HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Garrett78 » Journal
Page: 1 2 Next »


Profile Information

Member since: Wed Aug 19, 2015, 04:47 AM
Number of posts: 10,721

Journal Archives

Sorry, folks, but the Republican Party is not on its death bed.

I see post after post after post suggesting that the Republican Party is done for, or that it will be if it doesn't remove Trump from office. That idea is comforting, but it isn't rooted in reality. Demographic change isn't sufficient given our broken system.

The demise of the Republican Party has been predicted for decades. Without major reform of our tyranny of the minority political system (such reform is virtually impossible for the very reasons why reform is so desperately needed), without public education reform, without media reform and without putting an end to what is essentially election fraud (voter suppression, foreign interference, dark money, gerrymandering), the GOP will live on. It's ethically bankrupt but it will continue to be a major player. The GOP, as batshit crazy as it's become, currently holds more power nationwide (state legislatures, governorships, etc.) than the Democratic Party. As more and more of the population lives in a disproportionately small number of states, the problem will worsen.

2020 may go really well for us, but between all of the aforementioned issues and an incredibly ignorant public with the attention span of a gnat, the Republican Party isn't anywhere close to being laid to rest. And after Trump is gone, the "everything is back to normal" narrative will dominate, unless Democrats are vigilant in pushing back and establish a different narrative (even then, we're dependent on the profit-driven media to speak the truth).

*IF* Trump is removed, there will be 2 main right wing narratives, which will overlap some.

Members of the media, right wingers and possibly others will push one of the following narratives:

One narrative will suggest that Trump was a victim of the Deep State, evil Democrats and RINOs. That's what we'll hear from the likes of Gaetz.

The other narrative will be something akin to, "Republicans put country over party and did the right thing. Trump had gone too far and nobody is above the law. Everything is back to normal now and most Republicans are honorable civil servants."

There will also be some who sort of meld the 2 primary narratives.

Both narratives are dangerous. Whether or not either narrative dominates depends largely on how Democrats respond. Democrats will need to be vigilant in pushing back against those arguments. 50+ years of increasingly cruel and unhinged rhetoric and policy created a monster (this is something the Never Trumpers continue to deny). That monster is the Republican Party and its base, as a whole. Trump is a symptom (i.e., he didn't happen in a vacuum) and Trumpism will live on after Trump. The GOP is not filled with people who simply have a different take on the role of government. It is filled with people who foment and exploit racism, sexism, xenophobia and a general ignorance. It is filled with people who have been actively working to undermine all democratic institutions.

Lastly, if (big *IF*) Republicans remove Trump (by conviction or by talking him into resigning), it will be an act of self-preservation and nothing more. None of this "they did the right thing/put country over party/stood up for the law" bullshit. That party is ethically bankrupt. Period.

Something highly disturbing that must somehow be addressed

Trump and his minions knew/know there's nothing to the CrowdStrike conspiracy theory and that Biden didn't break any laws. But they also know, as with Clinton/FBI in 2015-2016, simply having Ukraine's government and the media announce that there is an investigation taking place is enough to muddy the water, suppress turnout, plant seeds of doubt. Think about the simplicity of that.

That's all that Team Trump wanted. They knew nothing substantive would come of an investigation. They simply wanted there to be an announcement. Because that alone can make all the difference.

I know I'm not saying anything new here. My point is that the Democratic Party will need to put a lot of time and effort into addressing this issue. I think public education reform and media reform must become top priorities.

The Tea Party, Mulvaney and the Narrative that Still Haunts Us

First, let's recall what sparked the Tea Party. Rick Santelli of CNBC advocated for a tea party after slamming Obama for wanting to bail out "losers" (i.e., victims of predatory lending and those who lost their jobs due to the recession). So, one month after the inauguration of the nation's first Black president, the Tea Party movement began. Birtherism played a huge role, and without Birtherism (and his speech about Mexicans being rapists and drug dealers), I don't think Trump would have ever won the Republican Party nomination.

Tea Partiers and Trump have been described, by the media and others, as populists. Well, let's see, populism is defined as, "a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups." It was clear, though, that Tea Party "concerns" didn't have a damn thing to do with traditional populism.

Then, after the 2016 election, members of the media and people from all across the political spectrum (including leftists and moderate Democrats, from Bernie Sanders to Tim Ryan) insisted that Trump won due to "economic anxiety" (which, apparently, hardly any persons of color experience). I've been pushing back against that demonstrably false narrative for nearly 3 years and touched on it again in this recent post: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100212599797.

Now, let's consider a certain former member of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress. This swamp creature vehemently opposes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (and, naturally, was placed in charge of it for a while). You know, the agency that is looking out for the 'little guy' by making sure people are treated fairly by Big Finance. This swamp creature vehemently opposes Medicaid expansion. This swamp creature openly stated, when he was in Congress, that he only listened to lobbyists if they had given money to his congressional campaigns. This swamp creature committed campaign finance violations in his run for Congress. This swamp creature has profited off of shady land deals that have harmed South Carolina residents and small businesses. This swamp creature is currently Trump's Acting Chief of Staff.

The Tea Party types who supposedly want to "drain the swamp" absolutely adore the swamp creatures. They aren't populists in any meaningful sense. If anything, they're anti-populists. They're racist, sexist, xenophobic, conspiracy theorist assholes who despise government by and for the people. They're the people who still "strongly approve" of Trump (the 28% or so who are unreachable). Screw 'em and screw anyone who still pushes the narrative about why they vote the way they do. I have no patience for that shit.

The AG actively trying to undermine the FBI and intelligence agencies is surreal. But...

...it follows a pattern. The Republican Party has been trying for decades, with quite a bit of success, to undermine faith in government. Run up debt so as to cut entitlements, have corporations write legislation, deregulate industry, install heads of departments whose mission it is to erode those very departments, deny the stark reality that past and present injustice is not evenly distributed, etc.

Since the likes of Putin also wish to undermine democratic institutions for the purpose of self-enrichment, Putin and Republicans make for interesting bedfellows.

This is a war of ideologies: we vs. me. "It takes a village" vs. "every person for themselves" (cheating permitted...nay, encouraged). The likes of Barr, Bannon, Pompeo et al. are especially dangerous--they're white nationalists, isolationists and despise secularization.

They've seen the writing on the wall (social progression, increased secularism, changing demographics, etc.), so their tactics have become increasingly extreme in recent years (intense voter suppression and gerrymandering, full-throated attacks on science and public education, persistent attacks on the "liberal media" to help shift the Overton Window, stealing a Supreme Court seat and packing the judiciary with right wing ideologues, aligning with dictators who share the goal of undermining democracy for personal enrichment, replacing the dog whistle with a bullhorn, and so on). They take comfort, though, in a tyranny of the minority system which, paradoxically, makes major structural reform nearly impossible to bring about for the very reasons why such reform is so desperately needed.

If this current cast of characters is still in power after 1/20/21, the damage wrought may be irreparable.

I wonder how many people (not on DU but nationally) view Trump as an anomaly or someone who just happened in a vacuum and how many people recognize that Trump is a symptom of a much larger problem (to which the GOP as a whole is contributing). I certainly come down on the side of the latter, and at the same time recognize how crucial it is that we remove Trump from office as soon as possible, as he's an especially diseased carrier pigeon for the ideologues who are taking advantage of his narcissistic appeal to the tens of millions of racists, sexists and xenophobes. I also wonder if seeing the big picture (or being helped to see it) would dissuade even a fraction of Trump's soft support (the portion that approves of him but not strongly) from continuing to support him. Are 100% of his supporters really okay with the world Republicans are seeking to realize? If so, they'll regret it.

"Negative Partisanship Predicts the 2020 Presidential Election"

An excellent and fairly hopeful piece by Rachel Bitecofer, written before the Ukraine story broke: https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/2019/07/01-2020-election-forecast/

By and large, I donít expect that the specific nominee the Democratic electorate chooses will matter all that much unless it ends up being a disruptor like Bernie Sanders.

Indeed, the only massive restructuring I might have to make to this forecast involves a significant upheaval like the entrance of a well-funded Independent candidate such as Howard Schultz into the general election....Other potential significant disruptions might be a ground war with Iran, an economic recession, or a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11. Otherwise, the country's hyperpartisan and polarized environment has largely set the conditions of the 2020 election in stone....on Election Day Donald Trump will earn the vote of somewhere around 90% of self-identified Republicans. And as 2018 demonstrated, Republicans will increase their turnout rate over 2016. This, combined with a floor for Trump among Independents of around 38% (because of right-leaning Independents) and an infusion of cash that will dwarf his 2016 efforts, Trump has a floor that is at least theoretically competitive for reelection and will force Democrats to compete hard to win the presidency. The polarized era doesnít produce Reagan Era Electoral College landslide maps.

I agree with the above excerpt. My biggest concern is that because desperate people take desperate action, we are likely to see more voter suppression efforts (e.g., the closure of polling sites in urban areas) than ever before...and even more collusion with foreign powers than we saw in 2016. I'm convinced that the reason Trump is increasingly brazen in his corruption is to normalize it -- or make the public numb to it -- as we head into next year's election. And, as Rachel Bitecofer suggested, the days of a candidate walking away with 400+ electoral votes are long gone. 2008 was a landslide by today's standards, which means we can't get too comfortable.

On the other hand, we won't be nominating a polarizing figure who has been the target of vicious attacks for a quarter of a century. And Trump is no longer new or as much of an unknown quantity, so there will be fewer casual "I'll give him a shot/he won't win anyway/both candidates suck" voters. Someone with a "strongly approve" number in the high 20s and a "strongly disapprove" number that's almost twice as high shouldn't have much of a chance at re-election, even with the electoral college in place and even with a fairly steady economy. It's also worth remembering that we had won Pennsylvania and Michigan for 6 straight elections and Wisconsin for 7 straight. We can definitely win back those states. Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and even Georgia are also in play. It's hard to imagine us losing any of the states that Clinton won.

Again, though, we're dealing with the Republican Mafia. We can't be complacent.

First, and probably most important, is the profound misunderstanding by, well, almost everyone, as to how he won Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the first place. Ask anyone, and they will describe Trumpís 2016 Midwestern triumph as a product of white, working class voters swinging away from the Democrats based on the appeal of Trumpís economic populist messaging.

I wouldn't say "almost everyone," as myself and many others have been railing against that bogus narrative for nearly 3 years. But it's true, sadly, that far, far too many people (in the media and all across the political spectrum) have been (and still are) pushing the demonstrably false "economic anxiety/Clinton focused too much on identity politics" narrative. Even after all of the articles that make clear how false that story is, such as this one and this one.

And it wasn't Obama-Trump voters that were Clinton's downfall either (regarding Obama-Trump voters, everyone should read what Jamelle Bouie wrote). The unfortunate reality is that hundreds of thousands of Obama voters, across key states, simply didn't vote in 2016. Again, Hillary Hate was undoubtedly a major factor.

Next, many people continue to misunderstand who so-called "independents" are. Very few are actually swing voters. The vast majority are highly partisan (most only require the slightest nudge in order to vote for a particular candidate). In fact, studies have shown that the average "independent" of today is more strongly aligned with a particular party than the average party-affiliated voter was in the 1970s. The other thing to understand about independents is that they are less reliable voters, less engaged.

The failure to understand that truth about independents and a misunderstanding of what actually happened in 2016 has led some to this notion that only a specific type of candidate (older, white, male, moderate) can defeat Trump. Also, people get seduced by the hypothetical matchup polls, but they're historically inaccurate at this stage in the game--just ask President Dukakis. We shouldn't be relying on those as any sort of a barometer in terms of picking our nominee.

The bottom line is that our focus must be on boosting turnout of POC, youth and white suburban women. And not on appealing to a limited subset of supposed swing voters who are widely dispersed across all 50 states, at the risk of not firing up the base. Get out the base, get out the base, get out the base. And be prepared to fight voter suppression efforts. That's what will win us the election. If we get turnout even close to 2008 levels, it'll take epic corruption to prevent our nominee from topping 270 electoral votes. But let's not pretend that the GOP is above epic corruption.

