The three men who have destroyed American politics

American politics is now dangerously less functional than it was a few decades ago. These changes for the worse are mainly due to the actions of three men. All are Republicans, but their sins aren’t based on political ideology per se. They’re based on interfering with the processes that America depends on. 

The first of the three is Newt Gingrich. He is the man most responsible for damned near destroying working relationships between Democrats and Republicans. He made demonization of the opposition an expectation for legislators. Before him, the parties talked to each other and there were personal friendships that crossed party lines, most notably that between Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch. Before Gingrich, Republicans in Congress understood that their primary function was to make the country work; after Gingrich their primary function was getting rid of the opposition.

The second is Rupert Murdoch. He turned media impartiality into a complete charade. He used Fox News as a Republican organ but the rest of the media didn’t treat Fox as the journalistic pariahs they deserved to be. “Fair and balanced” should have been treated as the lie it was by the rest of the media, not just in private but in print and on the air, but they didn’t, even when the owner donated a million dollars to one political party.  The result of treating Fox News as an actual news organization was that the rest of the media allowed itself to be forced to bend over backward so as not to appear too liberal. The end result of this was to sacrifice actual objectivity for the appearance of objectivity. At a time when impartiality and objectivity were mutually exclusive, they chose impartiality, and the result was that they turned into political scorekeepers, not guardians of anything, not an institution worthy of being considered the Fourth Estate. Impartiality is not appropriate when one party is behaving substantially worse than the other, as Donald Trump demonstrated so vividly with his “good people on both sides” statement in the aftermath of Charlottesville. When Trump came along, the news media had lost the habits necessary to stop him. Instead, they gave him a billion dollars’ worth of free coverage because he sold copy and air time. The irony in all this is that the result of their concentrating on impartiality instead of objectivity - and instead of responsibility - is that they are now considered Fake News by a substantial portion of the population. The monster their impartiality created killed the very impression they were trying to preserve. 

The third is Mitch McConnell. When Barack Obama was elected President, McConnell started using Gingrich’s playbook, making opposition far more important than running the country (and stating baldly that opposition was his biggest priority). But that was just a continuation of Gingrich; it was late in Obama’s second term that McConnell started becoming really dangerous. This started with a Senate Majority Leader refusing to vet the President’s nominee for Supreme Court Justice. By the time he did this, the media had been neutered to the point that they didn’t raise a fuss and continue raising it - they treated it as something belonging in a news cycle instead of the fundamental threat to democracy that it was. This was later followed by his using the Nuclear Option to confirm Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, making such a critical confirmation a strictly partisan matter. 

When Donald Trump became President, he didn’t understand all that much about his powers and limitations, and so he pushed in unprecedented ways, including allowing his family’s businesses to be supported by the White House. This normally wouldn’t be a danger because Congress would set him straight, but Mitch McConnell was Senate Majority Leader and wasn’t about to set him straight about anything. The most critical of the checks and balances in the Constitution was being ignored. 

The worst, the absolute worst, example of this was McConnell’s reaction to Russian interference in an American election. The Republican Senate Majority Leader along with most Republicans in Congress at best ignored the intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion that Russia had interfered with an American election and at worst actively protected the President and disputed the intelligence community’s conclusions. Five years ago that wouldn’t have been a sentence in English. Five years ago Republicans in Congress would have considered that treason. 

They would have been right. 

Some blame Trump but Trump isn’t the problem, Trump is the result of the problem and is the ultimate proof of how severe the problem is. 

Trump once said his followers would continue to support him if he shot someone in Times Square. He’s right, of course, and I seriously believe he’s right with no exaggeration whatsoever. That’s ultimately more on Murdoch than anyone else. What’s far worse is I’m by no means sure that the Senate wouldn’t continue to support him. 

Right now, the checks and balances set up so carefully by the Founding Fathers are failing. The 2020 election could potentially kill them altogether. 

We have three men to thank for that.

Views: 164

Comment by Ron Powell on May 18, 2019 at 3:45am

Mitch McConnell wasn't about opposition during Obama's presidency, he was about obstruction.

For a variety of reasons, I would consider adding Pat Buchanan to your list.

The failure of the media to function responsibly is a problem that is likely to be with us well after Trump is gone...

Comment by Doc Vega on May 18, 2019 at 4:13am

Wow! If you only knew what the hell you were talking about! The only thing you are remotely right about in McConnell because he is a fucking capitulator! 

Comment by Doc Vega on May 18, 2019 at 4:18am

Ron the US media has been consistently negligent due to their refusal to report the illegal conduct of the Democrats! They overlooked just about any act of treason committed by Obama! For decades earlier they had their way without any counterbalancing of political ideology until Fox, Newsmax, and conservative RADIO TALK SHOWS that literally saved America from the continual deception of the slanted commentary of the sold out, lame stream media.

Comment by Doc Vega on May 18, 2019 at 4:21am

Kosher it was Rupert Murdoch who identified and tapped in on the silent majority audience! The fact that Fox has a larger audience than almost the entire combined viewers of the other lying and compromised news channels makes that fact abundantly clear! Wake up!

Comment by koshersalaami on May 18, 2019 at 5:41am

What Fox’s audience tells me is how many Americans are willing to lie to themselves rather than face the uncomfortable. Fox commentators toe the company line. We saw this with Sean Hannity’s initial reaction to the Eric Garner case, where he initially found it obvious that the police had behaved very badly. He changed his tune within hours. That sort of thing doesn’t happen at real networks. 

If you’re going to define treason, the most egregious and obvious example in recent years is cooperating with foreign interference in American elections. That, I’m afraid, belongs squarely to the Republicans, who benefitted  from this interference. 

Ron,
I don’t think Pat Buchanan is as influential as the other three. He is way more peripheral. I think he belongs more in the category of Grover Nordquist and John Bolton and Steve Bannon and perhaps Karl Rove. These men all had or have terribly pernicious influence, but the three men I’ve listed all had or have genuine power. So maybe influential as applied to what Buchanan isn’t is the wrong word. The men I’ve just listed are important for influencing people who called important shots, but the men I list in the post actually call or called shots. 

The other point I want to make clear is that this post is specifically about people who attacked the mechanics of checks and balances in order to make them ineffective. The biggest dangers to America aren’t about ideology, they’re about process. The problems most difficult to correct are those that break down the system of governance. 

Comment by Steel Breeze on May 18, 2019 at 5:56am

from the moment of inception of a 'system' there are those who are bent on rigging or bypassing it.in my opinion in this case,in my life,it started to show under Reagan and was drastically increased by the Clintons and Bush.previously the same undermining prolly existed,but was behind the scenes and nowhere near as blatant.as politically neutral as i am,i have to say i truly pity the honest,loyal American who enters politics today thinking he can "make a difference"....but wish him all the luck in trying...

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on May 18, 2019 at 7:21am

well-said

Comment by The Songbird on May 18, 2019 at 7:28am

I always enjoy your insight, Kosh.  It always seems neutral to me, but you also seem to generate loud comments.  No matter - you've a way of explaining veneers by actions underneath, to me, and not just on politik.  Thanks! 

Comment by Robert B. James on May 18, 2019 at 7:44am

Should we thank them? America...and American politics, have never been good, or even better. These three are no good, but just three. Any critical thinking deserves credit these days. Thank you for giving it a shot. Harder would be picking the three best, impossible even, considering the enterprise from which they emerge...good or bad.

Comment by Anna Herrington on May 18, 2019 at 8:23am

What do you think about the candidates who are refusing to do a Fox Town Hall? I personally think it's a mistake...

McConnell, especially, is difficult to even look at he is so horrible a person.

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