Commentary

DEMOCRACY KILLERS

Bernie march3(MSCC) John Mudd, June 28, 2016 — Donald Trump. The name hangs on our tongues like the bitterest of fruits and hovers like an unmitigated disaster over our political landscape. I suspect his ego has taken over completely, and he believes that with marketing and absurd and divisive rhetoric, will land him in the presidential chair, his glimmering gold logo will rest atop the Whitehouse dome, and his silly inept slogan “Make American Great Again” will be chanted by the masses. It confounds me that his opposition of our very nature, our humanity, is not blatantly clear to all. We must keep the spirit of the green coppered Lady of Liberty standing on Ellis Island, thrusting her torch to the skies, Emma Lazarus’ poem, The New Colossus at her feet…“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Putting the Trump circus aside—he’s only mentioned to hook and reel you in to the real story—the enablers of our absurd politics and destroyers of democracy.

The narrative of an upper-echelon of self-proclaimed political wonks, shakers, shapers, and rulers of our undemocratic society is echoed loudly. As the Democratic voting primary closed in Nevada the media hurried to label former Secretary Hillary Clinton the winner, and Senator Bernie Sanders the loser.

MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote:

As of yesterday morning, no one could say with any confidence who was even favored. But when the dust settled, there was nevertheless a clear winner.

Hillary Clinton won Nevada’s Democratic caucuses on Saturday, NBC News projected, scoring a much-needed boost in the nomination race and depriving rival Bernie Sanders of a victory in a racially diverse state.

The loss is a blow for Sanders, who hoped to use the state’s contest to prove himself as a viable candidate in a state with an electorate made up of more minority voters and fewer self-described liberals than the race’s earlier contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

With just about all of the precincts reporting, it looks like Clinton’s margin of victory was about six points, 53% to 47%. In terms of delegate distribution, it was also fairly close, with Clinton picking up 19 delegates to Sanders’ 15.

Benen goes on to say:

Sanders said last night that, in the wake of a defeat, his campaign has “momentum” and “the wind is at our backs.” That pitch would have been far easier to believe had he not come up short in a state he fought to win.

“The loss is a blow to Sanders,” and “in the wake of defeat”? Can you really label Sanders a loser when Hillary won by four delegates, and six points popular vote? When she was projected to win with 71% of the vote? I’d say Bernie Sanders is too close for comfort and has sparked fear in the hearts of Hillary and the establishment. Steve Benen’s subtleties do not escape; The label of “news media” is seemingly loose fitting;  “democracy killer” may be more like it, for propagating inaccuracies and vacuous talking points. Although he is the mildest of our “democracy killers,” his voice adds to the establishment’s keenly hummed tune.

James Hohmann’s Washington 4/4/16 Post newsletter implied Hillary Clinton was the likely Democratic winner, and speaks nothing of Bernie Sanders. He suggested that it might be in the best interest of Republicans to accept President Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, for Supreme Court justice, because Hillary will likely nominate a younger and more progressive judge. In the same newsletter you’ll find flattering pictures of Hillary and a not-so-smiley Bernie—a subtle jab that doesn’t quite work since Sanders’ serious and unwavering character is what endears him to his followers.

Hohmann gleefully points out the following New York Times article:

Sanders would be in a much stronger position right now if he’d been willing to hit Clinton harder and keep a more aggressive campaign schedule last year. There’s now consensus on his team that he blundered by wearing kid gloves and not courting minority voters more heavily in early 2015. The New York Times’ Patrick Healy and Yamiche Alcindor interviewed 15 people who are on Sanders’s team or close to him.

Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and senator who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1992 and who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton in the current race, said Mr. Sanders might be winning now if he had relentlessly pressured Mrs. Clinton since last fall over her closed-door speeches to Wall Street banks, her role in the finances of Clinton Foundation programs, and other vulnerabilities: “Making the transcripts of the Goldman speeches public would have been devastating to Mrs. Clinton,” Mr. Kerrey said. “When the G.O.P. gets done telling the Clinton Global Initiative fund-raising and expense story, Bernie supporters will wonder why he didn’t do the same.”

