More guest posts coming up today and tomorrow. There are 9 in all, with links in the sidebar so people can catch any they missed, if desired.
First up: Motivated Seller
Many of the problems that have been brought to light over the past four years have always been with us. Like watching a flaming dumpster floating between bodies down main street during a biblical flood, there are so many overlapping horrors, that it is hard to know where to start. And honestly, I can’t blame anyone for being stunned by the mess.
The challenge of the next administration is to convert bystanders into activists. This might not be such a big stretch for the Jackals here at Balloon Juice, but for most folks, being a bystander in America is the most normal thing to do. Not long ago, supporting the invasion of a foreign nation meant going to the mall. (And if you didn’t support the invasion, well you must hate the troops.) It comes as no surprise that so many people just gave up on government after, say, when Congress did nothing following the slaughter of 20 first-graders. Who has the fortitude to seek justice for a classroom of bullet ridden 6-year-olds when privileged people can take over the airwaves with horrid claims that it didn’t happen? In other words, right-wing efforts to blunt public participation have been largely successful.
To get the ball rolling, the Biden administration needs to act quickly to relieve the pounding stress that is raining upon Americans across the nation. We are never going to get people to mobilize if they are too busy surviving day-to-day. Many of the problems people are suffering through will take a long time to fully resolve, and unfortunately most politicians are acutely aware of exactly how long their term is for. It will require a supreme sense of duty for them to act, when in all likelihood another politician is bound to take the benefit.
Of course, let’s also not kid ourselves who we are up against. There are plenty of reactionary people out there that would rather die in poverty than see one cent go to “those people.” Assuming we get the right amount of willingness and urgency from the new administration, it’s going to be a nasty fight. Very few people arrive at this level of radicalization all on their own. This corrosive mindset is built on a poisoned media diet, and cynical politicians are happy to take advantage. Any policy advanced by Democrats is immediately rejected by nearly half of political discourse. Never mind that the survival of American constitutional democracy is at stake.
So besides hollering at Joe Biden to, “DO MORE!” what else can be done to grease the skids? The Biden administration needs to immediately restore the Fairness doctrine, backed up by congressional action, and supported by every person that wants to see a nation that is somewhat unf*cked from the one we are currently living in. The Fairness doctrine (which is NOT the same thing as the Equal-Time Rule) requires that, as part of their license to broadcast to the public, Media companies must present contrasting viewpoints. Unfortunately, hatred, masquerading as news, is very profitable. And here is where the entire Democratic apparatus needs to be ruthless.
Any move against the toxic tribe of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch will certainly be met with hysterical resistance. Expect all sorts of lies and disinformation as they resort to the same playbook they’ve been using since the Regan administration. Thanks to decades of reckless deregulatory conquest and a grossly conservative Supreme Court, companies never seem to lose. Therefore legislation that reaffirms the Fairness doctrine needs to be rock solid, regardless of how much blood and teeth are left on the floor.
Why would this have any effect? Prohibiting the lies of one-sided debate is the social equivalent of regulating environmental pollution. Just about any human activity can cause pollution. The problem with today’s media is that they hide behind the term “platform.” Media companies like to claim that they don’t cause the pollution, they just cash in on it by owning the virtual paper it is printed on, as if that makes a difference. Some are ballsy enough to fake some virtuous-sounding garbage about the 4th estate, but the wretched state of American Media is itself all the proof we need. When they socialize the harm while privatizing the gain, then they should be held to account, just like any other crooked enterprise.
The time for dialog with organizations that profitably carried Donald Trump’s “don’t believe your lying eyes” campaign is over. I don’t have especially high hopes for Joe Biden to adapt so quickly, but the moment when Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won the last two Senate seats in Georgia, it allowed me to believe that Democrats have a real shot. We have a chance to bend toxic-talk back towards reality, and to insist that media operators own their contribution to the blood shed on January 6th. I hope the leaders of the democratic party recognize that America is in grave danger. Accommodating the bad-faith wailing of Republican extremists will only result in being rolled again.
Thank you so much for your essay! (WG)