Words as Weapons, III

Editor’s Note: This is the final entry in a series of blog posts by guest blogger, Al Griffiths.

Have you ever noticed when Congressmen and Senators from the Right are interviewed or speak on recent political events or hot topic policy matters, they use the same key words and talking points to make their case? 

Interestingly, the right leaning cable news/commentary, radio talk show hosts and bloggers contemporaneously use the same key words or phrases.  It happens at an obvious speed and coordination after recent political events or hot political news.  It’s like they are wired into a rapid response network.  Or am I being paranoid? 

I think not. 

It happens too often and with such synchronicity it’s like reading off sheet music.  Albeit out of tune with logic and reason and just plain sounding bad.  I do have to hand it to them though, they use the key words and phrases with surgical precision.  They have also mastered the art of repeating their message over and over, again and again. 

Some of the messaging is so off point one would think they are intentionally attempting to deflect, misdirect, mislead, obfuscate or an outright lie. 

Are they playing to an audience of people with a predisposition toward wedge issues such as single-issue voters?  Or, to a constituency of those who are easily manipulated through fear and intimidation? Is this a planned manipulation of the facts? 

Or, to a group who lack the ability to think objectively.  Folks who would rather be ruled than represented?   Could that be true?  Is twisting the facts in a misleading way, wait for it, fake news? 

While I’ll leave you to ponder all that lets look at a few of their favorites.

  • Socialism is a word that has been getting a lot of mileage from the Right recently.  Movements in this country began approximately 100 years ago to provide needed rights and benefits to the citizens of this country.  Many were hard fought movements for equity and justice. In all, leadership from the Democratic Party brought about compromise to achieve social change to deliver equity, justice and a social safety net for all.  Today we understand these laws, programs and institutions as the fabric, the social compact of our laws and freedoms that bind us together as one nation. 

They are:  Woman’s Suffrage Movement, Securities Exchange Act 1934, Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, Rural Electrification, Federal Home Loan Program, 40 Hour Work Week, Minimum Wage, Overtime, GI Bill, School Lunch, Marshall Plan, NATO, Civil Rights Act, Peace Corps, 1stManned Moon Mission, Medicare, Medicaid, Voting Rights Act, Head Start, Guaranteed Student Loan Program, Family & Medical Leave Act, Lilly Leadbetter Fair Pay Act and the Affordable Healthcare Act to mention the major achievements.  

Those institutions provided through legislation, as provided for in our Constitution, make this nation a social democracy.  Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that advocates achieving social goals within a democratic system.  In the case of the United States of America, our country’s economic history is capitalism or free enterprise.  This country’s history has proven it can be democratic, while providing a basic social safety net, while being a reasonably regulated free enterprise economy.

  • Patriot is another favorite of the Right. The Right’s definition is often: “I am” or “we are” more American than you.  Or, you are anti-American.  To fit their definition, one must have American flags emblazoned on and flying from every vehicle and moving object they own, as well as attached to most articles of clothing they choose to wear publicly.  They pride themselves in wearing the design of the American flag fashioned into an article of clothing.  Geographically, some will also wear the confederate battle flag believing it is an American symbol with a distinct regional heritage and part of their history.  Maybe if they spent a little more time studying American history, or trying to comprehend civics, they would discover the true meaning of patriot.  A “Patriot” is a citizen of a country who upholds the laws, values, traditions, history and spirit of that country; those who would defend their country from tyranny from within and without.

  • Fake news.  If there ever was a phrase to exemplify misdirection, the phrase fake news would be it.  If one does not like the news as it is being reported, they simply say the news is not true, it is a lie, or “fake news.”  Vladimir Lenin said, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”  We can all agree that old Bolshevik had an agenda.  I have heard people agree with Lenin on that score because it works to reinforce their agenda.  The only problem is the lie is not ever and never will be true because the truth is supported by evidence, demonstrable and incontrovertible facts.  Now we come to the most mystifying anomaly of the Trumpian world, cognitive dissonance.  The phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance leaves those of us on the left aghast by its existence.   Cognitive dissonance: when those on the right are presented with evidence and demonstrable facts of the truth, facts the individual does not dispute, they continue to believe in the untrue thing.  Wrap up all that mind-boggling logic into a not so neat package with a large dose of “radical nationalism,” put a MAGA hat on it, and begin to realize we have our work cut out for us.