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Without factoring "brainwashing" into the equation for 2024, we're doomed to another far-right, extremist administration, no matter what pollsters say.
Republicans will still vote for extremists, in increasing numbers to 2020
Happy Monday to TAT readers,
Well, it’s Monday, so let’s get the hard stuff out of the way first. I woke up on a mission to help people understand, the insanity that has gripped our nation in the Trump era. What has prompted today’s article is that Saturday, I posted a very short, factually precise truth about today’s GOP. As followers know by now, I don’t support any party, choosing to adopt the traditions and heed the warnings of our first POTUS, George Washington. From my perspective, they do not support the ideals ensconced in our founding documents. Today’s GOP, brainwashed by professional influencers, makes Washington’s threat advisory from his Farewell Address in 1796, all too terrifying.
As I noted pre-emptively on Saturday’s post, I would lose several subscribers by telling the truth about today’s version of the GOP. I lost 9 and I haven’t the slightest regret. I write to express truth that matters on issues of acute national security threats, not to acquire subscribers. The insider threat to our nation did not disappear when Trump left office or for that matter, after indictments for 91 felonies. The conversion of the once proud GOP into an extremist movement did not happen overnight, nor expressly with Trump. The premise of today’s article is, “if we don’t see the threat accurately, we cannot protect ourselves.”
This has everything to do with my expertise in Narrative Warfare. It has nothing to do with my political beliefs. If you see today’s article as political in nature, it may have more to do with your own political identity, rather than the acute threat that MAGA is to our nation. For a fuller understanding of Narrative Warfare and today’s Republican Party, I include the following link to my “Lincoln Project” podcast interview, just prior to the 2022 election.
What makes today’s GOP so dangerous to American democracy is not that they are Republicans but that they have been, in 1960’s terms, “brainwashed.” Although I am not necessarily a fan of the term, “brainwashed,” I use it in order for many readers to better understand the points I am making. In other words, the un-American ideology of MAGA triggers them subconsciously and that they have little to no power to resist these triggers. This is actually how “narrative works.” There are plenty of professional terms floating around this phenomenon, but narrative is actually what is occurring. The most succinct explanation of narrative is: “it is how human beings make meaning out of everything they experience, based on their own, specific identity.” Our identities evolve over the course of our lifetime which means that they can be shaped by a wide variety of factors. Propaganda is one method, albeit it a long process. This is the route that FOX news took. This applies to group identities, as well as individuals.
For example, most of America loves football but… we become rabidly tribal regarding different teams vs. our team. The identities of Cleveland Brown fans (yes, I am a long-suffering Browns fan) are similar in terms of loyalty but share very little in common with Cincinnati Bengal fans, even though they are in the same small state of Ohio. Marketing Cleveland Browns products based on their specific identity traits would be a success, everywhere but in Southwestern Ohio, in the Cincinnati area. Tribalizing is powerful when it comes to defending the tribe. If this sounds a lot like US politics, it is because it is precisely the same.
In NW/ Narrative Warfare, identity is the key and those who understand how to analyze specific identities have the upper hand. To date, there are very few of these specialists available to the US national security community. This is due to the entrenched but failed, defense contractor system and ridiculous Pentagon doctrine on such matters. I have written on this often and so won’t lay it all out again. For those with interest though, this earlier TAT article and its embedded links will provide detailed insight into our self-imposed risk.
There are only two ways to fully understand the identity of an audience: first is to know how to do the research and two, build it yourself over a long time. In this case, the principled conservatism of POTUS Eisenhower or H.W. Bush has over time and with the advent of FOX News, completely reshaped the specific identity of the Republican Party. It is no longer remotely close to principled conservatism, but an extremist movement advocating for our enemies, advocating for unbridled Oligarchism and against the keystone of our republic, our constitution.
Fortunately, FOX and company don’t understand identity. The problem is, they do understand audience conditioning. This simply means that instead of analyzing their audiences, the built a controllable identity over nearly thirty years of subversive programming.
Now that we understand the criticality of identity to predictable influence operations, let’s move on to the threat imposed by having one of only two, major American political parties fully conditioned to MAGA ideology. As a quick note regarding the use of the word, “conditioned,” this is exactly the same as Pavlov’s famous experiment involving a dog and a “conditioned response to a bell.”
As it pertains to the Republican Party and FOX News, three-word chants like, lock her up, drain the swamp, stop the steal etc., in conjunction with a color pattern, music, symbolism etc. are no different from Pavlov’s bell. They trigger a conditioned response that is predictable. This is how an entire political party, over the roughly 30 years of FOX has “conditioned” their audience to accept and tribally defend such un-American concepts as God, guns and Trump. In fact, if you Google the phrase, God, Guns and Trump, you will be astounded at the pages of far-right websites that appear on your computer screen. This is conditioning, brainwashing, propaganda and all together, Narrative Warfare against our Republic, by people brainwashed to predictably act on their subconscious impulses. Expecting these folks to act rationally is little different than asking the sun to rise in the West tomorrow morning. They have almost no control of these impulses.
The MAGA movement has made brainwashed sheep of once principled conservatives. They will say and do, exactly as conditioned to, by professional influencers.
