It is depressingly clear, in the aftermath of Tuesday’s midterm elections, that the key to political success is effective coalition-building.
Created through the ceaseless, strident repetition of patent untruths, a coalition of the uninformed, the misinformed, the racially bigoted and the obscenely privileged has made serious progress toward its goal.
The objective is to roll back America’s clock to the ruinous policies of the George W. Bush years: ungoverned financial recklessness, wars of choice and tax relief for the very richest among us.
Obviously there is blame to share.
Liberals appeared slow to understand that the tea party phenomenon was not merely a raucous curiosity but a real danger, and that civility was an inadequate reply to ranting.
History’s lesson is that the Big Lie can only be defeated by vigorous, relentless proclamation of Big Truth.
Probably Barack Obama is to be faulted for imagining at the outset of his presidency that bipartisanship was an actual possibility, given the vindictiveness arrayed against him.
And without question the Supreme Court is culpable. Its decision allowing giant corporations to pour limitless millions into campaigns has dangerously, perhaps fatally, transformed the political landscape.
It means that U.S. industrial combines, pooling their resources, can influence U.S. elections no less surely than soldiers with guns do in many Third World countries.
And finally, the business of journalism cannot be given a pass.
My wife has likened political news coverage — especially on network television — to the noisy broadcast of a football game.
There’s some thoughtful analysis, to be sure. But it’s largely drowned out by the shouted hyperbole of the play-by-play announcer.
Similarly, it has become a TV fashion — perhaps in the hope of appearing objective — to sit political foes together before the camera and allow them to scream at one another, with any hope of balance or useful insight getting lost in the racket.
Does “objectivity” require giving reason and lunacy equal time?
There’s a bit of often-cited counsel for politicians that some have attributed to the man from Independence, Harry S. Truman: “If you want a friend in Washington,” the advice goes, “get a dog.”
Archivists at the Truman Library insist he wasn’t the source. And I have no way of knowing.
But I do have my own turn on that quote: “If you want a dog in Washington, get a bigot, a know-nothing or a birther. Or maybe a moose shooter or a bouncing pig.”
If that offends you, I’m sorry. This doesn’t pretend to be news. It’s an opinion column, and that’s my opinion.
As you know, much worse has been said about the decent individual a majority of Americans sent to the White House two years ago — hoping he could undo, in unrealistically short order, the damage left for him by the man who preceded him there.