I have been watching. And so have you. We have been watching as the liberal media—typically Democratic columnists, pundits, and journalists—reveals that it is wandering like Alice through a Wonderland of its own political fantasies. It obviously doesn’t want Trump to become president. I don’t either. But the hysterical shallowness of the reporting is being laughed at not only by those on the right. It is also drawing scorn from centrists and independents. Hyperbolic, hyperventilating criticism will do this. It also undermines critics’ credibility. And by wallowing in it, self-righteous liberals and Democrats are only adding fuel to Trump’s fire.
Let’s begin with the myopia that has led many Democrats to try to prove that Hillary was correct when she put half of Trump supporters in a “basket of deplorables,” arguing that they actually are racists. You can find this sort of defense of Clinton in columns and in the Main Stream Media, but also on Twitter and Facebook. Although some of these folks also argue that Hillary’s phrase was bad politics, others say that telling it like it is could help Clinton in her quest for the presidency. Unfortunately for Clinton, in battleground states, it’s mainly Democrats who think she’s telling it like it is. Independents by more than 2 to 1 think that her comments were insulting to a lot of people, not truth-telling, according to an extensive CBS poll that was just released.
We have here a tin-ear syndrome that allows many if not most Democrats to avoid hearing what other Americans think. But what should be especially embarrassing for liberals and Democrats is that in order to make their case about the racism of Trump’s supporters, many cite a Reuters survey from last spring, which showed that nearly half of Trump supporters think that blacks are more violent than whites, conveniently leaving out that the same survey found that over 30% of Clinton supporters believe the same thing. So, are a third of Hillary’s supporters racists too? Possibly. But then maybe Dems should consider not throwing stones from inside their glass bubble. Extremism aside, pointing to racism as someone’s primary motivation is not simple, because class and economic issues are interwoven with the problem of racism. (I speak here of Trump’s supporters in general, those planning to vote for him. No doubt Trump has thrown red meat to unmitigated racists, but these people need to be differentiated from those who think Affirmative Action programs are unfair to their families, etc.)
But it is not only writers and columnists with small-time, small-audience outlets who have bent reality to suit their preferred narrative. Take a look at the NY Times, the Grey Lady, whose motto, ‘All The News That’s Fit To Print’, is morphing into ‘All the News to Print in a Fit’.
The NY Times regularly publishes what it claims are news stories about the election, but they are often no more than opinion pieces, weak and misleading ones at that. Take a story that was recently on the front page of the online NY Times for at least a day. The headline last read (it changed over time): “Donald Trump Says Hillary Clinton’s Bodyguards Should Disarm to ‘See What Happens to Her’.” The story claims that Trump’s recent comments were another veiled threat of violence against Clinton, comparable to remarks he made in August, which were also interpreted this way. But this is not news. It’s opinion. Some noteworthy passages from the article are below. As you read them bear in mind that Clinton’s position on gun control was virtually the only one that was clearly to the left of Sanders, whom she hammered for it, especially his unwillingness to open gun manufacturers to lawsuits by gunshot victims. Of course, Trump is well aware of this, as well as the fact that most Americans support access to firearms, for example, 63% of Americans believe having a gun in the home makes it “a safer place to be.” It’s a good issue for him. In this light, let’s look at the Times coverage.
“I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Miami, to loud applause. “I think they should disarm. Immediately.”
He went on: “Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, O.K. It’ll be very dangerous.”
The Times then goes on to compare these words to his earlier remarks, in order to support the notion that he is inciting violence against Clinton.
Mr. Trump’s comments were a provocative echo of widely condemned remarks he made in early August at a campaign rally in Wilmington, N.C. There, he airily suggested that gun rights supporters should rise up against Mrs. Clinton if she were elected to stop her from appointing judges who might favor stricter gun regulation.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added, “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Those remarks were widely interpreted as an invitation for gun-rights supporters to take matters into their own hands should Mrs. Clinton prevail in November’s election.
“Take matters into their own hands,”—the words of the Times’ writers, not Trump—in the liberal media’s reading, means violence, not the ballot box or political organizing. Now if you have only been hanging out in the Democratic echo chamber bubble, tying these two incidents together probably makes perfect sense to you, as well as thinking that they are “widely interpreted” as involving violence. But dollars to donuts, this is not how most of America hears these remarks. Most people in this country hear Trump’s remarks as expressions of strong support for gun rights.
Trump’s most recent though-experiment is a ham-handed way of continuing his pander to NRA supporters. It wasn’t a threat. It suggests that if you support guns, and acknowledge their benefits, then Hillary is a hypocrite because she doesn’t support them even as she’s benefiting from them. Where would she be without her Secret Service agents carrying guns? This line of attack motivates gun rights advocates and continues the narrative that Clinton is untrustworthy. It’s politics, and as much as our politics itself feels like a threat these days, not all politics is threatening. The same thing happened with what Trump said about the Second Amendment in August, in which, the echo chamber alleges, he also threatened her. But go back and look at the actual video of his comments. When you hear how he pauses, Trump’s claim—that he was talking about the power of Second Amendment supporters to mount a campaign to help stop Hillary and her policies— makes sense. (Recall that he was doing very poorly in the polls when he said it. He appeared frustrated as he made the remarks.) Trump’s interpretation of his own words is at minimum as plausible as an interpretation that says he was telling gun rights advocates to harm Clinton. But you didn’t see this in the current Times story, just that his remarks were “widely interpreted” as threatening violence.
I am strong supporter of gun control. But I also know that most Americans want their Second Amendment rights protected. And many believe that Hillary won’t protect them. What’s really worrisome here is that liberals can’t hear how crazy their accusations sound to much of America. Do they really believe that the 40% of the electorate now supporting Trump believes he was recommending that his supporters shoot Clinton? Do they know how over-the-top this sounds to people who are not in the echo chamber bubble, and I don’t just mean the 40%?
Democrats have worked up so much fear and hysteria about Trump that they seem incapable of understanding how they appear to much of America: self-serving, hyperbolic, and out-of-touch, and they seem especially out-of-touch with how white working class voters view Clinton supporters. There is evidence—for example, from the Iowa primary—that Hillary appeals to affluent whites. How do Democrats think it plays with white working class voters when they hear from the Clinton campaign, with her very wealthy best friends and affluent constituency in supporting roles, that they are a bunch of racist yahoos ready to violently attack Clinton when Trump calls on them to do so? Like anyone else unjustly accused: infuriated, disrespected, angry. (If you talk to Trump’s supporters, one thing many will acknowledge is that Trump often says over-the-top stuff, but they understand it as political theater. People want things to change. The Democrats should know this—they saw the desire for change in the Sanders’ campaign.)
Democrats can choose to crawl out of their rabbit hole of fear and hysteria and listen to other Americans, or stay comfortably ensconced in Wonderland, lighting each other up with stories of the horrors of Trumpism. But if they choose to remain underground, failure at the polls can’t be blamed on any vast right-wing conspiracy. Democrats will be able to discover who is to blame by simply staring at Alice’s looking glass.