CommonDreams – 1. Regaining Our Common Sense
Two things are inhibiting our exercise of common sense as a self-governed people:
First, the cancer of our corporate media monopoly has ravaged the culture of the democratic process in our nation. Among the many symptoms of this lethal disease is its projection of normalizing false narratives that reek of the body public’s corruption and decay.
For example, of all places, National Public Radio just ran a lengthy segment examining the numerous instances in which Donald Trump has this week proven himself a liar and a fraud by advancing policies in direct conflict with his campaign platform and campaign promises. Throughout the piece, the NPR journalists discussed how Trump was “learning on the job,” how these self-contradictions represented a possible shift to the political center, and how during the campaign, “Trump needed to say” one thing, and as President, he “needed to say” another. Not once during the piece did anyone speak up to say: “Since when did it become acceptable for a person running for, let alone winning, the presidency to so transparently lie and manipulate and speak in inflammatory terms without commitment to the public or accountability for his words?” NPR completely avoided the real story, which is that Donald Trump lacks the intelligence and mental health to meet what has long been the minimum standard for someone running for, let alone holding, our nation’s highest office. Instead, in terms that often amounted to outright praise, NPR normalized Trump’s ego-driven self-license to campaign on lies, fantasies and ignorance.
The second thing inhibiting our exercise of common sense is the continued failure of the political left to learn the lesson of the disastrous 2016 election. This lesson is that compromising our standards, principles and interests is not a “pragmatic necessity” of winning; rather it is a surefire recipe for losing.
Nothing more clearly demonstrates this lesson than the loss by Hillary Clinton, the best funded and most machined contender in the history of presidential politics, to a joke candidate, whose conduct this past two weeks (and for the last twenty years) has made clear Trump’s campaign never should have been allowed by any of us to be taken seriously.
Indeed, it turns out that being uncompromising in one’s standards, principles and advocacy of policies that obviously serve the people’s interest is, in practical terms, the real path to overwhelming victory. Consider that Bernie Sanders is once again, for the third year running, the most popular Senator in America precisely because of his record for integrity and common sense advocacy of bold steps to fix problems causing the people needless suffering. Consider that, without Sanders even being nominated or elected in the recent presidential campaign, three of the most significant planks of his presidential campaign platform—the $15 minimum wage, free college, and single-payer health care—have made substantial gains in the national discussion and in law since the Democratic Convention notwithstanding that all three were portrayed by Clinton and her machine as wildly unrealistic. No wonder there are now a host of Sanders-style new comers winning office or making strong showings even in such traditional red states as “What’s the Matter With” Kansas.
There is but one way to win the support, not just of the shrinking group of Democratic loyalists, but also of the more than 40% of voters who are independent, all of the progressive voters outside the Democratic Party, a large number of the people who don’t bother to vote because they can’t find anyone worth voting for, virtually all of the youth vote, and even a substantial number of current Republican voters. This one way is to have uncompromising integrity and the boldness to assert common sense policies that serve the public interest even though the diseased body public would shout these ideas down as “naïve,” “impossible,” and “unrealistic.”
2. The Coded Language of Pragmatism and Resistance
But it’s not just that we haven’t learned 2016’s lesson that, if we want to win, then we must be uncompromising and steadfast in our standards, principles and advancement of policies that serve the people’s interest.