Progressives: Do not feed the trolls
Anyone with kids knows they tease, tattle, prank or provoke each other — anything goad a response.
It’s usually childish rivalry, a fight for toys or attention, or just being silly or ornery.
President Trump, his small angry white base and the Fox/right-wing media delight in poking the “the liberals,” like big brother torturing little sister in the back seat on a long car trip.
What else can Trump Nation do? While they’ve controlled government and the national narrative for two years now, snarking on liberals is all they’ve got. They’re stuck with Trump’s ever-changing, seat-of-pants policy agenda (if there is one). They scramble to tally with straight face the Trump/GOP majority’s achievements and promises kept or at least moving forward (repeal/replace Obamacare with something better and cheaper). They declare Trump is already the best president ever and has made America greater, pretending he’s not an utter disgrace to his office who has made the country worse. They’re left defending The Wall with a mounting brick-pile of racially-coded lies.
With nothing good to tout, Trump, his base, and the multimillionaire Fox “voice of the people” Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter and other Trump media sock puppets have little choice but to set up, puff up, and knock down liberal straw men, foaming in faux high dudgeon for ratings and hits.
Thus the delicious sneering about U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s dancing and dress code and Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s obscenity. The latest collegiate snowflakery (gasp!). Anything Hillary says or does (still!). The liberal hand-wringing over tired, poor immigrants and locked-up babies, virulent racism, LGBTQ+ respect and equality, and chronic joblessness in Trump Country fueled by his trade wars.
Worst is the mainstream media’s shameless temerity to hold power accountable by covering and criticizing the President of the United States, calling out his lies, insulting behavior, White House mayhem and evidence of misdeeds. The media even quotes the president verbatim!
The latest liberal straw man to huff and puff about is truly a mortal threat to our Republic, patriotic Americans, decent traditional family values and gender hierarchies, indeed, all that is good and right about our country.
It is, of course, the Gillette toxic masculinity ad.
How dare the socialist Proctor & Gamble Corp. delight Wall Street by making more money fooling innocent people into paying $32 for an eight-pack of Men’s Fusion ProShield razor blade cartridges with an ad campaign designed to capture attention?
Who the hell are the politically correct police in the P&G executive suite to encourage “the best a man can be” and shame knuckle-draggers into becoming decent human beings? Boycott Gillette! Do like the liberals do!
Progressives, being sensitive, caring types, may wish to open our hearts and post trigger warnings for Trump Nation trolls instead of being triggered by them.
I have a better idea: Ignore them. Don’t get dragged down into their childish, taunting nonsense. Progressives have much bigger fish to fry — namely, progress.
What’s thrilling about the 2018 elections is that Democrats retook the House of Representatives not by falling into the Trump Nation taunts and traps, running on impeachment or what they describe as “libtard” issues.
The vast majority of 2018 Democratic candidates ran and won on middle-American, working family, kitchen-table issues: Affordable, reliable healthcare that’s there when you need it. Good jobs. Infrastructure, including fixing decaying local roads and bridges. Tax relief for middle-class families who lost deductions for property tax and mortgage interest to pay for Trump’s tax-giveaway to the rich. And cleaning up our corrupt political system.
It’s no coincidence that the new Democratic House’s first piece of legislation, H.R. 1, aims to cut the power of big money and lobbyists in Washington and reform the aging and insecure voting system and gerrymandering that also undermines the voice of the voter. The vast majority of Americans — right and left — support cleaning up our system.
Not to quote Ronald Reagan, but progressives need to stay the course. The course we won in 2018. The common-sensible course.
Yes, Bernie, Elizabeth, Kamala, Sherrod and other top party progressives have good ideas and a passion to make America better, stronger and more decent and equal for all. But you can already see the drool on Trump’s face as he and his vassals, sycophants and admirers line up new “socialist” straw men and women to blow out of proportion, or just invent stuff and run with it. Trump’s lie that Ted Cruz’s father was linked to JFK’s assassin was child’s play.
It’s also tempting to react and get sucked down into the nasty, negative, regressive muck where Trump is king, Hannity is his chief courtier, and the base are loyal subjects who fall in line behind the crown at their own peril. And yes, GOP gerrymandering has given the Trump base more power than the average American, which is why the government is shut down over a racist wall.
But feeding or reacting to Trump Nation will only take us off our game, our momentum and the plan that won in 2018 that will deliver what most Americans want. Not walls, not pandering to resentment and tribal division, but progress that matters to the most people and really does make America greater.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer