I had a discussion the other day with a woman who talked about her feelings about Hillary and the election. In the end she said some of the same things that I’ve heard before. “Wasn’t there something that would have preventing Trump from ever running?” and now, “Isn’t there something that won’t let him get into office?”
She also talked about how the media didn’t do their job BUT… Hillary has baggage, she’s isolated etc. etc. etc.
I stopped her and said, “Look, I know Joe Conason, the guy who wrote the book “The Hunting of the President.” and there is a reason that you think these things about her. It started with $2 million dollars spent by Richard Mellon Scaife and others on the Arkansas project in the 80s and has gone on for decades.
When you dread how they will come after Hillary, it’s because they instilled that dread in you. Hillary acts the way she does because of the constant attacks in the past and the anticipated ones in the future. Those Scaife/Mellon people won. They were successful in their strategy. I know that because of what you have just said.”
And then we talked about why doesn’t the left do that.
I talked about the difference between people wanting to use their time and money to do good for the world vs the people who just want to mess shit up, attack people and institutions.
People on the right think that George Soros is attacking them, but he really doesn’t. They are projecting.
Super rich people on the left have the idea that they should spend their millions on good things like clean water and stopping malaria, not actively working to take down the bullshit right-wing think tanks, media and pundits supporting the crazy demigods on the right.
They are more comfortable building up positive things than kicking the crap out of the people destroying our country. At the end of the day they feel better about themselves saying, “I helped bring clean water to 20 million people.” or “I helped good journalists do important work.” That’s great. We need more of that. But..
Are there some super rich lefties who just want to kick the right’s ass? There might be, but they aren’t doing anywhere near what the right does and they aren’t coordinated like the Koch’s and their donor network.
If there was a network of well-funded ass kickers on the left they could work on multiple levels: attacking right wing funding, ideas, projects and institutions. They could attack on multiple fronts via multiple venues: in the media, in the courts and in the minds of the public.
I understand why it might be hard for big funders on the left to take on right wing institutions or organizations. Pushing back on right wing craziness is like trying to mop up an active oil spill. If nobody is trying to slow the spill, the crude keeps coming. You can build walls to contain the oil and channels to divert it so it doesn’t pollute the groundwater, but it would all be easier if someone could stop it at the source.
Going after the source isn’t done much on the left. It might be because it requires an almost prosecutorial zeal to keep going.
I’ve looked at how the right wing funders maintain their war footing against people, ideas and institutions for decades. Many seem to have a personal animosity toward certain people or organizations. Who knows why they have this feeling? It’s just there. They have the means, motive and opportunity to do something about it, so they do. They might have an obvious logical reason or an obscure personal reason. A slight at a party. Someone laughing at them. Righteous anger. Misplaced anger. Mental illness. The reasons don’t have to make sense to others, just as long as they make sense to the funders.
If you are a rich funder you don’t need to get consensus and approval. Sure you might have advisers saying, “Don’t waste your time, money and energy on attacking. Spend it on solving the underlying problems!” To which the funder can say. “I’m giving money to solve what I see as the underlying problem! But I also want the satisfaction of crushing this person and group that makes me angry.”
A close friend or therapist might tell a rich funder, “You know, spending millions destroying the Clintons isn’t going to make your father love you.” But they aren’t going to hear that from someone who agrees with their agenda. They will find people with the skills to make their agenda happen.
“You hate the Clintons? Me too! I’m happy to help spend your money attacking them. I’ll just need 15 million to fund Breitbart, For an additional two million you can fund an O’Keefe “sting” I can guarantee it’ll embarrass someone or some group publicly.”
The thing is that there are plenty on the left who want to kick some right wing ass but don’t want to take their anger out on family members who fell for a long-term con. Others would be happy to finally see someone kicking right wing ass. There will also be a lot of people on the left who will be concerned about what methods or tactics this “ass kicking” will use. I don’t want to call them concern trolls, because I understand the desire to take the high road and not become like the people they are going after.
On one level they are right, because if we on the left are going to kick some ass and engage in attacks we can’t use the right’s methods and tactics as a model. We have to be smarter.
I believe our funders and fighters can be smarter. Create strategic plans of actions that hit the right in behavior-altering ways. It’s possible, I’ve done it and I’ve seen it done. If you successfully deliver some short-term tactical, personal and media-friendly wins you get more support.
It might also be hard to find the people who will fund activities that go after the right’s institutions in a way that hurts them. A lot of them are nice people. But some are fighters.
I’ve found that when someone successfully puts the hurt on a right wing person or organization, even in some small manner, the right brings out the lawyers, guns and money. They go after whomever had the audacity to challenge them with every tool at their disposal and the full force of their multi-million dollar arsenal. One of their tools is to attack the associations of whomever they feel is hurting them. They are hoping to tie some bad behavior by an activist to a known do-gooder sponsor, or politicians so they will be forced to disavow the activist. Especially it the activist did anything that didn’t follow the rules the good guys are supposed to use.
On the right, this is not a problem. “Yeah, we know that James O’Keefe lies, cheats and breaks the law. We got his back. We paid his fines, his legal fees and gave him a 2 million dollar budget to do more crap. So what? It’s our money and he got the results we wanted. What are you going to do, sic a journalist on us? Oooh I’m so scared.”
Of course if the left does do some serious damage to a right wing group the corporate media will hear the story of the poor multi-million dollar institution that is a “victim” of this horrible unjustified attack.
Corporate media knows to instantly go into “both sides do it” mode. They will balance one successful attack by the left against 40 years of attacks from the right. The media don’t want to be seen as biased. (Which, btw, is now part of their inner monologue because of constant attacks from the right calling them liberal. They’ve learned that for every horrific thing done by the right they must include one on the left, even if they have to create ridiculous false equivalencies.)
Also the media doesn’t want anyone to think that they are being easy on a liberal activist. Part of that is guilt, that someone is doing what they should have done, which is pushing back on the right wing institutions that push lies and propaganda with reckless abandon.
Another problems with going after organizations directly is that the base of the right wing media will crow, “See, see? I told ya they were coming after us! It just took them 40 years. I told ya Soros was behind this! Alex Jones was right!” To which I say, so what?
If I were to talk to these super rich people I would tell them about my method of kicking the right wing media’s ass in the revenue stream. It had a long term strategic goal as well as visible, media- friendly wins. It involved getting the group to attack each other from the inside. It hurt them in the area they cared about most, revenue. It involved using the marketplace, the law, brand reputations and the right’s own repugnant speech against themselves. It took advantage of their overconfidence and their thinking they could do or say anything and not feel any consequences.
I would tell these rich funders that regular people have kicked the right-wing media in the ass by being organized, focused and persistent. If they want to get in on it with support, they can. We did it before and we can do it again.
Anger can be very energizing, combining it with some specific goals and funders who want to kick ass can be a powerful force. Who’s going to do it?
I sometimes think about that scene in Batman, who are the heroes we need now?