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“Political lynching”: Scott Morrison and Trumpian tactics

We have seen various flood metaphors used to describe ways to distort and destroy the democratic project in the Trump era. Scott Morrison’s accusation that he is the subject of a “political lynching” in the Robodebt inquiry fits neatly into the paradigm.

One of the strategists at the centre of creating President Donald Trump is Steve Bannon. He encouraged Trump to escalate his firehose of lies. The concept of a “firehose of falsehood” is a form of propaganda exploited by Putin constantly. The Rand corporation identified it and gave the device that label. The strategy involves a figure or regime lying hard and long enough, echoed through various platforms, to confuse the public.

Not only does the strategy escalate way beyond the ability to fact-check, but the public’s entire sense of faith in the institution of government is destroyed. This promotes helplessness and apathy.

Bannon encouraged the mendacious Trump to flood the zone with shit” to neutralise the impact of a media that could not be controlled and intimidated in quite the way that Putin’s media could. The Democrats did not concern Bannon as antagonists: removing the ability of the media to expose Trump’s hollow venality and vindictiveness in any powerful way served the team better.

Flooding the zone with shit involved maximising the use of Trump as an outrage generator. The more totally unprecedented and unhinged actions and quotes he spewed, the harder it has been for any media outlet or individual to maintain horror at a single instance. The new “normal” becomes something that would have been unthinkable a single presidential term back.

The Dark Money funded “think tanks” and strategists had spent decades creating an alternative reality for the “conservative” voter. With the aid of social media, Trump’s presidency took that basis and forged an epistemic crisis. There is no longer a shared knowledge base or ethical framework for making decisions about what a society needs to accomplish.

Trump and team’s lies about the 2020 election theft have led to the shattering of faith in the electoral process amongst Republicans. It is a dire development. The irony is that Republicans have been working for decades to tilt the electoral playing field even further in their favour than even the original structure had leaned. It is the Republicans who consistently “steal” elections.

All these lies have created a divorce between realities that it is fostering a second American civil war. The MAGA world believes that demonic forces of “woke” are an existential threat to themselves and the nation. The fact-based world fears the cultish MAGA Right will bring their guns to destroy what they fear.

One outcome of the firehose of lies and flooding the zone with shit is the discovery that breaking norms and the law are more tolerable if heaped up. A single wrong held to account is something society understands. When many wrongdoings are held to account, the situation can look like a “witch-hunt” by the opposition. One impeachment is comprehensible: two must mean the Democrats are anti-democratic.

The reward lies in doing as much wrong as can be managed.

The MAGA Right believes that old-school Republicans and the Democrats are lying about Trump’s crimes. The more repercussions he faces for the many norm-shattering acts and crimes that he has committed, the more certain they become that Biden leads an authoritarian state that works to try to destroy its opposition rather than contest it fairly.

So at every stage, Trump messages to that MAGA base that he is the target of a witch-hunt, or subject to the kind of horror perpetrated by Nazi Germany. Not only does he feed the grievance that enrages the crowd, but he also fundraises off it. It’s a lucrative con.

Australia is somewhat protected by compulsory voting, preferential voting and our independent electoral commissions from the perversions of democratic process that so mar the American system. The Albanese government is slowly deciding whether and how to tackle money and lies in politics to help arm us against America’s fate.

We have much to undo. The Coalition had taken us far down the competitive authoritarian pathway to illiberalism, echoing the Republican Party’s strategies. Corruption was so widespread in the Coalition decade that the National Anti-Corruption Commission is set to struggle to select the most pressing of the high number of referrals it has received.

Like the MAGA Republicans, Right wing figures here have begun to discredit the integrity of our elections.

Scott Morrison’s government used enough misleading material to warrant the publication of a book on the topic.

The US culture war “idiot balls,” like gas cooktops, keep bobbing up to distract from the monumental challenges that our era is facing. Even more shocking is the decision to use the benign Voice to Parliament both as a weapon against Albanese and to enrage their base with lies.

We must not allow our politicians to copy the MAGA Republicans’ despicable strategy that dictates a single wrongdoing is a mistake, but multiple wrongdoings can become the weapon to achieve victory. This is so even if politicians are only trying to save their reputations.

A firehose of wrongdoing must not become good political strategy here too.


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  1. wal cooper

    Well said.

