By Matthew Delaney
Ready for a brainy take? In order to become a better version of yourself, you’ll have to stomach looking stupid for a while.
Genius, I know. My self-help book hits stores this fall. It should be required reading for every Democrat in office, as they all seem to have forgotten that making mistakes is a key part of improving.
Though that would also require them to end their domestic partnership with the media. Positive press affords Democrats to blissfully disregard the consequences of their bad ideas. It’s made for a party that’s stagnated, but also one we’ve allowed to get that way.
Following the 2016 election, Democrats were supposed to have one of those “Come to Jesus” moments. They’d lost to arguably the worst candidate imaginable in Donald Trump after they put up someone with an impressive, if sketchy, resume in Hillary Clinton. It was supposed to be a slam dunk — no, a layup come election day.
That didn’t happen.
The Atlantic’s autopsy a year later determined Democrats had abandoned the white working class. Trump appealed to that group less through his alleged racism, but with his outsider status, much like Barack Obama did. (Clinton’s lack of popularity, especially with white women, definitely helped, too.) To recapture their “Blue Wall,” Democrats needed to balance their economic populism with consideration for racial grievances.
Joe Biden’s election was not proof they learned that lesson.
Armed with massive racial unrest, unseen levels of violence, and a global pandemic to beat Trump over the head with, Biden didn’t really campaign for himself; he deferred that to an attack dog media.
Shockingly, the journalists who peddled Covid fear, suppressed the Hunter Biden-laptop story, and launched a false narrative that Trump had LaFayette Square tear gassed for a photo op didn’t do a great job at relating to people.
A May report put out by Catalist, a progressive analytics firm, bore that out. It found that Democrats failed to crack Trump’s grip on the white working class, which only dropped from 64% in 2016 to 63% in 2020.
Worse yet, they had declines in vote totals for every other racial group except whites, driven largely by suburban voters. You know, the kinds that take the New York Times and Washington Post as the word of God.
I’ve said before that a vote for Biden was a vote for peace and quiet. After four of the craziest years this country may ever see, electing someone who told the person responsible to “just shut up” was an easy sell. But having supposedly apolitical institutions do the dirty work for Democrats presents a problem.
For one, it’s a short-sighted strategy. Biden’s electoral victory was slimmer than Trump’s, and the public’s trust in the campaign manager-media took a nosedive last year. In the long run, it doesn’t serve them well because it robs the party of the necessary pain of change.
Look at how Trump affected the GOP. He made a group of stuffy, robber baron-esque elites into the party of the common man. He also set a combative bar with journalists that no other politician can match. It’s why presidential hopefuls like Ron DeSantis can flex as a media “tough guy” and win approval in the process.
None of that came easy. Tumult followed Trump around, much of which was his own doing. But would conservatives endure all the hyped up scandals and outrage to reclaim their “testicles,” as Dennis Prager put it, all over again? Seeing how that’s worked out for them, I’d say so.
Democrats, on the other hand, seem to like their media-sponsored padded cell, and even get upset when the orderlies have to exercise them.
Take Vice President Kamala Harris. Journalists should’ve questioned her qualifications to begin with. For one, she never even made it to the Iowa caucus during the primaries. Add on that she used her feminine wiles (sex) to accelerate her rise in politics and had her campaign derailed by Tulsi Gabbard, there’s not many reasons to take her seriously.
Still, Biden chose her as second in command of the nation, a decision the NYT roundly celebrated with a front page spread. Now she’s running both voting rights reform and the immigration crisis, the latter of which she doesn’t seem too invested in.
Harris got testy when Univision anchor Ilia Calderón asked her point blank when she was visiting the border. That came just days after NBC News’ Lester Holt called her out for not visiting the border and she gave this clunky reply:
“I, and I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t — I don’t understand the point that you’re making,” Harris said with a laugh. She added: “I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”
The media let her rationale — that she was visiting countries such as Guatemala and Mexico to address the “root causes” of migration — slide without much scrutiny.
But Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei, someone a bit more familiar with those root causes than Harris, disagreed. He suggested the Biden administration’s mixed messages on immigration was what emboldened smugglers to flood the border with minors.
Nevertheless, at least one journalist reverted to the trope that Harris’ gaffes are assessed on a “double standard” because she’s a viable threat in either 2024 or 2028 (lol).
I don’t want to sound like one of those cranks who thrives off fighting “The Media™” and never really looks beyond that. That’s unhelpful, and that’s not really my style.
However, we do have reporters openly admitting they downplay certain stories depending on who promotes it.
Jonathan Karl, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent, said so over Memorial Day weekend when talking about how the Covid-19 lab leak theory has gained steam.
“Yes, I think a lot of people have egg on their face. This was an idea that was first put forward by Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, Donald Trump, and look some things may be true even if Donald Trump said them,” Karl said. “Because Trump was saying so much else, that was just out of control, and because he was, you know, making a frankly racist appeal talking about kung-flu, and the China virus, he said flatly this came from that lab, and it was widely dismissed… but now serious people are saying it needs a serious inquiry.”
As media critic Stephen L. Miller (not that Stephen Miller) noted, do Mike Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton, who both have access to intelligence we’ll never know about, not count as “serious people?”
This is more than just whining about the political scoreboard. Preserving the “Jordan rules” mainstream journalists grant to Democrats, while also suppressing legitimate information that may come from Republicans, has become more valuable to the party than fixing your problems.
They seem to believe that as long as the pom-pom press feeds the impression of competency, then they can gaslight us into thinking our own issues aren’t as severe as we believe.
Without a media to hold them accountable, we’re stuck with Democrats running on the same retread ideas of tax and spend, anything they don’t like is racist, and the occasional wink at socialism. Sure, they’re insulated from the chaos Republicans experienced under Trump. However, they’re also missing out on the growth that could make their better ideas, like healthcare and housing, more approachable.
The truth is it falls on us. We’ve rewarded this bad behavior with our votes. And again, I sympathize with those so fed up with Trump they’d take the guy who’s a day away from dying. There’s a lot to like in stopping the constant hyperventilation of our society.
But after a certain point, you have to realize you’re caving to people who want control over your emotions. Whether it’s the media or the Democrats shoveling panic down our throats, neither of them are trying to help you. They’re trying to keep you locked into the frame that the stale ideas they support in columns or in Congress just need more time to pan out.
They want your trust without doing anything to justify it. So, if you want this country to improve, you can’t support a party and its beloved PR firm that takes you for granted. They’ll do everything they can to make you feel stupid for doing so. Just remember, you’ll feel even dumber for giving them another shot.
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