Hohmann’s quotes from “Sanders’ Team” and his article  encourage Sanders to throw down like the other “children” in this fight. However, try as they may, Sanders will not stray from the real issues or his message. He knows that there is nothing to be gained by entering a mudslinging contest. Bernie’s appeal is his disinterest in slinging mud and willingness to stay on point. Hohmann translation of another opinion (NY Times article) to support his conjured narrative lacks any real punch.

Recently after a sixth straight win for Sanders in Wisconsin Hohmann again in his Washington Post story opines:

Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders each won their Wisconsin primary by 13 points. More than two months after voting began in Iowa, front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton crashed into a cheddar wall.

But Hillary remains almost certain to ultimately secure the Democratic nomination, while The Donald now finds himself facing an emboldened opposition and an increasingly likely contested convention.

Presumptive and all too eager to crown Hillary president, Hohmann and The Washington Post’s efforts to thwart Bernie Sanders is all too apparent with their 16 negative articles in 16 hours.

Washington Post writer John Wagner’s “Bernie Prevails in Wyoming, Continuing Winning Streak Against Hillary Clinton,” although accurate in title, is also peppered with lines like, “Only 14 delegates were at stake Saturday. Sanders was expected to win a majority of them, but his victory won’t significantly dent Clinton’s formidable lead in the race for the nomination.”

The media’s “Sanders the loser” narrative persists through and after his eighth straight win. Salivating for that streak to end, they are elated to keep us up to date with their propaganda: New York Times / Upshot, Nate Cohn’s “Realistically, Bernie Sanders Cannot Afford Losses,” NY Daily News, Greenman: Bernie Sanders’ campaign falls flat in N.Y. And when they’re not spinning these tales, they hide him backstage while spotlighting an empty podium, or worse, spotlighting the Republican Party and their nonsensical policies.

Now, is James Hohmann and others in full control of the keystrokes from which their articles are spun, or is there a higher power guiding them? No matter, let them share the guilt with their captains. Choosing to write and market such narratives, rather than allow Sanders’ ideas to be heard is a dangerous game. It may be death by their own petard, (or our death by their petard)—but ultimately, they are ruining democratic growth.

And then there is Morning Joe, I can think of far worse commentaries to lambast, but I am looking for subtleties. The show’s two lead hosts, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough occasionally spar to portend fair and intellectual discourse and to reach a broad audience. Brzezinski seems utterly amazed that 18,500 people showed up for the Bernie Sanders Bronx rally (even though Sanders has yet to veer from his message and motivates huge crowds since the beginning of his campaign). She makes it clear that he is Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont, 74 years old, talks like Larry David, Democratic Socialist… “I’m just saying, Democratic Socialist. Look at that everybody and tell me what’s going on. I understand Hillary Clinton has a lock on this. But what is going on here? Ah, before he addresses the main audience…” Joe interrupts, “Were you being sarcastic when you said you understand she has a lock on this?” Mika responds defensively, “No, everyone tells me she does, and the numbers seem to say it, she’ll say… She got a lock on it.” The hosts with their guests, associate host, and pundits liken the rally to Woodstock; they press on about his age and that he is a Democratic Socialist, with emphasis on Socialist. Brzezinski parrots the others, without analytic evidence. One of their guests/cohosts/pundits equates how well or bad the presidential contenders are doing by how well they are doing with their “brand”—a dull perception. The whole gaggle of geese are inept at talking about politics at this point. The issues are sidelined by media bowl superficiality—Sanders’ age, Democratic Socialism, and whatnot talking points.

To be fair, the overarching message of Morning Joe leans positively toward Sanders. And our hosts interviewed Sanders and discussed real issues on a subsequent show. There is also the surprising CNN interview with the well spoken Democracy Now’s independent news anchor Amy Goodman that was either forward thinking or inability to script her. The segment discussed the media’s (including their own) failings at covering the presidential race and the real issues. Goodman, an independent veteran journalist, was not shy about pointing out the flaws. Could the media be considering the profound importance of independent news? Are they articulating an awareness of truth outside of their bubble? Perhaps the overwhelming support for the movement have them capitulating to a semblance of truth?

