Ruy Teixeira’s Warning to the Democrats
Plus: Lifting the rock on the Gutter Right.
Catching up on a busy morning:
Our good friend MBS joined with Putin to shiv the U.S. on oil production.
“Oath Keepers trial to resume with testimony from fresh witnesses.”
Your ghastly story of the day: “Gunman attacks day-care center in Thailand, killing more than 30, including 22 children.”
The Herschel hits keep on coming: “She Had an Abortion With Herschel Walker. She Also Had a Child With Him.”
But the GOP continues to rally around him.
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Ruy’s Tough Love
“To even get in the door with many working class and rural voters and make their pitch,” writes Ruy Teixeira, “Democrats need to convince these voters that they are not looked down on, their concerns are taken seriously, and their views on culturally-freighted issues will not be summarily dismissed as unenlightened. With today’s Democratic party, unfortunately, that is difficult. Resistance is stiff to any compromise that might involve moving to the center on such issues.”
Resistance? You don’t know the half of it.
ICYMI: Ruy, who has spent decades as a progressive analyst, joined me on Wednesday’s podcast to talk about his recent articles about the Democrats’ challenges on crime, culture, immigration, economics, and patriotism.
It’s great stuff, and it’s very much worth your time. (And also quite timely given today’s headlines: “Democrats Worry as G.O.P. Attack Ads Take a Toll in Wisconsin.” And: “In key battlegrounds, GOP onslaught of crime ads tightens Senate races.”)
Not surprisingly, not everyone is in the mood for this kind of tough love right now. Here’s a comment from one Bulwark+ listener:
We are where we are now - it's a month til the midterms. So:
2. Make the best of the situation with the candidates we have to defeat the lunatic GOP slate and save our democracy from these racist ass terrorists.
As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I’m afraid there will not be any shutting up anytime soon.
Some clarification also seems to be in order: It’s not our role to be cheerleaders or flacks; others can do that. Our job is to tell you the truth and give our best analysis, especially if we think we might be sailing at flank speed into an iceberg. With all due respect, if you want a safe space, or a rah-rah for our side site, you really ought to look elsewhere.
And here’s the thing about Ruy’s tough love: he’s saying these things because, unlike too many of his fellow Democrats, he actually does think we face an existential crisis . . . and he is trying to explain how not to lose to what our listener calls “these racist ass terrorists.”
That’s what makes Ruy’s warnings so important — and urgent. If you haven’t read his stuff, his latest piece is a good place to start. His advice: “Embrace patriotism and don’t apologize for it.”
That’s the creed of ordinary Americans even if many activist Democrats reject it. Illustrating this, a survey project by the More in Common group was able to separate out a group they termed "progressive activists" who were 8 percent of the population (but punch far above their weight in the Democratic party) and are described as "deeply concerned with issues concerning equity, fairness, and America's direction today. They tend to be more secular, cosmopolitan, and highly engaged with social media".
These progressive activists' attitude toward their own country departs greatly from not just that of average Americans but from pretty much any other group you might care to name, including average nonwhite Americans. Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans, in fact, are highly likely to be proud to be Americans and highly likely to say they would still choose to live in America if they could choose to live anywhere in the world. In contrast, progressive activists are loathe to express these sentiments. For example, just 34 percent of progressive activists say they are “proud to be American” compared to 62 percent of Asians, 70 percent of blacks, and 76 percent of Hispanics.
Here’s some more tough love from Ruy:
Exit take: The tough love will continue until morale improves.
Lifting Up the Rock on the Gutter Right
This piece by David French — in which he takes on “Lie after lie after lie” — is a cri de cœur, but also immensely important.
He writes about the “cruelty and slander and how those dark sins are wielded as weapons of political and cultural warfare in the worst corners of the online right.”
He tells his own story about the latest troll attack, but makes a much larger point.
“While politics has never been a gentle pursuit, the advent of Trumpism and the Trumpist ethos has spawned a host of popular voices who embrace lies as a tactic and character assassination as an objective.”
Consider my last few days as a case study. It all started, as so many of these online mobbings do, with a lie. A person who works for The Blaze and who trolls me constantly accused me of calling management to complain about his tweets. I did no such thing. The claim is completely false, and I told him so. And that, I thought, was that.
But no. Instead, the gutter right picked up the lie, repeated it, amplified the falsehood, and then added more lies, and personal attacks on French and his wife. For much of the right, this is the new normal.
Gutter right trolls lied that I called Blaze management. Gutter right trolls lied that I tried to get Kelly fired. Kelly misrepresented my wife’s age at the time of her abuse (and refused to apologize or delete her tweet after she was corrected). All of this, of course, has been accompanied by an online campaign of vicious insults directed at me and my wife.
French also explains why he writes about the trolls, as opposed to ignoring them:
I know there are readers who are yelling at their screens, “Why do you respond to this, David? You’re giving them oxygen!” And I agree with you, mostly. I rarely respond to online lies and online attacks. There are right-wing publications that have “David French” tags that link to articles that are chock-full of vitriol. They’re often written for the purpose of goading me into a response. I rarely give them what they want.
But why is the answer “rarely” rather than never? For the simple reason that a sufficient number of attacks made over a sufficient span of time can crush your reputation if there’s no response…
And he ends with this:
[This] is not the time to give in. This is not the time to shrink back, join the “exhausted majority,” and cede the public square to America’s worst voices. Instead it’s vitally important for Americans—in public and in private—to live the political values they seek to advance. It’s not enough to wish for a change in American culture. It’s important to model the change, as well as imperfect people can.
To paraphrase Alexander Solzhenitsyn, we can resolve to live our lives with integrity. The lies may come into the world, they may even triumph. But not through us.
1. Apathy Keeps Russia’s Death Cult Alive
“Sell your soul, and I’ll take care of you” is the classic devil’s bargain, and in the end he always collects what he’s purchased. The Russian imperial mindset, which dictates that anyone can be bought, terrorized into submission, or simply destroyed, does not account for that little detail. A heavily sanctioned and isolated Russia is now trying to extract from its citizens the ultimate price, life and limb, in exchange for a vague sense of national pride and the chance for the country’s top bureaucrats to continue to live lavishly.
With each passing day, Russians who accept the bargain see fewer and fewer benefits in return. That’s because “Die for our money” has always been the real demand of the Putin regime, spelled out in the fine print of Putin’s social contract with his citizens but becoming harder and harder to miss. It has manifested itself in the way the country has been run, with a bloated state apparatus, mass corruption, astronomical inequality, sadistic disdain for human dignity, an HIV epidemic, a healthcare system that shrugs at pain, and so on. With the failed invasion of Ukraine, the demand to lie down and die has simply become more obvious.
2. Merging Politics and Celebrity is Bad for Democracy
[C]hasing fame for the sake of power is corrosive of our system of democracy. Rather than leveraging a celebrity turn to improve one’s ability to shape the governing process and its outcomes, for too many fame becomes an end in itself. And given our politics-as-entertainment media landscape, elected office—increasingly the nation’s brightest and choicest stage—is considered a means of furthering one’s fame.