But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion.
The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots, having as their most powerful agents not merely outsiders and foreigners as of old but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power. Their predecessors had discovered conspiracies; the modern radical right finds conspiracy to be betrayal from on high.I grew up talking to the former (and now made semi-indigent) Black Panthers that hung out near the Yale Co-Op bookstore, Educated Burger, and Yorkside Pizza who my dad would buy coffee for while trying to direct to jobs he either procured for them on campus, or with his small janitorial company.
As a young ghetto nerd, I would also read the zine Cover Action Quarterly with all its tales of the Drug War, narco-terrorism, the rise of the national security state, and black ops. And of course, I have spent many an hour listening to Coast To Coast AM in its heyday when Art Bell was predicting the now/then/soon to be future back in the early 1990s.
I was groomed to love and appreciate a good conspiracy theory.
In the Age of Obama, the Right-wing media and its bloviators have moved on from the black helicopters, and a looming United Nations Army that was poised to invade the United States via improperly insured Mexican trucks, on to various varieties of birtherism, trutherism, and a "Muslim" Black American President who hates white folks and is going to put them in chains.
Conspiracy theories can thrive both on a surplus of information (look! don't you see! it is obvious! the truth is hiding in plain sight!) as well as a paucity of data points (it is there if you just look harder! they are hiding the truth from us all! the absence of evidence is evidence in and of itself!).
In total, my rule has been to look for patterns; I also have come to realize that it isn't the big conspiracies that you need to worry about. Rather, it is those small incremental changes that are working towards a larger paradigm shift which catch a people flat-footed and unaware.
In all, power is not always punitive and punishing. Power is most beguiling when it rewards participation and obedience.
Those qualifiers and instincts having been noted, I am at a loss to explain the deeper game at work with the various Right-wing conspiracy theories that have unfolded as of late.
Consider the following:
1. The Washington Post recently ran a story about Right-wing advocacy groups whose members are lurking in the backwoods and highways of the country in search of secret buses--yes, secret, phantom, invisible buses which no one has ever encountered or seen--that are bringing in illegal aliens, racial minorities, and other "undesirables" to sabotage the upcoming election for a Barack Obama victory.
2. Conservatives are being told that public opinion data is being systematically skewed against Mitt Romney by the evil liberal pundit classes and their minion pollsters. Never mind that pollsters are financially and professionally invested in being accurate and making the right call; or alternatively that Romney's own internal polling shows him behind in the race; and that hundreds of independent polls would all have to be rigged against the Republican candidate to produce Romney's being behind Obama by at least 5 points nationally. It would seem that the all mighty Occam's razor is dulled by the Right-wing echo chamber.
3. Republicans are obsessed with purging "ineligible" voters, i.e. black and brown folks, the working class and poor, young people, and others who would vote for President Obama from the roles in order to "protect" democracy in the face of the non-problem that is illegal voting. Of course, these same valiant defenders of democracy are silent about how Republican agents are engaging in voter fraud and systematic voter intimidation against Democratic voters.
Thus, my question. What is the end game here? It is clear that Romney's agents will do anything--legal, quasi-legal, illegal, and/or criminal--to deliver him the White House. It is also clear that the Right has been systematically working to subvert the legitimacy of the country's democratically elected, first, African American President.
While the Right can refrain reality for its followers and supplicants through propaganda and perception management, what will happen if the real world sees Obama being reelected in November?
Joshua Holland has some great insights on this matter that deserve more discusson:
They've been hammered with the idea that while these facts are obvious for those whose eyes are open, the media is covering it all up. Rather than a Democrat with whom people tend to connect running a good campaign against a flawed Republican candidate, many on the far-right will see an illegitimate president colluding with an array of perfidious forces, both foreign and domestic, to deny them the right to finally 'take their country back.'Is this the goal of the Right's fabrications? If all political speech is argumentative speech, which in turn advocates for a given outcome, are the spin doctors and dream merchants on the Right intentionally ginning up some domestic violence and terrorism for Obama's next term? If so, how would such happenings advance their cause?
Obviously, there's no need to fear a massive rebellion from millions of engraged Glenn Beck fans in their Hoverounds; rather, the danger is that in the aftermath of such an election, a small number of dangerously unstable anti-government extremists will take matters into their own hands -- and even a small number can do significant damage...
That the “unskewed” polls show Romney heading towards a blow-out win is likely to lead more disturbed people to see themselves as victims of a dark plot to undermine America's “traditional values.” It's not the only iteration of the alternate universe that the right has conjured up in recent years – just ponder, for a moment, that the creator of “Conservapedia” – a hilariously inaccurate right-wing version of Wikipedia – has undertaken to write a distinctly conservative version of the Bible (one in which Jesus presumably inveighs against taxes and regulation dragging down job creators, and doesn't constantly blather about the poor).
But while those efforts are often laughable, the unintended consequences of offering the hard-right a Bizarro World analysis of the 2012 election may prove deadly serious if Obama pulls out a win.