I’m a lot like many of you. Some days, we just can’t help it. There are times when we just feel like diving into a Republican right wing fight because we want to “win.” It can feel like a bit of an ego boost; most of these people are not just ignorant, they’re proud of their ignorance and disdainful of anyone who actually has knowledge of something. It’s sometimes appealing to screw with the anti-intellectual types. Not the truly dumb ones; that would be cruel. I’m talking about those who think anyone who bothers with education is somehow despicable.
What everyone should realize is, every one of them is part of a master plan and their mission is to distract us, so we should all blow them off. Ignore them. If they’re on social media, just pretend they didn’t say anything and block them. If they’re popular right wingers with a large following, call them trolls and then block them, but if you look at their profiles, there are a lot of eggs and their follower counts are meager enough to not care. What they want to do is to make sure they become the message. They are hoping that a real progressive message, such as there is, will be lost in the resulting cacophony of shouting and negativity.
The entire Republican Party has been taken over by a psychotic fringe, and they can only win elections by depressing turnout. The reason they say stupid shit because they know regular people will be disgusted by it and will 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, which means even more regular people will be dissuaded from showing up and voting. It’s basically a two-fer.
The crazy people who make up the current Republican Party base also share a delusion that Republicans are going to pay them for doing this. Between the Kochs and the Roves of the Party, a great many of the right wing trolls you’ll encounter are being paid a few hundred bucks a month to create lots of new identities, with which they hope to troll you. However, many others join them because they want the GOP to pay them, too, and they won’t have to eat Campbell’s soup out of the can and they can get a real meal from the discount section at the Walmart.
Put simply, a bunch of broke ne’er-do-wells have taken to Twitter, Facebook and the comment sections of numerous 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, like James O’Keeffe did to ACORN and David Daleiden did to Planned Parenthood did. If it’s anti-liberal, it’s good enough for the Republican Party because it makes people pissed off enough to stay home AND it draws liberals into shouting matches, which has the same effect.
Our culpability in the propagation of these dimwits can’t be overstated. There is an easy way to reduce their influence and to make our message more prominent.
Right wing trolls and morons are like The Blob; they feed off the attention we pay to them. 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 a stiffy better than knowing that liberals hate them. Donald Trump won because the dumbest people in this country claim he “tells it like it is.” We think he’s disgusting, but as long as we keep getting into arguments with Trump supporters, the better they will love it. Stop feeding them. Yes, this blog makes fun of him and we talk openly about how absurd he is, but we will never talk about him in serious tones and we will never refer to him as a danger because we believe that his record is so ridiculous that most people, who are at least somewhat reasonable, could never even think of voting for him for president.
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. The comments are more open than ever, but I will continue to moderate, which means, if wingnits think they have “free speech” here, they’ll have to think again. 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
Liberals should be developing a progressive message for the American people, not engaging in pissing contests with right wingers. When they say something that isn’t true, we should refute it by simply telling the truth. There is absolutely no need to restate their argument and give it even more traction. simply 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.
- Don’t react to garbage directly. That’s what they want you to do.
- Approach everyone online with the same caution you would use in real life. Google them. If you find something damning, instead of “exposing” them later, it’s more rational to ignore them now and for good.
- That said, don’t be paranoid. Liberals’ two biggest downfalls are paranoia and arrogance. Of course, arrogance breeds paranoia and both cause us to do 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 them. Never retaliate because that causes the situation to escalate, which is what they want. 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; it can do more harm than good. As should be the case with anything else in your life, step back and look at the situation from a wide perspective. Think about the worst thing that can happen; 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 office everywhere because their entire ideology is poison. Donald Trump is not an outlier. Liberals need 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.
The bottom line: we have a mess to clean up, and we can’t do that if we continue stepping in it and tracking it everywhere.