It’s no secret that the American right wing has taken a drastic step to the right in recent years. The obvious cause of this is the election of Trump and his particular brand of politics. He has fueled a new worldview for conservatives, offering a moral crusade against the satanic deep state in response to the meaningless feeling of real politics.
The reactionary claiming most of the headlines recently has been Marjorie Taylor Greene, a new Representative from Virginia. Greene has expressed vocal support for QAnon, called mass shootings false flag operations and blamed JFK Jr. ‘s plane crash on Hillary Clinton. Greene was also removed from all her committee roles on Feb. 4 in a vote with 11 Republican representatives joining the Democrats. Still, she won her election with over 70 percent of the vote. Republican constituents have no problem with someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene, in fact, many of them prefer her to an average Republican.
Another player in the media bubble is “MyPillow guy” Mike Lindell. Lindell was an advisor to Trump during his presidency, and has recently made a two-hour documentary detailing the alleged rigging of the 2020 election title “Absolute Proof.” The film is an unhinged rant, but it’s hard not to have some pity for the man. He and millions like him have been driven to this insanity by an unending stream of propaganda to which they themselves go on to contribute.
The Republican Party is not an innocent victim in this wave of radicalization. They were not commandeered by these new players. The party actively encouraged the ideas that fueled their rise over the last five years. Once it was clear that Trump could get support, Republicans fell in line behind him and his brand of politics.
To be clear, I hold no nostalgia for the old Republican Party. The party of neoconservatism was even more brutal to human life. No one should want a return to Bush or Reagan. Going back further, one of the Republican Party’s key issues was opposing integration. However, the domestic cultural effects of this new wave of insanity seem uniquely tragic.
It’s become increasingly clear that the Internet has fundamentally changed the way Americans’ worldviews are shaped. Social media is a perfect breeding ground for phenomena like QAnon. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this new wave of right wing conspiracists would never exist without their spread through social media. The internet offers a never-ending outlet for political content. The more you consume, the more importance you attach to it.
This kind of obsession with politics is by no means limited to the far right. Whatever your political persuasion, there are plenty of content farms churning out media for your consumption. For almost anything to the left of QAnon, this media has a sedating effect, cementing its viewers’ opinions without calling them to any real action. Any concern for how power is being exercised is quelled. The far right’s media, however, calls its viewers to actions like what we saw at the Capitol on Jan. 6. This kind of action is still meaningless, but it betrays a dangerous willingness to commit violent action in the name of false justice.
Propaganda being distributed en masse isn’t anything new in America, of course. However, there is a distinctly nihilistic flavor to this new wave of insanity. The propaganda isn’t being made in smoke-filled rooms by government agencies; it’s both made and consumed by an army of mindless reactionaries. The creators attach utmost importance to their artificial movement, genuinely believing they are purifying the nation of evil. In actuality, they are doing absolutely nothing but screaming into the void and occasionally staging a riot.
The scariest part about this entire situation is that there is no obvious solution. Are laws needed to police content on social media? The government certainly shouldn’t be trusted with that kind of informational control. Trump and the Republican Party have created a horde of reality-denying losers, and no amount of discussion can cure these people. The only real solution would be an abandonment of endless political media consumption from all Americans. To do this, the politics-shaped hole left in people would have to be filled with a truly effective political movement fighting for real justice.