"The difference between me and Trump"
by Tom Sullivan
"Both sides do it" and other false equivalencies perpetuated in political debate keep cropping up no matter how much the national media and the right have their thumbs on the scale. The press has a tenuous business model to protect and does not want to alienate potential consumers of their products and advertising. The authoritarian right has political model fueled by resentment and projection. False equivalency allows the people of Trump country to demonize their opponents while avoiding "personal responsibility" for toxifying American politics.
No, in their minds shouting, "Lock [fill in the blank] up!" at rallies is justified. Their cult leader, no matter his wealth and power, status and privilege, is a knot of resentments and insecurities reflective of their own. In happier times, they would be the subject of an illustrated parable from Theodor Geisel.
Paul Waldman ponders a reality in which, instead of liberals being exhorted to bind America's wounds by better understanding Trump voters, it is conservatives' turn:
I have a crazy dream that goes like this. After a whole bunch of think pieces asking why Republicans are so contemptuous toward components of the Democratic base — let’s say African Americans — a Republican contender for president starts telling his party that they have to change the way they think, feel and talk. “For too long, members of my party have treated African Americans with scorn,” he’d tell an interviewer. “But as someone who has spent time in those communities, let me explain how they see the state of our country, and why we need to find ways to meet them where they live. Republicans are out of touch and that has to change.”That would never happen, of course, the GOP base being "made up of only the most worthy of Americans, hailing from the small towns and rural areas where all virtue finds its true home."
One more vivid example from recent history: In 2004, the conservative Club For Growth ran an ad against Howard Dean, in which a couple told him to “take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont where it belongs.” Everyone laughed. Now imagine the outcry if a liberal group told, say, Mike Huckabee to “take his trailer park-living, tobacco-chewing, NASCAR-watching, squirrel-eating freak show back to Arkansas where it belongs.” The condemnation would be furious and immediate, much of it coming from the elite media, who would yet again instruct Democrats that if they want to succeed they really need to stop being so condescending and reach out to those heartland voters.Last night's MSNBC special on the Green New Deal featured an exchange between New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bob Inglis, the former South Carolina congressman. Deemed apostate for believing climate change was real, Inglis lost his seat to T-party candidate Trey Gowdy in a 2010 primary. Inglis was on set in the Bronx not just as a Republican from "real America" who believes climate needs addressing, but to draw a parallel with Ocasio-Cortez who ousted a more conservative Democrat in a 2018 primary.