Maybe if we wear flags on our jackets they’ll stop saying we’re un-American. Maybe if we talk about businesses they’ll stop calling us socialists. Maybe if we talk about our love for our kids, they’ll stop calling us baby killers. Maybe if we run better candidates. Maybe if we just find that one perfect idea. Maybe if we do something different, they’ll stop demonizing us.
I know, I know. I don’t believe it either. At this point, I think it’s safe to say right-wing media is going to demonize us no matter what we do.
Yet I still see this worry cropping up again and again when we’re talking about what we can and should do. Especially when it comes to supporting an anti-establishment candidate.
Personally, I find it freeing knowing I’m going to be demonized. It’s freeing because once you know you’re going to be demonized, you might as well just ignore it and do what’s right.
This is also why I think we have less to lose than we think.
Here’s the friendly folks on Fox & Friends talking about one of their favorites, Bernie Sanders:
What about the timing? The timing of a socialist declaring for president one day after the president of the United States condemned socialism in Miami and we look at Venezuela as a case in point of what could happen to America with all our natural resources, with all our history, much richer than Venezuela, and all their oil resources, they have gone into the toilet as a country.
If you’ve spoken with any conservatives recently, you know they’re pretty quick to bring up Venezuela or Stalin to portray “socialism” as the evil enemy of their brand of “capitalism.” And anyone who opposes their laissez-faire corruption is a “socialist.”
The tactic they’re using here is to portray everything Republican as good, shiny, righteous, and beautiful while at the same time trying to portray anything opposed as evil, disgusting, terrible, and scary.
So we might say to ourselves, well, maybe if we just supported someone who didn’t call himself a Democratic Socialist.
Except I seem to recall them calling Barack Obama, a centrist, a Saul Alinsky-loving, Reverend Wright worshiping community organizing socialist. Come to think of it, I seem to remember them calling Hillary Clinton a socialist too. Now they didn’t call her a socialist as much because they were pushing the email scandal and bringing up all the old conspiracies of the past, but it was still brought up in regards to some of her economic policies.
Example issue: Impeachment
Let’s use impeachment as an example since this is a top of mind topic.
If we do decide to proceed with impeachment hearings, the media is going to try to turn Trump into a victim of a Democratic “witch hunt.” Deep state conspiracy musing will be everywhere. We know this because they’ve done it consistently throughout the Mueller investigation to undermine credibility.
The goal of this attack is to rile up their base.
If we don’t decide to proceed with impeachment hearings, the media is going to portray it as a huge victory for Trump and Democrats as weak and politically motivated. Just look at all the coverage Steny Hoyer got when he said, ““Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment.”
In this case, Hoyer looks like a politician who’s more concerned about Democrats than he is any crimes.
The goal of this type of coverage is to demoralize our base.
No matter what we do though the media is going to question it. If you don’t believe me, think about how things would be different if Barack Obama were president and a Republican Congress were talking about impeachment.
The media wouldn’t even be talking about what a Republican Congress should do. How is this somehow only a Republican problem? If this were about Barack Obama, the media would be concerned with the crimes committed and not the politics. The media would be screaming that we need to act to save our country and our Constitution.
Because we know it’s going to be spun no matter what, why not do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may?
At least we can say to people that we did the right thing.
If you do the right thing, it’s easier to defend
If the media wants to attack Democrats for proceeding with impeachment hearings, people can defend that based on the Mueller report.
One danger that I do think we have to be aware of is that we still need to be making the case on meat and potatoes issues. Bernie Sanders sums up this concern well:
But if — and this is an if — if for the next year, year-and-a-half, going right into the heart of the election, all that the Congress is talking about is impeaching Trump and Trump, Trump, Trump, and Mueller, Mueller, Mueller, and we’re not talking about health care, we’re not talking about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, we’re not talking about combating climate change, we’re not talking about sexism and racism and homophobia, and all of the issues that concern ordinary Americans, what I worry about is that works to Trump’s advantage.
The reason this is a concern is that people will defend Trump if they think he’s doing good things when it comes to the economy and their own personal well-being. Some people are more likely to believe that it’s purely a political attack.
Again though, think about it like this: Why isn’t the media talking about how Trump’s obstruction is distracting from the economy? Why are Democrats somehow responsible for his actions?
The media is going to call us socialists no matter what we do. The media is going to demonize us in some way no matter what. So why not do what’s right?
I think proceeding with impeachment hearings can only help us make the case that Trump’s not the right person for the job. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.
It would also show people that Democrats are willing to do what they were elected to do, fight.
David Akadjian is the author of The Little Book of Revolution: A Distributive Strategy for Democracy (ebook now available).