As the second night of Democrat presidential candidate debates takes place with serious discussions about means to address some of the most pressing problems facing millions and millions of average Americans, including the nation's health care crisis, an economy that is providing little if any financial increase to working Americans, and a thoroughly broken immigration system, a column in the New York Times looks at the lies and disingenuous tactics Republicans will utilize to dupe voters into voting against their own best interests. Yes, the familiar ploys of racism and religious extremism will be trotted out, but the lead GOP mantra will likely be that Democrats are socialists and they seek to take the nation down the road of Venezuela - ignoring, of course, that Democrat plans are no different than those in other leading western industrial nations. The piece also calls attention to just how extreme the GOP agenda is in terms of historic perspective. Indeed, the GOP has become a de facto white supremacist, oligarchical political party. Lastly, the piece looks at the need for the media to stop parroting Republican lies and report lies as the lies they are in fact. Here are column excepts:
The Democratic Party has clearly moved left in recent years, but none of the presidential candidates are anything close to being actual socialists — no, not even Bernie Sanders . . . . Nobody in these debates wants government ownership of the means of production, which is what socialism used to mean. Most of the candidates are, instead, what Europeans would call “social democrats”: advocates of a private-sector-driven economy, but with a stronger social safety net, enhanced bargaining power for workers and tighter regulation of corporate malfeasance. They want America to be more like Denmark, not more like Venezuela.Leading Republicans, however, routinely describe Democrats, even those on the right of their party, as socialists. . . . And everyone in the news media accepts this as the normal state of affairs. Which goes to show the extent to which Republican extremism has been accepted simply as a fact of life, barely worth mentioning.
To see what I mean, imagine the media firestorm, the screams about lost civility, we’d experience if any prominent Democrat described Republicans as a party of fascists, let alone if Democrats made that claim the centerpiece of their national campaign. And such an accusation would indeed be somewhat over the top — but it would be a lot closer to the truth than calling Democrats socialists.
The other day The Times published an Op-Ed that used analysis of party platforms to place U.S. political parties on a left-right spectrum along with their counterparts abroad. The study found that the G.O.P. is far to the right of mainstream European conservative parties. It’s even to the right of anti-immigrant parties like Britain’s UKIP and France’s National Rally. Basically, if we saw something like America’s Republicans in another country, we’d classify them as white nationalist extremists.
[I]t matches up with lots of other evidence. Political scientists who use congressional votes to track ideology find that Republicans have moved drastically to the right over the past four decades, to the point where they are now more conservative than they were at the height of the Gilded Age.
Or just compare the G.O.P., point by point, with parties almost everyone would classify as right-wing authoritarians — parties like Hungary’s Fidesz, which has preserved some of the forms of democracy but has effectively created a permanent one-party state.
Fidesz has cemented its power by politicizing the judiciary, creating rigged election rules, suppressing opposition media and using the power of the state to reward the party’s cronies while punishing businesses that don’t toe the line. Does any of this sound like something that can’t happen here? In fact, does any of it sound like something that isn’t already happening here, and which Republicans will do much more of if they get the chance?
One might even argue that the G.O.P. stands out among the West’s white nationalist parties for its exceptional willingness to crash right through the guardrails of democracy. Extreme gerrymandering, naked voter suppression and stripping power from offices the other party manages to win all the same — these practices seem if anything more prevalent here than in the failing democracies of Eastern Europe.
So it’s really something to see Republicans trying to tar Democrats as un-American socialists. If they want to see a party that really has broken with fundamental American values, they should look in the mirror.
But that won’t happen, of course. Whoever the Democrats nominate — even if it’s Joe Biden — Republicans will paint him or her as the second coming of Hugo Chávez. The only question is whether it will work.
Republicans have squandered much of the accusation’s force. And Donald Trump, who was installed in office with Russian help and clearly prefers foreign dictators to democratic allies, is probably less able to play the “Democrats are unpatriotic” card than previous Republican presidents.
Still, a lot will depend on how the news media handle dishonest attacks. Will we keep seeing headlines that repeat false claims (“Trump Says Democrats Will Ban Hamburgers”), with the information that the claim is false buried deep inside the article? Will we get coverage of actual policy proposals, as opposed to horse-race analysis that only asks how those proposals seem to be playing? I guess we’ll soon find out.