Democrats & Liberals Archives

Use The Trolls

Extremism is one of the great tricks of the Republican Party.

Not just extreme positions, but extreme rhetoric. Republican movements gain adherents through extreme rhetoric, tailored to specific groups. They have done this for a generation.

It started in the 1970s, with the direct-mail solicitations of Richard Viguerie. He used direct mail to stoke the resentments of specific target groups and extract money from them. It is a trick that was later picked-up by a host of entrepreneurial preachers. It didn’t matter if Pat Robertson looked crazy to New York liberals – what mattered was that he was beloved by his own audience.

This is still the m.o. of the right wing. Say what you want to stoke the hatred of your deepest supporters, but have your candidates back off that a little. Whether the hatred is toward women, blacks, gays, hispanics, journalists, liberals – it doesn’t matter. What matters is targeting the audience, giving them what they want, bringing them in, and issuing non-denial denials when you get caught.

There’s an extreme for every taste, in every medium. You can have it religious or secular, in any race, color, creed or sex. You want it blond and leggy – we’ll give it to you blond and leggy. Want it black – we’ll give it to you black. And (this is important) an attack on one becomes an attack on all. Trolls stick together.

This brings us to the present day. It brings us to the Internet, which can both narrowcast and broadcast. And it brings us to Howard Dean.

Just in the last month The Trolls have discovered Dean. They have figured out he’s for real, and that he’s not going away. They are searching for a meme to control him.

Use Google News to track Dean stories, and you’ll catch the Trolls under their bridges.

He’s a “Saddamite” – he opposed the attack on Iraq so he must be for Saddam Hussein.

He’s an “ultra-liberal,” a loser who will be easy meat for Bush. The trolls have been in power so long they think they’re the center. (Maybe they are.)

He’s a phony moderate, a “tax-and-spender,”, even though his only big “tax increase” was a property-tax equalization aimed at reproducing the conditions that made Bush the “education governor.”

He’s not just a phony moderate, then, he’s a Communist, like Nikita Khruschev.

This last is from Rush Limbaugh, who has quickly gone from amusement, to concern, to paranoid fear of Howard Dean, looking for any meme that might stick. Limbaugh thinks the “Nikita Dean” line is so funny he figures on using it for months, forgetting that much of his audience was born after Khruschev was removed by Brezhnev and Kosygin in 1964. Rush loves the "big lie" technique, much like...Nikita Khruschev. (Nikita Limbaugh, let's repeat that....nyaah, I keep seeing a leggy model, don't you?)

Or, let’s go after his kid. This last attack, by Troll Doug Schmitz, was so vile that the Trollite American Daily actually removed this from their own site. (Fortunately, Google cache doesn’t forget.)

This last story, which may or may not still be in cache when you read this, is my point. We need some volunteers to look for this garbage, the kind of stuff intended only for Troll-ears, the kind of stuff that’s quickly spread via Limbaugh and Drudge but which (sometimes) is too rough even for them. We need you to save it.

We need to build a file of this swill, we need to collect these writers, and we need to use this to persuade moderates and Republicans that it is they who are supporting extremism, not us. We need some volunteers who will regularly search such sites as American Daily, Chronwatch, CNS and WorldNetDaily. We need to find the people who give Drudge and Limbaugh their talking points, and expose them to the light of day.

Despite their protests to the contrary, nothing remotely like this organized hate exists on the left. Molly Ivins is not the same thing as Limbaugh. She is a journalist who checks her facts, not a polemicist.

We need to put some kinds of commentary out-of-bounds for the sake of democracy, and the only way I know to do that is to make those who exercise “free speech” pay the price, in responsibility. When the time comes I want the Republican National Committee hammered with questions about its Trolls. The Bush people must be forced either to endorse or reject them.

Unlike every other medium that has come before it, the Internet lets you narrowcast and broadcast at the same time. Let’s use that to smoke out the Trolls, discredit them, destroy them, and in the process destroy their favorite President, George W. Bush.

Posted by Danablankenhorn at August 9, 2003 9:15 PM