As it pertains to next year’s election, there is simply no reason to expect anything different from voters who vote Republican based on their identity. Once established, it is a very hard sell to undo such conditioning as described above. Like a river cutting through a mountain over a millennium or so, it requires years, sometimes generations to alter an established identity in a group. We see this all across America with different ethnic communities sustaining traditions harkening back to native homelands. Yes, they’re all Americans but there is still, nation of origin identity traits. Kilts, Mariachi music, lederhosen, Feng Shui, hula, high tea etc. are just some minor examples of different identity traits that endure. Sure, all can be American by citizenship but generations’ old traits, are still part and parcel of the overall identity of most citizens.
So, what do we do about this threat from an intentionally curated identity for the MAGA folks? First, never ask the US national security community for help because they just don’t know how to address this threat and refuse to learn. We will have to do this ourselves, by actually engaging privately and publicly on what our national identity entails, not the fake patriotism of MAGA. This is called a narrator, audience relationship. Everyone can be a narrator and throughout our lives, we all do advocate for ourselves, based on our needs and how our identity perceives those needs.
So that DHS and the FBI understand, my frustration with their failure regarding adversarial influencers like Russia, global far-right movements etc. is more due to their unwillingness to learn and execute a modern strategy. The same applies to the Pentagon and IC/ Intelligence Communities. Washington is overflowing with alleged experts, and most are the same that have failed us for forty years plus. Also, as evidenced by GOP Congressmen raising hell with DHS regarding their plans for a disinformation board, our nation is defenseless again foreign and domestic influencers.
As that I have lived and professionally spent most of my uniformed career in the field of influence, I have seen the devastating effects stemming from our persistent failures in this field. We failed at stemming Islamic Narrative Warfare and we now have failed with a far more sinister, domestic threat coming from our own, voting citizens. Sure, all across the Beltway and beyond, the national security community at large is holding countless, expensive conferences, authorizing case studies and giving away our tax dollars to those with a record of failure, not success. This will not save us during next year’s election season.
We nearly lost our republic to those brainwashed GOP voters and their violent extremist mobs of January 6th, 2021. In the meantime, nothing of substance has been done to counteract the global far-right movement, that shares ideology with today’s Republican party. Due to Svengali-like media along the lines of FOX, NewsMax, OAN and the myriad of other websites calling themselves news but actually, propaganda sites for far-right ideology, the number of Republican voters who voted for Trump or trumpish candidates in 2016, grew in number by 2020 and there will almost certainly be more, in 2024. To those in my field, this was predictable but to our national security community and the army of election pollsters, there was and still is shock.
Now I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know my field well. Our Think/ Do Tank, Narrative Strategies, is the cutting-edge organization that understands this field. There are no surprises to us, just fear over what another far-right administration will do to our nation.
DHS somehow believes that there is only a CYBER answer to this threat. How foolish! Influence is a human endeavor and machines, as of now cannot understand how humans make meaning. Most researchers in the CYBER realm are going down rabbit holes with considering that they are on paths that cannot produce success. The FBI, the same. As noted earlier, Republican congressmen bar DHS from even trying to outline the parameters of the propaganda used against our nation. Even if there were a “disinformation board,” fact-checking does not work in combatting false, established narratives. Only better narratives, professionally constructed and managed over time, can make a difference.
As I said before and will say until no one will listen, American citizens will have to right the USS America, by ourselves. A toxic political landscape where parties compete for identities, leaves us hopelessly paralyzed in hyper-partisanship. The right is mired in far-right, embedded extremism and the left is still talking about policy, instead of like President Biden, fighting “for the soul of our nation.” POTUS is spot on, but where the heck is the rest of the team? Like I said, I will not advocate for any party, but I will sure as hell work against the GOP who is incapable of shedding their extremist, curated political identity.
The whole point of today’s TAT is to present the problem as succinctly as possible. To recap, our problem is that today’s Republican Party is fully committed to the un-American narrative of the far-right. Their identity will continue to produce the same results until someone does something about it. There is nothing our defense community can do about it with their current tools and understanding. This puts American democracy at severe risk of being converted into a White, Christian Nationalist nation run by authoritarians and oligarchs. It is precisely that simple. Trump very nearly accomplished this in one term. With his base intact, nothing being done about the influencers who peddle far-right/ GOP propaganda, he or someone like him will succeed in another term.
If you don’t believe me… look who is really running the House of Representatives. There isn’t one single principled conservative among them. If there were, they would be raising so much hell that you could hear it in your sleep. If pollsters and the US national security community don’t get serious about this threat, they will be out of a job. Not because they are not good, committed citizens but because… there will be no more American democracy.
In the end, we should have heeded Washington’s warning in his Farewell address. We haven’t and his vision for an America dominated by parties or “factions” in colonial terms, has come to pass.
I will conclude today’s article with the following introduction to Washington’s Farewell Address, regarding factions. They are ominous.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty. - President George Washington - Farewell Address - September 19, 1796
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true—and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest instead of warming it should consume. - President George Washington - Farewell Address - September 19, 1796
They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils and modified by mutual interests. However, combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion. - President George Washington - Farewell Address - September 19, 1796
My very best for everyone’s week,