Friday, November 10, 2017

Stay Real, Democrats

Tomorrow's newspaper column:
Collusion or not, it’s obvious Vladimir Putin intended to influence the election that put Trump into the White House. Collusion or not, Mitch McConnell sure didn’t want the public to know about it. And, given what we’re learning of Russia’s massive distribution of fake news, we can infer their ultimate goal was, and remains, to divide us against ourselves; to exploit the strengths of democracy and turn them into vulnerabilities. To let us do their work for them.
With Trump they got a twofer: an incurious narcissist, and a man who, because of his thin-skinned vindictiveness, could be expected to add his own poisonous divisiveness, which, along with embarrassing America worldwide, he has. (“Never knew we had so many countries!”) Trumpists consider America’s free press the enemy. They’re certain millions voted illegally. They’re convinced news which challenges Trump is fake and people who write columns about it are liars. Surely, Putin succeeded beyond his expectations.  
Russia’s reach was broad and deep and, planned or not, enhanced by decades of credulity-enhancing, truth-erasing efforts by rightwing media. Not to mention, particularly in Trump-loving red states, devolution of public education. On average and not by accident, we’re getting dumber.  
I’ve fallen for deception in the past, too, but have learned to be skeptical, to seek confirmation when a claim seems either too good or too bad to be true. I try to correct falsehoods whether on “liberal” or “conservative” sites. Trumpists email regularly, credulously forwarding ridiculous claims they received about Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or liberals in general. Ignoring the factual debunkery I send, they’re back, predictably, with more flimsy falsehoods. 
And if there’s guilt on both sides, there’s no parity. Liberal bogosity is rarely received. When corrected, senders write back with apologies. There’s neither a quantitative nor qualitative liberal equivalent to Foxolimjonesian nescience.  
Of late, though, there’s a disturbing trend, as several websites have appeared featuring click-bait headlines touting news liberals would love to be true. The promised stories either contain nothing of the sort, or a bunch of unsupported hearsay. Since there’s plenty of real news, it’s troublesome. We have no need to make stuff up, for, as Stephen Colbert famously said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Maybe they’re just looking for ad revenue; if so, it’s no excuse. Among the worst are Occupy Democrats, Bipartisan Report, Blue Dot Daily, Politicus USA, Addicting Info. Use with caution. Call your doctor for misdirection lasting more than four hours. 
Related or not, some liberals appear ready to blow the next national elections, too. Out of perceived moral superiority and/or political purity, extremists in the party are, yet again, falling upon the impure, even if it means letting democracy die. Despite so much being at stake – climate, environment, healthcare, clean energy, free and fair elections, free press, theocracy, fair taxation, women’s rights, LGBT rights, public education, food and drug safety, help for the needy, science, my grandchildren’s quality of life – it looks like a pride of proclaimed progressives prefer to re-litigate 2016. There’s data suggesting enough embittered Bernie supporters voted for Trump to have swung the election. “Burn it down, that’ll show ‘em.” Look what it got us.  
Trump’s support is down to the rock-bottom incorrigibles, as only a third of Americans remain unawakened to the dangers he represents. It ought to mean Democrats will retake Congress next year, and the White House in 2020, no matter who occupies it by then. But, no. 
Rife with already-debunked claims of rigging the primary, talk on the left is all about Donna Brazile’s book. You’d almost think the Russians (and their adjuvants in rightwing media) are stoking it, just as they promoted fake rallies around the country and got people from both sides to show up and start fighting.  
The DNC’s fecklessness notwithstanding, after mere months of Trumpic corruption, incompetence, and threats to democracy itself, I’d vote for a pastrami sandwich over anyone offered up by the party of Trump, Bannon, Pruitt, DeVos, Zinke, Price, Moore… Progressives need to look ahead, not back. Tuesday was a good day. Stop the infighting; increase the outfighting. They’re toasting you with fine vodka in the Kremlin and expensive champagne in Trump’s cabinet room. 
Focus on the doughnut next year, Democrats, not the hole, and get to work. Lives are at stake, Republicans, so stick with the usual thoughts and prayers.
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