Today Joan Walsh and David Atkins have talked about how politicians and others are distancing themselves from Bundy.

Roger Ailes owns Cliven Bundy now: How dumb opportunism became a right-wing nightmare. – Salon, Walsh

Republicans lie down with racist welfare rancher Bundy, wake up with racist fleas – Hullabaloo, Atkins

Chompers by drainhookHere is something I’d like everyone to notice, and I want you to think about different ways to handle this in the future.

When someone that the Right or the Left has embraced is caught doing or saying something bad the MSM go to the supporters and ask, “So, is he still your guy?” Depending on the offense, and the skill of the people being asked the question, the MSM often let them off the hook. For example, “Here is the statement from their office, saying they deplore racism.” Story over.

Now, if the person who made or said the offensive thing is on the Left, the MSM will give their supporters an opportunity to distance themselves. However, the RW media keep using that offense as a club… forever.  They don’t care if the supporters distanced themselves, the offense wasn’t even that offensive, or was a lie like how they framed Shirley Sherrod.

The few left wing media outlets that actually exists, also often accept the statements and let them off the hook. We use reason and logic and treat them fairly, although we might question the seriousness of the statement. Eventually we say, “They denounced the statement, no need to keep bringing it up.”

Fine. Good for us! But the activist in me wonders:

  • Is a simple denouncement statement good enough?
  • How else can we use their earlier uncritical embracing of the person to drag them down?
  • Do they secretly still get credit from their base if they “dog whistle” the denouncement?
  • Can we go to the people who still are embracing Bundy in his racism and ask them about the denouncements? Example:

Nevada Sen. Heller’s office has immediately condemned the ‘appalling and racist statements’ and have distanced themselves from Bundy, how do you feel about Heller now? Was it a cowardly thing to do, to throw Bundy under the bus?

It appears the racist views in Bundy are integrated into his world view. It’s not something easily carved out. But the statements condemning him make it appear the comments and the person live in separate worlds. (This is actually a feature of the RW authoritarian mindset, the ability to never “merge the files” as Bob Altemeyers says in The Authoritarians.

If we don’t want to hold their feet to the fire, because we are rational and compassionate, who can we get to do it for us?  I suggest we set up the right to do it for us.

Think about the term, “Throw them under the bus.” That is about one ally betraying another. It is about lack of loyalty from the point of view of one ally and the craven opportunity of another.  It  hurts when outsiders denounce you, but it hurts worse when YOUR OWN GUY, “stabs you in the back” or  ”lets you down.” Later they will remember how someone didn’t “stand with them” or how they “sold them down the river.”  We’ve seen how external attacks can strengthen groups, and we know that internal attacks can weaken them. Let’s facilitate the internal attacks.

I don’t really want to be the attacker. The right wear attacks by us as a badge of honor. They use it as solidarity. There are times when our compassion and empathy stops us from capitalizing on their mistakes. I’d rather figure out a way for my opponent to be attacked by their own side. That is betrayal, that is the internal backstabbing that hurts them deeply.

There are various violent metaphors to describe what I would like to see happen, like “they eat their own” or “they shot themselves in the foot.” In politics the MSM likes to use the phrase, ”in disarray.”

We are going to come across opportunities like this in the future. What might we to do to encourage and hasten their own internal dissent and destruction?  People who are heroes to the right will say or do something horrific in the future. One of the horrific things they say might be something liberal, which is the ultimate betrayal! How can we get them to keep those “hero” millstones around their necks and watch while they demand their own people walk the plank while wearing them?

Why not get the right to use their  own lack of empathy and compassion to our benefit? When they feel betrayed by their own, they will have no mercy.

Right now the media is helping supporters take off the “hero” millstone and is giving them life preservers. They will keep doing it in the future.  Let’s look at our current social media tools, existing media actions and current standard responses and use them to our benefit.  Stop letting them off the hook. The catch and release program for right-wing extremists is over.

Chompers by drainhook, Creative Commons license.