I caught my local news on a channel owned by Sinclair Broadcasting the other night and the very thing I feared would happen is happening. Giving Trump/Trump supporters a voice on local news, allowing them to air national news that sounds fair and balanced but that skews towards Trump, and skews right, is particularly dangerous when we are in an election cycle. Local people who insist that Fox is the best source for political news are the targets of Sinclair. They are already primed to believe this stuff. They are unaware of who Sinclair Broadcasting is and of the ways they are interfering in local news broadcasts. They find the skewed news to be perfectly acceptable because they have already been brainwashed to agree with it.
7,000 refugees walking from Honduras to the border between Mexico and the US two weeks before the midterms offers plenty of video footage to instill fear and anger in middle-class Trump supporters. These Trumpers are a percentage of Americans who already suspect, and riled by Trump, are now convinced, that immigrants steal our jobs, use benefits paid for and intended for use by citizens only, and are violent criminals who endanger American lives.
What I saw on my local news, pushed out in a must-run story from Sinclair Broadcasting was a graphic video about the MS-13 gang, resplendent in gang tattoos, ready to commit mayhem in a neighborhood near us. Such obvious fear-mongering two weeks before an election that could change the majority in the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic could very well motivate more Republicans to go to the polls to prevent that from happening. That would be very bad for America. We have no checks on this President. We need some. A House of Representatives that skews left could give us at least minimal checks on an out-of-control President.
Local TV news used to try to give fairly balanced coverage of both candidates for a political office but Sinclair has put an end to that. This coverage does not look like it is even about the election but it is. It is wrong that Sinclair is allowed to own local stations when it is nothing but a one-sided political operative. It turns our news into propaganda. The wrongness of Sinclair is especially apparent during an election cycle. If we want news that is actual news we definitely need a blue wave. Trump is no fan of free speech unless the speech favors him.
Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches, Living Room Trends 2018, NPR
They say all elections are local and this time, since we are talking about the midterms in 2018, and since my Senators are not up for reelection, this truly is a local election. Since I live in the 24th district in NYS, my representative, John Katko, is up for reelection.
However, since the Citizen’s United decision, allowing businesses to pour money into elections that were once considered strictly local matters, local elections have come to be dominated by partisan national concerns and by wealthy Conservatives who control GOP politics these days. Because of the atrocious amounts of money being spent by Conservatives to decide who should fill a seat in the House of Representatives, and since Republicans pockets are deep, Democrats must raise huge amounts of money to stay in the race.
The GOP likes having a majority, but that majority is never large enough for their tastes. In the 115th Congress there are 193 Democrats, 236 Republicans and 6 vacant seats in the House of Representatives. The Republicans can pass anything they want to pass through the House right now and have been very productive. As long as you are happy with Conservative ideology it seems quite satisfying.
Laws that will negatively affect Americans are being passed everyday but they are designed to detonate after Trump’s reelection in 2020. This is not the way our contentious, lively government usually operates. Usually we hear more voices on any given issues and decisions have to be hashed out in compromises. Blending of ideas may actually produce best governance. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to have a say in the House and they need to retain the seats they hold right now. Elections have consequences. We have always known this but it has come to have the deeper meaning offered by hard experience since the 2016 election.
So election ads have already begun in my district and people are being told things about John Katko that are patently untrue. They are being told that Mr. Katko gave up a great job as a law and order gang-buster, a job he loved, in order to go to Washington to represent the community that he loves, the 24th District of the State of New York. He acts like representing his district in Congress is a personal sacrifice that he has undertaken on our behalf. This does not sound like the proper spirit in which to approach public service. However Katko has impressive bona fides and the essence of this part of the ad is probably true.
The same ad assures us that John Katko is bipartisan, the most bipartisan of all the representatives. He crosses the aisle to vote more than anyone else. It could be true that he crosses the aisle more than others, but he would only have to do that about two times to beat out all the other representatives. John Katko, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, voted with Republicans and Trump 89.3%. That hardly qualifies as bipartisanship. How many people do you think will look this up? Well, I’m guessing, not any people who watch Fox News. But here is the link:
I found this summary on the site politicsthatwork.com but it may not be quite accurate. It says Katko supports public health but he voted to have Trump’s very bad health plan replace the Affordable Care Act.
