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Sat Jun 12, 2021, 05:59 PM

Conservatives- Are they being out-flanked?

In my continued efforts to understand the MAGA cult, I've spent more time this week watching right-wing podcasts and TV (painful? - yes - but necessary to understand them? - I would say yes too).

One of the big themes to come out of watching is that they continually talk about the threat of communism. That is of course their standard fodder, but noticing how often they beat that drum started me thinking more about how their propaganda works and how it leaves conservative voters exposed to manipulation.

That leads me to ponder how conservatism is being 'out-flanked' by Russia and various criminal elements. For those not familiar with the phrase, 'out-flaking' is a military maneuver in which you engage your enemy face on, but then use some of your forces to sneak around the side and then attack from the side. Because the enemy is focused on the frontal assault they are caught off guard by the attack from the side (the flank). Typically in a military formation the sides are weaker than the front and hence a flanking attack can do a lot of damage with fewer forces.

Taking that idea and applying it to the conservatives - The frontal attack on which they are all focused is the threat of communism. The flanking attack is then the attack on democracy by the greedy (Putin, the oligarchs looking to launder money, tRump and his ilk who are more than happy to betray their country for a fist full of dollars).

So busy are the conservatives voters facing down the frontal assault (the battle against communism), that they haven't realized that those who would like to establish an American kleptocracy are attacking America's flanks by dismantling democracy. If those forces were to be successful, then you'd get an authoritarian leader (tRump of course has already submitted his application for that job to the Kremlin long ago) supported by domestic oligarchs. They would form an alliance with Russian or any other similarly structured countries and the America's democratic experiment would be at and end).

While the Democrats have spotted the threat, the Republican voters haven't recognized the flanking attack because the flanking attackers continue to control the right wing propaganda and are keeping the republican voters focused on the fight against communism.

Of course there is always a threat from all forms of extremism (including communism), but in the big picture, communism is yesterday's threat. As such conservatives need to wake up to the fact that the threat right now is the threat of an American kleptocracy.

If the above has some sound footing, then does that suggest that to save democracy we need to be pointing out to conservatives that they are being out flanked by those that seek to establish a kleptocracy? Much as the right has hammered the communist threat into people's minds, is it now time to rally the nation to defend democracy from the Kleptocrats? The Dems in DC are of course on this, but maybe at the grass roots level there is more that can be done to explain what a kleptocracy is, how it destroys democracy and how it leads to an authoritarian dictatorship.

Granted some GOP voters don't care (in fact some support it), but I think around the edges there are some who would wake up to the threat and join the fight against the kleptocracy. How many would switch and fight against the kleptocrats? Well that depends on how well the message is crafted and communicated.

Thoughts anyone?

Just more ramblings of - The Hippo.

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply Conservatives- Are they being out-flanked? (Original post)
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 OP
JHB Jun 2021 #1
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #3
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #2
Ollie Garkie Jun 2021 #4
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #5
Klaralven Jun 2021 #6
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #7
JI7 Jun 2021 #8
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #10
chriscan64 Jun 2021 #9
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #12
Hugh_Lebowski Jun 2021 #11
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #13
Hugh_Lebowski Jun 2021 #15
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #17
Layzeebeaver Jun 2021 #14
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #16
Layzeebeaver Jun 2021 #18
Hippo_The_Pointer Jun 2021 #19

Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 06:09 PM

1. If you ask these people what constitutes "communism" in their view...

...they will describe things that characterize the US during WW2 and the Cold War, as well as those "European socialism" countries that they will also regularly cite as the "free world" that we used to be the leader of (the claim of which they gleefully threw away by voting in Trump).

It's the stuff of ranting cranks, effectively mainstreamed by RW media and mainstream media that was too timid/agreeable to dispute it.

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Response to JHB (Reply #1)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 06:15 PM

3. And the John Birch Society

Hi JHB - Indeed ranking cranks - One of the leading ones of course has been the John Birch Society. Although their influence has waxed and waned, there is little doubt they were powerful force in entrenching the fear of communism deeply in the American mindset (plus perhaps it is worth calling out the efforts of the National Association of Manufacturers back in the 1940's and 50's who also beat the same drum).

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 06:12 PM

2. The Atlantic article

I should add to my comments above, that this issue of the creeping kleptocracy has been touched on by others before. There is an article in the Atlantic from 2019 titled - Russian-Style Kleptocracy is Infiltrating America.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 06:25 PM

4. No, they are not,

at least not the conservative power brokers and pundits. They themselves are in bed with the corporate
kleptocracy. Their crap about communism is not a frontal assault, it is a distraction or mirage whipped up by themselves
to distract the rank and file citizens who consume conservative propaganda. It is BY DESIGN irrelevant to today's issues,
and nobody my age or younger (I'm 43) falls for it.