  2. SkuzeMe

    Will someone please pinch me, I must be having one crazy hell of a dream.
    I thought I just heard Scotty trying to go all “woke” and apply a full-on “cancel-culture” approach to the findings of something that cannot be any more fundamentally conservative than a Royal bloody Commission. And the ho-hum regular mainstreams were reporting his “poor me” tantrum without any suggestion whatsoever to even question the flawed logic of his peurile rant.

  3. Andrew Smith

    Relevant as always and part of the media, communication and messaging strategy or tactics including dog whistling, faux freedom of speech etc.

    One’s concern is that it’s not just about targeting voters or media audience, it’s the media itself including monocultural producers, editors, presenters, journalists etc. with fewer resources and less support, who fall for BS, astroturfed or simply conditioned through repetition.

    Common tropes, seemingly heuristic shortcuts or BS include: Australia only has immigration for ‘growth’, migrants are bad for local employees, NESB migrants must have high level English to understand elections etc.; nowadays there seems to be neither push back nor demands for evidence, facts or analysis.

  4. Clakka

    Well said Lucy Hamilton

    The ‘fire hose’ of lies, and mountains of shit, coupled with rage and ‘cancel culture’ make it very difficult to ascertain the facts in this post-truth world. It certainly gives rise to a crisis of epistemology, and in the alternative a tendency to confusion, belief and outrage, rather than logical debate. And anyone wishing to debate will have to do mountains of research, and then move forward with well thought-out propositions. An exhausting pursuit, not engaged in by the majority, who now have an m.o. of cynicism first and foremost.

    Labor has a mountain of remedial works to undertake, along with moving forward with structural reform. And it would seem the NACC has decades of work in front of it already.

    Thank goodness Morrison’s shower of cant in parliament has been torn to shreds by objective media, and most of his buddies have cut and run. Nevertheless, the LNP have still got dunderhead Dutton and his feckless media droogs trying to suggest piety to MP’s rights usurps civil responsibility. At this stage in the attempt at devolution of Oz democracy, one can but hope the LNP will find a way to clean out the mongrels of the last few decades.

    The quicker Morrison can be unsealed, revealed and sent to the stocks the better. One just has to wonder whether the people of Cook could ever actually smell something fishy.

  5. Harry Lime

    Scomo is fortunate we don’t physically lynch people,just as we don’t shoot protestors…yet.There’s a very strong case for making some exceptions in extraordinary circumstances,such as former ‘leaders ‘in positions of power,who constantly abuse their position never take responsibility,bring the country into disrepute,and have an innate ability to self aggrandise.Even in some instances, appointing themselves as the overriding authority into several different Ministries,in SECRET.Like the soon to be martyred apex example of narcissism,Trump,of ‘witch hunt’ fame.the Liar might start perusing customised orange jump suits online….wouldn’t want any state issued rubbish. If Gold Logies were awarded for ‘most egregious arsehole’,Morrison would have a poolroom full of them.Here come the Judge,here come the Judge…

  6. andyfiftysix

    as was reported on another heading previosly, Greg Sheridan stated that if both sides are doing the wrong thing, it cant be corruption. The media is in on the action. Isnt it about time we held it to account? Dont tell me its part of democracy to dumb down to the imbecile level. We cant afford another “Murdoch” era. Its been a cancer on society.

    These nasty people have a hankering for authoritarianism and i think we should make them wish those wishes didnt come true. Send in the cops, arrest them and charge them with sedition. IN A SECRET TRIAL. strip them of their assets and make them go begging. You have to ask the question, is unlimited freedom warranted for some individuals if they are hell bent on bringing the rest of us down.

    Lets put it to rest shall we, these nasty people have no interest in us. When liberals say they got into parliament to make things better, you know they lie. They are only interested in their ideology of no government, law of the jungle for all.

    Scott Morrison should shut his face. What a total disgrace claiming to be the victim. How far up his arse is this guy? And nobody in his family says boo to him? How sick is he. Somebody please sue him, put him on the dock, i want to see him beg. I have every right to be angry and outraged. He wants us to live by christian teachings, well he bloody better be prepared to eat his words.

  7. andyfiftysix

    to anyone out there who can manipulate photos, i would love to see Morrison and Murdoch in orange jump suites. Yes i know its strickly american, but the symbolism is worth its weight in gold.

  8. New England Cocky

    With USA as an ally why does Australia need any other enemies?

