Election lessons: be careful what you wish for
I expect that one of big reasons Trump’s victory galls the media and the rest of the Democrats is that the media did their best to make sure Trump was the Republican nominee, and the Democrats did their best to make sure the media knew they wanted Trump as their opponent in the general. I’m not saying that this is the only reason Trump won the primaries, but it is clear from the leaked emails that Democrats wished for him to win the primary, because they knew he’d be easy to beat, and that key media figures were listening.
It was a guaranteed win for Hillary Clinton. But someone forgot to tell Donald Trump.
Now I see the same thing among conservatives and Republicans: wishing for something because you know it’ll be easy to beat. That’s a dangerous game to play when you’re not making the rules.
I see, for example, a lot of pundits hoping that Barack Obama becomes the de facto spokesperson for Democratic Party policies, because of the way he talks down to middle America. Or hoping for Keith Ellison to become the Democratic National Committee Chair because of the incendiary things he often says.
What they’re forgetting is that once President Obama is not President, the press can easily just not air him when he’s talking nonsense, and only show him when he sounds like an elder statesman. Few people outside the conservative movement see President Carter as anything other than a nice old man who helps build houses for the poor.1 They don’t see him working to help those who want to wipe Israel off the map, and to embolden Palestinian terrorists. They don’t see him undermining democratic elections in other countries, and whitewashing totalitarian fraud.
Keith Ellison is already treated as national news when the media finds him presentable, and as regional news when he’s supporting serious anti-semites, when he’s supporting those who deny Israel’s right to exist, or when he’s denying Israel’s right to defend itself from attacks.
Democrats, such as Ellison, are never asked by the media if they agree with the crazy things their prominent Democratic supporters say, like a Republican would be, even when the Democrat announces his or her support for the crazy.
The media took a huge and well-deserved hit this year. But just because people don’t believe the media any more doesn’t mean that they will magically intuit things that aren’t reported. We are in a very strange transition where a potential new and refreshing cynicism towards the press means that the media reporting on something doesn’t necessarily make it news, but by the same token the media not reporting on something continues to make it not news.
When an Ellison or a Clinton or a Weiner decides that they are more likely to help their cause by going into seclusion, the press will do their level best to honor that decision and not just not bother them, but also not report on the silence. If they are forced to report on the allegations, they’ll try to keep to talking about process rather than what it actually means. They certainly won’t keep it in the news by asking other Democrats what’s up.
Few in the press are asking Democrats about their and their supporters’ eulogies for the vicious murderer Fidel Castro. Even when reported in a backhanded way, it will not become a permanent part of their record in future interactions.
The same is going to be true of whoever ends up leading the Democratic National Committee. No matter how ridiculous they are, the press will cover for them the same way they covered for President Obama and Hillary Clinton. They’ll either hide the tapes, or they’ll literally attack the random American who elicited the unfortunate remark.
That could change. One of the funniest scenes from this year’s movie-like election was Chris Cuomo telling viewers not to read the leaked emails and voice messages from the DNC, but to wait until the media themselves reported on the mails—which, of course, they didn’t really do. It was a scene straight out of Animal House or South Park. They did their best to shift the story from the leaks to Republican reaction to the leaks.
It failed due mainly to the level of interest in this election. But that, again, doesn’t really scale. It works for one-off newsworthy events during periods of high interest, but most people don’t—and shouldn’t have to—make political news high priority every day of off-election seasons.
Rather than hoping for beatable opponents, Hillary-style, Republicans, and conservatives, need to build an alternative news delivery system—preferably one that leverages the average American who is disparaged and even attacked by the current media.
In response to Election 2016: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.
And Habitat for Humanity appears to be a genuinely good organization—its focus on helping people to build their own houses and work for their own rewards is a very conservative one.↑