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Response to Ollie Garkie (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 06:35 PM

5. A mirage indeed

Hi Ollie Garkie - The frontal assault (the threat of communism) is indeed just a mirage but I think it must still work. If it didn't I doubt the right wingers would keep hammering on that drum. They do it daily on TV and radio and they used it down in Florida in 2020 to leverage voters in those key counties. Does it work on people younger than 43. Maybe less so, but I've heard a number of colleagues below that age echo the threat of communism they've heard on TV, so there may still be some impact in the younger demographics.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 06:49 PM

6. How does an American hedge fund owner differ from a Russian kleptocrat or a Chinese billionaire?

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Response to Klaralven (Reply #6)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 07:24 PM

7. The creeping kloptocracy

Hi Klaralven - Case by case the answer may be different, but some hedge fund could certainly be viewed as another front in the creeping kleptocracy that is step by step taking over. The tRump administration was perhaps the boldest step in he march to kleptocracy, but there are many steps on the journey from democracy to kleptocracy and many people taking advantage of the shifting sands along the way. Some hedge fund owners may indeed be among the list of people taking advantage.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 07:33 PM

8. They don't care about communism. They are mostly just racists and other bigots

They will bring up communism , socialism and other terms but they are just racists

The anti communists are mostly the right wing Latinos like the Cubans .

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Response to JI7 (Reply #8)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 08:06 PM

10. A mix of factors

Hi JI7 - No doubt, there are many factors and root causes. As you note many MAGAs are simply racists and bigots. However I personally see it as a complex picture in which there are many factions. To keep that base together the right is using a variety of propaganda tools. Among those strategies are: the threat of communism/socialism, racist dog whistles, smears and religious devices in various forms - To counter their propaganda my reaction is that we need to understand their arsenal

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 07:44 PM

9. Outflanked is one way to look at it.

To me, it just seems they are being manipulated. The right wing rank and file is not really being attacked by the Russians and the like, they are being conscripted by them into an army to outflank us. If you start with "Democrats are bad", anything you say after that is considered true and any contrary evidence is part of the conspiracy. This was already going on with American conservatives trying to keep rich people's taxes low and regulation to a minimum. You can't get more than half the country to vote for that platform as is, so wedge issues like abortion, guns and so on are presented as an existential threat, wrapped up neatly in the bow of "communism".

The modern average republican can be played like a fiddle, and if you approach them the right way, they hand you the bow and the sheet music. The Russians have caught on.

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Response to chriscan64 (Reply #9)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 08:17 PM

12. It is a manipulation

Hi Chriscan64 - I agree with you In a flanking maneuver the frontal assault is indeed nothing more than a manipulation. You use it as a distraction while you attack from the side. As you note the average republican can be played like a fiddle and that is what right wing propaganda is doing (the frontal distraction). That helps distract the typical GOP voter from the flanking attack.

As you note the Russians seem to have cracked this and hence I see them and their domestic allies as those attacking the flank. With the republican voters distracted by the words "communism" and "socialism" the Russians can then destabilize the nation by playing with tRump, Flyn, Manafort, etc. Will Putin be able to turn the USA into a full kleptocracy as he has in Russia? Probably not (hopefully not), but from Putin's perspective why not give it a try? The more disruption he can create in the USA the better from his perspective. I would imagine he has thoroughly enjoyed the past 6 years. Following his take over of Russia, he may see the current state of the GOP as his crowning glory?

So maybe at the grass roots level Dems need to be drawing more attention to the dangers of this flanking attack and the result kleptocracy that would result.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 08:13 PM

11. Socialism/Communism in their vernacular is a stand-in for a more basic idea

Which is an animosity toward the idea of 'taxing people who work and using it to help people who don't work', aka 'wealth redistribution'

This is such an animating principle to conservatism because these peoples brains are instinctively wired to believe that there is a 'natural order' .. a hierarchy to human society, that must not be violated.

It is entirely easy to manipulate these folks simply by convincing them that you (the manipulator) is fundamentally 'against' the idea that anything should being 'taken from them' and 'given to the less deserving'. Doesn't have to money, it can also be prestige, power, and privilege (including sexual/reproductive privilege).

Literally anyone who conveys to them a believe in the sanctity of this basic principle will be accepted (mostly uncritically). Even if they're foreign actors.

