I’m a stupid liberal
Reading Facebook and other online political comments has inspired some painful soul-searching and mirror-hating about who I am, and what I believe.
I used to think I’m a classic Midwestern common-sense, moderate Democrat, supporting progress but more pragmatic than ideological.
My career has been consistent with my political moderation: Four years of military service out of high school … journalist covering the Pentagon … press secretary for a New England Republican congresswoman during the Reagan administration … policy writer for a nonpartisan political reform organization … head speechwriter at the Pentagon for the Secretary of Defense … 12 years as a communications executive for a large national financial company … and now in my own practice, serving clients ranging the corporate, government and nonprofit sectors but all largely apolitical, balancing what’s real, best and possible.
Suffice that I never thought of myself as a “lefty,” nor have I worked for so-called lefty causes.
But today, from various online commentary, apparently I’m no longer a sensible, moderate Democrat.
· A stupid, clueless anti-patriotic snowflake liberal socialist who hates America, freedom, capitalism, Christianity and the Constitution.
· A regulation- and illegal immigrant-loving, Antifa-sympathizing Bernie Bro, insulted by gender-specific pronouns, offended by everything in fact, and loathe to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Dos Equis and chips and salsa because it’s cultural misappropriation. Any flavor of Doritos — especially Dinamita Fiery Habanero and Flamas — is out of the question.
· A pathetic clueless ninny who endangers our culture and national security by defending Muslims who despise our values while despising Christians who defend our values.
· A hater too hate-y to support the best president ever.
That liberal stereotype is not really me. But the hard right labels me a stupid lefty because of four beliefs that once seemed reasonable:
1. I trust the mainstream media
There. I said it. Feels good to come clean.
I get my daily news mostly from newspapers — The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal — and sometimes have CNN on in the background, on mute. The New Yorker is my naughty pleasure, not just for the cartoons, but because of its rigorous reporting and editing.
Clearly I’m a sucker for the thoughtful, probing independent press that challenges and holds the president and his people accountable, rather than kissing up to power.
I trust the press staffed by professional journalists who cut their teeth covering local town hall and school board, people who keep us informed through hell and high water, investigate and break stories that save lives and propel needed change (see the last several Pulitzer Prize winners), and eschew official political party affiliation. The independent press is leery of all parties.
Liberal bias? Perhaps, though hard-core Trumpsters exaggerate for strategic political gain. To borrow Harry Truman’s response when asked about his nickname “Give ’Em Hell Harry,” the mainstream media doesn’t give Trump hell; it tells the truth and it sounds like hell.
In fact, the mainstream press often just covers what Trump says and does, so he’s creating his own hell and fake news.
(By the way, when mainstream-media haters hate Hillary because of her emails and whatnot, but learned of her “scandals” only because the New York Times, Washington Post and other mainstream press broke and dogged the stories, I say, “Huh?”)
If the mainstream press has any bias, it’s because the Founders were so passionate that democracy demands a free press to challenge authority that they put it into our very first constitutional amendment.
It’s funny how the right is so militant about the Second Amendment, but when it comes to the First, not so much.
In any case, it’s my job as a citizen, whatever press I follow, to think critically, separate the wheat from the chaff, and keep the wheat.
So I certainly don’t trust the new crop of right-wing “journalists” who cut their teeth at the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, American Conservative Union, Koch Brothers-funded organizations or other conservative political advocacy groups. Or Fox parroting talking points from the Republican National Committee and acting as Trump’s official state media and propagandist. No respectable mainstream press reporter comes out of the Democratic National Committee, Center for American Progress, or other party organs.
The right-wing media bias is not incidental; it’s intentional and a ridiculous, vindictive parody of a free independent press. Its “reporters” have no professional experience. They’re “journalists” like a non-certified massage therapist — a guy in a garage — is a “healthcare provider”. Forgive me for not being fooled.
2. I support the special prosecutor
My embrace of law and order includes not just supporting the police who protect and serve our public safety, and challenging them when they go awry, but also due process and the rule of law.
That includes letting Robert Mueller do his job, his legal duty, to follow the evidence — there’s new stuff every day — wherever it leads. Like Robert Fiske and Ken Starr did with President Clinton, or Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski did with Nixon.
True respect for law and order does not attack law and order when things get hot. It does not chant “lock her up” at Trump rallies — it’s not funny, it’s dangerous, and no decent president would permit let alone encourage it. It would accept Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ determination that the Justice Department lacks any factual basis for initiating a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton, no matter what the president and his amen chorus says.
Respect for law and order would encourage the President of the United States to let justice run its course.
3. I believe racial bias is real and pernicious
I worry that so many issues that excite the Trump base involve race, for instance:
· The histrionic obsession with immigration disconnected from fact and personal experience. Call it “status anxiety” or “fear of cultural displacement,” but it’s interesting how the concern is around people of color. I can’t imagine folks demanding a wall on the Canadian border, or ICE rounding up and detaining ice hockey teams in border states to check their papers, or kicking out innocent Dreamer children from Manitoba.
· The sneering about Black Lives Matter, snarking back that all lives matter or white lives matter — which nobody ever doubted — and scoffing that racial discrimination remains alive and well or that slavery ended over 100 years so black America’s problems are their own fault.
· The knee-jerk opposition to anything Obama, starting with cheering the Trump and GOP destruction of the Affordable Care Act and the healthcare system even though the base will be hurt first and the worst — they’re sawing off the branch they’re sitting on.
· The deep-seated belief and resentment that shiftless minorities take all the government handouts, when whites are the chief beneficiaries of welfare, food stamps, Medicaid and other social safety net programs (and Trump red states receive more and pay less in taxpayer funds than Hillary blue states). Or minorities get all the special breaks and opportunities — more than whites — from affirmative action and other reverse discrimination, when racial disparities persist in education, health, employment, income, housing, wealth — you name it.
4. I disapprove of President Trump
Like more than half of Americans — Democrats and Republicans — do.
Many citizens and patriots like me believe Trump is disgracing the office while also doing a terrible job running it.
His years of slimy business and personal behavior, and constantly lying about it, are catching up with him. And his desperate, even pathetic scrambling to defend by attacking is only making things worse for him. Did he ever hear that when in a hole, stop digging?
But forget all that: Far worse is we have a president who loves to stir up resentment and division, pitting Americans against Americans to pander to his shrinking base for political gain, and shredding what makes us great, our e pluribus unum.
If worrying about political attacks on the free press, the rule of law, racial progress and Trump’s reign of destruction makes me a stupid liberal, then fine. I accept.
In fact, it’s an honor.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer