Tomi Lahren schooled me about socialism
How much do her fans know about democracy?
Fox personality, alt-right darling and political science professor Tomi Lahren, PhD, had a little fun recently strolling and trolling the streets of L.A., trailing camera crew, asking passersby who looked liberal (gay, ethnic, intelligent, interesting haircuts) if they knew what socialism was.
Spoiler alert: Lahren found people to say dumb things. Her piece, which Sean Hannity featured in his show, was followed by smug tut-tutting by Fox contributors Sebastian Gorka, a former White House national security aide fired for being too whack-job even for Trump, and Dan Bongino, also a contributor to NRATV who Twitter kicked off for inappropriate hate content.
Hannity closed the show by declaring that all liberals are socialists. So I guess Woodrow Wilson, who the conservative Heritage Foundation called “The Godfather of Liberalism,” actually was a socialist. I guess, so were Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and even Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and both Bushes, because they backed liberal policies. Who knew we had so many socialists running America?
See the Hannity/Lahren video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqf6VrwmpQI
Dr. Lahren also taught me something about socialism.
“Socialism is basically an economic system where everybody’s equal — there’s no rich and there’s no poor,” she lectured one interviewee.
I took only a few economics courses in college. But from what I learned then and since, I thought socialism was more complicated than that. And it includes something about not exploiting the working class like Fox does.
But what do I know? My understanding of Marx leans less toward Karl and more toward Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Gummo and Zeppo.
Aside from educating me about socialism, Dr. Lahren — three-time winner of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel — inspired me to try some person-on-the-street interviewing myself.
I wanted to go to Trump Country and find out how much her fan base knew about something more familiar: American democracy.
This should be easy for the #MAGA crowd:
- They love America more than anyone, so they must know more about our system of government;
- They definitely must know more than the immigrants they revile who study for and pass our citizenship test;
- They express strong opinions about our country and politics at Trump rallies and online; and,
- They call liberals stupid, so they must be a lot smarter than the folks that the esteemed civics professor Dr. Lahren mocked in L.A.
Dr. Lahren tempted me to follow her lead and try to make Trump supporters look foolish when asked about our democracy.
That might be too easy — like shooting fish in a barrel with an AR-15 with a high-capacity magazine and bump stock. A 2016 national survey found that only one in four Americans could name all three branches of government. A third could not name a single branch. Nearly 40 percent thought the president has the power to declare war (nope: It’s Congress).
So I decided not to troll Trump Country with a microphone and camera crew to ambush and embarrass people.
First of all, I don’t have a microphone, camera crew, or the #1 network behind me.
Most of all, I could never be as smug, snarky, self-satisfied or smart as Tomi Lahren, B.A., broadcast journalism and political science, University of Nevada. Or at least, I never could be as successful at it. I go out of my way to avoid embarrassing people.
The best I can do is imagine the interviews:
Excuse me sir, your tee-shirt says you’re a patriot so you must care a lot about our country. Do you know who your congressman is?
Who? My congressman? No. I have no idea. I don’t care. They’re all a bunch of lying criminals with their hands in the cookie jar.
So congressmen love cookies more than America?
What? I don’t know. Maybe. Hey — is this one of those interviews where you make people look stupid?
Hi ma’am. You probably studied civics in high school like we all did. Do you know how many houses of Congress there are?
Huh? How many houses does Congress have? [Laughs] Oh, I bet they have a lot of houses. Definitely a big mansion in Washington, and maybe one back home. They probably also have a big beach house on a fancy island where they stash their money from lobbyists. They’re all taking dirty money so they don’t care about the people.
Hello, sir, I’m asking people about our democracy. Do you know how many branches of government there are?
Government? I hate the government. Just a bunch of lazy bureaucrats living high on the hog off our hard-earned tax money. And they’re sitting around making regulations that are killing jobs for us decent hardworking Americans, and giving handouts to people living off the government dole. Then they give me the big runaround when I don’t get my government benefits.
Could I follow up and ask, have you ever wondered if you receive more government benefits than you fund with your taxes?
Nope. No idea. Probably not, since all my tax money goes down the toilet. What I know for sure is the government sucks.
Pardon me, ma’am, I’m asking people about our democratic system of government. Do you know we have three co-equal branches of government? Do you know what they are? Do you know about our system of checks and balances?
Huh? What are you saying? Are you with the liberal media? You look a little Jewish. Sorry, you know, with your glasses and big nose.
Ok, my apologies. I’m asking, do you know that America has three co-equal branches of government — the legislative, which is Congress, the judicial, which rolls up to the Supreme Court, and the executive, which is the president and the government departments? And that we have coequal branches and separation of powers to keep the president from having too much power, like a king?
A king? Oh! Are you talking about Trump? We love Trump. We’re not crazy about his tweets, but he’s already making America great.
Well, he’s … he’s doing a lot of great things.
Let’s see … he cut taxes. He made our economy stronger. He killed that terrible Obamacare. He’s wiping out bad government regulations and red tape. He beat down North Korea. He’s making better trade deals and telling other countries you can’t mess with America. He’s cleaning up the Washington swamp. He’s exposing the liberal fake news media. Is that enough for you?
Sure. Has any of that helped you?
Of course! We love Trump.
Sorry, how has Trump helped you specifically?
I’m not sure. What can I tell you? He’s making America great again.
Sir, could I ask you, what do you think of the whole Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen thing? Are you worried about the impact on President Trump?
What? Manafort? Cohen? They sound Jewish. I don’t really care about all that. That’s just a bunch of Washington political stuff by the mainstream fake liberal media. It has nothing to do with Trump. He said so. And what about Hillary? What about that illegal immigrant who killed that beautiful girl? We need to build that wall.
I hope this fake interview doesn’t seem unfair.
I suspect people in Trump Country are smarter than I’m making them out to be, and for that, I apologize.
Maybe somebody could teach Tomi a little humility too.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer