If Donald Wins in 2020 Blame the Mainstream Media

Reading the reactions of pundits and press to two nights of Democratic Party debates should actually soothe Donald Trump’s anxieties. The press, especially the mainstream press along with a few temporary volunteers from the Conservative Party, is going to do Trump’s job for him. We are being whipped up into a sense of panic for a number of reasons, all related to the reactionary judgments of people who have reached “a certain age” and beyond.

The angst over the use of the word socialism could be enough all on its own to put DT back in the oval office. Progressives are not trying to turn America into a socialist nation. Some progressives may one day manage to overturn capitalism, but not today. Most Democrats see ways to be progressive without displacing the capitalist system we have. Admittedly it would be much easier if wealthy capitalists pitched in to help keep America’s core values alive, but change can be legislated step-by-tedious step if necessary. Or we can start with blue states and use envy to get working Americans to insist that their red state follow suit. If we the people decide to make a budget that offers social programs rather than an obscene tax cut for billionaires, it’s a democracy, we can do that. All we have to do is get enough other Americans to agree. As long as the media keeps asking Democratic candidates about their view of socialism this will remain an unsettled question in the minds of many voters. Democratic socialism is not the same as socialism.

As more Democratic candidates design more and more programs to meet the needs of parents in a world where two parents probably work, or where there are many single-parent families, the mainstream media raises questions about their ability to get these things done. As long as they vow to pay off everyone’s college loans, pay reparations to Americans of African Descent who have been held back economically by discriminatory practices, offer everyone free medical care even though you might have to pay taxes that are a bit higher (offset by free medical care), make the economy more equal, and many more great ideas, the mainstream media passes on the message that these left-wingers are fringe people who will not be able to deliver on their promises. Then the media reminds us of how centrist most Americans are, and implies that we the people don’t want these things and will, as usual, vote against our own best interests. Clearly it is unlikely that all these benefits can accrue to working Americans at once. There are designs that must be debated, bills that must be written and passed. These things take time. And, although all of these programs would be paid for by the federal government they would be paid for with our money and most likely would be run by free-standing agencies with federal oversight.

Everyone who offers Progressive ideas admits that we will have to raise taxes on those at the top of the economy. There are justifications for this. Whether you think they are valid depends on your own ideological bent and perhaps how big you bank accounts are. (Most of us have only one bank account; some of us have none.) The biggest argument offered up so far is the “you did not build it”/”you did not build it alone” impasse in which some people say (“the makers”, in this scenario) that without the business they established society would be poorer. They call the rest of us “the takers”. Well that can’t be right. Without workers they could never have made such great products or offered such in-demand services and they would have stayed very small or failed. What they mean is that, now that they have found new workers, cheap workers, they don’t need us anymore. Except now we are their best consumers. And we can’t consume as much as they would like because they did not share the wealth with us. Workers did not think of themselves as “takers”. It’s insulting. Workers thought of themselves as partners, as family, but now they have been disinherited. New worker families are reaping the benefits of corporations and they are slowly becoming new consumers.

Are corporations American corporations, or do they belong to whatever country has the least expensive workers? If they can switch nationalities for economic reasons, haven’t they switched their nationalities altogether. If they strive to pay as few taxes into the government of the nation they still like to claim as their own, are they still patriots? If they pay no taxes can they still lobby as insiders for more favors from a federal government they no longer support? If they do not contribute to the federal budget should they have any say in deciding how the budget is divvied up?

I believe that if corporations continued to invest in America and American workers this nation would blossom and could, once again, become the hot crucible of innovation that it used to be. The media keeps telling Americans how centrist they are, how moderate. They do not ever get Americans excited about how lifting away some of our worries might free the nation to explore new technologies, medicines and medical treatments, ways to keep the planet clean and healthy and to solve lots of pesky problems that seem inherently solvable, but never get solved.

And finally, Progressive or Moderate, whoever becomes the Democratic candidate must not be obstructed by a moderate mainstream press from having a real shot at beating Donald Trump because he is an existential threat to our democracy/republic. Unless we have decided to stop flirting with authoritarianism and to actually become an authoritarian state; unless we kiss the forefathers goodbye – you tried, you lasted two and a half centuries – but close only counts in horseshoes and (I forgot the other one) but Google says it’s hand grenades. In the 2020 election there are only two choices, Trump or the candidate the Democrats choose. You cannot afford to be an independent voter. Not this time. You cannot afford to sit this one out. And if you saddle us with Donald Trump for four more years we may not be as nice to you as we have been so far.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Left Voice

What We Owe the Mainstream Media

Tone matters. The tone of our politics lately has
been one of two parties in a verbal war. The language of this war is sometimes
hateful, sometimes short-sighted, sometimes revealing. Feelings have been aired
that have festered in the bowels of America. Some of these feelings are more
than a century old, some of these feelings are new and have to do with economic
and cultural change in America and around the globe. Some of these feelings
arise out of people’s quite irrational fears that there are vast global
conspiracies whose goal is to make America unrecognizable. Others arise out of
real change in the economic situation of some Americans. Some have to do with
something as basic as which skin color will prevail in America, as if our souls
resided in the color of our skin. So people have been passionate, and
aggressive, and intimidating, perhaps even letting their passions boil over at
times into borderline or actual violence.
But I have to give most of the media kudos for
keeping cool heads in situations that could easily tip over into chaos. The
media has threaded a careful way through the swollen emotions and the impassioned
rhetoric giving people a calmer platform from which to express their
ideological concerns, giving their ideas credence when they seem to push
humanitarian concerns forward, and perhaps a bit of mild ridicule when ideas
seem too reactionary to contribute to cultural progress.
Often the media reminds us of our nation’s rather
passionate political history. Our politics has often been verbally, and
occasionally physically, explosive. They remind us of the political shambles
our nation was in prior to the Civil War. The rhetorical passion was shouted
daily in our Congress, in our press, and in our streets. On that occasion
people’s passions, unabated by discussion, ended in an brutal war with so many casualties.
There have been other times of great passion in American politics such as in
the years before World War II when isolationists disagreed with those who
thought we would have to go to war against Hitler. It took Pearl Harbor to put
the kibosh on that disagreement and unite us against common enemies. The
sixties and seventies were certainly passionate times in our nation with the
sexual revolution and the cultural revolution and the Vietnam War making
America often appear to be two (or more) different nations. None of us who
lived through the Civil Rights’ Movement will ever forget the passion of those
days, one side with its desire to be treated as equal Americans, the other side
holding on to and expressing years of contempt and prejudice with guns shots
and hangings and the powerful streams of water from the ends of fire hoses, and
so many other hateful things.
Yes, we are a nation of passions and we often find
ourselves once again dividing into two segments of our America who are at
loggerheads with each other and who feel what they feel so strongly that they
would like to actually come to blows over it. But the press sort of operates as
the people who stand between the two opposing groups with their hands against
their chests to keep them physically separated, and it is the press who gives
us perspective on how each of our partisan groups arrived at this impasse.
The way the mainstream press treats extreme speech
as real politics and discusses it as it would more moderate politics keeps our
government from imploding or exploding. They refuse to give any credence to
voices on either side that see the fringes as more in control than the center
is. They have kept their heads, partly by treating it all like entertaining
theater, partly by helping us connect fringe dialogue to its historical roots
to remind us that this stuff did not suddenly crop up out of nowhere, and
partly by refusing to get too hot under the collar which could only help foment
hysteria.
Right now the press is calmly and as objectively as
possible (given that these are human beings who also feel passionate) helping
America hold a normal Presidential election in times that feel anything but
normal. They have a matrix in their brain, a matrix that tells them what
elections have always been like and they are using that historical memory to keep
this election, which could so easily go off the rails, on track. We get
impatient with them sometimes. They seem too moderate, too data bound, too
controlled, and perhaps, sometimes, too stodgy for our heated debates. And yet
this very ability to treat our current situation as normal, as just another
hotly contested moment in the history of our nation, keeps the process ticking
along. We do not really want to break apart our great nation and so, right now,
I am thankful that our media are such nerds, such political geeks that they are
keeping us all somewhat civil and on track to hold a traditional election
according to the rule of law in November of 2016. I think it is called
professionalism.
By Nancy Brisson