authoritarian

Getting Attention, Statistics and Projection


Hey! Over Here!

The New York Times gathered for a discssion Four Opinion Writers on How the G.O.P. Fringe Took Over American Politics. Here’s a comment from Ezra Klein from that discussion.

“Democrats have a lot of theories of policy. They have a lot of theories of politics. They just do not have a theory of attention. And what I would say for the Trumpist Republican Party is it mostly doesn’t have a theory of policy. It has a middling theory of politics, and it is overwhelmed by its own theory of attention. And I don’t think there’s some kind of grand strategic plan happening over there.

“But I think that one way to think about the asymmetry, or maybe the inversion of the two sides right now, is that Republicans know how to get attention, but they don’t know how to be strategic about it. And Democrats know how to be strategic, but they don’t know how to get attention.”

I maintain that messaging from Democrats is uninspiring and commonly submarines their value to Americans. Klein is adding that they don’t know how to get attention, this in the face of Republicans who are experts at getting attention. I’m certain he’s right.

The key tools Republicans use to get attention are:

  1. Stoking fear of “the other”, be they Democrats or Blacks or Mexicans or Muslims – all the usual suspects. Those “others” aren’t real Americans, Republicans would have us believe.
  2. Saying crazy, even stupid things and being outrageous.

Clearly, Democrats aren’t going to stoke racial fears and hatreds in order to get attention and votes. But what about being outrageous? They can:

Call out Republican lies and label them that way – not falsehoods or misstatements: LIES! And ask Americans how they like being lied to.

Many thanks to JN for passing this along.

As the food stamp program is ending they can make headlines saying, “Republicans don’t care if poor kids starve!”

They can go on the Sunday news programs and tell America that Republicans are banning and burning books, just like the Nazis.

Speaking of books, Democrats can proclaim that Republicans want to cut short your kids’ education – leave them ignorant and prepared to be losers. They even want to close your public school.

Beto can tell Texas women that Gov. Abbott wants them to carry their rapist’s baby to term. And carry the babies from incest, too. Even if they’ll likely die in childbirth. Same thing in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Florida and other states.

Declare that new strains of Covid are already here and it’s killing our unvaccinated, but Republicans don’t care if they die.

Speaking of Covid, Republicans are spreading anti-vaccine and anti-mask disinformation, fighting against everything that would help end the pandemic. They’re doing that to attack Democrats over the inflation caused by the pandemic! Clearly, they don’t care if Americans go broke or die. That last sentence is the important one.

You get the picture. It’s how it’s said that gets attention.

One of the reasons so many liked Trump is that he seemed to them to be strong. No politically correct phrasing comes from him. He’s all about groundless accusation and promises of “unbelievable” and “huge” great stuff that never materializes. And he’s about “hit back harder,” as declared by Kellyanne Conway, as though hitting back harder were a good thing. Many see that stuff as strength.

There’s no need for Democrats to mimic Trump’s cruelty and stupidity. All they have to do to appeal to those wanting strong leaders (that’s all of us) is to speak plainly.

For example, when Ted Cruz was abusing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson over kids’ books, Democrats should have said the same thing publicly as they screamed while watching their TVs: “What a jerk! That guy wouldn’t know the truth if he read it in a children’s book.” I.e., Democrats must speak the outrage plainly.

Instead, we got Dick Durbin doing nothing. When he did speak he seemed to have a mouth full of oatmeal.

He let Lindsay Graham get away with his temper tantrum, false accusations, stealing 50% more time than was his, and then storming off like a 7-year-old brat. We got next to nothing in leadership from the #2 senator at a time when strength was called for. What we should have heard from Durbin was,

“The senator’s time is done – we’re not negotiating more. The senator will silence himself or he will be removed from this chamber. He will not be allowed to come back until he is prepared to apologize for his rude, insulting behavior and write on the board, ‘I will follow the rules, I will follow the rules,’ 100 times.”

That would be outrageous, of course, yet appropriate. And it would have made the 10:00 o’clock news across the nation. The Ds would have gotten some good attention as the strong ones. It would have been clear what they stand for. Instead, it was just another lost opportunity and a show of weakness.

Democrats have managed to disagree with Republicans, but only in nicey-nice Democrat-speak. That gets no attention. But it just isn’t that hard to get attention. The question is whether they have the courage to do what’s necessary.

