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KLAMarine said:

Here's hoping you weren't among those defending the rioting of 2020.

I'm assuming you're talking about the ones covered breathlessly by Fox News and the like that were framed in such a way as to make BLM out to be terrorists. Well, nice attempt at deflection, but this isn't about riots in the abstract. It's about conservatives adhering to the beliefs they publicly claim to have. They are the ones who make a big deal about "law & order." Every time they state their belief in some broad sweeping, absolutist principle, it turns out they always a massive list of exceptions.

"I support law & order... until the government tells me I need to wear a mask to stop the spread of disease, or the guy I voted for told me he lost because of some conspiracy, or [list of things that would fill a book]."

"Big government is bad... until I want the government to stick it to people I don't like or ban things that offend me."

"I believe in freedom... except for those people."

"Cancel culture is bad... unless I'm the one doing the cancelling."

"Private property rights are sacrosanct... until it inconveniences or offends me."

The hypocrisy isn't a bug in conservatism. It's a feature. I get that everybody has blind spots. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we fail to adhere to our own principles. But the GOP doesn't even make a token effort to stay consistent. And the contradictions between their words and actions have to exist, because the one and only true central principle of conservatism is, to quote a recent saying, "There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect." The thing conservatives try to conserve is entrenched social, political, and economic hierarchies based on dominance of others. You obviously can't sell an ideology like that in its pure, distilled form in a modern advanced democracy. It would be summarily rejected. It needs to be wrapped up in a series of platitudes to make it as palatable as possible, hence all the "we're all about liberty, small government, and law & order" rhetoric. I mean, we all like freedom and nice, quiet communities, or at least the idea of those things.

Republican leaders understand that most people, at least in the abstract, adhere to the harm principle, the idea that, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the legitimate powers of government extend only to actions that cause injury to others. So in order to justify their weaponizing of the government & laws against some designated out-group, they need to convince people that said group is an existential threat to the nation, a threat so dire that it justifies passing laws that hurt members of that group and restrict their freedom. Something as utterly harmless as, say, same-sex marriage had to be framed as something so horrific that it justified attempts to pass an actual amendment to the Constitution that would ban it. Conspiracy theories are invented in order to demonize the out-group, with all sorts of scary-sounding stories made up and blasted on right-wing "news" outlets on a routine basis. By doing so, they create justification for criminalizing entire groups of people simply for existing and finding ways to legally purge all competing beliefs from the public sphere. The government and laws are nothing more than weapons to use against the opposition and "the other." What Ron DeSantis is doing in Florida is the most egregious example of this fascistic weaponizing of the law to punish and retaliate against any and all perceived enemies. The GOP has already sufficiently demonstrated they don't really care about "small government," but tyrants like DeSantis show just how much they'll use "Big Government" when it suits them, and to what degree they're willing to go to.

But if they can't attain their goals through use of the law, then right-wing politicians and pundits will subtly or sometimes not-so subtly say things that, while usually phrased in a way to give themselves plausible deniability, could encourage some of their followers to engage in extrajudicial violence. For example, the January 6 attacks didn't happen in a vacuum. A sitting president who lost a fair election convinced his followers that he didn't actually lose and that it was a massive conspiracy against both himself and the nation. He was enabled by a complicit right-wing media apparatus that parroted his talking points. It was clear that nobody in government, not even Trump's own Vice President, was going to overturn the election results simply because he's a sore loser who wasn't able to prove his case.

So, Trump and his cronies had to convince a large contingent of their followers to descend on the U.S. Capitol building. Trump said things like "If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore" and Guiliani said things like "Let’s have trial by combat." That's not unusual, considering Trump's long history of violent rhetoric, excusing violence, and saying incendiary things often bordering on incitement.

When gallows were erected and windows were smashed and politicians' lives were threatened and cops were assaulted (with one of them dying), not one of the people who assembled and motivated that crowd of rioters could have stated "Who could have guessed something like this would happen?" and be taken seriously by any reasonable person.

Right-wing politicians and pundits know how to exploit the fears, cultural biases, insecurities, and, most significantly, tribalistic tendencies that lurk in everyone's brain. Maybe some of them drink their own Kool-Aid, but it's clear that on many occasions they are fully aware that they are lying. Thanks to the Dominion lawsuit, we recently saw that key people at Fox News like Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, and Murdoch don't actually believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

But they expect their audience to believe it.

It's nothing but a cynical attempt to both stay profitable (because nothing keeps audiences glued to the station like controversy and outrage) and advance their political goals (i.e., electing pro-business Republicans). While the rank-and-file have been manipulated through decades of propaganda and probably mostly believe what they say they believe and reflexively rationalize away the contradictions in their worldview, I honestly doubt any of the ones in charge actually believe most of what they say. But they will always need some sort of wedge issue to exploit so they'll say it all anyway. Their entire business model is predicated on keeping their audience outraged. Fear, bigotry, and conspiracy theories are good for business.

Trump sees the world purely in terms of winners and losers, and believes that being a loser is possibly the worst thing a person can be. His colossal ego leads him to refuse to accept the possibility of failure, to the point where he believes he cannot lose without the other side engaging in fraud. In other words, his motto might as well be "Heads I win, tails you cheated." He was already doing that back in late 2016 & early 2017, claiming that he didn't really lose the popular vote, that his inauguration crowd wasn't really smaller than Obama's, and that some conspiracy was afoot in both cases. Combine his inability to "take the L" with the massive personality cult he has, and Fox News has the perfect wedge issue to fill up countless hours of air time.

Since they spent years helping to foster and cultivate that cult of personality, they have a major financial incentive to keep spreading the Big Lie. They know full well their audience would abandon them in a heartbeat if they told them the truth, so the lies have to keep coming. And what time they don't spend going to bat for Trump's deranged attempts to destroy democracy, they spend making all sorts of non-issues into federal cases, or keeping their audiences angry at/afraid of queer people, immigrants, non-whites, "socialists," a good chunk of science, or whatever the scapegoat or folk devil of the day is through constant lies and extreme exaggeration of minor things. Need I remind you that this is the same cadre of talking heads that spent considerable time whining about "woke M&Ms" and the dropping of the "Mr." from the Potato Head brand in between the hours dedicated to repeating garbage like "replacement theory" (which originated in neo-Nazi circles, BTW), Trump's election conspiracies, and groomer panic.

Trump is the biggest sore loser in American history. Because of his ego, our democracy is on the edge. Because of his narcissism, people are dead. And Fox News, right-wing talk radio, and other media figures that went to bat for them are complicit. Blood is on their hands.

The January 6 attacks laid bare the fact that the Republican Party has no moral basis to claim they stand for "law and order." Not that they ever had it before, but this was simply the latest and by far the most egregious example of their disdain for the rule of law. If they proclaim a belief in some noble-sounding principle, don't believe any of them. It's a con job.


In accordance to the VGC forum rules, §8.5, I hereby exercise my right to demand to be left alone regarding the subject of the effects of the pandemic on video game sales (i.e., "COVID bump").