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participants in the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign

Democratic presidential hopefuls Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders participate in the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on November 20, 2019. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The Missing Stories: Three Big Issues the Media Is Missing

When the media and both political parties represent the interests of the oligarchy, attempts to prop up corporate centrists will fail, and surprises like Trump will be inevitable.

John Atcheson

If journalism is the first draft of history, the press is missing three of the biggest stories of our time.  Of course, the Democrats’ inability to articulate anything like a coherent message doesn’t help.  Let’s take a look at what they’re missing.

Republicans’ blockade of legislation

Mitch McConnell’s legislative blockade has gotten some attention, although nowhere near as much as it deserves. As of July of this year, the House had sent over 49 major bills, including such popular measures as lowering the cost of prescription drugs, protecting people from being dropped by insurance companies for preexisting conditions, insuring fair elections, requiring background checks for gun purchases, climate legislation – the list is extensive and important. Yet each of these – which are supported by the vast majority of Americans – has been blocked by McConnell and his Republican Senate.

As bad as McConnell’s do-nothing Senate has been, it is only a symptom of a much more serious disease.  Specifically, Republicans know little about governing, and care less. This is because they are essentially anti-government. For going on four decades now, Republicans have run – and won – on an anti-government platform, that disdains governance, and McConnell’s legislative graveyard is merely the latest symptom of that trend.

But the press ignores both McConnel’s malfeasance, and the larger issue of a significant portion of the country electing anti-government extremists to …well … govern.

Democrats’ embrace of centrism, their abandonment of labor and working class Americans, and their decline in popularity

If you want to understand how anti-government incompetents keep getting elected, all you have to do is examine the Democrats’ steady and inexorable abandonment of the poor and middle-class.  Beginning in the late 1970’s and accelerating since, the party has systematically embraced the interests of corporations and the rich over the interests of the people, and the party’s power has declined in lockstep with the trend. 

By trying to appeal to people while representing plutocrats, they’ve left the majority of the voters with no one to actually represent them, and the people know it.  As their slice of the American pie shrank, and their political power evaporated, many of them took to voting for anti-government types who shared their contempt and anger at the governing establishment.  This is the answer to the centrist Democrats’ perpetual incredulity that some 40 percent of the people support an incompetent thug like Trump, and miscreants like McConnell, Nunes, and Hunter keep getting returned to Congress. 

Meanwhile, the Democrats in control of the party continue to push the fantasy that progressives will fair badly in middle America, and that the key to defeating Trump and the Republicans is to run a moderate or centrist. And the press repeats this absurdity, and virtually ignores  candidates like Sanders and Warren, or gives them negative coverage when they deign cover them. This artificially props up centrist candidates like Biden in the polls and primaries, even though they are destined to fair badly in the general election.  Doubt that?  Remember the “progressive who got things done” while coddling and consorting with Wall Street, big banks and corporations?  A centrist candidate would be an instant replay.

When the media and both political parties represent the interests of the oligarchy, attempts to prop up corporate centrists will fail, and surprises like Trump will be inevitable. 

Calling policies supported by the majority of Americans radical or extreme, while calling rightwing corporate-sponsored policies centrist

One of the most dangerous failures of the press is to label as extreme, that which is merely prudent, particularly when the majority of Americans support it.  Indeed, one wonders how things like the Green New Deal or Medicare for All or increased taxes on the rich can be called extreme when they are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans.  An extremist position is defined as an outlier – as furthest from the center -- so who, exactly is it that gets to define ideas with 60, 70 or more percent support – the very definition of the center -- as “extreme?”

The answer, of course, is corporations, the rich, and the politicians and mainstream media who are owned in whole or in part, by them. 

The absurdity and extremism of America’s “wealth not health” care system is best captured by the reaction of British folks of all stripes when they learn of the costs of that system to real people.

Similarly, the idea that the Green New Deal – which is not only supported by the majority of Americans, but is also the only proposal that will avert catastrophic warming, and the only one that is rooted in the science of what is necessary to stay below a 1.5 C  temperature rise – has been supported by upwards of  60 percent of Americans.  Hardly an outlier. More importantly, the rest of the so-called centrist political compromises are tantamount to trying to cross the Grand Canyon in a series of ten-foot leaps.

There are other issues the mainstream media and the corporate wing of the Democratic Party are labeling extreme that are, in fact, mainstream, such as free college, assault weapon bans, a national minimum wage, taxes on the rich, laws to get money out of politics and eliminate Gerrymandering and voter suppression … the list is nearly endless.

Unfortunately, as long as oligarchs control both the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, you’ll be told they are extremist positions that will get Trump reelected.  The reality is the opposite.  A centrist will leave the millions of progressive voters on the sidelines, and the angry 40 percent will turn out in force and reelect the demagogue.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson. John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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