“Who would ever vote for Donald Trump?”
This is a question that’s been confounding the entire rational-thinking world ever since Trump became the front-runner for the Republican nomination for President on a platform of hate, racism, misogyny, and all-around aggressive ignorance.
It is hard to understand how anyone could actually agree with all of the insane things Trump has campaigned on if you’re not familiar with the self-contained conservative bubble of misinformation, fear, conspiracy theories, and hatred of anyone different. But that’s why Trump’s message resonates so well with Republican voters: they live in a fantasy world created for them by the conservative media – one in which ‘evil liberals,’ led by President Obama, are actively trying to destroy the country. They see a world where the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House, and Obama is coming for their guns. After all, Trump’s entire campaign is based around the need to “make America great again,” which implies that America is not currently great (you know, because those evil liberals came in an ruined it all).
Trump is simply saying what has been said on FOX News and conservative talk radio for years – while we have been ignoring it, Republican voters have been taking it to heart… Donald Trump is a direct creation of the FOX News’ization of the Republican party.
It goes much further than FOX News simply giving him a platform because they found him entertaining, as Newt Gingrich suggested. Rather, FOX News and the rest of conservative media has created Trump’s audience for him. Everything Trump is saying is what the conservative media has been telling their audiences for years, and anyone who has spent the past 7 to 15 years watching FOX News, or listening to conservative talk radio, or frequenting right-wing websites and social media pages has been conditioned to support such insanity.
Republican voters have been told to believe that any news source that isn’t FOX or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh has “liberal bias” and cannot be trusted, so their entire view of the world has been shaped by the hate-peddlers and fear mongers of conservative media. They have been sold a view of the world that has no basis in reality, and you cannot understand Trump’s appeal without understanding that conservative media really is fact-free propaganda that is damaging the country. To understand Trump’s appeal, you have to understand the world in which conservatives live.
Violence and “Wussification”
One of the most disturbing aspects of Donald Trump’s campaign is that he loves and encourages violence – violence against protesters at his rallies, and violence as a way to tout America’s strength. When a protester was punched by a supporter (who later went on to say that “next time, we might have to kill him“), Trump lamented from the podium that “in the good old days [there wouldn’t be protesters] because they used to treat protesters very rough, but now they get away with murder because we’ve become weak.”
And here are some memes that were shared on conservative social media
This idea that Americans have been made weak comes directly from conservative media – they call it “wussification.” Just a few of the many examples from FOX News alone:
- On a segment about an verbally abusive coach, Eric Bolling said that “the best coaches are coaches are like that,” and punishing them means “we’re wussifying American men.“
- Larry Winget concluded that bullying is schools is not the fault of the bully, but rather the fault of the victim and their parents: “you’ve got to teach your kid not to be a victim.” He also said that the victims show that we’ve become “a huge nation of weenies.”
- Brian Kilmeade once reported that one town was campaigning for youth soccer leagues to require helmets, and he said this meant “we [have] become a bunch of wussies in this country” because “we’re not open to the good old head injury like we used to.”
On the subject of torture, Trump says that he will “bring back waterboarding and
a hell of a lot worse.” The idea that torture is necessary and makes us tough on terrorism also comesstraight – from – conservative media. It is of utmost importance to know that Ali Soufan, the FBI agent who interrogated Abu Zubaydah prior to the waterboarding, long ago revealed that the useful information – including the all-important knowledge of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – camePRIORto water boarding, and that the waterboarding techniques then produced NO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.
Despite these facts, why does Donald Trump continue to push the myth of effective and necessary torture? Because that’s the message that the conservative media wants the public to believe – Trump told Sean Hannity they are “like twins” on this issue.
This should not be a surprise to anyone – Trump supporters openly admit that they like him because he “says what we’re all thinking.” Trump isn’t some one-of-a-kind personality who is such a gifted orator that he is able to convince otherwise rational people to believe insane ideas – they’ve already been conditioned by their right-wing media to think all of the things Trump is saying.
Donald Trump is the personification of how crazy the conservative media, and thus the conservative movement, has become. Facts be damned – they live in a world that is of their own creation, which has no basis in reality.
