Friday, July 29, 2016

Donald Trump and his Co-Conspirators

The light at the end of the lengthy, unpredictable election year tunnel is in sight as the final round of the 2016 Presidential campaign begins.

Election Day – Tuesday, November 8, 2016

This election will be remembered as one of the most bizarre in American history, yet an important one determining the future of the country. I see the election as a choice between two very different visions: Does our nation forge ahead and tear down walls, or look back and build walls?

Full disclosure: I will vote to forge ahead.

The establishment has looked disbelievingly at the rise of Donald Trump, but I believe his ascendancy can be traced back to the rise of a co-conspirator of sorts.

The candidate’s window of opportunity began with the repeal of a federal regulation, the Fairness Doctrine, in 1987, requiring radio stations to provide free broadcast time for responses to controversial opinions previously aired. The repeal of the Doctrine permitted stations to broadcast editorial material without presenting opposing points of view.

Rush Limbaugh, a radio talk show host in Sacramento CA, declared himself free from the liberal media, moved to New York City and began his radio show, quickly gaining a national following. He is often rated the #1 radio talk show host in the country.

Limbaugh advocates conservative causes in an extremely heavy-handed, take-no-prisoners way, verbally abusing and pummeling adversaries professionally and personally. He repudiates one of the hallmarks of a vibrant democracy - compromise. Part of his modus operandi is delivering inaccurate statements. When the mistake is brought to his attention, Limbaugh professes a meek, half-hearted apology.

A direct line can be drawn from Limbaugh’s vitriol to the emergence of the current Republican Presidential candidate. Limbaugh, along with other conservative talking heads and Fox News (the number 1 network news station), encourages listeners to disdain alternative opinions and those advocating them.

I do not understand why so many people support a man with a history of shady business practices; a man who takes advantage of small businesspeople and workers; a misogynist; an individual with no qualms about dissing anyone–women, disabled, minorities, various religious groups; a man who refuses to disassociate himself from white supremacists and other hatemongers; a man capitalizing on people’s fears...I could go on and on, but what is the point? I understand people’s frustration with the system, but Trump offers nothing but bluster and empty promises.

I am not surprised Roger Ailes, a conservative Republican strategist and consultant before becoming head honcho of TV’s most notorious one-sided news venue, was fired resigned under a cloud (his demise had nothing to do with his political views but everything to do with sexual harassment allegations). Unfortunately I doubt Ailes’ departure will change Fox News' right-wing leanings or journalistic integrity. Fox works hard reshaping the news to fit a particular worldview, magnifying certain problems and demonizing the opposition. A PunditFact’s TV network scorecard found 60% of Fox News’ claims mostly false or worse. In comparison 44% of the news reported on NBC and MSNBC were mostly false or worse, and on CNN only 20% of reports were in some degree false.

The irony of Trump’s rise is that the Republican establishment is now sharply divided. Many politicians avoided the Republican convention and either refuse to back Trump or offer at best a lukewarm endorsement. A segment of the conservative media - individuals, organizations and websites - that previously adored Limbaugh now deride him for supporting Trump.

I look forward to the fun and games following the election that hopefully (wishful thinking on my part) result in a GOP Presidential defeat. 

Whatever your political leanings, there is one thing I am sure everyone can agree on–Election Day will not arrive soon enough.