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #11)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 08:22 PM

13. God, Country and Christian Conservatives

Hi Hugh - Great food for thought - thanks for your comments. To me your comments touch on some really deep down issues with a long history! Coincidentally, that's another area I've been reading about this week. If you or anyone else were interested in reading more (a lot more), I'm currently working my way through a PhD thesis written in 2018 that looks at how conservatives claimed Jesus for themselves (God, Country and Christian Conservatives: The National Association of Manufacturers, the John Birch Society and the rise of the Christian right - C. Celestini - University of Waterloo). It tells a compelling story of all of the links that set the foundation for where conservatism is today and how their propaganda works. It's a long read, but well written and quite easy to read unlike many PhD thesis. I'm finding it fascinating - although only half way through so far! The Hippo

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Reply #13)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 08:42 PM

15. I personally think it's a mistake to consider 'religion' to be in any sense precedential

(Most) religious people are not conservatives because they're religious, but rather conservatives are religious because they're conservatives.

This concept of a natural order/hierarchy (and being to inclined to 'fight' to be at the top of the hierarchy) goes back in our genetic heritage for many 10's of millions of years (if not hundreds of millions).

Religion was invented by man to 'support' this much deeper and evolutionarily older concept, and the people who are attracted to it instinctively more strongly believe in the 'sanctity', if you will, of a social hierarchy.

Apart from the even more basic need to 'live forever' (which nearly all religions proffer in some form) all Religions basically hand a person a ready-made sense that they belong at a higher social rung ... than a great many others. That they are 'more deserving'. That they are 'chosen' by the being who's at the VERY TOP of the ultimate hierarchy.

I shouldn't have to mention how paradoxical it makes the situation where they love the 'Founders' so much, given that they were essentially radical liberals for their time, and that 'all men are created equal' is entirely antithetical to what most of them instinctively believe.

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #15)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 09:56 PM

17. Born culture

Hi Hugh - Agreed. In many cases the conservatism comes first (not religion). But I also recognize that people typically have an affiliation to the culture within which they were born and raised. If you're born into a conservative household and grow up in a conservative bubble, then there is a good chance the conservatism will stick. By extension the same would be true of religion - Grow up in an evangelical household that surrounds you into the evangelical bubble and it may well stick. However among those people born into and raised in a conservative bubble are people who aren't really conservative deep down. They may say they are conservative and they vote conservative but that is because it's the culture they were raised in and live in. If they were exposed to other ideas they might grow and see things differently (and I recognize they have little interesting in learning or being exposed to different perspectives and hence the challenge). In part my hope lies in the realization that some people are abandoning the GOP. To illustrate, as a I mentioned to the Layzeebeaver the eXvangelical twitter feed (and others) at times has some interesting insights into people who were born into the conservative culture, but came to an awakening later in life (sometimes much later in life, not just younger people). That awakening caused them to go in a completely different direction and at times turn away from the GOP.

Your comments about their lover of the Founders is great observation - As you note highly paradoxical!

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 08:27 PM

14. Sorry, but I tried to apply a bit of calculus of statement...

and this is the result... (I also added a bit that clarifies my own thinking and removed text that I felt was redundant)

If you disagree with my interpretation of your original post then please let me know. I'm happy to delete or edit to assure your message is not diluted.

/begin interpretation

Conservatism is being 'out-flanked' by Russia

The “right” has hammered the “communist threat” into people's minds

A future U.S. authoritarian leader would be supported by the greedy, Russia and other authoritarian countries. They would control the propaganda and keep republicans focused on fighting “communism” – which is yesterday's threat. (And which doesn’t actually exist)

Conservatives will never wake up

/end interpretation

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Response to Layzeebeaver (Reply #14)

Sat Jun 12, 2021, 09:34 PM

16. No worries

Hi Layzeebeaver - No worries with your interpretation - I am hear to learn from others and hopefully contribute to the debate - What I would add however is that I don't see all conservatives as being 100% immovable. To use an analogy - I see them as a body of water. Over time (and give the right conditions) water evaporates. Its slow and you can't see it, but molecule by molecule water evaporates. To me that means we just have to be smart to find ways to reach the ones who might evaporate off. To illustrate the evaporation idea I've been tracking the eXvangelical twitter feed. In there are former evangelicals who through a sequence of realizations have started to look at things differently (i.e. they have evaporated out of the evangelical pool - The Hippo

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Reply #16)

Sun Jun 13, 2021, 06:16 AM

18. Fair enough

Whereas I also believe what you say, I feel it is also urgently required that we MOTIVATE leftists to actually VOTE. Too many of our kind just don't show up at elections. Elections matter.

Every single person who believes in a democratic future MUST VOTE.

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Response to Layzeebeaver (Reply #18)

Sun Jun 13, 2021, 06:44 PM

19. Get the vote out

Hi Layzeebeaver - Agreed the get out the vote is the single most important line of defense.

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