Yesterday, David Roberts of the energy and politics newsletter Volts noted that a Washington Post article illustrated how right-wing extremism is accomplishing its goal of destroying faith in democracy. Examining how “in a swing Wisconsin county, everyone is tired of politics,” the article revealed how right-wing extremism has sucked up so much media oxygen that people have tuned out, making them unaware that Biden and the Democrats are doing their best to deliver precisely what those in the article claim to want: compromise, access to abortion, affordable health care, and gun safety.
Compare Rosalynn Carter's continuing compassion & intelligence throughout her life with the former FirstLady who promoted “I Really Don’t Care, Do You?” statement on her jacket while en route to the border in 2018. It is even more cringe-worthy five years later.
Right-wing extremism can only accomplish its goal of destroying faith in democracy if the MSM - press and television news - report the stories the extremists are vocalizing. They can only "suck up so much media oxygen" if the media gives it to them.
I just sent the following email to Josh Boak and Zeke Miller of the Associated Press, in response to their article in the LA Times, "Biden Threads Optimism with Dire Warnings About Trump." It addresses exactly what Professor Richardson is talking about.
Mr Boak and Mr. Miller:
My name is Gary Stewart. I am a climate activist living in Laguna Beach, CA, and have had 130 letters to the editor published since 2018.
I am writing to suggest that the calm-to-the-point-of-timid both-sides-ism that your article "Biden threads optimism with dire warnings about Trump", exemplifies, in the face of the obvious, in-your-face fascistic authoritarianism of Donald Trump and those lining up to institute his vision, will do as much or more to allow Trump to be elected again as any other factor.
You coddle Trump's demonstrably false narrative and reserve your questioning for Biden. You endorse the Trump talking point that Biden's message of optimism (without Trump) and disaster (with Trump) is somehow muddled, which it is not. It is a contrast called for by the extremity of what Trump is openly promising, compared with continued economic and social success that Biden has already accomplished.
This is not an election to be reported as a horse-race between a somewhat right Republican and a somewhat left Democrat.
This is a race between an unhinged autocratic and a somewhat left of center, traditional Democrat.
Donald Trump should not even be considered a member of the Republican Party - he owns the Republican Party, and is using it as a weapon to advance his personal agenda, defined by vendettas, narcissism and fantasy, all aligned to serve his personal needs, financially and emotionally.
You both know this.
I am certain that you are aware of the nature of the threat to American traditions, values and constitutional order - just consider for two minutes the parallels with Nazi Germany, Hungary under Orban, Russia under Putin, India under Modi, and what is happening in Argentina.
Unless the traditional media of which you are both members begins to alert the citizenry of the U.S. to the threat to the United States that Donald Trump represents, rather than a rational alternative to President Biden, Donald Trump will institute Project 2025 and Agenda 47 (which you really need to read in full, if you have not already), and the rule of law will give way to moralistic authoritarianism and business libertarianism, while all the levers of government will be dismantled and turned into nothing but an army of Trump lackeys willing to do whatever he directs, as guided by industry lobbyists and Christian nationalists. Ukraine will become part of Russia, for starters.
Project 2025 says it in crystal clear terms.
As a climate change activist, I am petrified by the regressive steps Donald Trump will carry out to unleash carbon emissions to enrich the fossil fuel industry, and shut down any and all programs designed to protect against the worst ravages that the climate crisis guarantees.
Please, I implore you, figure out a way to make journalism rise to the challenge of Donald Trump.
Gary Stewart, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Laguna Beach, CA
P.S. - I challenge you to read the wording and messaging in this recent post from Trump and challenge the accuracy of what I have said above. Relying upon Timothy Snyder's book, How Fascism Works, and Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, this post is mainline fascism.
I then included a visual of the unhinged post from Donald Trump that Professor Richardson quoted, as was included in the Talking Points Memo article she referred to. ***********************************************************************************************
Addendum: I encourage everyone reading this blog to communicate the threat of Donald Trump to as many people with potential influence as you can. (Most journalists can be emailed directly.) Strong messaging can still be respectful, primarily by avoiding name-calling and personal attacks. Stick to what an article says, not the authors personally, as best you can.
I wish that the Biden campaign and actually, all Democratic campaigns could find ONE well known person of each group that Trump is threatening to expel, to have them reach out to and represent their group. I'd like to see Beyonce get all black Americans, but especially the young black people to REGISTER and to VOTE. I can't think of who might be the equal of Taylor Swift in every ethnic group, but there MUST be leaders who speak out. I welcome any suggestions.
This is a well read forum. Perhaps it would get the right attention/
Until we as a country understand that by growing a population of citizens in over-crowded schools with extremely large class sizes and under-paid teachers we should expect right-wing figures to have mass appeal. As HCR says in her post today:
"Part of the attraction of right-wing figures is they offer easy solutions to the complicated issues of the modern world."
The ability to think analytically about complex issues needs to be taught in schools where empathy can also be fostered. Unfortunately we do not understand that by raising young people in chaotic school situations we can only expect what we have: a society that cannot discern its own best interest and a citizenry that does not seem to value peaceful solutions:
The humanity and decency of Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter represent the matter of our current political situation. The other is the anti-matter.
The newspapers are now almost totally owned by Wall Street hedge funds. No wonder people are not being told any of the positive achievements Biden has accomplished. Hence the despair and disgust
Rosalynn Carter, always compassionate, always a class act. Jimmy Carter, the same. We would have been a better country, we would have been better human beings if they had won a second term. He was the last good man that was president of our country. Everyone single president since has been a much lesser man.