  9. GL


    Scummo is our version of Trump, with the same giant, but fragile, ego and malignant narcissism but with extra added religious fanaticism. And like The Donald totally unable to accept that he was kicked out of the power that he so rightly deserved because a photo of an eagle told him that it would be his for the taking. He was well on his way to eventually to try installing himself, as he no doubt saw it, a divine shining beacon of a leader in the beginning (followed by the slide into becoming a despotic religious dictator) when it all came down crashing down.

    The only truth is his truth and nothing anyone says to the contrary will ever stop him whining about and playing the totally innocent party and victim card until the day he kicks the bucket. He is utterly incapable of seeing it any other way through his horribly twisted and warped mental landscape.

  10. Terence Mills

    We have managed to avoid many of the pitfalls evident in the US constitutional and regulatory arrangements, whether by luck or good management ; probably the former.

    We don’t have a Bill of Rights which in many respects is a deficit in our democracy but, at least we didn’t guarantee our citizens the right to bear arms and go lumbering around the joint shooting up our schools and public places : that has to be a plus.

    We were well advised and benefit from having a federal electoral commission to allocate our electoral boundaries and count our votes rather than leaving if to the states as is the case in the US. So, we have largely avoided voter suppression by making voting compulsory and, with the brief exception of Bjelkemandering in Queensland, we have been able to avoid electoral malapportionment as is so common in the United States.

    We miscued when it came to our head of state and we are still living with the consequences of an out of control governor general but at least we haven’t given an individual presidential powers and neither should we ; but we do need to get rid of the British monarch as our head of state – probably we need to keep Charles for the time being as he may well be called on to pay reparations to Aboriginal people for dispossession conducted by his relative George III.

    It is quite excellent that our constitution does not recognise an individual as our prime minister although John Howard was keen to change that – well he would, wouldn’t he ?
    Those who drafted our constitution recognised that politicians come and go and should not be afforded status in our founding documents as it would only go to their head (s).

    Overall, in my view, we are well served with the democratic arrangements we have in place, certainly when compared to the US and we should be wary of constitutional change lest it introduce unintended consequences.

    Have I gone off topic, again ?

  11. David Baird

    I hope the malodorous cat that is Scummo, slowly decomposing on the back bench , hangs around to remind us of the outstanding qualities of the previous government. The downside of that is that Albo’s mob feels it can go slowly and lightly on issues that really need immediate, serious action, confident that the truly pathetic, utterly unprincipled Morrison will provide a strong disincentive for the electors to return to the LibNats.

  12. David Evans

    ‘Political’ Lynching?… B/s, how about just a plain old wild west type lynching morrison? Would love to see the three amigos, trump, morrison and johnson hangin’ high!…Not one of these a/hs deserve ‘political’ anything.

  13. leefe

    I question whether any genuine improvement can be made until NewsCorpse has been totally nullified, which will probably take more than Ol’Rupe’s demise, unfortunately.


    It’s odd that Sheridan doesn’t use his “if both sides are doing it, it isn’t corruption” argument when ALP pollies are caught out, isn’t it? Well, not odd actually, just the standard hypocrisy we expect frorm him and the rest of Mudrake’s minions.

    My only problem with your proposal is that a secret triial would deny us all the pleasure of seeing the smirking shirker and his cronies brought to book.

  14. Lucy Hamilton

    Just FYI. I wonder how many comms specialists it took to choose the word “lynching.” “Witch hunt” would have been too obviously Trump-lite. Lynching has the additional ghastly appropriation of the suffering colonists have inflicted on the First Nations’ people whose land we took. Perfectly suited to the Right base’s rejection of balanced history in exchange for white people as the real victims of everything.

  15. andyfiftysix

    leefe, i am of the opinion that Karma is the best bitch going. Having their dirty deeds embossed in their brains would give me a great deal of satisfaction. having an open court to parade these charlatans would be equally as gratifying, hahahahaha

  16. wam

    As an americophobe I appreciate trump’s behaviour as normal for the republican movement members and good for America.
    My nationals agree with his assessment of democrats.
    Right wing ‘firehosing’ has been rife in Australia with the morning shows and papers not only airing far right propaganda but are full of examples that directly, or by inference, negate labor facts.
    Albo and his predessors have been so conspicuous by their absence in these areas that I suspect they are unaware of the demands of advertisors.

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