Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Response to Calculated Silence

(See: Just Above Sunset: Calculated Silence)

"This is awful,” says Josh Marshall. "But, really, stop saying it’s awful.”
This kind of griping operates on the premise that broadcasting a situation in which you have zero power and acting as though your attempted shaming will produce any positive effect will have some positive effect. It won’t. Broadcasting weakness is never an effective strategy. Always choose to fight on a different ground. It looks hapless to try to shame people with acts they are carrying out openly, eagerly and happily. You look stupid. 
Rhetorically, politically and in the simplest terms of reality, Republicans know there is no justifying this legislation. The public has already spoken. It is overwhelmingly unpopular. They are trying to do it in the dead of night because they know that. ... They are trying to slip it past everyone, do it by stealth and keep all the details secret until it’s too late. ... 
Accept their freedom to do it and label it for what it is. Adjudicate it at the next election.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but the truth is, no. This is one of those rare occasions I disagree with Josh Marshall. We Democrats do too much already of what Josh is asking us to do, and it’s been killing us.

Rather that pushing back on all those accusations that Hillary placed the nation’s safety at risk with her home email server, or Donald Trump’s charge that she “shredded” thousands of emails after they had been subpoenaed (both those are false and can be proven false), Democrats chose to ignore all of it, thereby surrendering the field to the Republicans. This could only leave Democrats and Independents to assume that, hey, if the party isn’t going to fight this, she must be guilty!

That, as much as anything, lost the election right there. Forget this business that telling the truth makes you look stupid; keep in mind that not telling the truth makes you look too gutless to stand up for your convictions, which is even worse.

The larger point is, if you don’t speak out and say what’s wrong with all of what the Republicans are trying to do, what chance will you have to “adjudicate it at the next election”? By that time, voters will likely have no idea what you’re talking about. After all, the process of publicly “shaming” someone does not necessarily involve getting them on your side; the main idea is to get the public in your corner.

The truth is, there actually have been several cases of Republicans back-tracking on themselves. A prominent one is their being “shamed” into converting “Repeal Obamacare” into “Repealing and Replacing Obamacare”, simply because they didn’t want to face public rebuke for abolishing certain very popular elements of Obamacare, such as forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. That’s quite a reversal for folks who don’t believe government should be forcing insurance companies to do anything at all.

Trump’s baldfaced shamelessness is already spreading like a disease among his fellow Republicans. You see it in the DNI boss Dan Coates explaining his refusal to answer questions in Congress, and when asked for his justification, replying, “I’m not sure I have a legal basis,” as if to say, “And what are you going to do about it?”, knowing full well he’ll get away with it without being cited with contempt of Congress. 

The problem is, because our founders couldn't think of everything, they made sure that our system of government is, to some extent, an honor system that is currently being managed by operators who have very little honor, and thanks to the influence of our president, have less and less of it every day.

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