I’m more or less copying this from a blog by Tom Murphy – Do the Math; the section called “Brainwashing Perfected.”

He is describing the “clever and effective” way that right-wing media outlets appear to manipulate their audience. They hammer the messages:

  1. The condescending elitists on the other side think you’re dumb. That they say you are dumb proves they are elitists who don’t live in the real world.
  2. [We all know these elitists who think you are stupid, are conspiring against you for their own elitist advantage. You are being held down and your real concerns dismissed.]
  3. However you are smart. You get through life. You know what’s what. We know that you’re smart and we trust that intelligence.
  4. We can trust you to understand the following insight ‘X’. The the elitists will dismiss and label this insight as stupid, or a lie, or as being conspiracy theory. However, being smart you will know it (in your bones, in your gut) to be true, because you understand how bad these people are. And it makes sense.
  5. [You know the intellectual elites hiding things by saying that what we are telling you is wrong, so it must be right to point out they are conspiring to deceive you].
  6. Only we can be trusted to be bold enough to tell you the real truth. Everyone else will deceive you deliberately. Don’t bother even looking at the pack of lies in “lamestream” media outlets, and warn your friends not to look either. These media are all oddly and independently consistent with each other, because they are conspiring to deceive you and leave you helpless against their conspiracy to strip you of rights and work.

The audience feels belonging, validation, purpose, and smart; they have the secret real knowledge that the morons on the other side do not have, or willfully ignore. 


This works because of a prior creation of a sharp distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’. That helps people to not ask the obvious question of whether the elite on their own side is conspiring against them.

Creating the distinction is easy if you can get at least one side to spit on the other and abuse it continually. That will then eventually cause the other side to behave similarly. This causes continual tension and the two sides cannot talk to each other, and the division becomes even stronger.

If someone is made into a good exemplar of ‘us’ then they are trustworthy, or you can believe them. If someone can be made into an exemplar of ‘them’, then they are untrustworthy liars…. You don’t have to listen or understand – you can accept.

They must be evil, mislead and lying. They have nothing that is worth hearing.

If they think something that contradicts what we say and feel, they must be wrong, by virtue of that disagreement.

However, it is true there are lots of people on the left, who do spend a lot of time accusing the opposition of being deluded, stupid, redneck, idiotic, etc. This is simply falling into the right media’s trap 🙂

However difficult it might be to face abuse with politeness, being polite costs nothing, and might help break down the barriers, and get real conversations starting.

As I have said before, people on the right may be completely correct about their feeling that living standards have declined, that jobs are precarious, that futures are constrained, that government ignores them, that some billionaires are suppressing them or profiteering from them, that their culture is dismissed and threatened by others. They may be wrong about the causes, and those they support may be committed to making everything they fear worse…. but that is a different matter.