Can the self-proclaimed political wonks, shakers, shapers, and rulers of our undemocratic society grasp what so many of us already have: Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Robert Reich, Tulsi Gabbard, Robert Scheer, Harry Belafonte, Nina Turner, Spike Lee, Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Sarah Silverman, Rosario Dawson, Tim Robbins, Ben And Jerry, Cornell West, Killer Mike, Anonymous, Seth MacFarlane, Dick Van Dyke, Art Garfunkel, Danny Glover, Asher Edelman.

Speaking of our nation’s politics and of Bernie Sanders during his Bronx rally, political activist and actor Rosario Dawson took our every thought, notion, and argument and had them dancing so eloquently in air. It was enough to make me weep.

During the Bernie Sanders rally in Prospect Park, Iraq war veteran and Democratic Representative of Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard said, “No one appreciates peace more than those who experienced and seen war first hand…As veterans we know how important it is to have a Commander in Chief who has the military mindset and sound judgment to know when it may be necessary to use military power…just as importantly when not to use that [military] power…that’s why I am endorsing Bernie Sanders to be our next Commander in Chief. I am confident he has the intelligence, he has the foresight, he has good judgment to make sound decisions when it comes to that most important question of war or peace.”

Sanders has made clear his disdain for the interventionist wars and that we should use our resources to rebuild our nation, not for drones, bombings, CIA intrigues (regime changes), and sanctions that care little for civilian life. Not for the war-rallying cry shall he go.

Sanders is beyond a politician, he is a public servant and humanitarian, now fighting for half a century, he continues to drive the serious issues, and stands firm that “great environmental crisis’ of our time is to preserve clean water, and we’re not going to do that with fracking.” Sanders is a member of the US Senate committee on the environment and has introduced comprehensive climate change legislation which includes tax on carbon. He knows better than most that “…leaving this planet healthy and habitable for our grandchildren and children is a moral issue. We have got to tell the Fossil Fuel industry that their short-term profit are not more important than the future of this planet…we’ve got to be bold and aggressive now in transforming our energy system.” He understands our nations inequality and racism; he understands the greed and corruption of our banking system; and he is well aware of Republican and Democratic representatives forming an imperfect corporate-government union. During the Prospect Park rally, Danny DeVito echoed what was perched on the lips of many, “The man [Sanders] is beholding to no one except the people.”

We need media to amplify rather than bury Sanders’ message: our message! We need news-hound participants with the ire of Sherlock Holmes, desirous and unwavering in the pursuit of the truth, to promote awareness, elevate discourse, and nourish freedom. Strip the emperor of his clothes and allow not “pie in the sky” dispersions on Sanders or his legitimate pursuits: denying of climate change, poisoning of our food and water, tampering in foreign affairs, lying to initiate wars….and do it now before bad decisions are made.

Charles Koch says “it’s possible” that a Hillary Clinton presidency would better fulfill his business agenda than any of the Republicans who are running. If it is good for Koch, it is not good for us?

I doubt (and Susan Sarandon articulates this well) that I could support Hillary’s run for president when her choices are guided by donors and her arrogance leads us into disastrous entanglements. During the Prospect Park rally, Tulsi Gabbard reminded us of Hillary’s vote for the Iraq war and that she lead the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and the promise to escalate the illegal overthrow of another government—Syria; actions that undermine our nation’s security, with a cost of trillions and countless lives. The words, “we came, we saw, he died” from Hillary’s giddy lips did fly in reaction to the death of Colonel Gaddafi, a man she had called a close friend. Afflicted with the arrogance of power and reckless use of it, along with her business associates, the future looks much too insecure.

Perhaps the media blunderings will solidify a Trump-arian presidency, or give way to a Hill-arian approach: a religiosity of thwarting democracies, plundering resources, and discarding of people. Shall I spite the media for their destructiveness or shall I (if Hillary nabs the Democratic nominee) allow my disdain for an establishment candidate rule my actions? I’m not sure. Both paths seem to lead me in the same direction. Even in the face of a Republican president?

Now back to Donald Trump—our media built reality show (do we not have little to say about him and his absurd principals?). We should be light-years beyond such nonsense. There are too many issues that require real understanding and solutions, and the media’s narrowness is killing our opportunity and chance for real democracy. They are responsible for the smoke screen. They’ve found their gold nugget and are cashing in. Expect more episodes to come.