Mac is a 52-year-old Catholic, married, father of two. He did his four years in Army security, and is counting down the months to retirement his job in logistics where he’s been a union member for over 25 years. Mac is a health enthusiast and just bursting with testosterone. Every conversation is either about how hot a girl is, what awful drivers women are, how lazy blacks are, how threatening Muslims are, or what a crime it is that immigrants are coming in and stealing our jobs, healthcare and women. Mac lives in an hermetically sealed echo chamber of right-wing propaganda. Every conversation I had with him was a perfect example of the political power of conservative lie telling, fear mongering, resentment building, and good old fashioned hate speech.
The first thing you should know about Mac, and the first thing he will always tell you, before most of his comments is this: he’s not a racist.
I lived in very close quarters with Mac for eight weeks, recently, and if you’ll forgive the cognitive dissonance, they were a hell of a good time. We had a job to do, we kept politics to a bare, bare minimum, and mostly just shared our life experiences, family trials, and competed on who could name the bands playing on the radio. Unfortunately, politics did come up a few times.
In the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, I had the unfortunate burden of having to withstand the joy of this true-red conservative who couldn’t wait for the great orange conman to get in there and shake things up in Washington. One day we got to discussing Hillary Clinton. It was only one of maybe four overtly political discussions we had over the course of our two months together, but it was well enough for me.
In the span of less than five minutes, I was treated to a complex, yet totally fact-free distillation of the right wing media’s Hillary Clinton profile. Here, according to the FOX/Rush/Breitbart universe was the secret truth of Hillary. Hillary, was a blood-thirsty liar. She relished the death of the unborn. She delighted in indoctrinating good, Christian, children in a special brand of Satanic practice that is commonly referred to as “Liberalism”. Hillary Clinton lived to create wars in the Middle East and personally gave endless streams of cash to our enemies. Hillary Clinton personally murdered our patriotic service-members in the Benghazi massacre.
Most of all, this was the most corrupt human being on the face of planet Earth and in the history of humanity. She sold access to power by renting out the Lincoln Bedroom. Hillary Clinton sold her office at the State Department to the highest bidder thanks to her ties to the Clinton foundation. Hillary Clinton used her personal email server to give away state secrets for cash.
The most virulent moment of the exchange, the most passionate, was when Mac whisper-screamed the word “corrupt!” It was as if he were trying to grab me by my liberal pussy and rape the profound truth of his conviction past my unthinking deluded CNN brain. Her corruption was absolute. Her corruption was beyond question. Her corruption was the absolute evil which the victory of Trump would finally and permanently overcome.
It was in that moment that I knew conservatism could never be redeemed by reason. There was no way for me to rationally explain that there is absolutely no proof of wrongdoing in the $200 million history of Republican witch hunts aimed at Hillary Clinton. There was no way for me to point out that Republicans in Congress have personally admitted that the Benghazi hearings were specifically political in motivation and ultimately exonerated her entirely. There was no way for me to point out that the AP cherry picked scheduling data to intentionally distort her record in a clear effort to smear the life-saving Clinton Foundation, which among other things has been responsible for delivering 75% of all HIV medication to children in sub-Saharan Africa. There was no way for me to explain that Secretaries of State from Madeleine Albright to Colin Powell to Condoleezza Rice maintained personal mail servers, that those servers never intentionally disclosed any classified information, and the three messages among thousands that did, were improperly marked.
Over the course of the past thirty years, conservative media has created such a perfect wall of lies, that reason can no longer reach conservatives. Conservative propaganda has succeeded in the absolute elimination of reason from the conservative worldview.
Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels famously enjoined his movement to “Accuse the opposition of that which you are guilty,” and conservatism has embraced this with full force.
In past election cycles, beginning with the 2006 cycle, Democrats successfully used the “Culture of Corruption” attack to eviscerate Republican Congressional credibility. It worked. Trump and his Breitbart messaging successfully turned that all around on Hillary and the Democrats. Democratic work to straddle the divide between Main Street and Wall Street concerns became in those stubby fingers, a cudgel to crush the perception of Democrats as defenders of the Middle Class and social justice.
All that came from the happy, vicious epithet “Crooked Hillary.”
What is most maddening about the blistering success of right-wing propaganda on this, is that Republican corruption has only accelerated in recent years. With the advent of the Citizens United ruling, democracy ended in America and we now live with a Congress that only reacts to the opinion of those Oligarchs with a net worth of over $10 million and the large corporate interests which make up the Republican donor class. Your opinion doesn’t matter to Congress, especially Republicans in Congress, and clearly the Donald Trump is the most corrupt man in America leading the most corrupt party in American history.
We now know that Trump was aided in his election my Russian intelligence and that his campaign was in regular, if not constant communication with foreign interests. The exit of Michael Flynn leaves questions, but it is clear that he received payments. We can’t track the payments being funneled to Trump personally because of the breadth and complexity of his business ties, and the fully corrupt Republican Congress refuses to investigate.
Meanwhile, the first thing that Republicans did in the new Congress was to try to gut the Office of Governmental Ethics to hide their crimes. Public outcry stopped them, but this week Paul Ryan led the charge to effectively legalize corruption for good in Washington. Congressional records are now considered the private property of Congress members, so they can stay secret. This is an overt move to hide the coming wave of Republican corruption. They couldn’t do it through lawmaking so they got the same result through a rule change.
Corrupt Republicans. Corrupt Republicans. Corrupt Republicans.
So take a deep breath, and try to wrap a reasoned mind around where we are as a nation. Republicans spent hundreds of millions of dollars smearing Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, convicting them in the eyes of their supporters of the corruption of which they themselves are systematically guilty. That projection of guilt has been used to systematically propagandize vast swaths of the American voting public beyond the approach of reason. We now live in a world in which the dupes of conservatism believe with the ferocity of Christian soldiers the lies of the right, and that very head-in-the-sand faith is protecting Donald Trump and the Republicans as they expand control and deepen their corruption and the destruction of American institutions. Republicans can now hide their corrupt actions in plain sight, and you can’t do a thing about it.
You can learn a lot by living in close quarters with those who deeply hate you. In my case, I learned the absolute success and pervasiveness of the Republican Culture of Projection.