The Real Threat to the Republic

Alas, the threat doesn't arise from the demagogue with 'big' hands. It emerges in the form of journalists and academic elites intent on bringing down Donald Trump at any cost. I understand the impulse. There is a real belief in many parts of the nation and the world that Trump is an existential threat of a kind not seen since the fascist era. I have long bemoaned this irrational attempt at disqualifying this recent Democrat from the incredibly conservative city of New York because it extinguishes any actual debate on policies. In recent weeks, however, I have found that the danger extends far beyond an inability to have a good debate.

Journalists have abandoned any modicum of impartiality to engage in a concerted war to bring down one man. There is no longer a pretense of separation between one's political and journalistic loyalties. The charge has long been held by conservatives that the media was by and large unable to be trusted as their underlying politics informed their coverage and their writing. The mass media, in turn, have scoffed at this and have maintained their journalistic bona fides by noting their mission was to uncover the truth, regardless of their individual politics. This was before Trump.

Trump is apparently different. The media now is hell-bent on exposing Trump for the national and global threat they believe he represents. They accept readily and willingly the narrative promulgated by those currently holding the reins of power:  Trump is dangerous. Thus, everything is fair game, even if that means going along with any claim, no matter the lack of evidence or irrationality.

Take the DNC Wikileaks scandal. The leak of a trove of emails revealed a clear attempt by the Democratic party machine to select 'their' candidate, and undermine one they felt was less desirable. When the driving force of Trumpism and Bernism is a backlash against a system alleged to be rigged by elites, this is not small news. Yet the coverage of this has more recently been overshadowed by the parties that may have conspired to leak this material. What inflames the Left now is not that their party machine is being used to undermine candidates, but rather that Trump and Putin may be conspiring to influence the elections. In what is a delicious twist, I grew up on a steady diet of Jon Stewart skewering the most recent Glenn Beck-fueled Republican conspiracy of the day, only to wake up as an adult to CNN/New York Times headlines blaring that Trump is requesting Putin and the Russians cyberattack Hillary Clinton's emails.

Watch the video of the press conference. It was a joke. That anyone, let alone our finest journalists, would view this as an actual invitation to Russia to hack the U.S. is ridiculous.

The same mass media that has derided Fox News for its blatantly unidirectional, biased, opinion masquerading as journalism, now finds itself committing the very same sin. For a journalist to yield subjectively a group ideology, a narrative, and find itself in lockstep with (in this case) the Democratic party machine, is to destroy himself as a journalist. I can sense the indignation rising in the liberal reader here. Is it not one's duty as a journalist/ citizen to advocate for good against evil? It certainly is -- if the decision truly is between good and evil.

We live in an age where we now see political choices as choices between good and evil. I believe health care is a right. For many reasons, I do not believe a single-payer health care system is the best way to achieve health care for all. This does not make me evil, and it does not even cast politicians who would argue that health care is not a right into the fires of hell. We must disabuse ourselves -- on the right and left –[ from the belief that every political choice is one between God and Satan. History should inform us that politics is about choosing between lesser evils. Winston Churchill is well regarded in Britain -- and deservedly so - as one of the greatest Britons of all time. Even a poor student of history marvels at Churchill's early recognition of the threat of Hitler, his refusal to sign an armistice with Germany, and his brilliant rhetoric inspiring the British as they sheltered in tunnels against overwhelming German bombardment. Yet, this was also a man who said of Gandhi: "It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace... to parley on equal terms with the representatives of the King-Emperor". Does this mean that Winston Churchill was not a great man? Would I be a lunatic if I had voted for Churchill, but disagreed with his stance on the Indian independence movement? If I had, would I have cast a vote for evil?

Yet the choices presented by most in the media is one of good or evil. While identifying the "next Hitler" is certainly important, creating the next Hitler is not. Does it trouble no one that the blatant smear to link Russia to Trump recalls a past when the Right demonized the Left by linking liberals to communism? Journalists should question Mr. Trump. They should absolutely question his stated position, for instance, on NATO, because that would appear to be a major foreign policy shift. But that is not what the media does. They don't just question. They operate under an assumption that an allegiance to NATO in its current form is a sacrosanct principle that should be ridiculed if questioned. Questioning NATO and its current activities is absolutely a debate that should and must be had. My problem is not that Trump's policy positions don't deserve withering criticism – my point is that everything that emerges from Trump's mouth is not insanity simply because he speaks it.

It is particularly bothersome because I identify myself as a liberal and have voted for years for the party I felt best represented those values. Yet the Democratic Party and the mass of media that supports them in their endeavor to take down Mr. Trump somehow find themselves opposed to heretofore liberal stances. Mr. Trump has apparently chosen to take a position that is against funding factions in Ukraine against Russian aggression. Again, there may be robust disagreement here, but is the liberal media and establishment really on the side of arming factions in Ukraine against Russia, thereby entangling the U.S. in local Russian geopolitics? I'm thoroughly confused at this point between mainstream Republicans and Democrats. What is clear is that there is an orthodoxy and there are certain 'truths' that the proletariat must not question.

Journalism should not accept orthodoxy. Journalism exists to challenge orthodoxy. The moment journalists allow their personal convictions to influence their work, the moment that journalists have identified the truth before they begin to write, is the moment that journalism is destroyed. 