Must Read

Late find following the writing of this post:

Thom Hartmann writes, “It seems that Democratic leadership is suffering from a serious deficiency of outrage.”

Statistics of the Week

From the Center for American Progress:

“There are 139 elected officials in the 117th Congress [109 representatives and 30 senators] who still deny the scientific consensus of human-caused climate change.”

These Republicans “have received more than $61 million in lifetime contributions from the coal, oil, and gas industries.” [emphasis original]

Projection Speak of the Week

Democracy is failing and authoritarianism is rising because of democracy’s bad moral foundations, said Sergey Karagonov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin, from back in the days when Putin had advisors. Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the powerless Russian legislative body, attacked democracy as the evil against which good guy authoritarians fight. Think: Putin as a warrior for all that is good and right in the world.

Somebody please tell me when there has been an authoritarian whose primary motive wasn’t amassing wealth and power for him/herself. For extra points, name one who made the lives of ordinary citizens better. Name even one authoritarian (another word for “dictator”) who wasn’t amoral or immoral and who didn’t descend into some form of debauchery and cruelty.

Oddly, an authoritarian is exactly what our extremist political righties think they want. Set aside whether that is an American thing to do. Focus for the moment on whether you want to be under the thumb of a self-serving, amoral, cruel dictator. See this Sunday’s post for more.

Sadly, our home grown authoritarian lovers don’t even get to the point of thinking about such things. They get a short-lived jolt of power from their tirades as they demand non-democracy, but they’re left powerless immediately after the power rush fades.

The science is well known about how anger short circuits logic and reason and it is that short circuit that we have to confront if we are to avoid a Vladimir Putin wannabee in power over the United States of America. For more, read this from Heather Cox-Richardson.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A 10-Point Action Plan For Democrats


Becoming a senator or representative was not intended by the Founders to be a career. It was meant to be a temporary post, one of taking a turn at representing one’s neighbors and making decisions for the nation. After a stint doing that a person would return to whatever they were doing before, like farming, and a newbie would come along to continue the legislative work. But now most of them dig in and stay (see point 7 below). They’re rather like a persistent allergen: it’s hard to get rid of them.

Right now we have a most dangerous pollen collection in Congress. In the House is Republican Kevin McCarthy, who only once spoke truth on January 6 and who has lied ever since. Leading the Senate Republicans is diabolical, 78-year-old Mitch McConnell (he’s been there 36 years – a very mucilaginous pollen). He’s diabolical because his words and actions make it painfully clear that Mitch only cares about Mitch. He’ll throw under the bus whoever and whatever gets in the way of his maniacal grab for more power. He’s even pleased to dishonor our nation before the world by threatening to cause us to default on our debts. And his Senate caucus members seem to have lost their spines, as they do whatever he tells them to do, regardless of how damaging his orders are for the country.

Most dangerous are the Trump robots who will repeat any absurd, outrageous thing that comes out of Trump’s mouth. They will make imbecilic, evidence-free claims against science and about non-existent election conspiracies. And they repeat imaginary connections to pedophile blood drinkers, socialists and, of course, George Soros. He’s a touchstone for foamy-mouth Republicans, who will invoke Soros’ name whenever they’re soliciting contributions. Such demonizing of opponents is standard stuff of fascists and authoritarians. Some of them are in Congress and it’s hard to get rid of them (see point 7 below).

All of that is extremely dangerous, because these people are attacking our very democracy from all sides. They contort themselves into cerebrum-free pretzels to whip up their authoritarian-loving “base.” That’s a code name for angry people being played for fools, who will believe any rageful thing, whose votes can be had and whose dollars can be separated from them. The point is that those politicians are on a swamp march to gain absolute power for themselves as authoritarians. Worse, they’re doing so in a fraudulent costume of patriotism.

The rot is everywhere that is red – red states, red politicians, red cable and radio blabbers, red online trolls and liars and the red, big money turncoats willing to sell out our country to have a slightly fatter wealth portfolio. Get your expectations in line with the likelihood of a vengeful dictator instead of a president if the Rs win in 2024. That election will be your last chance to vote.

What makes this even more frustrating is that the Democrats have good ideas for desperately needed projects and services that have been neglected for over 40 years. They have the opportunity to do what’s needed to make that stuff happen, as well as to blunt the Republican march to the bottom of the swamp. But instead of doing what’s needed, they’re having sibling fits of obstinance.

Another sad DNC bumper sticker – GET MESSAGING HELP!

There are moderates (two senators) and progressives each insisting on getting all of what they want. In President Obama’s terms, they are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. In the process, they are ensuring that nothing gets done to make things better and that the Republicans won’t even have to break stride on their swamp march.

This is an exercise in self-destruction and an undermining of trust in government.

To restore faith in government and hold off the would-be fascists, we’re going to have to stop doing the things that undermine our form of government. The Republicans are the problem, so the Democrats are going to have to learn to be bold and take on the challenge themselves. Here’s a message to them.

A 10-Point Action Plan For Democrats
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  1. Compromise on the Build Back Better reconciliation bill to get the ball rolling so that voters get the feel-good of it well in advance of the 2022 election. They need a visceral sense of the benefits of Democrats being in charge. You can revisit the rest of what you want to do after that election, assuming you don’t screw up the election and wind up in the minority.
  2. Carve-out an exception from the Senate filibuster rules, to allow legislation pertaining to voting rights to pass on a simple majority vote. Then pass the two bills that will ensure full voting rights for all Americans and will block Republican thefts of elections. Do that now so that political gerrymandering can be prevented from distorting the 2022 election. If you aren’t willing to do all that, you will perpetually be played by a vicious minority and you will lose forever. This is your only chance. Don’t screw this up. Here’s a reference, just in case the reality isn’t obvious enough.
  3. Start playing hardball for House and Senate seats (ref: points 4 and 9). Make the Rs squirm by highlighting their cowardice, their dishonesty, their anti-American attacks on our democracy and their almost homicidal behavior that has allowed and encouraged Covid-19 to kill over 715,000 Americans. They’ve pulled the plug on granny. Hey, that’s a bumper sticker you can use! See point 10.
  4. Stop using typical Democratic Party wimpy tactics and instead hammer these guys in the knees. Fog out the message next year about how the Republicans voted like goose steppers AGAINST the programs that the overwhelming majority of voters want. Rub their noses in it. If you’re not willing to do that and more, drop out of the race to make room for someone who actually intends to win.
  5. Expand the Supreme Court with 4 new centrist-to-left justices after the 2022 election to offset the McConnell bastardization of the Court (see the chart below). And fill every open federal bench with similar people. Caution: This will require you to grow a pair.
  6. Fix Congress and the Supreme Court – Say it with me: “Term limits.” This is a requirement for survival.
  7. Offer statehood to Puerto Rico and DC in 2023, both to improve Democrat headcount in Congress and because it’s the right thing to do.
  8. Treat rural and non-college educated citizens with respect. It will be a refreshing change. Start by fielding really good congressional candidates in red states and fund them well so they can connect with voters just as though they’re human beings, not elitists.
  9. Aggressively attack the blabbers who indirectly kill people by lying about Covid, those online, on cable and in Congress. Call them mean names that they so richly deserve. Call out the “stop the steal” liars in Congress. Do it in the well of the Senate and House. Do this aggressively. Translation: Grow a pair.
  10. Get help with messaging. The Republicans came up with “Stop the Steal.” However dishonest, it’s a great bumper sticker and rallying cry. What’s yours? “We’re working on a Build Back Better compromise and maybe we’ll have something in a couple of years or so”? “Gosh, Mitch is a meanie?” Will Rogers said it best: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” It’s time to both end such self-defeating stuff – it isn’t cute anymore – and present a compelling message to the country that people can remember and champion.

Start playing the right game. This ain’t beanbag; this is hardball. If at any time you’re unsure what to do, ask yourself what Mitch McConnell would do were he in your circumstances.

I repeat: This is your only chance. Don’t screw this up.

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Approval Rating of Supreme Court Drops to Lowest Level – EVER
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Our approval of the Supreme Court has plummeted 18% this year alone.
Expect it to get worse, unless we do something about it.

Click the chart for the Gallup report.

Resources

Hungarian-Style Soft Fascism Is the GOP’s Ruthless New Brand, by Thom Hartmann

Do Democrats Have the Courage of Liz Cheney?, by Tom Friedman

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here, by Robert Kagan

This Is Why We Need to Spend $4 Trillion, by David Brooks

Protests Are Taking Over The World. What’s Driving Them?, by Zachariah Mampilly

————————————
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up. Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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