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Friday, December 02, 2016


And the cameras kept rolling

by Tom Sullivan

As Rome burned, reporters from the Roman Times, the Empire Press, and the Daily Praetorian were on the scene live to bring coverage of Emperor Nero's musical stylings.

Donald Trump's team has led the press by the nose for over a year and they are not about to stop now. Several networks brought live coverage of Trump's "victory" rally in Cincinnati last night. (So little time for the rookie public servant to get up to speed on running a nation of over 300 million, but he has time for his adulation fix.) With its coverage, the press all but hangs banners in the arena. Even to save themselves, they cannot look away.

Then there was this last night in The Hill: Scarborough: Trump considering Exxon CEO for secretary of State. Whether it is true or not is beside the point. Trump and his people want to keep every news cycle focused on him. So far, the press takes every bait.

The left had best give up any notion that, as they say on the right, America will "wake up" and admit what is happening. These people don't admit mistakes; they double down on them. Admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness and to be avoided. Correcting them? That's even harder. Granted, the Republican Party wrote up a postmortem on its 2012 loss. But Republicans promptly ignored it. The question now is can Democrats learn new tricks?

Ian MIllhiser at ThinkProgress worries they cannot:

Those of us who agree with the Declaration of Independence that governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed are poorly equipped to resist Trump. Those of us who agree that governments exist to secure “certain unalienable Rights” are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs.

We have brought a sheet of parchment and a set of abstract principles to a knife fight. We’re going to get cut.

That’s because believers in liberal democracy — people who believe generally that the theory laid out in the Declaration’s preamble is correct — must constantly fight a two-front war. We must defend the structures of liberal democracy while working within those structures to grasp the levers of power and use them to achieve just ends.

But Donald Trump — and the Republican Party generally, with its tactics of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and political litigation — threatens liberal democracy on both fronts. Trump is a paradox within democracy, a leader elected in a constitutionally legitimate process who seeks to undermine the Constitution itself.

To declare him illegitimate is to shake the foundations of the American system, but to fail to do so is to risk leveling those foundations to the ground.
Millhiser offers no way out of that paradox (and I have none this morning). But he does suggest this:
Similarly, every American should read Yale History Professor and Holocaust scholar Timothy Snyder’s “20-point guide to defending democracy under a Trump presidency.” Among his most important words of advice are “do not obey in advance,” to be wary if the Trump regime attempts to use a terrorist attack or similar tragedy to consolidate its power, and to adhere — especially if you are a lawyer, judge, government worker or other individual who may be called upon to shepherd Trump’s goals into fruition — to professional ethics.

If liberal democracy survives these next four years, then liberals must confront the fact that our current system of government has failed. We cannot have a system that makes a president out of the guy who came in second in the presidential election twice in sixteen years, or that allows lawmakers to suppress the vote of their opponents’ supporters, or that allows those same lawmakers to effectively choose who gets to vote for them, or that allows the minority party to sabotage a president’s entire agenda and then campaign on the fact that nothing gets done, or that places the entirety of American democracy at the mercy of a political court.
The fight at hand is not between Republicans and Democrats. Both parties have lost their way; the former having descended into madness. The fight at hand is between economic royalists and small-d democrats. It appears for the moment that the royalists again have the upper hand.

Before retelling at length the story of his November 8 win last night, the Man Who Would Be Emperor made a stab at speaking of reconciliation and bringing the country together. The boisterous crowd went quiet:
We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms. We denounce all of the hatred and we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation. We're going to come together. We have no choice. We have to. And it's better. It's better.
If I'm not mistaken, there were a few gasps and perhaps even a heckle. Such words feel unnatural coming from Trump's puckered lips. They drew no applause from followers raised on red meat. Soon Trump was back to "braggadocious" form, retelling his story of election triumph and attacking the press and anybody who has done him wrong. In the press pen, the cameras kept rolling.