The RNC is turning into one long right-wing Youtube video – Business Insider – Business Insider

Posted: August 28, 2020 at 5:59 am


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Watching the Republican National Convention has felt like falling into an algorithmically-driven rabbit hole of right-wing YouTube.

Instead of relying on former presidents or party nominees to give impassioned speeches on conservative values and policies, the RNC has been dominated by Trump-supporting culture warriors whose rhetoric sounds eerily similar to online discourse pushed by right-of-center (some decidedly far-right) social media stars.

The four-day political pageant even kicked off Monday night with a speech by a prominent conservative YouTuber, Charlie Kirk.

The 26-year-old Turning Point USA co-founder with close ties to the Trump White House called the president the "bodyguard of Western civilization." Whatever Kirk meant by "Western civilization" isn't exactly clear, but the term is an obsession of right-wing YouTubers like Dennis Prager, "Intellectual Dark Web" celebrities like Jordan Peterson, and the recently banned by YouTube alt-right philosopher Stefan Molyneux.

When Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones spoke at the RNC of the Democrats' keeping Black people on their "mental plantation," I felt like I was listening to Candace Owens, the YouTube star and Trump favorite who started "Blexit" to convince Black people to abandon the Democratic Party.

Patrica and Mark McCloskey best known for drawing their guns on Black Lives Matter protesters outside their St. Louis home called congressional candidate and protest organizer Cori Bush a "Marxist liberal activist" during their RNC speech. Granted, Bush is a Democratic Socialist, but the McCloskey's deliberate and repeated invocation of Marx made me think of "cultural Marxism" an obsession of conspiracy theorists like former InfoWars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson.

Right-wing YouTubers like Ben Shapiro are positively obsessed with opposing left-wingers' goal of "equality of outcome" rather than "equality of opportunity." The latter phrase made it into both Jon Voight's RNC intro narration and Tiffany Trump's Tuesday night speech.

There's nothing particularly novel about hearing these things at an overtly partisan and propagandistic event. Conservatives don't like socialism, they like their "culture," and they can't understand why more Black people won't vote for them.

What's striking is how these phrases, which are repeated like mantras on right-wing YouTube, have made it to the big kids' table at the RNC.

One reason for YouTube rhetoric reaching prime-time could be that under Trump, the GOP's long flirtation with anti-intellectualism went into high gear. Thoughtful, principled Republicans were purged as "Never Trump cuck-RINOs." All that remains are Trump sycophants and a leader who openly flirts with dangerous online conspiracy theories like QAnon.

Filling the void are the conservative YouTubers, whose audiences are legion, and who are directed deeper into extreme content both by the site's algorithm and by the communities formed around these channels.

Hearing these phrases and bugaboos sprinkled throughout RNC speeches feels in some sense like a callback to their original sources. And they may be deliberate or inadvertent signals to young conservatives.

The message: We know who the conservative thought leaders are in the Trump era, and we watch their videos, too.

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The RNC is turning into one long right-wing Youtube video - Business Insider - Business Insider

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August 28th, 2020 at 5:59 am

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