It’s no exaggeration to claim the upcoming 2018 general election will be the most important election in modern American history.
Will the United States continue to be governed by an authoritarian and anti-democratic narcissist surrounded by unqualified sycophants and opportunists or will it elect decisive Democratic Party majorities in the House and Senate that will provide desperately needed checks and balances on President Donald Trump’s chaotic tyranny?
The Trump resistance remains strong and viable, but the main obstacle to saving democracy in our country—and this is not hyperbole—is the growing normalization of President Donald Trump’s lies and corruption by the corporate media, including prominent and supposedly liberal news outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Craving normality and the familiar is natural when experiencing duress, but, again, these are not normal times. Trump’s consistent lying, bullying and personal corruption, abetted by Republicans, has already destroyed many of our historical federal institutional structures and has led to outrageous, irrational policy decisions, from immoral anti-immigration initiatives to rewarding the already obscenely wealthy with more of the national treasure. What we can hope for is not a return to past structures but a major correction that leads to the revolt of the masses of people damaged by Trump’s dark vision of a world, one governed by a small cabal of oligarchs and their surrogates intent on, whether conscious of their actions or not, basic human extinction. Trump’s agenda is terribly immoral and fueled by anger and mental pathology.
A uniquely and duly elected American democratic socialist government along with the embrace of contemporary liberalism among the vast majority of citizens is absolutely the only correction after Trump.
The political agenda for Democrats should not be called a wish list but a survival kit for rebuilding a robust middle class: Universal health care, raising the minimum wage or guaranteeing monthly income, strengthening Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, college student loan forgiveness, free college tuition and more public housing assistance. For this to be accomplished, the overall message should be the embrace of equality in all aspects of our world and that includes first and foremost equal and easy access to the voting booth.
The major corporate media outlets, with the notable exception of the presidential propaganda arm of Fox News, have certainly been critical of Trump in terms of their editorials and analyses, but their basic news coverage continues, in a general sense, to exude a symbolic yearning for past structures and journalistic rhetorics and formulas. They also continue to marginalize voices of reason and voices arguing for a different type of future for our country by relying on the same stable of old-guard pundits, who helped to create the Trump disaster in the first place.
Consequently, we read or view stories about state dinners managed triumphantly by Trump’s wife Melania or slosh through longer analytical pieces about Trump’s bizarre foreign policy edicts, which are constantly in flux. Trump is a genius in his dealings with North Korea or he’s the dotard played like a rube. Trump’s tariffs are calculating, strong and wise or they show he’s a simpleton hurting American farmers. The comedian who played the recent White House Correspondents Association dinner was controversial or she wasn’t. (Note: The truth is always controversial in Trump’s America.) All of the utterly predictable false equivalencies and false dichotomies in the news, accompanied by the inanity on Facebook and Twitter, only normalizes Trump and the death of democracy while making it more difficult for Democrats to win in 2018.
The Washington Post masthead slogan should be changed to “Democracy Dies in Stupid.”
The corporate media outlets now eagerly want us to take them seriously when, in fact, they were a major factor in Trump’s election because they failed to vet him then and continue to enable him by their breathless news coverage and contrarian analysis whenever he pronounces a new bizarre edict or bullies someone on Twitter. Where are the stories, for example, about Trump’s business corruption and how he’s using the office of his presidency to further his money interests? There have been some stories along these lines, of course, but nothing that puts the larger picture together. It’s amazing as well that there’s not one reporter in this entire country who can find and reveal Trump’s tax returns. Yet the media remains riveted on Stormy Daniels’ hush agreement.
Below are some ideas for the corporate media as primary elections now loom across the country.
Never Trump Never. The quandary here is that Trump is threatening the free press throughout the world with his incessant “fake news” claims. This, in turn, de-centers truth and deflects attention from his corruption. It also means the very survival of a free press in this country is at stake. That means media outlets must state openly and honestly in their regular news columns that they stand against the Trump regime in the context of the latest peculiar Trump decision or policy. That’s fair reporting. Trump has crossed countless boundaries of human decency and basic wisdom; it’s incumbent of reporters to tell this truth again and again.
New Rhetorics. Now is the time to discard the pyramid style of reporting that relies on boring contrarian ledes and false equivalencies. Writers need to use the first-person voice and give us detailed, personal descriptions of the people in the Trump regime they are now covering, such as Environmental Protection Agency leader Scott Pruitt. They should not hesitate to offer their opinions as well and warn repeatedly against the extremism now controlling our federal government. There are leading scientists, for example, that argue it might be too late to stop the planet’s destruction from global warming in just a few decades because of the burning of fossil fuels. Why aren’t the latest developments in that story, accompanied by personal and cogent criticism, in every major newspaper and on every television news show each and every day?
Different Voices. The media pundits despite how wrong they have often been in the past are still churning out their supposed clever daily insights that rarely address the existential crisis now facing our country. My point is not to criticize columnists that truly oppose Trump. But what’s desperately needed are voices that are truly on the left and outside of the capitalistic structures that dominate and still colonize our world with inequality. Does anyone really think we can have make a meaningful difference when it comes to income inequality under the conventional thinking that the markets solve all our problems. The Washington Post, to its credit, has allowed one editorial writer to use the word socialism in a positive way in a couple of pieces, but it isn’t enough. More writers defending democratic socialism should be given space to make their points on a daily basis.
Corporate media outlets may be making more money now because the chaos of the Trump regime generates readership and viewers, but they’re going to lose it all if they continue to normalize an unhinged American president and ignore voices crying out in order to save humanity and the planet.