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Sat Jun 18, 2016, 03:18 PM

The Dark History and Destructive Legacy of Republican Fearmongering

By Melissa McEwan for Blue Nation Review

June 17, 2016

n his piece, Sickness: The Media and Republicans Have Done the Orlando Killer’s Bidding, Peter Daou explains how the media and Republicans are doing the killer’s bidding by elevating him to celebrity status and turning him into a martyr of a specific ideology. Here, I follow up with an exploration of how the Republican culture of cultivating a base around othering, scapegoating, and fearmongering – combined with reckless rhetoric on the necessity of guns for self-defense – ensures that the sort of violence we saw in Orlando keeps happening.

One of the limitations of a predominantly two-party system in a vastly diverse nation, comprised of many demographics with competing desires and needs, is that parties have to form their base by building coalitions.

There are challenges for both parties in bringing together disparate groups who share enough in common to work in concert to elect a majority. But the biggest challenge facing Republican elites has always been how you convince people who aren’t obscenely wealthy to vote for a platform designed to exploit them.

Over decades, they developed and fine-tuned a strategy based on appealing to bigotry, to othering and scapegoating and victim-blaming. And then they dressed it up in cynical language about morality, patriotism, and nostalgia.

Long before Donald Trump had the chutzpah to make it his actual campaign slogan, the Republican Party was promising to Make America Great Again.

Usually couched in the deceivingly pleasant language of “tradition,” Republican leaders have long traded on the conjured idea of an American golden era, circa 1945 to 1960, after boys who were ripped from the arms of their sweethearts, and sent to another continent to fight a great war against tyranny and despair, had returned home as men, as heroes, and set to work, every last one of them, making babies with doting wives and grabbing the American Dream with both hands in the dawn of suburbia.


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