Last week, the irresponsible Fox News host Tucker Carlson falsely declared that dozens of people are dying every day after getting COVID shots. Why would Carlson put his audience at risk by lying to them?
A friend of mine had a good answer. He suggested this is what the conservative media do, setting up straw man arguments that are patently false but play into their audiences’ suspicions and prejudices, forcing commentators like me to argue with the straw men.
Here’s another straw man: The election was stolen from Donald Trump. Absolutely false, but what have Democrats been doing? Arguing with that straw man.
Thus, an honest dialogue about serious public policy issues is usurped by battalions of conservative straw men deployed by Republicans and their media mouthpieces like Carlson to confuse and obfuscate the truth while denying reality.
Let’s discuss the pressing need for rebuilding our infrastructure. Response: Dr. Seuss is being “cancelled.” Let’s talk about police reform. Response: President Joe Biden will limit you to one hamburger a month. Can we address child poverty? Response: “They” want to take your guns.
An Orange County, California Republican supervisor absurdly asked a doctor testifying about the vaccine if a “transmitter” was being injected into those receiving shots. Guess what? Authorities can track you by your cell phone tower pings.
My friend has a very pessimistic view of all this, that it will ultimately lead to totalitarianism. I don’t agree - and I hope I’m right - because I think Americans are a lot smarter than that. Some 80 million of us bounced the dictator-wannabe Trump out of office in a free and fair election.
One MDJ reader recently opined there was agreement on “both sides” about election shenanigans. I’m on the left side and have never heard a Democrat say there was any fraud, massive or otherwise. There may have been errors, but that’s a long way from fraud, and any errors would not have changed the 2020 outcome.
All 50 states, many of them run by the GOP, certified their election results. Trump lost, not only the White House, but the Senate to boot. Still, many of those Republican states, including Georgia, quickly moved on legislation to make voting more difficult.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), as staunch a conservative as there is, called Trump’s claim that he won the 2020 election a lie. Then she was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him for inciting the Jan. 6 violent insurrection at the Capitol, the goal of which was to overturn the election results.
I’m not a fan of Cheney’s, but I admire her gumption for standing up to Trump’s Big Lie. Such principle is evidently toxic to Republicans like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said his party can’t move forward without the ex-president. Graham must be looking at polling that said 70% of Republicans believe Biden is illegitimate.
Here was a lost opportunity for the GOP to purge itself of the Trump curse by universally condemning him. What was the Twitterless Trump going to do? Go after every House and Senate Republican on his anemic blog?
Instead, Republicans who tell the truth are being purged. What a sad state of affairs for the party of Lincoln and, worse, what a threat to American democracy.
But the GOP’s anti-democracy jihad is not going unnoticed. A Gallup poll conducted in the first quarter of 2021 revealed that just 40% of voters identify as Republicans while 49% identify as Democrats, with many independent voters leaning Democrat.
“The nine percentage point difference is the Democrats’ largest advantage since the fourth quarter of 2012,” Gallup reported. Barack Obama and Joe Biden were re-elected then.
That’s the poll Graham should be worried about.
There is a ray of hope for the GOP, however. In reliably Democratic California, there’s a movement to recall Gov. Gavin Newsome over his checkered response to the COVID crisis, the resulting joblessness, homelessness, and high taxes. A recall election may take place later this year, and if it does, Caitlyn Jenner has thrown her hat into the ring as a Republican replacement for Newsome.
Full disclosure: I support the civil rights of LGBTQ people.
When Caitlyn was known as Bruce, I spent some time with him during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. A gold medal decathlon winner at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics, Jenner’s success led to a mediocre movie and TV career followed by a lot of nothing, followed by the hit reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which, as Kris Jenner’s husband, put him back in the spotlight.
I found Bruce to be nice enough, but he didn’t strike me as the sharpest knife in the drawer. Now, as Caitlyn, she wants to govern 40 million Californians after coming out against transgender girls being excluded from girls’ sports, even after Jenner competed in a women’s golf tournament.
I wish her well.