Tag Archives: Kirk: The MAGA Doctrine

The End of Political Debate and the Creation of Alternative Reality

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein show in It’s Even Worse Than It Looks that since the 1970s dominant forces within the Republican Party have been working to delegitimize their political opponents and erode public confidence in their political institutions. The authors focus in particular on Republican Party threats to bring down economic hardship on Americans if a Democrat President doesn’t yield to their demands — without any compromise. It’s a helpful little book that puts today’s surreal miasmic fog of words, claims, assertions, accusations into context.

I was reminded once again of Charlie Kirk’s The MAGA Doctrine and how his political opponents are portrayed. They are not a Party to be reasoned with. The thought of compromise can never occur. The Party is a collection of people who are literal villains, evil characters who must be removed entirely from any position of influence.

As an outsider, I look in vain for serious political debate between the two major parties in the US. What I see, instead, is one side constructing an Alternative Reality bubble. Their words only have meaning to anyone within that bubble and no-one else.

Obviously democracy can only work where there are tolerance and acceptance of the legitimacy of the other side’s position. Throw that out and we have a kind of intolerance that allows for no rational cooperation or reconciliation. That’s when one enters dangerous territory.

In this post I document one dataset of this delegitimizing process from The MAGA Doctrine by Charlie Kirk. This is a book that Donald Trump highly commends to his supporters. I take it as one fair indication of how the pro-Trump Republicans and associated far right supporters perceive their political opponents, the Democratic Party. Read the excerpts of what Kirk writes about his political opponents and see if you can find any room for serious discussion or debate. All quotes are from the electronic ePub edition, so no page numbers, sorry. By the way, as an Australian I find myself completely flummoxed by the very idea that any politician in the U.S. — Sanders or Ocasio-Cortez — is actually a “socialist”. Kirk’s understanding of “socialism” is simply perverse.

. . .

Democrats ignore facts; are deluded “socialists”.

All thanks to the free market socialists want to destroy. If anything, economic growth rates and progress have slowed in the past few decades as the welfare state, to which the socialists give all the credit for such advances, grew. The new socialists and Democrats steadfastly ignore these facts. And it is this delusion that makes the MAGA Doctrine more important than ever.

. . .

Democrats are immoral and tyrannical. read more »

“Why I Became a MAGA Conservative”

This is my second post on Charlie Kirk’s “manifesto” of the “Trump movement”, The MAGA Doctrine. My first post was a broad overview of the prism through which Kirk sees the world. Towards the end of his book Kirk reflects on how it all started, on what set him on “the road toward conservatism”:

Who is Charlie Kirk?

From “About the Author” in The MAGA Doctrine:

CHARLIE KIRK is the founder and president of Turning Point USA, the largest and fastest-growing conservative youth activist organization in the country with over 250,000 student members, over 150 full-time staff, and a presence on over 1,500 high school and college campuses nationwide. Charlie is also the chairman of Students for Trump, which aims to activate one million new college voters on campuses in battleground states in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. His social media reaches over 100 million people per month, and according to Axios, his is one of the top 10 most engaged Twitter handles in the world. He is also the host of The Charlie Kirk Show, which regularly ranks among the top news shows on Apple podcast charts.

As I look forward to a MAGA future, I also remember how I first started on the road toward conservatism.

I have a sixth-grade social studies teacher to thank—though not in the way one usually thanks teachers and other mentors. Deviating from the usual civics lessons around the time of the Iraq War’s start, this teacher railed against then-president George W. Bush. I would come eventually to see the war in Iraq as a mistake myself and to see the Trump-era Republican Party as an improvement over the Republican Party of the Bushes.

But of course the teacher couldn’t stop there. He went on to denounce the United States in general. He made the whole country’s history sound like a litany of evil, from genocide to slavery to oppression of women, capped by imperialism and mistreatment of immigrants. That’s a lot to foist on sixth-graders, though that’s normal in schools these days.

You may have had similar experiences in childhood yourself. It was one of those moments in which you know the authority figure probably has most of his basic facts right, but you still have a nagging feeling that he’s missing something, something you can’t immediately identify. You also know that even though you’ve only been alive and part of this country for a few years, you feel attacked. This place that you love and trust is being trashed.

It’s not that you believe the United States can do no wrong. You don’t dismiss the evils of slavery or think other terrible things from the history books are make-believe. You have a strong suspicion, though, that for all our mistakes, things worked out pretty well—not just for a few but for the population as a whole—eventually. There’s something fundamentally good about the United States, at least as compared to so many troubled and brutal places throughout the world, throughout history.