They live in a world in which the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t about the alarming number of unarmed black teenagers and adults being gunned down in the streets by some racist police officers who are systemically protected from any negative repercussions, but instead is about “thugs” with “a list of grievances that do not exist” who want to murder police officers because they’re “cop haters.” They think traditional racism is over, which is why we no longer need the Voting Rights Act, and the only form of racism that still exists is “reverse racism” – that is, racism against white people. To them, there’s nothing racist about flying the Confederate flag, and those who want it taken down are “destroying the South.” And yet, Obama is the “Race-baiter In Chief” because he addressed Trayvon Martin’s murder.
In their world, a group of school children singing to Obama during his visit was like a “liberal indoctrination camp,” and Coca-Cola made a Super Bowl ad specifically to make Republicans look bad.
Particularly for the past 7 years, Republican voters have been conditioned by conservative media to believe that they live in a world where Obama is a lawless dictator hell-bent on destroying the country. When asked what’s been so wrong under Obama, I’ve found that they usually are not able to articulate it – because, in their eyes, every day there’s a new scandal that “proves” Obama is a diabolical monster; they can’t even imagine taking the time to list out everything they’ve been told, and they think that anyone who doesn’t already know is hopeless. But here’s at least some of what they’re probably thinking – they’ve been told by the conservative media that Obama:
- Stole the 2008 election through ACORN – and then stole the re-election in 2012 through ACORN again even though it no longer existed
- Planned the Fast & Furious program to intentionally give guns to drug lords – either because he’s a terrorist-lover, or because it was an elaborate double-switch to trick Americans into thinking that guns should be more regulated
- Directed the IRS to target conservative groups
- Planned / bungled the consulate attack in Benghazi and then covered it up
- Went on an ‘apology tour‘ because he isn’t proud to be American, and “doesn’t have American values”
- Is not American (where’s the birth certificate?! …no, not that one, the long-form birth certificate!!!!!!)
- Gave away tax-payer money to his buddies at Solyndra
- Hates American business-owners because he thinks they “didn’t build that”
- Pals around with terrorists
- Hates white people
From the early days of Obama’s presidency, conservative media painted it as one of endless conspiracies, scandals, and malfeasance – everything was going wrong, and it was all Obama’s fault. The right’s rising star at the time was Glenn Beck – his FOX News show centered around his chalkboard because he took on the role of a “teacher” seeking to “educate” his audience on all of the ways that Obama was destroying the country. Jon Stewart perfectly skewered Beck’s shtick on the Daily Show culminating in a show-length impression of a “conservative libertarian” that is worth revisiting.
Among the things that Beck “educated” his audience on were: Obama wanted to kill their grandmas through “death panels” while taking their guns away, and rounding up all of the nation’s conservatives into FEMA camps while conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood that had infiltrated his administration. Don’t you see??? It’s all right here on this chalk board!!!!!
Like the aforementioned Carl Gallups, Alex Jones is a prominent right-wing conspiracy theorist, and he has run with the “Obama is a terrorist” angle as well, saying that not just the Sandy Hook massacre, but also the Boston Marathon bombing, and pretty much every other violent event that has taken place since January 20, 2009 has been an Obama-concocted conspiracy. He so worked up the conservative base over the non-controversial Jade Helm 15 military exercise that the Governor of Texas called in the National Guard to “keep watch” and make sure Obama wasn’t “invading.” In a late-2015 interview with Donald Trump, Alex Jones said that “90%” of his audience supports Trump.
The same people who got all worked up over the conservative media’s ideas of “anchor babies” and the African Ebola virus coming from Mexican immigrants are the ones who then cheered Donald Trump for saying that Mexican immigrants are rapists. When Trump called for the repeal of the 14th Amendment (granting US citizenship as a birthright), Rush Limbaugh applauded and said “bye-bye anchor babies,” and FOX News called the plan “an early Christmas gift.” In fact, conservative media has been clamoring for such a policy since at least 2010; Mark Levin, Steve Doocy, Laura Ingraham, and Bill O’Reilly have all called for it.
