Sunday, May 21, 2017

Democrats Need To Reintroduce Themselves To Rural America

I reposted a video on Facebook that looks back at the political events of the past week and demonstrates how FOX News distorts, deflects and denies stories critical of Trump and his administration. Regular viewers of FOX News are told over and over again the mainstream media is fake news, journalists are treating Trump unfairly, stories damning to the president have no basis in fact, etc., etc., etc. If your main source of news is FOX, you’re living in a bubble of right-wing fantasies and delusions.

Yet FOX News isn’t the only culprit in the conservative echo chamber. Another factor that on the one hand seems self-evident, yet is vitally important to the future chances of Democratic candidates, is what I call the closed political loop of small-town America.

During my life I have lived in several small rural towns. I found many of the clichés about small town living to be true. Neighbors help neighbors, doors don’t have to be locked at night and there is a real sense of community pride you won’t find in larger cities. In some ways, small towns are like extended families, with all of the good, bad and ugly aspects you would expect. And like many families, political views are generally shared and reinforced within the clan. To no one’s surprise, most rural folks are staunch conservatives, and so are their friends and family. When the men meet at the diner on main street for coffee, they aren’t quoting Marx or praising Elizabeth Warren, they’re parroting FOX News talking points.

I believe this is an important issue for Democratic candidates in all states, but especially red states. The good folks living in small town Arkansas or Georgia or Idaho do not seek out and rarely receive news or opinions contrary to their fixed worldview.  When it does happen on occasion, it is dismissed out of hand. That’s why I believe it is necessary for Democratic candidates to go to the rural towns in their states and meet with people face to face. Democrats have written off rural America for far too long, and the result is a huge swath of the country drowning in a red sea.

Democratic candidates shouldn’t expect a warm welcome in rural areas, but it is absolutely necessary, especially in this era of Mad King Trump, to reintroduce traditional Democratic ideas back into middle America. It is the only hope we have of ever turning red states blue again.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Is Trump Really As Stupid As He Sounds?

One of the fundamental questions reasonably intelligent people ask each other is whether Donald Trump is really as stupid (or mentally ill) as he sounds or is he simply playing a character who recites lines to satisfy his loyal followers. Although not the definitive answer, a blurb from an article in this month’s The New Yorker tilts the needle toward the former.

In a comment on exercise, the article states, “Other than golf, [Trump] considers exercise misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy.”

My first question is, where would anyone even come up with such a bizarre notion? Did it come from the same kooky personal doctor who wrote, “[Trump] will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency?” What universe does Trump live in where he can seriously believe something that is at odds with every bit of research done on the subject of exercise?

Not only is Trump a pathological liar, a severe narcissist and a sociopath, he is also delusional. All conservatives practice inductive reasoning, which is using a specific instance to make generalized conclusions, such as the claim that a black woman once bought vodka with food stamps, hence all food stamp recipients and black people are lazy cheaters with no morals. Trump, however, takes inductive reasoning to new heights, creating an entire personal universe of gross generalizations based on little more than something someone once said.

The level of Trump’s ignorance is not merely shocking, it is also very, very dangerous.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Will Losing Their Health Insurance Help Republican Voters Wake Up?

Seeing video and photos of Trump and congressional Republicans celebrating the passage of the catastrophic Trumpcare legislation turned my stomach in a way that so many other recent images have not. Why? Because the clusterfuck of mostly rich white males guffawing and ass-slapping each other like they’d just gotten free tickets to a Three Stooges film marathon were laughing at you and me. That’s right, good citizen, we were the butt of the joke in Washington, D.C. yesterday, as Republican members of congress and Trump celebrated our utter stupidity, our unassailable ignorance, our inability to distinguish fact from fiction. And by “we,” I mean the millions of Americans who keep voting for Republicans.

To Republican candidates, a large swath of American voters are country hicks in the big city who will stand at the Three-Card Monte table indefinitely, continuously betting that they will win the next hand. And that characterization is highly accurate. Part of this is because the marks get their information and their biases confirmed from a corporatist network media and delusional right-wing cable “news” shows. FOX News has been the most watched cable news show for years. Bolstered with misinformation and appeals to their darkest fears, Jesus-loving whites turn out on election day eager to vote for the Christian con-artist with the shiniest American flag lapel pin.

It is very unlikely that the Trumpcare legislation will pass in the Senate and become law, but that doesn’t mean a slightly less onerous bill couldn’t succeed in the future. As long as Trump is president and both houses are controlled by Republicans, there will be no end of legislation designed to benefit the .01 percent at the expense of the rest of us. Today it’s healthcare, tomorrow it will be taxes and the next day energy and on and on, with the pigs at the trough never getting enough.

Will it take the total annihilation of this country to open the eyes of the American voter? What will it take to break the trance of values voters and get them to see the con-artists for who they truly are? Will losing their health insurance be enough? What will wake these people up?