In a previous article I wrote that hand-wringing over why progressives failed to win over republicans was pointless. I stand by that analysis. Here is a link to that article, should you desire to read it. However true those points were, I would still like to see changes in the ways progressives bash the Trump administration and republicans. I doubt that I will make friends with my fellow progressives by this article, but I need to correct some of our discourse. It is hard to hear that you are contributing to a problem when you are angry, and democrats are still very angry. But the nature of our Trump and republican bashing provides republicans with justifiable reasons to tune out our efforts.
One thing to stop is the body shaming in social media. Seriously. It is unimportant whether the president meets your standards for appearance or not. Progressives quite loudly proclaimed this behavior as inappropriate when Donald Trump asked whether Hillary Clinton “looked presidential” or not (implying that she did not). It is entirely right to say that his words were awful. It is hypocritical for progressives who were upset by Donald Trump’s words to then use body shaming against him. In case you still doubt the correctness of my comment, consider this: You see an older person without a “classically attractive” body and look, who dresses like a fit person in their early twenties. The more that person tries the look, the more out of place they appear. What do you do? You might think “Come on, look in the mirror”. But should you ever say that out loud? That is hurtful and being judgmental. Better if you don’t even such a reaction. All matters of appearance are only about personal standards of beauty. I have never met anyone who chose to look bad. That doesn’t mean there weren’t people who thought that person looked bad. But people don’t want to look bad. They think they are looking as good as they can. It is worse when the object of this is beyond someone’s ability to change. Can Mitch McConnell help how the muscles in his neck aged, and how this makes him look? How is it ok to call him a turtle? To be fair, I can see the resemblance. But it is NOT ok to shame him with it. Believe me, this is just the cheapest of shots, and there is so, so much more with which to legitimately shame republicans. Why should republicans who hear or read these comments respect our opinion? This is beneath any dignified standard of public discourse. People who engage in this shaming are only proving themselves to be shallow and hateful. It is not only wrong to do by nature, but it also provides justification for republicans not to listen.
The next thing that needs to change in both social and mainstream media is the magnification of every single thing wrong into a terribly important issue. The latest example of this is the effort to make Mar-a-Lago cooking into a public dietary crisis. A public health inspector found some minor infractions in the kitchen that were fixed immediately. He immediately amended his report, and the kitchen passed without further comment. This is an entirely normal occurrence in the restaurant industry. It happens all the time in good and great restaurants. It happens in four star restaurants not owned or operated by anyone remotely near Donald Trump. That this appeared on major news outlets is ridiculous. That the internet saw this trend temporarily is ridiculous. The only trend that should be associated with this news item is progressives saying “Please stop this continual negativism. It is destroying our credibility.” Again, think of this in reverse. If former President Obama had this same incident occur, and republicans tried to show this as proof he was an incompetent president, what would you say? As I said above, there is SO much wrong with policies and actions with which to accuse republicans. Turning everything into a major issue just makes progressives look bad.
The last thing that has to change in both social and mainstream media is making every republican action be cast in the worst light possible. Again, just in the past couple of days, the coverage of the bomb dropping on Afghanistan is inappropriate. It was headlined as “the biggest bomb the US has that is non-nuclear”. That is a true statement. Nothing wrong with it from a factual basis. However, it is entirely irrelevant. It makes it sound like we are so very close to dropping a nuclear weapon; there are no other places to go in escalation without going nuclear. This is a ridiculous idea. The MOAB is a 21,000 pound bomb. Impressive to be sure. This is still less than a single B52 with a bomb load of 18 MK84 2000 pound JDAMs. There were 1,624 B52 strikes in the IRAQ Desert Storm war(see this link), dropping 72,000 bombs, amounting to 25,700 tons. This is roughly 2,500 times the explosive power of the MOAB. Put another way, the MOAB is less than .0047% of the bombs dropped in IRAQ. The US has plenty of room to expand. No worries. In fact, considering this, why is the size of this bomb worth comment? It is because phrasing it this way is sure to command attention. It is to get everyone riled up. This needs to stop. It is important to talk about how civilian control of the military is disappearing. It has been delegated to theater commanders, without real time civilian oversight. That would be understandable in a real war (read Vietnam or Korea) with boots on the ground, continual fighting, rapidly changing scenario. However in Afghanistan, how time sensitive could this have been? Looking at the increase in drone strike frequency and the loosening of rules of engagement to raise civilian casualties, is very important. Why are we spending time on the size of this bomb? Doing so shows that we don’t know what we are talking about, and don’t need to be heard.
When our words are about how republicans look, about small things made big, about making everything look worse than it is, then we trivialize our conversation. We make it less credible. We reduce ourselves. We need to win hearts and minds. The “true believers” won’t have their minds changed. That is clear. But there are the independents and the ones who didn’t believe in Trump but lost faith in us. They might listen. But not if the voices of shallowness, silliness and hate drown out the importance of the real message. There is a LOT that is very wrong.
· The Russian connection
· The disappearance of rights
· The loss of privacy
· The loss of healthcare
· The movement to less transparency
· The lack of competence in the republican administration
This list just keeps going, let’s keep focused on these important issues, and not detract from our message.