I just watched four continuous hours of MSNBC; prime-time Friday night – four hours and but one story: Trump and Russia.
I don’t know if it’s beef or chicken, but it is certainly a gravy train and it has many passengers.
I’m not even necessarily trying to criticize. If the President is eventually impeached or arrested, and we are now nearly two years into “this time we’ve got him!,” then the hour after hour, day after day of homogenous and uninspiring coverage will probably look pretty smart.
But, it was interesting to see the network known as mainstream media’s most progressive, ramble for hours about probably the least progressive issue the left has to offer. Is this a news channel or a 24-hour infomercial for President Mike Pence?
Again and again we all, journalists and regular Janes and Joes alike, face the same conundrum – whether or not to hop aboard when the train whistle sounds.
From a personal standpoint, it’s like George H. W. Bush said: “Not gonna do it; wouldn’t be prudent.”
See what I did there? A little bit of my own “fake news.” President Bush didn’t really say that, Dana Carvey said it playing H. W.
The point is, there is something much more interesting to talk about this week than Trump and Russia, something much more relevant and illuminating of the state of the country.
This week, Andrew Gillum became the Democratic nominee for Governor in Florida. This is significant for two reasons:
First, Gillum is African-American; Florida has never had a black Governor, or even a major-party nominee for the post. Also, there are currently exactly zero African-American Governors anywhere in the country.
Secondly, Gillum ran on the platform of what could be called a “progressive insurgent” – things like “Medicare for All,” a $15 minimum wage, raising the corporate tax, legalized marijuana, education investment, and gun control just for a start. Further, he defeated a heavily-favored and much better-funded establishment-backed Democratic opponent to take the nomination.
Gillum represents the synthesis of two major (theoretical) bases of the Democratic Party – African-Americans and progressives. (Recognizing of course that these are not mutually exclusive).
This is particularly crucial at this specific moment in time for Democrats.
This week, The Intercept published an article which stated, “A hostage situation has emerged on the left.”
It argued that those who so frequently use the term “class reductionist” to condemn progressives have themselves embraced “an equally unproductive and regressive ideology: race reductionism.”
That is to say, the term “class reductionist” – when combined with accusations of racism and applied to those talking about inequality – is at risk of becoming a term like “conspiracy theory” – a term intended to shut down a conversation, to stop it in its tracks before nuance or detail can be explored.
The author of the article, Briahna Gray, points out:
“Notice that this trick is aimed at policies which would threaten significant corporate or entrenched interests: the insurance industry, the banking industry, the energy sector, lenders.”
Like Hillary Clinton said back during the 2016 campaign: “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow … would that end racism?”
Gray asked her Twitter followers for examples of times people tried to create this type of false-equivalency. Over 200 responses poured in.
Really, the problem is threefold.
First, we have to understand that racial and identity-based issues have often and repeatedly been sacrificed at the altar of “all ships rising” populism by Democrats and Republicans alike. It is a fear steeped in history.
But secondly, we must recognize that issues like inequality, education, healthcare, campaign finance, predatory lending, and so on, are often, perhaps inherently but certainly statistically, issues with racism and identity-based discrimination at their core.
Lastly, we must be aware that, as Gray wrote in The Intercept:
“It’s almost as if the real agenda here isn’t ending racism, but deterring well-meaning liberals from policies that would upset the Democratic Party’s financial base.”
Andrew Gillum supersedes this dichotomy with his policies, his past, and his person. He is joined by other candidates across the country who have recently earned Democratic nominations and hold excellent chances to enter government.
These are people like Ben Jealous in Maryland and Stacey Abrams in Georgia, two progressive African-Americans who have also earned the Democratic nomination for Governor and seek to become the first black holders of that office in their respective states; people like Deb Haaland of New Mexico, who seeks to become the first Native American woman elected to the House; people like Christine Hallquist, the Democratic nominee for Governor in Vermont and first transgender person in any state to earn such a nomination for a major party; people like Rashida Tlaib, the democratic socialist from Michigan seeking to become the first Muslim woman in Congress; people like Ilhan Omar, the former Somali refugee seeking to replace the outgoing Keith Ellison, himself once the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, in Minnesota, and so many more.
Mainstream media spends so much time talking about Trump’s impeachment that they have no time for the metaphorical impeachment of Trump’s ideas, alongside the ideas of Clinton-era Democrats, taking place right in front of their face.
They did not have this story in their primetime coverage. But they did have a glowing memorial for noted and avowed racist John McCain.