. it's an emotionally driven loyalty that has been carefully cultivated, not in any conspiratorial sense, but by the sum of the actions and styles of various commentators from rush limbaugh to glenn beck to the guy who yelled "you lie!" during obama's state of the union speech...

(look! the communist trifecta!)

by the time run-of-the-mill republicans realize they've been leashed and turned into attack dogs for an elite that despises them, they've been shown so many pictures of arabs with guns and a black president followed by the words foreigner, muslim, and socialist that they're frothing at the mouth and ready to take orders anyway. they're just too god damned angry to notice the powerful elite laughing behind them as they take them off the leash. (laughing all the way to the bank.)

so how is it that this dynamic persists? to put it simply: the conservative elite has demonized their opposition with emotionally-driven drivel so thoroughly that there really isn't any need to reveal, defend, or explain themselves. as a former koch adviser said, "they’re smart. this right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. they see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves." they disingenuously co-opt the populism, racism, jingoism, xenophobia, anti-elitism, anti-intellectualism, and generalized fear and paranoia that many have and some refuse to admit, and enough idiots eat it up to make the whole thing worth it. just point your finger and yell a buzz-word, and the money and votes will come pouring in.

while john stewart zinged fox news when he called them out on the terror mosque, the best zing still belongs to fox news and the conservative elite, whose political strategies have ensnared their captive and gullible flock of sheep so thoroughly that they have finagled for themselves the ultimate gift that keeps on giving... and that, ye wayward few, is the greatest zing of all.