Rachel Maddow’s show tonight clearly explained what occurs when a country buckles under authoritarian rule. And muzzling the media is one result. I’m sorry for the people of Argentina. The new President also wants to “sweep under the rug” the huge numbers of people that were murdered under the last military dictatorship.
Jimmy Carter, as Heather Cox Richardson concludes here, got it correct in citing the personal.
Dems today could follow his lead -- but to cite the personal widely would also expose Dems to the skills they have (or don't) in also citing our artists of the personal. Novelists, film makers, musicians, memoirists -- all who've excelled in looking at individuals in their communities.
Trump and his acolytes have the advantage now in broadcasting personal vulgarities. Of course they need discuss no public policies. Their public clamors but for most easily digestible vulgarities.
Dems could surpass this, and cite humanities for higher standards of public appreciation?
Could be. Or we could just sit back and let the billionaires and their authoritarian enablers keep on destroying everything decent in our public life.
The political fatigue the WaPo reporters found is a specific goal of fascist movements. Get people to the point where they give up trying to separate truth from lies. Or as Bannon put it, "flooding the zone with shit." And that article demonstrates that the fascists are winning.
In relation to the state of the media and political advertising in the US, it may be useful to ponder the view of the ultimate court of appeal in the UK in Regina (Animal Defenders International) v Secretary of State For Culture, Media and Sport  AC 1312. In this case, which concerned political advertising, Lord Bingham, at 1346, speaking for a unanimous House of Lords, said:
“The fundamental rationale of the democratic process is that if competing views, opinions and policies are publicly debated and exposed to public scrutiny the good will over time drive out the bad and the true prevail over the false. It must be assumed that, given time, the public will make a sound choice when, in the course of the democratic process, it has the right to choose. But it is highly desirable that the playing field of debate should be so far as practicable level. This is achieved where, in public discussion, differing views are expressed, contradicted, answered and debated. It is the duty of broadcasters to achieve this object in an impartial way by presenting balanced programmes in which all lawful views may be ventilated. It is not achieved if political parties can, in proportion to their resources, buy unlimited opportunities to advertise in the most effective media, so that elections become little more than an auction. Nor is it achieved if well-endowed interests which are not political parties are able to use the power of the purse to give enhanced prominence to views which may be true or false, attractive to progressive minds or unattractive, beneficial or injurious. The risk is that objects which are essentially political may come to be accepted by the public not because they are shown in public debate to be right but because, by dint of constant repetition, the public has been conditioned to accept them.”
In her concurring speech, Baroness Hale, at 1513, sardonically noted that, during the hearing of this case, “there was an elephant in the committee room, always there but never mentioned,” namely, the “dominance of advertising, not only in elections but also in the formation of political opinion, in the United States of America” where there was “no limit to the amount that pressure groups can spend on getting their message across in the most powerful and pervasive media available.” Her Ladyship went on the state that “in the United Kingdom ... we do not want our government or its policies to be decided by the highest spenders.”
How much of TFG's 'leading' is the media propelled? The CNN townhall seems to have jump started the insanity. I have a high school classmate evolved to Jewish journalist, shouting that Israel isn't being heard. Well, sadly no one is being heard. Don't take it personally....
We just celebrated Halloween, a night dedicated to scary things".
We've lived through actual scary things, hurricanes, floods, mass shootings, 'regular' shootings, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes & a pandemic! But the Absolute scariest thing of all is thinking about trump 2.0!!! That thought terrifies me. I just think how quickly things can get out of hand, especially when trump & his sycophants tell us what they are planning. I mean really, mass deportations, death penalties for enemies, camps to house millions of people but more likely they will be referred to as vermin, easier to convince the people that those vermin in the camps don't deserve the same justice as "real" Americans!
And we best not forget that the press is the enemy of the people. They want to prosecute tv & news executives.
I posted this letter with the admonition not to tune out because as Heather wrote tonight, the Rs are telling us in no uncertain terms what they have planned. I have spent my day answering memes that are using ancient history to support Israel or are just against anyone of faith. I used the Carters as an example of what people of faith can be and accomplish.
The 2021 election was an alarm bell for my wife and I. The fact that Trump carried any state other than Mississippi is a sign of our descent into Nazism. And you ask if I can imagine Reagan talking as Trump did. Honestly, I do not hear much difference between them, and Reagan set the ball rolling on all the problems that culminated in Trump holding public sentiment: the abolition of the equal time rule and fairness doctrine, the acceptance of single media companies controlling multiple outlets in singular markets, the "welfare queen" meme and the notion that "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help" are scariest words in the English Language. He presided over the same sets of morality scares and immigrant scares that the right relies on today, and he paved the way for a great windbag to spend forty years pumping unsubstantiated vitriol out on to the people's airwaves. It is no accident that Trump awarded that windbag the Iron Cross before his death from a brain tumor that came too late. Reagan's career should have been ended by his meeting with David Duke, but it wasn't.
We have to face the reality that half of America would be Nazis given half a chance, that that is not a new phenomenon, and that Trump's popularity is coming from the fact that he is offering those people that half a chance.
Those of us who drew Hitler Mustaches on Reagan posters weren't prophets, we didn't have second sight, we were merely astute.