Alas, the threat doesn't arise from the demagogue with 'big' hands. It emerges in the form of journalists and academic elites intent on bringing down Donald Trump at any cost. I understand the impulse. There is a real belief in many parts of the nation and the world that Trump is an existential threat of a kind not seen since the fascist era. I have long bemoaned this irrational attempt at disqualifying this recent Democrat from the incredibly conservative city of New York because it extinguishes any actual debate on policies. In recent weeks, however, I have found that the danger extends far beyond an inability to have a good debate.

Journalists have abandoned any modicum of impartiality to engage in a concerted war to bring down one man. There is no longer a pretense of separation between one's political and journalistic loyalties. The charge has long been held by conservatives that the media was by and large unable to be trusted as their underlying politics informed their coverage and their writing. The mass media, in turn, have scoffed at this and have maintained their journalistic bona fides by noting their mission was to uncover the truth, regardless of their individual politics. This was before Trump.

Trump is apparently different. The media now is hell-bent on exposing Trump for the national and global threat they believe he represents. They accept readily and willingly the narrative promulgated by those currently holding the reins of power:  Trump is dangerous. Thus, everything is fair game, even if that means going along with any claim, no matter the lack of evidence or irrationality.

Take the DNC Wikileaks scandal. The leak of a trove of emails revealed a clear attempt by the Democratic party machine to select 'their' candidate, and undermine one they felt was less desirable. When the driving force of Trumpism and Bernism is a backlash against a system alleged to be rigged by elites, this is not small news. Yet the coverage of this has more recently been overshadowed by the parties that may have conspired to leak this material. What inflames the Left now is not that their party machine is being used to undermine candidates, but rather that Trump and Putin may be conspiring to influence the elections. In what is a delicious twist, I grew up on a steady diet of Jon Stewart skewering the most recent Glenn Beck-fueled Republican conspiracy of the day, only to wake up as an adult to CNN/New York Times headlines blaring that Trump is requesting Putin and the Russians cyberattack Hillary Clinton's emails.

Watch the video of the press conference. It was a joke. That anyone, let alone our finest journalists, would view this as an actual invitation to Russia to hack the U.S. is ridiculous.

The same mass media that has derided Fox News for its blatantly unidirectional, biased, opinion masquerading as journalism, now finds itself committing the very same sin. For a journalist to yield subjectively a group ideology, a narrative, and find itself in lockstep with (in this case) the Democratic party machine, is to destroy himself as a journalist. I can sense the indignation rising in the liberal reader here. Is it not one's duty as a journalist/ citizen to advocate for good against evil? It certainly is -- if the decision truly is between good and evil.

We live in an age where we now see political choices as choices between good and evil. I believe health care is a right. For many reasons, I do not believe a single-payer health care system is the best way to achieve health care for all. This does not make me evil, and it does not even cast politicians who would argue that health care is not a right into the fires of hell. We must disabuse ourselves -- on the right and left –[ from the belief that every political choice is one between God and Satan. History should inform us that politics is about choosing between lesser evils. Winston Churchill is well regarded in Britain -- and deservedly so - as one of the greatest Britons of all time. Even a poor student of history marvels at Churchill's early recognition of the threat of Hitler, his refusal to sign an armistice with Germany, and his brilliant rhetoric inspiring the British as they sheltered in tunnels against overwhelming German bombardment. Yet, this was also a man who said of Gandhi: "It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace... to parley on equal terms with the representatives of the King-Emperor". Does this mean that Winston Churchill was not a great man? Would I be a lunatic if I had voted for Churchill, but disagreed with his stance on the Indian independence movement? If I had, would I have cast a vote for evil?

Yet the choices presented by most in the media is one of good or evil. While identifying the "next Hitler" is certainly important, creating the next Hitler is not. Does it trouble no one that the blatant smear to link Russia to Trump recalls a past when the Right demonized the Left by linking liberals to communism? Journalists should question Mr. Trump. They should absolutely question his stated position, for instance, on NATO, because that would appear to be a major foreign policy shift. But that is not what the media does. They don't just question. They operate under an assumption that an allegiance to NATO in its current form is a sacrosanct principle that should be ridiculed if questioned. Questioning NATO and its current activities is absolutely a debate that should and must be had. My problem is not that Trump's policy positions don't deserve withering criticism – my point is that everything that emerges from Trump's mouth is not insanity simply because he speaks it.

It is particularly bothersome because I identify myself as a liberal and have voted for years for the party I felt best represented those values. Yet the Democratic Party and the mass of media that supports them in their endeavor to take down Mr. Trump somehow find themselves opposed to heretofore liberal stances. Mr. Trump has apparently chosen to take a position that is against funding factions in Ukraine against Russian aggression. Again, there may be robust disagreement here, but is the liberal media and establishment really on the side of arming factions in Ukraine against Russia, thereby entangling the U.S. in local Russian geopolitics? I'm thoroughly confused at this point between mainstream Republicans and Democrats. What is clear is that there is an orthodoxy and there are certain 'truths' that the proletariat must not question.

Journalism should not accept orthodoxy. Journalism exists to challenge orthodoxy. The moment journalists allow their personal convictions to influence their work, the moment that journalists have identified the truth before they begin to write, is the moment that journalism is destroyed.