One of the most successful propaganda campaigns I have witnessed in my lifetime to turn people against their own best interest is the “Free Stuff” campaign.
All a politician has to do to rally against a progressive policy of any kind is to claim it is just another lazy person wanting “Free Stuff”. Never mind that the vast majority of “Free Stuff” goes to a very small percentage of the population at the top of the food chain and forget the fact that we actually pay for that “free stuff” collectively through our membership fees we call taxes; it’s not about “free stuff” it’s about priorities.
I think the best way to counter this neo-liberal/neo-conservative propaganda is to remind people of this at every opportunity. We need to remind people that the vast majority of their tax dollars are wasted on things that they do not agree with.
For example, whenever someone tries to play gotcha with me, I always agree with whatever point they are trying to make. Since most of the time, the entirety of their point can fit on a bumper sticker, I simply agree and take their point to the next level that invariably they haven’t thought of because most of the time, these are still good people that are just ignorant. I call it “Moral Shock Therapy”.
For example, a common slam is “Why should my tax dollars pay for lazy people to eat? I say, “I completely agree! Then I follow up with, “We should have mandatory abortions for people who cannot afford to feed their kids… that would be a lot cheaper than having to feed them for 18 years!” You really should see the look on their faces. I then listen to their logical contortionism trying to explain why they are against abortion but somehow FOR not feeding hungry kids. I’ve used the same argument for drug testing welfare recipients. Usually the discussion ends up with them saying the government should take the kids away from the loser parents and put them in foster care. I say “But wouldn’t that be a lot more expensive than food stamps?” Why not provide opportunities for these parents to work for their money with livable wages? These billion dollar companies, companies like Walmart, are making record profits so shouldn’t their employees be able to afford to eat?
My point here is to confront these people disseminating this bullshit and refocus them on what our priorities are in this country. After my moral shock therapy treatment, people seem to be more open to talk about what our tax dollars should be used for.
This approach seems to work for me but it is by no means perfect. My point is that everyone should expect this bullshit and find a strategy that works for each one of us. We cannot continue to let it go and assume it is just one ignorant fool. You may not convince the instigator but may cause all of the bystanders to think twice before buying into that mentality. Fighting propaganda is a full time job and if you want your country (world) back, it’s time to stand up and fight for it.
If anyone else has some helpful arguments or experiences they would like to share to use against the plethora of right wing memes out there, I’d love to hear them. AND if you happen to be one of those right wing purveyors of bumper sticker insults and would like to throw a few out there… I’m sure we would welcome the practice shooting them down.