Politiscripts, by Richard Roth

Political discourse consists of scripted, symbolic speech acts. The ends justify the memes and the memes justify the ends. Words become actions and actions become words.

Politiscripts, by Richard Roth

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Aug 4-Aug 12, 2018.

majority rules

totalitarian socialism

rhetorical claim: the political will of a majority is nothing but a niche special interest, and should not be permitted to crush individual freedom or to constrain the free market. The relentless  push toward unlimited government (totalitarian socialism), has been disguised as the will of the people. The tyrannical rule of the majority sees nothing wrong with America’s government establishment employing vast resources educating people how to use the levers and processes of government to expand its size, scope, powers, and budgets. This is accomplished today with the help of the vast university system which has become one giant taxpayer-financed think tank for statism with only a handful of exceptions; through a “mainstream media” that seems every bit as propagandistic as Pravda was during the Cold War; hundreds of thousands of government bureaucrats at all levels of government, every one of which is a propagandist/lobbyist for bigger government; a K-12 school system that is thoroughly embedded with leftist political correctness; huge armies of political consultants, lobbyists, and paid propagandists; a popular culture that endlessly repeats anti-capitalist, anti-libertarian, and pro-statist themes; and thousands of government-funded nonprofit organizations, from the AARP to the Wilderness Society, that promote more interventionism and less freedom. On top of that are private foundations like Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller that have showered leftist academics with foundation grants.

rhetorical effect: paranoid visions of imaginary Deep State conspiracies.



rhetorical claim: We are being assaulted by postmodernists, who especially despise notions of patriotism. Traditional patriotism is demonstrated love, support, loyalty, defense, and sacrifice for one’s country.  It is an expression of moral certainty.  It claims there is right and wrong behavior.  It puts the country ahead of factions based on ideology, politics, and personal ambition.  It creates the kinship of national identity.  It is objective and demands respect for the symbols of the nation, such as the flag and national anthem.  It values unity, accountability, and security more than diversity and the pursuit of happiness. The influential postmodernist school insists that truth is an instrument of power – except, of course, for its own categorical truth.  Thus unexamined belief takes precedence over analytical thought, and we are made to feel ashamed of being patriotic.

rhetorical effect: as a catch-all for anyone who questions the superiority of dominant Western political and scientific institutions, this rhetorical scheme of turning postmodernism into a pejorative term is perfectly geared towards those in the younger generation who feel alienated from identity politics. By the way, “we” here means rational Western males.


transpartisan elite

rhetorical claim: America is run by a transpartisan elite, which sustains a powerful collectivist managerial consensus. This consensus forms a deep state oligopoly. As Julius Krein argues:

This refusal to interrogate or even conceive of a ruling class of elites reflects the once prevalent—and still lingering—belief that ideological conflict ended after the Cold War. Without a critique of the dominant ideology, the distinct class consciousness and interests of the elite seem to disappear. If there is no critique of the general political consensus, then there is no critique of the political elite, for it is that elite which constitutes and defines the larger society.

But a politics that sees itself as non-ideological is always politics at its most ideological. Apparent political consensus is not the end of all ideologies but merely the temporary triumph of one. Now that the intellectual and political consensus of the last few decades is visibly crumbling, the managerial elite begins to reemerge as a class and managerialism as an ideology. Thus what is commonly seen today as the “rise of populism” is just as much—or rather, in fact, primarily—the decline of the elite..

“On the one hand, the scientific pretensions of these ideologies have been exploded.” They are increasingly seen to represent not universal laws of nature but “at best just temporary expressions of the interests and ideals of a particular class of men at a particular historical time.” Significant portions of social science research and even some of the basic principles of economics are now being questioned within their disciplines and beyond. As the power of academic economics in particular has risen, both its precepts and its most prominent figures have failed to comprehend the most important economic phenomena of recent years. This supposed science is increasingly revealed to be little more than the quantitative expression of global consumerism and managerial ideology.

