‘THE EXPLOITERS’ — A Bette Op-Ed by Rich Logis of Leaving MAGA
My latest report in Byline Supplement with author and journalist Anne Nelson inspired an op-ed by Rich Logis, a two-time Trump supporter who escaped what he describes as the MAGA Cult
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Today, RadPod interviewed our great friend Zarina Zabrisky — author, poet, war correspondent, who is reporting from the frontlines in Kherson, Ukraine. With the sound of shelling in the background, Zabrisky walked us through her powerpoint on Active Measures and Disinformation. RadPod viewers will get to see that powerpoint tomorrow when we release Ep83.
As she explained the vicious circus of the psychosphere, she noted that target victims are made to feel stress, confusion, and discord. I immediately thought about my friend Rich Logis, who told us that being in MAGA kept him in a “perpetual state of trauma, desperation, and fear.” I have always recognized MAGA as an active measure, but hearing Zabrisky’s words match with the words of Logis offered empirical confirmation.
Logis, who is a member of the Bette Dangerous community, read my interview in Byline Supplement yesterday with Anne Nelson on the cynical plot to demonize politics as revealed in the film Bad Faith, based in part on her book Shadow Network on and aided by the great research of Brent Allpress.
He then sent me this response, which I am publishing today as an op-ed.
A Bette Dangerous Op-Ed by Rich Logis
“And then to learn that people's empathy was harnessed and weaponized against them — it’s just so diabolical and cynical. I think it's really an important point you make that it's not like evangelicals just went on the warpath. This was a plot to take a portion of the population and push them toward the extreme right.” — Heidi Siegmund Cuda to Anne Nelson, Byline Supplement, The Cynical Plot to Demonize Politics, February 3, 2024
RICH LOGIS: There is a leitmotif within right-wing propaganda of exploiting some of our naturally occurring concerns, and how we perceive them in relation to our own lives. Evangelicals, at one time, were mostly apolitical. But as the right-wing lied ad infinitum about “increased secularism” and “attacks against Christianity,” evangelicals’ perceptions of increased secularism, and associating that with “attacks” on Christianity, were clearly exacerbated by right-wing organizations. And many of the exploiters know America has been a secular nation from Day 1; an already-secular nation cannot become more secular. The truth, alas, is rarely an obstacle.
A relevant historical note is this: evangelical right-wing trauma, desperation and panic merchants didn’t initially oppose abortion; they wholeheartedly supported it because it furthered their primary interest of segregation, since Black Americans, per capita, had abortions at higher rates than Whites Americans, due to poverty and lack of access to healthcare.
The wager the right-wing made — in America, or anywhere — is that not enough will realize what’s happening until it’s too late.
There is a very good possibility that the right-wing/MAGA are, privately, intensely panicked that voters will historically repudiate them in November 2024. It’s why we need to expect MAGA to become even more extreme between now and November. Many think that radical extremism has hit its ceiling, but it hasn’t.
In the short-term, the Republican Party must be electorally mercy-killed. Come November, I do believe the GOP will be historically repudiated. This is the potential good news.
Realistically, however, victory doesn’t conquer the right-wing machine, because it never goes away and has never relented.
The right-wing/GOP/MAGA are all interchangeable; separate heads of a singular hydra. The right-wing is wholly shameless, and it is difficult to compete against the shameless. As an ex-MAGA activist who left MAGA and is now empowering others to leave, something I came to understand so well is most politicians stretch the truth and sometimes lie.
Lying is the oxygen of the right-wing; they lie so breathlessly frequently, eventually, others—not inclined to support right-wing ideas—slowly, and unsuspectingly, find themselves believing some of the lies.
Many decades ago, the right-wing saw the imminent demographic changes, and knew that if they had to compete solely on democracy, they’d go the way of the dinosaurs. Thus, they built an activist, media, legislative and judicial apparatus; and they’ve had, proportionally speaking, a lot more success than the left. The left also saw the imminent demographic changes, but thought that would be enough to defeat the right-wing. Clearly, the left miscalculated the machine they were up against.
So, who, really, is the right-wing? How do they function? Who are its leaders?
It’s comprised of “behind the curtain” activists who have made Faustian bargains in the name of permanent minoritarian rule: Leonard Leo, who heads The Federalist Society; The Leadership Institute; The Council for National Policy; Hillsdale College; the Heritage Foundation (the creator of The 2025 Project); the Manhattan Institute; Turning Point USA, and the Claremont Institute, among some others. These groups craft the product of the right-wing mythologies, which have traumatized MAGA Americans, and kept them desperate and panicked.
The “behind the curtain” influencers are really the ones whose activism shapes our lives at home and work, personally and professionally: the judiciary (state, federal and Supreme Court), state congressional lines, and the training of activists. The product is mostly the same, with each organization assuming a specialty.
Every product needs salespeople and marketers: needed are politicians and pundits who are most obsequious and willing to say anything, irrespective of how absurd and outlandish the narratives are.
And who’s the best sales/marketer of all? Trump. He’s not, however, the only one. Within right-wing media, those such as Steve Bannon, Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson, as examples, tend to originate points that appear on Fox; Fox can amplify them more than the others can, because its bandwidth is simply more massive. Trump and these MAGA pundits have never had an original thought. Ever. The MAGA influencers take their cues from those behind the curtain—not the other way around.
It’s faster to count the times when Trump hasn’t lied, than when he has.
The left and right say the same about each other: the opposition is always united; always sticks together, etc. Yes, there is some overlap, but one mythology is that the left has played the long-game superior to the right; this is provably incorrect. Identifying these organizations isn’t a conspiracy theory, but it’s accurate to say they conspire, and never take days off.
There are those, such as Heidi and Anne Nelson, whose scholarship includes micro and macro understandings of the right-wing groups, organizationally: the incestuous relationships many have, and the moneyed interests. I understand MAGA and the right-wing on emotional and experiential levels; the threat Leaving MAGA presents is like giving the other team’s playbook to a great head coach: if the coach gets it, the other team plays confused, and doesn’t understand how the opponent knows every play that they call.
The MAGA/right-wing playbook is quite predictable, once one scouts MAGA.
And Trump as the premier salesman of the “behind the curtain” product developers explains why evangelicals, and those who openly wear their garish crucifixes around their necks, prove that power means more than faith.
Those who gravitated to MAGA based on lies can take responsibility, and also learn, as I did, that falling prey to these traumatic mythologies says much more about the liars than it does we. I did gravitate to MAGA based on some lies, but the lies were more influential after the 2016 election. As much as this may seem illogical, MAGA Americans don’t take into consideration Trump’s general election chances; they stand with him because he is their Golden Calf, their Christ-like martyr.
Moving forward, we hope for—but cannot depend on—left-leaning groups and our national press to devote resources to edifying the public about the nefarious and pernicious motives of the right-wing. MAGA is the latest —but not the last — of its iterations.
Education and empathy are how grassroots activists and journalists can push back against the right-wing, who are omnipresent and persistent. Our nonviolent offenses will counter trauma, desperation and panic with empathy; will counter lies with education and patience.
Ignorance is oppression. Knowledge is emancipating.
Rich Logis, Leaving MAGA
To learn more about Logis’ journey, please read this:
Thank you for taking the time to read his letter. He has become my MAGA whisperer/right-wing messaging translator, and I am grateful for his continued bravery for speaking out against the exploiters.
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