They say all cons start with flattery. The conman finds a way to flatter the mark, who then foolishly places his trust in the conman. Usually that means playing on the vanity of the target, as everyone likes to be told that their opinion of themselves is correct. Even the most cynical have some weakness in this regard. Deep down, even the most jaded, has a vision of their idealized self. When that vision of the self is confirmed, even by a stranger, the person confirming it goes up in the estimation of the person being flattered.
Of course, flattery has always been the most important tool in democratic politics, as the voters are the quintessential marks. If you think about it, anyone wanting to hold political office should be disqualified on that basis alone, as no normal decent person should want to hold political office in a democracy. Therefore, the first job of the politician is to convince you he is not morally unfit. To do that he tells you the thing you most want to hear about politics. You are right and your opponents are morally wrong.
This feature of democracy is why such systems are quickly overwhelmed by sociopaths and dangerously unbalanced lunatics. Nature is pretty clear on this. You get more of what you select for and less of what you select against. Any system that benefits the pathological liar over the honest will inevitably be dominated by the former at the expense of the latter. Strangely, this is why the Right in America is so easily fooled into supporting that which is against their interests. They are the honest in a game of liars.
For example, Oliver North was recently pushed out of the National Rifle Association, after he tried to extort the long serving leader Wayne LaPierre. Oliver North is, of course, a notorious right-wing grifter, who has been hustling gullible white people for going on four decades. His public career started when he put on his old uniform to perform in front of Congress during the Iran-Contra hearings. That was in the 1980’s. Since then, he has been waving around his service and the American flag as part of his act.
Peddling shabby patriotism to middle-class white people seems harmless, but it inevitably it leads the patriotic into supporting people, who have no intention of actually representing their interests. North was more than happy to subvert the venerable gun group so he could haul away some of its cash. The terrible decisions by the group of late in terms of cucking to the gun grabbers all seem to lead to North. His interest was to stuff his pockets with money, not advance the interests of gun owner and gun rights.
It is a good example of how the con works in politics. North has spent a lifetime flattering the sorts of people willing to give money to the NRA. He is very good at flattering these sorts of people, which is how he made a TV career telling other people’s war stories. He is very good at flattering middle-class white people. The National Rifle Association naturally assumed he would be a good face for them, as he appeals to the sorts of people they represent. They made the mistake of trusting someone who flattered them.
Another example of this is Ben Shapiro. At first blush, there’s no reason for him to be wildly popular among civic nationalists. Here you have this hyper-tribal Jewish dwarf, repeating catch phrases from decades before he was born. If he walked into a room full of his target audience, and they did not know him, they would assume the little guy was lost or maybe part of the entertainment. Everything about him is outside of the norm for the people who follow him, but he flatters them so well, they overlook it.
Like Oliver North, his grift is primarily a money grift, but Shapiro also works to subvert the interests of his target audience. A good example of this is his reaction to the on-going censorship by the big social media platforms. On the one hand, he will repeat all the usual civic nationalist platitudes about free speech in a democracy. On the other hand, he opposes any effort to actually accomplish these goals. If someone mentions the government regulating these firms, he starts maniacally blowing the libertarian shofar.
Like everyone else in Conservative Inc., Ben Shapiro is happy to talk about the issues that concern middle-class white Americans, but he is strongly opposed to actually doing anything to defend those interests. That’s because the interests of his audience may conflict with his own interests. Just as Oliver North was willing to compromise on your gun rights so he could collect on his fat contract, Ben Shapiro is willing to sacrifice your speech rights so that he can remain in good standing with Big Media.
It’s why for dissidents, the right-wing grifter is the most immediate problem in the effort to win over converts. The primary function of guys like Shapiro is to prevent middle-class white people from defending their own interests. He even goes so far as to declare that middle-class white people don’t have interests. That’s what he means when he says it is ideology that matters, not ethnic identity. His rhetoric is intended to flip your morality on its head, where your highest duty is to sacrifice your interests for his interests.