Perhaps even the managers themselves have begun to lose confidence in their own ideologies. The economic, foreign policy, and technological optimism of previous decades is gone. Preserving the status quo has become the sole aspiration—and primarily for the purpose of preserving the class privilege of the current elite, which, even if not admitted, is becoming obvious to voters. The managerial class seems increasingly willing even to abandon democratic formalities. Once the elite itself loses faith in its ideologies and begins to see its class interests as essentially exploitative, it cannot survive.

rhetorical effect: fuels a paranoid conspiracy theory that “the administrative state” has run amuck. The greatest rhetorical sleight-of-hand of all is turning the manipulators of the political system into its supposed victims. After all, how can what Trump calls a managerial elite (federal bureaucrats, academics, teachers, urban planners, scientists, corporations, the media, Hollywood, etc.) be said the be “rigging” the system against the GOP when it is the GOP winning everything by their own rigging: voter suppression, gerrymandering, court-packing, etc.


there is no alternative to free market ideology

rhetorical claim: the free market contributions of the Chicago and Austrian schools of economic theory show that government works best when it furthers the needs of the free market. There is no alternative to free market ideology because it’s human nature to seek freedom from governments and other constraints. Only markets make freedom possible, and free the makers from the takers. Economic self-interest is the driving force of politics. According to public choice theory, people will vote for the candidate that they believe is going to give them the greatest access to more money.

rhetorical effect: a tautology, in that it assumes the very thing it needs to prove: that there are no alternatives to individual choice and that the only true freedom is freedom from government. Also assumes that human nature is fixed and unchangeable, thus ignoring the fact that voting can be influenced by advertising campaigns altering people’s perception of their economic interests. Makes it so that market metaphors are impossible to dislodge from political discourse.


the common good

the general welfare

public interest

rhetorical claim: Politicians must be understood as rational human beings who served their own interests (reelection) above all else. Notions such as the common good and the general welfare are smoke screens blocking from view the way in which individual public officials and those who sought to influence these officials pursue their own gain through government.  According to public choice, politicians rationally maximize their utilit-–their chances of being re- elected and remaining in power–by promising to raise taxes upon the wealthy to pay for programs that voters support. Since the poor can vote (and because there are more of them) but do not pay federal income taxes, all redistributive political action is prima facie illegitimate, because it inefficiently redistributes social wealth downward to those who have not earned it.

The notion of “public interest” is itself a vague, even meaningless term precisely because it papers over an ineluctable will to power on the part of politicians. Investing authority in the state in the name of an abstraction like the public interest represented the slippery slope leading to totalitarianism.

rhetorical effect: Once this simplifying assumption is made, there is no such thing as the public good or even the public–only greedy politicians promising programs with other people’s money. Fortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to convince a majority of voters that their rights deserve to be curtailed, and that the state should brutally enforce the private property rights of the minority makers against the majority takers. Since representative democracy is designed to expropriate money from the most productive members of society, representative democracy as such must be rewired. As Frederick Jameson argues, this discourse

succeeds by way of discrediting its alternatives and rendering unmentionable a whole series of thematic topics. It appeals to trivialization, naivete, material interest,

“experience,”political fear, and historical lessons, as the “grounds ” for decisively delegitimizing such formerly serious possibilities as nationalization, regulation, deficit spending, Keynesianism, planning, protection of national industries, the security net, and ultimately the welfare state itself


Medicare for all

rhetorical claim: “Medicare for all” schemes are misleadingly based on the undeniable but utopian claim that health care is a right, not a privilege. Ironically, health care coverage ususally leads to a decline in overall health. Typically in universal healthcare systems you see health services more interested in efficiency, you see death panels, you see overworked nurses and doctors, and you see a lack of innovation. Do you see many people flying into England or Canada for surgeries? Didn’t think so.

Beyond the costs and the decrease in quality of care, universal healthcare would be a smash and grab policy hurting our younger generations. We would have to steal from the idealistic and sometimes, sadly, very stupid young but healthy (there are some blessings still to being a young American) to fund Americans who are their opposites in all of these respects.  When the young finally figure this out they’ll be facing a hopelessly mortgaged future exactly when many businesses will abandon their states. As in they got played for suckers. But onward, comrades, and all that.

Adding to the absurdity of it all is this concept of using the vehicles of Medicare and Medicaid for all. The socialists’ idea is to ride those two broken, corrupt, and nearly insolvent (at least with respect to Medicare) systems to socialist glory.

rhetorical effect: turns the argument inside out: health insurance is actually bad for your health, in the same way that labor unions are anti-worker, environmental laws destroy the economy, thus keeping the environment less protected, feminism undermines women, and anti-discrimination laws actually increase discrimination.