Not just good about the United States—great.

The teacher wasn’t suggesting everything about the United States was hopeless, either, but he made clear he thought that conservatives were leading the country down the wrong road. They were fools, he seemed to suggest, who thought in their arrogance that the country could do no wrong. The best hope for us all, then, was liberalism, and not just classical liberalism but the left. A good dose of self-doubt and shame might rein in this country gone awry, and voting for the Democrats was probably step one, at least if we took seriously the implied civics lesson underlying everything else we were hearing in social studies class.

That’s an interesting and revealing “confession” or “testimonial”. It reminds me of the conversion experiences of the religious and moments that led others down the path towards extremist radicalization (see side box for some discussions about this process). Here are my thoughts as I read the above:

Commentary

I have a sixth-grade social studies teacher to thank

There’s a warning there. One would hope there would be time and opportunity to learn far more about the many parts that make this world work before letting one’s views solidify.

Deviating from the usual civics lessons around the time of the Iraq War’s start, this teacher railed against then-president George W. Bush. I would come eventually to see the war in Iraq as a mistake myself and to see the Trump-era Republican Party as an improvement over the Republican Party of the Bushes.

read more »

Liberals, the new “Jews” (with a sidestep into religious debates)

I wanted to understand the mind of the Trump supporter a little better so I read The  MAGA  Doctrine by  Charlie  Kirk (Donald Trump highly recommended it in a Tweet). In the Preface Kirk tells us that the book is a kind of manifesto of what Trump supporters think he is all about:

I’ve seen President Trump speak in front of high school students, my fellow young conservative activists eager to hear him — and afterward, I often hear students ask me, is there a key book or manifesto I can study to really understand the philosophy behind this burgeoning movement? . . . . Now there is. I would not presume to speak for the president, but I will try as best I can to explain the old ideas underlying the fresh thinking he brings to a country that desperately needs it.

Before I finished it an eerie recollection of another book kept intruding into my mind, one that I read many years ago as a historical document behind another disruptive right-wing movement. That was Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. No, of course neither Kirk nor Trump are Nazis or advocating the extermination of Jews and war to find living space for Germans. As someone else has pointed out, Trump is something of the polar opposite of a Nazi in that he enables the Business world to rule government (Nazis controlled every aspect of life including Business). So what was it that brought Mein Kampf to my mind?

Mein Kampf blamed Germany’s woes on the betrayal of evil-minded or simply immoral Jews (that’s my recollection, at least). MAGA Doctrine had a parallel theme. All USA’s woes (and some of them imaginary) can be blamed on a betrayal of traitorous, immoral “liberals”.

Just as Mein Kampf, as I recall it, failed to understand clearly the way German society worked by replacing clear-headed analysis with imagined conspiracies and betrayals and selfish anti-German motives of Jews and those who let Jews have their way, so Kirk shows no evidence of a clear-headed, informed awareness of either US or world history. Everything, all history and current affairs, are seen through the perspective of a “betrayal of liberals”.

Simply replace Jews with “liberals” and we have a book with a very similar theme.

Liberals appear by definition to be unpatriotic, hypocritical, stupid, sinister. And they lie with their “corrupt media”. It is impossible to reconcile the way Kirk portrays their policies with reality as anyone who has seriously studied them and their philosophy would know.

Ignorance pervades the book. Karl Marx — and by extension, all “socialists”, and by extension, many “liberals” — is even said to be opposed to any form of fair exchange of goods.

There can be no honest debate or discussion with a mind that is convinced from the outset that the opponent is a hostile subversive who wants to undermine all that you believe is good.

There can only by mud-slinging and misrepresentation from the MAGA side.

. . .

Then I noticed something else on the web, this time by someone accusing others with alternative views of Jesus of being hell-bent on attacking and destroying Christianity. I guess it’s the same with some biblical scholars, too. Some of them find it necessary to personally attack those (especially outsiders) who explore different perspectives on Christian origins so that the mainstream assumptions are called into question. The idea that others with radically different perspectives (and questions) might be seeking to be as intellectually honest as they can is something they seem not to be able to accept. (Yes, I’m thinking primarily of those who suggest it is legitimate to at least question the historicity fo Jesus just as some scholars have questioned the historicity of “biblical Israel”.) Such critics are assumed from the outset to be sinister, motivated by destructive and harmful wishes against the most precious beliefs humanity possesses.

And so the world turns.