THE way the migrants’ world had been veering to the right, is there anything left?
International and national sentiments on migration in the US had changed direction due to the surge of illegal migration and refugees to the US — mainly from Mexico, Central and South America.
On the other side of the world, the surge of millions of refugees from Syria, Iran and Afghanistan via Europe dominated media headlines and news cycles.
In both cases, the space between the left and the right devolved from just one chasm to several divides. The traditional right faced the challenge of the far right. Across the aisle, the left suffered from socialist splinters.
The factionalizing of the right and left happened as media and migration shed their broadcast and information delivery skin.
Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times’ daily newsletters
In the US, the big three networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — had to reformulate themselves as the profile and demographics and viewing habits of viewers changed.
A year after Cable News Network (CNN) was launched in 1980, ABC fiddled with its programming, first by offering a mainly nighttime channel dedicated to cultural and arts programming — Nickelodeon. Then two years later, ABC and Hearst joined forces to launch a single cable channel called Arts & Entertainment Television (A&E).
In 1995, ABC and the other two major networks had to compete with upstart CNN which had been gaining Nielsen ratings. ABC launched its own ABC Cable News.
Around that time, the National Broadcasting Corp. (NBC) had established a broadcast presence in Europe and Asia through CNBC and MSNBC. In Australia NBC partnered with the Seven Network.
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) had undergone its own share of metamorphosis: after being acquired by the Westinghouse Corp., it changed its name to CBS Broadcasting, Inc., then CBS Corp. After an on-and-off relationship with Viacom, CBS re-emerged as ViacomCBS in 2019.
In 2022, ViacomCBS re-emerged as Paramount Global, after Paramount Pictures.
Between 2000 and 2022, Facebook and Twitter happened. Instead of just being passive viewers, media consumers turned into active users, members and/or participants.
Facebook vs Twitter
Launched in September 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook amassed a million active student members in three short months. In 2005, Facebook expanded its user base to anyone above 13 years of age.
In 2006. Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone and Evan Williams created a competing social networking service, launching Twitter in July of that year.
In 2013, Twitter rivaled FB in the list of the 10 most visited websites. With more than 330 million monthly active users, Twitter has been described as “the SMS of the internet.”
Facebook, however, continued to dominate in terms of billions of users and after becoming a public company was valued at $102.4 billion in April 2022.
It is worth noting that until 2008, Facebook was non-political.
That year, Facebook threw its hat into the political ring in the 2008 US presidential election. More than 1,000 Facebook groups were formed in support of either Democratic candidate Barack Obama or Republican candidate John McCain.
Obama supporters were more on the liberal political spectrum with left-leaning fringes while McCain’s FB groups constituted the traditional conservative right. The battle was tight, lively and active, but civil.
MAGA and Brexit
Then a Twitter user was nominated in 2016 as the Republican presidential candidate. Donald J. Trump bested Facebook in terms of social media mileage and dominance with the Make America Great Again (MAGA) slogan as the wind beneath his candidate wings.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic pond, Brexit was happening.
MAGA and Brexit followers had one thing in common — blame immigrants, both legal and illegal, as the cause of their respective country’s perceived failure and downward spiral economically, politically — and culturally.
Trump’s tweets focused on “hordes of criminals coming into the US as rapists and drug users” as well as migrant caravans overwhelming the border, hence the need for building a wall.
The Brexiters — led by now deposed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Nick Farage — emphasized the need to take control of its borders, threatened by the hordes of illegal migrants crossing the channel.
America and Britain First were the dominant themes.
In the blink of an eye, the Right saw the blitz of Twitterstorm by the Alt-right or far right, riding on Trump’s divisive message of “Make America Great Again” and “America First.”
The rallying cry of MAGA supporters in the far right echoes of hate and blame chanting that immigrants and Jews “will not replace” white Americans.
When Joe Biden was declared the official winner on the main media, the alternate-social media of the far right — Fox News Network, One America News Network and Twitter clones Gab and Gettr, as well as the YouTube clone Rumble — started getting nasty and threatening.
When the courts ruled against cases filed alleging widespread voter fraud and a stolen election, Trump tweeted to his supporters to march to the Capitol to make his last stand: prevent Vice President Mike Pence from declaring the election results and proclaiming Joe Biden as the official winner and President of the United States.
What emerged is the truth that it was the Trump’s camp that engaged in premeditated fraud.
The January 6 Committee presented witnesses who swore under oath that “former President Donald Trump and his campaign “were directly involved in advancing and coordinating the plot to replace Biden electors with fake electors not chosen by the voters.”
Documents and testimonies reveal that Trump’s campaign “convinced fake electors to cast and submit votes through fake certificates which would only be used in the event that Trump won his legal challenges.”
Even after the courts rejected Trump’s lawsuits, the scheme to provide fake electors and later to take the Capitol by force continued.
January 6 insurrection
The January 6 Committee played a video showing Casey Lucier, investigative counsel for the committee, “outlining the details of a plan to organize fake electors for Trump in states that he lost in the weeks after the election.”
A National Public Radio (NPR) report cited by the committee quoted Lucier that “one group of fake electors even considered hiding overnight to ensure that they could access the state capitol in Michigan. In one state, fake electors asked for a promise that the Trump campaign would pay their legal fees if they were sued or charged with a crime.”
“Fake electors did ultimately meet on Dec. 14, 2020, in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin, she said. At the request of the Trump campaign, the electors signed documents falsely asserting that they were the ‘duly elected’ electors, then submitted them to the National Archives and to Vice President Mike Pence in his capacity as president of the Senate.”
The liberal left ridiculed Trump, snickering gleefully, especially after the release of a tape showing Trump boasting about “grabbing women in their genitals. The traditional left misread the sentiments of those outside the Obama beltway and Clinton’s Manhattan elite. As such, the Democratic Party, smug with an anointed presidential candidate ignored by millions of Trump supporters, felt betrayed as skilled migrants take choice occupations in health care and information technology, while those in Rural America felt that their present and future were being stolen by non-US citizens, non-white immigrants.
The left also split among the supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez to date still bristles at a second Biden term; she has openly expressed her intention not to endorse Biden for 2024.
The conservative right meanwhile has slowly distanced itself from Trump’s far right enclave — away from the “stolen election” and more on the present and immediate future. Former VP Pence has positioned himself as a GOP presidential nominee in 2024, even clashing with Trump in endorsing the Republican nominee for Arizona ‘s governor primary.
It has come to a winner-takes-all branches of the US government.
After stacking the US Supreme Court with Trump nominees, the conservative right led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is aiming at total domination, buoyed by an evenly divided Senate ripe for the taking; and successful redistricting that favors Republican candidates for a takeover of the House of Representatives.
Right rises in Europe
Europe has seen the left ebb as the right rose on the heels of opposition against mass migration.
Far right groups such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) have taken center stage, away from the right fringes and into the mainstream. Right-wing populists are no longer on the periphery of European politics, instead winning elections by unexpected margins.
In Italy, far right leader Matteo Salvini is leading the Italian opinion polls with 28 MEPs in the new EU Parliament’s 73-strong ID bloc.
France’s Marine Le Pen, after dourly acknowledging that her party only won eight seats in 2017, now beams with pride and passion to be part of the power brokers with 89 newly elected lawmakers — an all-time record for the National Party.
America’s right has closed the gap, far and wide, expanded and dominated, despite the attack on democracy by the far-right January 6 insurrectionists abetted by Mr. Trump.
Left with no clear frontrunners in 2024, the other side of the political divide hopes the American electorate will choose democracy and Democrats in the midterm elections.
Until then migration will be left on a holding pattern.