by Justin Rosario
The current common wisdom is that the Democratic Party doesn’t actually stand for anything other than running against Trump. The right wing says it. The Purity Left says it. The “liberal” media says it. So many people say it just has to be true. Except for the part where it’s a complete and total lie, of course. Dave Weigel has his own ideas about why people keep saying this but his reasons are far more forgiving than mine.
It’s to be expected from Republicans because it feeds into their persecution complex and they would very much not like to talk about what the Democrats are proposing. It’s also to be expected from the Purity Left because the Democratic Party’s platform, while suffering from a terrible name (please, dear lord, find new marketing people, Democrats), is incredibly progressive. This undercuts the Purity’s Lefts narrative that the party is hopelessly evil and secretly Republican.
But the press has an entirely different reason for ignoring what the Democrats are talking about and it might be the most cynical reason of all.
First, let’s take a quick peek at the Democratic agenda:
A Better Deal (That Really Needs A Better Name)
Aside from the awful name, under this deal, Democrats are proposing a massive infrastructure program (the quickest way to boost local economies with high paying jobs that can’t be outsourced). They’re also pushing for paid family leave and laws that will prevent employers from making abusive schedules.
At the same time, they’ve made affordable child care for working families a central theme of their platform as well as making preschool more widely available for low income families.
The platform is also strongly pro-union and pro-worker, pro-pension, and anti-monopoly (going so far as to list specific industries they want to target). It goes on and on and on and this is just the economic stuff. The Democratic Party’s social agenda is pro-LGBT, pro-immigrant, pro-woman, pro-religious freedom (the real kind, not the fake GOP version), anti-police brutality, etc.
It’s a pretty specific set of recommendations from Democrats about how to improve the lives of the poor and the middle class. The rich will naturally get richer as everyone else does better because a rising tide will always lift the yachts but they won’t do it as everyone else’s expense. It’s a not particularly subtle difference between Democrats and Republicans.
You can give credit to Bernie or argue that he had nothing to do with it until you’re blue in the face; the fact remains that the Democratic platform is insanely progressive and the media is all but ignoring it.
The GOP’s Not So Good Deal
Looking at the Republican agenda, you see essentially the opposite of the Democratic plan. Instead of increasing services to the poor and middle class, Republicans want to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
They’re rolling back as many regulations as possible for corporations so they can prey on the public at will. They’re dismantling all of the regulatory agencies that keep industries from polluting our environment, poisoning our food, air, and water, and stealing our money.
Republicans just gave the richest of the rich a massive multi-billion dollar tax cut and made the rest of us pay for it. They still want to repeal Obamacare and they’re trying very hard to cause an economic crisis so they can demand enormous cuts to the social safety net on top of the ones they’re already proposing.
And, again, that’s just the economic stuff. Republicans are also hard at work dismantling public education, women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, voting rights, unions, and on and on and on it goes.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil – The “Liberal” Media Motto
During the 2016 campaign, the press avoided talking about the issues like the plague. Actually, they generally avoid talking about the issues all the time but they really avoided it during the election.
Part of this has to with the fact that Trump can’t actually talk about any of the issues because his brain is broken and they don’t want to deal with that reality. But most of it has to do with the Grand Canyon-sized gulf between the two parties. It wasn’t always this large and the press was quite fine discussing policy when both parties where within spitting distance of each other. Not for nothing, once upon a time, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush debated who would treat undocumented immigrants the most like human beings.
Now, however, one party clearly stands for making the world a better place and the other has become essentially a death cult intent on bringing about an economic apocalypse. And that’s the nice way of spinning it. If the media started reporting accurately exactly what the two parties stand for, it would end the Republican Party in roughly 10 seconds. Therefor, they will not report that. Ever.
Instead, we’ll get “analysis” of what Republicans claim their policies will do compared to what Democrats can prove they will do and no judgement shall be rendered. It doesn’t matter if every reporter knows the GOP is lying, they’ll let them do it because the back and forth is the story, not the policy itself or its impact. Were Republicans more effective in selling their version of reality this week? Did the Democrats win this round? So exciting! And totally devoid of meaning.
But that’s the point. That way, reporters will still get interviews, Republicans will continue to come on the cable talk shows, and ratings will stay high.
Everybody that counts wins. The rest of us? Not so much.
The “liberal” press much prefers a “he said/she said” narrative because it doesn’t have to hold anyone accountable for anything. Even better is the “both sides do it” narrative that lets the media smugly lambaste both parties at the same time, giving the illusion of possessing a moral fiber that will vanish the second they’re called upon to hold Republicans accountable for anything (the press is far more comfortable attacking Democrats, you see).
It’s hard to say whether or not the media has learned any lessons at all from their catastrophic failure to do their job in 2016. Every time they allow Sarah Sanders to treat them like imbeciles and lie to their faces in the White House Press Room, it seems like they haven’t. But every now and then, there’s a Jake Tapper or Shep Smith moment that remind the rest of them that, no, their job is not simply to preserve access; their job is to report the truth even if Republicans don’t like it.
The Democratic Party has a slate of cures for what ails this country and the press is so busy chasing a lazy narrative they’re ignoring it. It’s time we demand the media stop reporting what they want to see and start talking about what’s actually there.