We repeatedly advised, back in 2016, that voters should ignore the so-called Conventional Wisdom heard from so-called "experts" and TV pundits at the time who insisted, over and again, there was no way Donald Trump could ever become President. Today on The BradCast we've got many more such reasons why Americans should similarly ignore Conventional Wisdom in these times which have proven to be anything but conventional. [Audio link to full story is posted below this summary..]
First, a little over a month ago, the Conventional Wisdom was that Russia's powerful military would quickly take over Ukraine within days, that NATO would likely have trouble uniting in their response, and that the entire organization itself could be on precarious grounds. Not only did all of that Conventional Wisdom prove to be wrong, but on Wednesday, Finland and Sweden, which have remained neutral for decades (if not centuries, in Sweden's case) announced they are very seriously considering joining the Western military alliance, perhaps as soon as in the coming weeks, after witnessing what happened to Ukraine. Yes, contrary to Conventional Wisdom, NATO may end up stronger and even larger than it has been in years.
In other Conventional Wisdom worth ignoring today, we are being told that Democrats are going to take a shellacking in this November's elections and are likely to lose their majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate in the bargain. Conventional Wisdom has it that the party in power before the midterms, especially with an unpopular President in the White House, pays a big price in those election years. Of course, that may well prove to be the case. But, as noted, these are not conventional times. Moreover, this year's elections are far more than a contest between Democrats and Republicans. They are no less than a contest between Democracy and Authoritarianism.
We're joined today by Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics and The Kids Are All Left: How Young Voters Will Unite America.
He recently penned a column at The Week, where he is a regular contributor, headlined "Democrats could still win in November. No, really." Really? Yes, really. Faris joins us to discuss how he believes it's still possible that Democratic candidates and President Biden can still take action to, at the very least, hold on to the U.S. Senate this fall and why, as he notes in the conclusion of his article, "it is still possible to squint and see a winning environment for Democrats this November."
His recommendations include, among other things we discuss today, Biden's use of his executive power to exercise the Defense Production Act; to take on corporate price-gouging and monopolies; and to combat Big Oil profiteering. Next, he explains how Democrats must turn the Right's idiotic (if effective) culture war --- banning books, threatening teachers who discuss race and gender, making abortion illegal --- against them, by boldly and aggressively taking on "radical Republican authoritarianism". And, yes, Dems need to loudly describe it as such.
"The stakes of these midterm elections are extraordinarily high," Faris explains, "because the Republican Party is like a proto-authoritarian cult. And every time that they are up for power, it could be the last free election that we have, as we currently understand them. And as long as that iteration of the Republican Party is what it is, every single national election that we hold here in the United States will have extraordinarily high stakes, because the Republicans are telling us exactly what they plan to do with their power."
"What we have to do is go on the offensive on some of these things. We have to identify the pieces of these culture war items, the panic of the day, most of which is not popular at all. The public does not support silencing public school teachers. People like teachers. The public does not support NOT teaching about slavery. The public does not support book banning."
"What's happening in Republican states is a comprehensive assault on human liberty," he argues. "These laws where you have people informing on one another --- cut an ad with what they did in East Germany. They had the Stasi, had people turn on each other and turn each other in. That's what this stuff is. It's authoritarian attempts to insinuate the Republican Party's priorities into our private lives and into our relationships with our fellow citizens, all in the service of creating this authoritarian dystopia where women are deprived of their rights and LGBTQ people are put back into their place."
He goes on to note that Dems may get some help from the Supreme Court between now and November, as the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS majority appears ready to turn back the clock on reproductive rights. "It will be a dark day in the United States when I think the Supreme Court overturns 'Roe v. Wade' sometime this summer. And this is a terrible tragedy that will impact the lives of many millions of women. It's just the first step in a path to gender tyranny, gender apartheid. It's a dark vision that they have for this country. But it could scramble the whole political landscape in this country in ways that we simply cannot anticipate right now."
The alternative to Dems shaking of their malaise and going on the bold offensive is detailed in Faris' more recent piece at The Week, headlined "Countdown to the Democrats' doomsday." That one persuasively explains how, by 2024, Republicans could end up winning a majority trifecta in D.C., with control of the White House, House of Representatives and, yes, even a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.
So, yeah. It's time to ignore the Conventional Wisdom and get busy to help save this country and democracy itself. The alternative should be too grim by now to even contemplate. (Or, it would be, if the progressive side of the aisle had a media machine even close to what now exists on the Right.)
Finally, some listener mail (we got a lot of it!) in response to Monday's show with The Nation's John Nichols, in which we discussed accountability for the Trump Crime Family and the need to impeach the corrupt far-right active Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)