News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Monday, December 26, 2016

Get what done?

Posts keep coming up on Facebook about how Bernie Sanders converted people at his town hall in Wisconsin to his way of thinking.  The practice of distorting or misrepresenting what, in fact, people have said or done on camera to give it an interpretation contrary to what actually occurred has become a characteristic of the social media.  It is simply delusional.

The previous post on hating Hillary cites an instance at that town hall that commentators have largely ignored.  When a man says he voted for Trump because he is not Hillary,  they do not probe the reasons for his intense hatred. While Hillary Clinton may be opposed on legitimate political grounds,  the intense hatred of her lies outside the bounds of rationality.  The Hillary haters display the single-minded intensity of the brain-washed.  And this is something that all the rueful examinations of Clinton and the Democratic Party refuse to confront.  Ultimately,  the candidates and the political parties are not responsible for what voters think or do.  Political parties can be held responsible for the kind of propaganda they disseminate,  but the decision to sort out facts from falsehoods is one that individual voters make.  Political parties may, in more magnanimous moments, try to educate voters rather than feed their prejudices and biases, but the decisions to adhere to racism, misogyny, and other forms of intolerance and hatred rests with the individuals.  Political parties can be complicit in the formation of bad character,  but they are not the primary cause.  And so,  no one asked the Hillary hater why he hated her so much that he would vote for a man who gave us an 18-month audition of bad character and arrested intellect.  

Another moment during that town hall was revealing.  Moderator Chris Hayes asked the panel if they were  optimistic with the election of Donald Trump.  The two working men said yes.  When Hayes brought up the fact that a billionaire president-elect was appointing billionaires and generals to his cabinet,  one of the men said it made him optimistic because these are the people who get things done.  A quick camera shot of Bernie Sanders showed an almost dejected expression.  

Bernie Sanders' campaign message was about the one percent,  the billionaire CEOs, who managed to divert the recovering economy into their own pockets,  leaving the middle class workers sinking on the economic scale.  Economists have tracked how the economy has declined in its support of working people  since the 1980s while the billionaire class has managed to garner for itself the wealth created by the working class.  So,  here were two working class panelists who had grown discouraged by the slow economic recovery bragging about voting for Trump and the billionaires who get things done.  And no one asked them exactly what it was that the billionaires got done.  And no one pointed out that what they got done was hogging wealth for themselves while letting the manufacturing economy and the American middle class sink toward poverty.  For some reason,  those working men could not grasp that the people they voted for are the ones who created the situation they found so discouraging.  They bought into the idea that those white men got things done,  but did not recognize that they  got them done only for themselves, not for the nation.    And it was their deliberate efforts that impeded the recovery that Obama worked for.  

The conventional intelligence circulating among Democrats is that they lost because they neglected the working class. But how could the demonstrations of bad character,  the constant lying, the insult and abuse of Donald Trump be seen as a chance for change for the better?  If they had been Bernie Sanders supporters,  why did they not understand Bernie's message?

There is deep cause for pessimism revealed in that town hall.  People cling to the idea that the rich and powerful and malevolent run the world, and they suck up to them as saviors.  In trying to sort out how they are thinking,  one smacks into the wall of stupidity.  The only real hope for Democrats is in fixing stupidity.  And most people recognize it is not fixable.  It can only be subdued.  

Meanwhile,  Trump marches on with his merry band of billionaires getting done what they are inclined to do.  Get richer and more powerful.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States