Anyone remember when Boston’s conservative talk radio host Jay Severin was fired for calling Mexican immigrants “criminaliens“? That was back in 2009, and yet many people seem to think that Trump’s anti-Mexican propaganda is something new and unique to him – and wonder why it resonates with so many in the conservative base.
The same people who yelled to let the uninsured die at 2012 GOP debate are the ones who brought Trump to the top of the polls after saying that John McCain is not a war hero.
The same people who applauded Joe Wilson for shouting “you lie” at Obama during the joint session of Congress in 2009 are the ones who applauded Lindsay Graham for calling Obama a “stubborn-headed, delusional, detached President,” and Mike Huckabee for saying that Obama’s Iran deal is “marching the Israelis to the oven.” And why would they ever apologize or walk back those comments when the base has been told that apologizing is a sign of weakness?
The same people who supported FOX News favorite Ted Nugent for saying he wanted to murder Hillary (calling her a “worthless bitch”) and calling Obama a “sub-human mongrel” are the same supporters who Trump was referencing when he said he could shoot someone in the middle of Times Square and not lose votes.
The same people who cheered Rick Perry for not have any regrets for murdering possibly innocent inmates, and believed the FOX News defense of torture under George W. Bush, support Donald Trump for calling Ted Cruz a “pussy” for not fully endorsing waterboarding.
Following the Republican Nevada caucus in February, Donald Trump received his first endorsements from a sitting member of Congress: Rep Duncan Hunter (R-CA). And who is Duncan Hunter? Back in 2014 he gained national fame for going on FOX News to claim that ten ISIS fighters were caught coming over the Mexico border trying to get into Texas. The claim was quickly and easily debunked by the Department of Homeland Security, but Duncan and the rest of the Trump-supporting base dismissed the reality because they simply think that they’re lying. They are part of the *sneer* Obama administration, after all.
After conservatives ludicrously tried to blame President Obama for their own party’s extremism, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) gave a barn-burner of a speech pointing out Donald Trump isn’t unique in the Republican party; Congressional Republicans have “nursed the same extremism“ espoused by Donald Trump (and his many challengers) during the campaign by “doing everything that they can to avoid acknowledging the legitimacy of our democratically elected president.” This is not a Donald Trump problem; this is a problem with the entire Republican party.
- “Liberals don’t believe in Free Speech.”
- “Liberals don’t care about women, blacks, or gays.”
- “Liberal are godless people.”
- “Liberals love dictators.”
- “Those on the far left – they’re insane.”
- “Far left-wing reptiles”
- “Progressivism is a cancer.”
- “Radical, liberal hate-machine”
- “Totalitarian tactics of the left”
- “It’s so vicious, it’s so mean, it’s so cruel, and I don’t hear this coming from conservatives about liberals.”
When Republicans won a Senate majority in the 2014 midterm elections, conservative media such as a Rush Limbaugh claimed that it was a mandate to stop President Obama and Democrats because “how can you govern with a president that disobeys the Constitution? The Republican Party was not elected to compromise. The Republican Party was not elected to sit down and work together with the Democrats.” RedState.com headlined the results as: “Dear Republicans: no one elected you to work with Democrats”. Why would conservatives want Republicans to work with Obama and Democrats when they think they’re inhuman monsters?
This is the conservative movement that FOX News and the conservative media have wanted since they started telling their audience that Obama is a terrorist. This is what the dog-whistle of “PC police” has been about this whole time; they want to be able to say these things without being called out for their insanity, so they cry that liberals are afraid to let them “speak the truth.” They really believe this stuff because it’s what they get fed by their media all day, every day. And they support Donald Trump because he “says we’re all thinking.” No, we’re not all thinking these things, but they really are.
Jon Stewart described Trump as “the living embodiment of everything Republicans were trying to exorcise from their party [after the 2012 election'”, but they didn’t try that hard – they continued to allow conservative media to dominate the party. No matter who wins the Republican nomination, they might as well be “President FOX News.”
Donald Trump is not the cause of the problem in the Republican party – he is the symptom of the problem; he is the personification of the FOX News’ization of the Republican party – an entire political party based on dangerous propaganda that has poisoned our country. We must stop the FOX News’ization of America before there really is the war that conservative media fantasizes about.