“Summary of voting record: Representative Katko opposes taxing businesses, consumer protection, environmental protection, financial sector regulation, gun control, foreign and humanitarian aid, labor rights and wages, increasing revenues, taxing the wealthy, domestic surveillance and supports big business, funding education, public health, taxing the middle class, avoiding default, poverty amelioration, higher spending.”
There is a very readable graphic to back up this summary at this link:
John Katko is no hero to me. The way he sets about cleaning up gangs is to put them away in jail for a long, long time. He represents the inner city of Syracuse (along with suburban and rural communities). The inner city of Syracuse is consistently on the lists of the poorest cities in America. Locking up people who do the frightening things that gang members are reported to do makes Katko’s constituency feel safer. But it has not solved the problems of gangs in our little city. Don’t you think there is a correlation between being very poor and ganging up? Well I do.
Katko brings money home for our farmers, which is good, but he does not bring home money to create and run programs that would change the dynamics of our inner city. He does not seem to worry that the poorest people have the worst schools and the fewest opportunities. He thinks like Donald Trump. If people are bad, lock them up.
Many of his constituents would fail to see value in money spent to keep children out of gangs. Many would fail to see value in offering to help these kids get to college. And that is directly due to current Conservative messaging which many of Katko’s constituents listen to all day every day. On Fox News it is drummed into people’s heads that college messes up people and society. A college education is not a good thing. Manual training is the way to go. I have no problem with manual training, but I think a liberal college education changes people’s world view forever and in very positive ways. Conservatives think just the opposite.
Clearly it will not be possible to change Katko’s mind set. He is who he is. He is a Conservative and he is an extreme Conservative. He may have voted against the farm bill because it would cut SNAP money for his poorest peeps, but I believe he was allowed to vote against the party on this one issue because they had enough votes without him, and because it would be a huge negative against him in his reelection campaign.
Remember I live in Katko’s district. I have met the folks from the Democratic side of the aisle who would like to meet with Katko. They are good people with valid concerns. He does not do Town Halls unless they are limited to attendees who sign up in advance and unless they are scripted. He does not speak with the resisters who haunt the pavement outside his downtown Syracuse and his Auburn office carrying signs to make their point because it is almost the only way to communicate with him.
John Katko works only for the people who voted for him. He does not have to compromise with the rest of us who are not Conservatives because Conservatives control all parts of our national government and they all delight in denigrating everything Democrats/Liberals/Progressives have to say.
I have sent letters to John Katko and he always answers them on nice official stationery and he is very professional. But it is clear that he places no value on the things I say or feels any need to listen to my point of view. His message is always a variation on “I understand, but…”. I never remember a time in American politics when voting for the party that didn’t win meant that you were totally beside the point, but we are in that time now. Political discussions are difficult and it is easy to win a debate when the other side is not allowed to speak, but, in such a system, if there are policy failures it will be very clear who erred.
Mr. Katko votes constantly. His attendance is good. He loves to vote I guess and it is his job, but if I just read about what is in a bill or House Resolution on Countable.com, I can predict how he will vote and I am always right. The Republicans used to complain about the Democratic “nanny state”, but these Conservatives want to control every little thing and overturn every little regulation. They want to get rid of our National Parks and that is pretty serious, but many of the laws or HR’s that have passed deal with minutiae, which could, however, when combined, create massive changes in our democracy.
I hope everyone will seriously consider voting against this partisan guy, John Katko. He is obviously a ‘nice’ person, civil and with good manners, but he is an inflexible person and arrogant. He has a “daddy complex”. He thinks he rules by ‘divine right’ because he is a Christian man. He believes he knows what is best for all of us and that as long as the people who voted for him are happy then he is certain that he has done his job. Although, that is not even close to his job.