A losing strategy | On Politics | Chicago Reader

A losing strategy 

Let’s get this straight: It’s OK for centrists to bash lefties but it’s politically incorrect for lefties to fight back.

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click to enlarge Bernie “Stop hating on Trump voters” Sanders - CORNSTALKER VIA FLICKR
  • Bernie “Stop hating on Trump voters” Sanders
  • cornstalker via flickr

At the risk of sounding like a lefty on the fringe, I'm starting to think that the mainstream media really doesn't want Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination—even if he's the best chance to beat Trump.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, (1) Ben, you are a lefty on the fringe; and, (2) duh, of course the mainstream media doesn't want Bernie to win. We've been trying to tell you this since 2016.

All right, all right—so maybe I'm not the fastest learner.

To demonstrate my point, I call to the stand two recent columns that appeared on November 9 in the New York Times—which everyone from Bernie to Joe Biden would agree is practically the dictionary definition of mainstream media.

First up, "How the Insufferably Woke Help Trump" by Timothy Egan, a left-of-center populist.

As the headline suggests, Egan's thesis is that the haughty political correctness of left-wing Democrats has "insulted and dismissed" many working-class voters—the very voters "who can still be persuaded to save our country from a disastrous second term of a corrupt and unstable president."

To make his case, Egan introduces us to his sister, "who works at Walmart cleaning toilets at night in a thinly populated part of eastern Oregon. She's been there more than 25 years and has trouble saving a dime and certainly no path to retirement. She's likely to vote, again, for President Trump.

"No matter how much I point out that Trump is trying to take away her health care protections by litigating to kill Obamacare, that his tariffs have made it harder to pay her bills, that he is the most repulsive and creepy man ever to occupy the White House, she holds firm," Egan laments.

"Why? One reason is what she hears from the other side. Many Democrats, she says, are dismissive of her religious beliefs and condescending of her lot in life. She's turned off by the virtue-signaling know-it-alls."

Think about this. Egan's sister is on the edge of poverty, yet she won't budge an inch from her unstated religious beliefs, even if that means voting for policies that push her over the edge. Man, this woman's not a swing voter—she's a saint.

As a guide for how to win her over, Egan quotes Barack Obama, who "rightfully called out the call-out culture that marginalizes so many people who are ready to vote against Trump."

Or, as Obama put it: "This idea of purity and you're never compromised and you're always politically 'woke'—you should get over that quickly."

In other words, shut up, lefties, and vote for who we tell you to vote for!

Anyway, for guidance on which candidate might win over Egan's sister, I next read "Run, Mike, Run!" a column by Bret Stephens.

As you might recall, Stephens is the right-wing columnist who loves Trump's policies—especially the tax breaks—but is a little embarrassed by Trump's antics.

As such, Stephens is looking for a Democrat he can support. In Michael Bloomberg—the "Mike" he wants to run—he's apparently found it.

Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has sort of announced he's running for president—at least he filed petitions to enter the Democratic primary in Alabama. It's not clear whether he's in the race for the long haul.

Stephens believes Bloomberg's exactly the kind of Democrat who can beat Trump, even though Bloomberg's not even really a Democrat. He's a Republican—which, now that I think about it, is probably the only kind of "Democrat" Stephens would vote for.

Here's why Stephens thinks Bloomberg can win: "The right's charge-sheet against today's Democrats is that they hate capitalism, hate Israel, hate the cops, think of America as a land of iniquity, and never met a tax or regulation they didn't love. Against Bloomberg it all falls flat. Because his views on gun control, abortion and climate change fit squarely in the Democratic mainstream without being obnoxious or frightening to middle-of-the-road America."

I don't know how many "middle-of-the-road" Americans Stephens has talked to lately, but clearly one of them is not Egan's sister.

For better or worse, Bloomberg represents everything Egan's sister apparently hates about Democrats. He's a know-it-all billionaire who's always telling ordinary people how to live their lives.

Wait till Egan's sister hears about how Bloomberg wants to, say, slap a federal tax on sugary drinks to keep ordinary people from drinking too many of them.

In conclusion, you've got one Times columnist (Stephens) promoting the candidate least likely to win over the voters that the other Times columnist (Egan) says is key to beating Trump.

Not telling you how to run your business, New York Times—but does anybody over there actually read these columns before they go in print?

Obviously, the Democratic candidate most likely to win over Egan's sister is Bernie. He doesn't talk down to Trump voters. In fact, he's always chastising his colleagues to show Trump voters more respect.

And though he's pro-choice, he's not doctrinaire about it. In 2017, he caught flak from the very Democrats who upset Egan's sister by supporting Heath Mello, a pro-life Democrat running for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska.

And yet neither Stephens nor Egan promotes Bernie as a candidate who could beat Trump, on the grounds that he's too radical for mainstream Americans to swallow.

I feel as though I've gone back to 2016 and I'm hearing Hillary Democrats explaining why a vote for Bernie is actually a vote for Trump.

You know, there seems to be a double standard when it comes to what is acceptable political discourse these days. It's elitist, condescending, and nasty when lefties criticize Trump voters, but it's fair game for Egan, Obama, and Stephens to mock, marginalize, and demean lefties.

Hey, what about our feelings—don't they count?

The left may have invented political correctness. But apparently, it's only politically correct for centrists and Trumpsters to still employ it.   v

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