Changing MAGA Minds

7 mins read

The coronavirus could throw a wrench into the Fox-Trump-Koch-Murdoch-GOP propaganda machine by demonstrating:

  • how the lies hurt people, and 
  • why a well-funded functioning government is necessary.

Until now, the Trump-FOX-GOP willingly embraced Trump’s lies because they knew the lies destroyed and they wanted to destroy.

If you’re a new follower, see my Slate article on why Trump supporters seem immune to the truth.

There is, however a limit to what the Fox-Trump-GOP wants to destroy. 

They want to destroy and dismantle the federal government to return to the glorious 1920s when white men had almost complete personal liberty.

But they don’t want their stock portfolio wiped out and they don’t want their close family members to die from avoidable causes.

Trump’s problems are:

  • It’s provable that he made the situation worse 
  • the crises will harm the wealthy and privileged, and
  • this is a genuine crisis, and leaders like Trump are only good at handling manufactured crises. For what I mean by that see this post.

A manufactured crisis allows the leader to select the crisis that benefit him An example is the “invasion” of migrants at the border. He can whip up rage in his followers.

A real crisis causes myth and lies to collide with reality in a way that Trump is unprepared to handle.

Now for the difference between coronavirus and sadopopulism.

Sadopopulism is the way 21st century fascists obtain both wealth and power: They enact policies that hurt their own constituents while enriching themselves.

If you’re a new follower, see this thread.

An example of sadopopulism is  tax cuts for the rich. Ordinary people are harmed. Oligarchs are enriched. 

Fox viewers believe they benefit from tax cuts for the rich because decades of propaganda persuaded them that trickle down economics works, and that all taxes are bad.

Coronavirus is different: It harms the people at the top by depleting their wealth. 

It offers no advantage to ordinary MAGA people: They can’t cheer while their “fearless leader” does battle with their enemies.

It just kills them and causes financial hardship. 

It also proves that decades of weakening the federal government, and years of trying to eliminate health care was a terrible idea.

The Trump-FOX-GOP will attempt to rewrite history and persuade people that Trump was onto the problem before anyone, and the outbreak is the fault of Democrats.

Our job is to fight hard against this kind of disinformation. Here’s a great video:

This crisis, because of its nature, offers a rare opportunity to reach MAGA people.

I stand by my advice not to argue on social media. Bots and Trolls are trying to wear you out. Don’t let them,

Sam (not his real name) posted this on Facebook:

My husband engaged offline. (Offline is important.)

The fact which that brought Sam round was this one about how Trump didn’t want to allow Grand Princess Cruise passengers to disembark because he didn’t want the numbers of infected people in the US to make him look bad.

This got to Sam. Sam was not appalled by children in cages or attempts to cut affordable care, but this got to him.

I believe this got to him because it showed him a shocking example of Trump willing to lie and let people die as long as it makes him look better.

After his discussion with my husband Sam said, “I’m not a Republican. I’m independent.” Until then, he was Republican.

Sam isn’t a bad guy, and isn’t a hardcore cultist. He is just so overwhelmed with information that he can’t sort it out.

He said he watches both CNN and FOX in an attempt to get to the truth but—no surprise to —FOX persuades him.

Well, it’s easy to make lies compelling. The liar, unconstrained by facts, can tell more absorbing tale.

“Noise” is a propaganda technique that destroys the truth by crowding the waves with so much information that people can’t sort out truth from lies.

Eventually they conclude that truth is unknowable.

Noise was what Steve Bannon meant when he said, “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

For hardcore cultists, there are other reasons people believe the lies.

Many people genuinely prefer what sociologist Max Weber calls the authority of personality over rule of law.

Rule of law and democracy are messy and chaotic and require compromise.

A strongman leader seems to offer advantages. That’s why some cultist will pretend to believe even when they know it’s a lie. They prefer Trump’s lies to the alternative.  The alternative is liberal democracy:

Those MAGA people who are reachable may learn from this pandemic that 

  • We need a functioning government.
  • Trump’s lies and the GOP’s systematic dismantling of the government will hurt them.

[View as a Twitter thread]

Originally posted on Musing about Law, Books, and Politics.
Re-posted with permission.


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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently writing an overlapping series of biographies called the Making of America. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and CNN.com. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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