Every once in a while, I get the itch to just dive into a right-wing hornet’s nest and poke them mercilessly. It’s admittedly little more than an ego boost after a tough week; these people are not only ignorant, they’re proud of their ignorance and disdainful of anyone who actually has knowledge of something. But what you should know about them is, they are here to distract you. They are here for one purpose; to make sure they become the message, and a real progressive message, such as there is, will be lost in a cacophony of shouting and negativity.
Yes, I get it; sometimes it’s fun and you just want to let loose and scream at a moron. That’s fine, but you can’t afford to dwell on it; we have to let go and focus on our agenda.
There are two major reasons for the swarm of right wingers we see. One is easy to spot; the entire Republican Party has been taken over by a psychotic fringe, and they can only win elections by depressing turnout, so they say stupid shit because they know regular people will be disgusted by it and they’ll be less likely to show up at the polls. They also know that people from our side will fall all over themselves to point out how stupid they are, and even more regular people will be dissuaded from voting.
The other is a bit harder to spot; it’s money. They share a delusion that, by successfully smearing liberals and pushing the most ridiculous misinformation they can think of, they can out-crazy all of the other nutbags for a chance at a piece of the sow’s purse that low-lifes like the Koch Brothers dangle in front of them. The believe, if they’re nasty enough, the right’s financiers will move them out of that single-wide and they won’t have to eat ramen for dinner.
In other words, a bunch of broke ne’er-do-wells have taken to Twitter, Facebook and the comment sections of a number of websites and blogs, to either spread Republican talking points far and wide or to smear anyone with a liberal viewpoint. In some cases, they have actually broken the law in order to complain about “liberals” breaking the law. Take the recent fake video about Planned Parenthood, for example. In order to make people think a Planned Parenthood bigwig is selling fetal parts on the black market, or some such nonsense, they were forced to re-edit some video in a way that could be considered slander under the right circumstances.
The real problem that we have to deal with, of course, comes with our culpability in the propagation of these dimwits. There really is a way to make them less influential, even if we can’t make them all go away, and the solution is deceptively simple;
Right wing morons are like The Blob; the more attention we pay to them, the more energy they derive from it and the bigger they become. You have to realize that the right-winger’s level of popularity is directly related to how much liberals openly hate them. The madder they get us, and the more we fight with them, the more popular they become. Nothing gives a right-winger wood like knowing that liberals can’t stand them. Do you know why Donald Trump is leading the GOP Klown Kar?Listen to what they say; they refer to him as someone who “tells it like it is.” Every time we treat him as something more than a buffoon, we feed them.
The best way to take away the right wing’s power is to stop feeding them. I block all right wing (and some left wing) trolls and other clowns reflexively on social media, and even in the comment section of this blog. We should be developing a progressive message for the American people, and engaging in pissing contests with them distracts us from that. If something they say starts to catch on, of course we should refute it, but we should refute it by simply telling the truth; there’s no need to restate their argument and give it even more traction. Instead, form an opposite statement that is true and work to magnify that instead.
Here are some basic tips for dealing with right-wingers and troll-types in general:
- Ignore people who try to goad you into fighting with them. The fighting helps them, hurts progressives.
- Approach everyone online with the same caution you would use in real life. It’s far too easy for people to create a fake persona on the Internet these days. Feel free to Google them; if there is little or no history, add a bit of extra caution to the mix. Instead of “exposing” them later, it’s more rational to ignore them now and for good, and it will lead to more peace of mind. On Twitter, I have even taken to pre-emptively blocking them when I see them arguing with someone else I respect.
- That said, don’t be paranoid. Our two biggest downfalls are paranoia and arrogance; arrogance breeds paranoia, and both cause us to do stupid things, and it’s those stupid things that get us in trouble. Think Clinton/Lewinsky for a clue as to what I mean.
- When someone says something about you personally, and it doesn’t rise to the level of defamation, ignore it and never retaliate. Retaliation causes the situation to escalate and escalation only serves their nefarious purpose, which is to keep you too distracted to inform people of the truth. The old “sticks and stones” adage comes to mind. Besides, retaliation isn’t always a rational act, and often leads us to do or say stupid things, that can actually do more harm than good.
- As with anything, step back and look at the situation from a wide perspective. Don’t blow it up into something it’s not. Think about the worst thing that can happen, and it’s probably not so bad. Take a deep breath, count to ten and consider the consequences of what you want to do. Then, move on, because it’s not worth it.
- Most importantly, focus on what we have to do and what we have to accomplish. It’s not just about electing another Democrat to replace President Obama or getting a Democratic Congress; it has to be about vanquishing the right wing message by drowning it out with our own. It’s about getting the Republican Party out of there, because their entire goal is not allowing anything to happen that might be positive. Liberals have to play offense, and get the message out, which we can’t do if we’re obsessed with playing defense against people who don’t even know where the ball is.
- Stop worrying about what THEY do, and start paying greater attention to what YOU are doing as an individual, and what WE are doing, as a movement.
The bottom line on this is simple.
We have a mess to clean up, and we can’t do that if we continue stepping in it and tracking it everywhere.