American Democracy at a crossroads

I recently read an article about the state of journalism after this election cycle which managed, though somewhat unintentionally, to capture so much of what has gone wrong in American politics over the last several decades leading up to this particularly horrible season. He did so without recapping all the steps that we took on our path here, but by laying bare so much of what has gone wrong in what was intended to be a critique of Hilary Clinton.

Here’s a link to said article:

The author admits his bias against Clinton, which at this stage of the campaign, with the race close to even and with Trump having momentum, explains why he spent the whole article attacking Clinton and merely a passing comment at Trump. This despite insisting that a journalist ought to be equally oppositional to both candidates, in an article focused on bashing only one candidate.

The concluding paragraph is most revealing:

"But you don’t have to be crazy to vote for Trump. The best reason I’ve seen was recently offered by Camille Paglia, who said, “People want change and they’re sick of the establishment…[I]f Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party, the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media.”

This reveals the authors intentions – giving folks good reasons to vote for Trump.

Which makes it clear that this author, while well intentioned, sees a Trump win as good for America, and is thus happy to shed the pretense of impartiality to make that case. So he has compromised the journalistic standards he himself lays out in the course of his critique of the Clintons, in order to advocate for Trump because he believes this is best for America. How noble!

This reminds me of a particularly appropriate C.S. Lewis quote:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

He is throwing his journalistic standards under the bus because he thinks it’s good for America, while criticising other journalists who did the same thing to support Clinton because they believed she was better for America than Trump (or at least less bad). But don’t worry, it’s ok he’s – he’s doing it for our own good!

Which tells us that human journalists can not be neutral when the stakes are high. When any human with a sense of moral integrity believes there is a particularly dangerous candidate, that journalist’s conscience will demand that s/he be more critical and oppositional to said candidate. (Which is what this author criticized the NY Times for admitting up front – here: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/business/balance-fairness-and-a-proudly-provocative-presidential-candidate.html?_r=0&referer=http://observer.com/2016/11/this-election-has-disgraced-the-entire-profession-of-journalism/ – before doing the exact same thing, but without the admission!). The truth is, the appearance of neutrality (certainly when the stakes are high) is bullshit.

All news is and all facts are political. The truth itself is political.

A fact either supports or contradicts a political agenda, and each politician attempts to spin a fact to his or her advantage and each attempt to woo the media to do their work for them. This dirty little secret has been known for decades by the rich and powerful who own media companies and attempt to cling to the appearance of "fair and balanced journalism" while grinding an axe in favor of the side that most closely aligns with their own political ideology. And these wealthy owners then spend millions on DC think tanks who craft policy, funded by their owners, in order to influence politicians towards their own agenda. This is as true of the Koch brothers as of George Soros, though often not all are equally effective in buying influence. Lobbyists on k street have been profiting off this secret for decades, which is a not insignificant part of what got us here.

But now let’s posit that this journalist is right. Let’s assume that people vote en masse for Donald Trump in order to reject the status quo. What is the end result? We then hand power, the nuclear codes, the drone program, the power to select supreme court judges to a man this author himself describes as a "reckless narcissist who, as his debate performances indicated, cannot string together more than two sentences, let alone articulate a coherent vision for the country’s future."

That’s right, we’ll be handing over power, the drone army, the keys to the nukes and the right to appoint supreme court judges to this egotistical narcissist who disrespects women and people with disabilities, is cavalier about nuclear proliferation, boasts of his vindictive and vengeful nature in his books, and has repeatedly targeted journalists for abuse, wants to use the power of the office to lock up political rivals, and has demonstrated the kind of attitude towards minorities that has electrified extremists like the KKK and has folks queuing up with confederate flags to lead the revolution to take their country back. This while both parties have lost credibility and the media have been revealed to lack any vestige of objectivity.

How this author sees this as a good thing is beyond me.

No matter who wins next Tuesday, we are entering a new age in American politics and democracy, where facts matter less and less because we can’t trust even the news media, and the social fabric is frayed by the lack of trust and hostility that this election cycle has created.

Good luck, and stay safe.


About tettehotuteye



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