"Impeachment is too important to leave to Congress--it's going to take mass mobilization"

Elected officials in the Democratic Party, like established politicians everywhere, arenít instinctively comfortable with the idea of popular resistance, but itís not an entirely alien concept to them, either. In the extreme political emergency of 2017, they embraced protest politics. That started with emergency mass demonstrations at airports to block Trumpís initial travel ban, continued through the Womenís March, and was seen repeatedly on Capitol Hill and in congressional town halls as people came out en masse to oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act.

A lawless government cannot be constrained by the institutions of the law alone. It is popular mass resistance that creates a crisis point and forces action. And if Democrats want to beat Trumpís stonewalling tactics in 2019, they should consider doing it again.

Watergate was a long time ago

Watergate played out under a party system that was remarkably loose compared to today. Not all conservatives were Republicans, and not all Republicans were conservatives. That arguably set the stage for presidential misconduct to be evaluated as separately from political ideology or orientation as is possible.

Arch-segregationists ó mostly Democrats ó were serving openly in the halls of Congress. Meanwhile, the greatest champions of civil rights were also mostly Democrats, yet a†liberal African American Republicanrepresented Massachusetts in the Senate. Individual members faced cross-cutting ideological and partisan pressures, and even beyond race the system was only loosely organized with hawks and doves sitting in both parties.

Much more here: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/10/18/20905686/resistance-protest-impeachment-rallies-trump

What, if anything, is there to do about American ignorance?

I don't often read what Chris Cillizza writes, but I read an article of his a couple days ago and it's the end of his piece on which I wish to focus. Here's a link to the article: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/15/politics/donald-trump-fox-poll-impeachment/index.html

And here's the part on which I'm focusing:

The problem here is that the 60+ million people Trump tweeted out the incorrect NY Post article a) will never see any correction as to why it's dead wrong and b) wouldn't believe it even if they did see it.

Which is a giant problem.

Obviously American ignorance is not reserved solely for right wingers, but the Republican Party base is clearly "a giant problem" that helps enable so many other problems.

Nearly 10 years ago, I read this depressing article that the above excerpt reminds me of, as it's all about How Facts Backfire.

Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. Itís this: Facts donít necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This is an issue for people from across the political spectrum. But, of course, holding firm to *a* false belief or two isn't as destructive as holding firm to what amounts to a parallel universe, an alternate reality--a worldview that consists entirely of bullshit.

We've all lamented the stunning ignorance of the Republican Party base. But what, if anything, can be done?

One idea that occurs to me is for the next administration to push for making media literacy (identifying sources and verifying content, identifying the purpose of a particular message, determining who the intended audience is, etc.) mandatory curriculum starting in junior high, if not earlier.

What do you propose?

Shine a light on the tactics and not just on what's being said.

We are, once again, witnessing an example of trying to convince the public that crimes committed openly aren't crimes. Most notably with regard to Ukraine collusion, but also the effort to undercut charges of emoluments violations. This is part of a pattern. Deny, lie, obfuscate and then acknowledge while claiming it's perfectly okay and normal.†

Mark my words, there are many people (and I don't just mean Cult45) who will fall for that tactic and the narrative Republicans are trying to establish will become the dominant narrative. Unless Democrats are vigilant and work hard at establishing what should be the dominant narrative. Part of that effort has to include shining a bright light on what Mulvaney and Co. are attempting to do and not just on what they're saying. If we simply debate the substance, we're debating on their terms.

Most people aren't political junkies. Many are only vaguely aware of what's going on by way of whichever narrative or soundbite dominates. Your average person doesn't recognize, for instance, the tactic we all know as 'projection', or accusing your opponent of that which you're doing.

The same goes for the tactic of creating a massive problem (e.g., trade war, slaughter of Kurds) for whatever reason (incompetence, ideology, distraction), applying a bandaid and then claiming victory.†Don't just debate the merits of the argument. Point out the effort to bamboozle.

It's not enough to debate the *what*, especially when it's on their terms. We must shine a bright light on the *why*.

Maybe they missed that whole transcript thing.

The media continues to write shit like this:

Lawmakers are examining whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation of Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden...

No, they're investigating the extent of the corruption.
Go to Page: 1 2 Next »