Can Trump beat the Democrats, the Bureaucracy AND the news media?
A victory for the Biden/Harris ticket depends on a three-legged stool of political support – the Democratic Party, the entrenched Bureaucracy and the elitist east coast news media.
The first is the strategies and messaging of the Democratic Party. Nothing unusual about that. The very purpose of the political parties is to create a platform of policies to be branded and sold to the public.
For more than half a century, the first explanation that I give to political clients is that elections are decided on what the people decide to decide upon. The political parties then engage in a tug-o-war to get the voters to decide on the issues most favorable to them. This season, Democrats are betting that the handling of the Covid-19 Pandemic is their winning issue. For Republicans, it is the economy.
The issues presented in campaigns are not based on reality, but mostly one-sided narratives designed to generate anger and hostility toward the other side. Such political combat is fair. It is how things should work.
The problem comes when other institutions that are not supposed to be partisan put their collective fingers on the scale – as we are witnessing in this turbulent election season. And it is not just about President Trump. The three horsemen of the political apocalypse are working against all Republicans and most viciously against conservative Republicans.
The idea that our government Bureaucracy works against Republican/conservative interests is not new. Some 50 years ago, I began to write and comment on the growing problem of an unelected and unaccountable federal bureaucracy.
I first experienced it working in the Nixon administration. Even back then, the bureaucratic establishment operated on its own agenda – literally defying the policies and edicts of the elected administration with which they philosophically disagreed – recognizing that our civil servants are overwhelmingly progressive big government Democrats.
At the time, I referred to the Bureaucracy as the fourth branch of our federal government – and arguably the most powerful. Though largely part of the Executive Branch, the Bureaucracy legislates (regulates) and adjudicates on more issues than does the Congress and the courts.
From the shadows of government, they can thwart, undermine or merely ignore the mandates and edits of the other branches. An unchecked Bureaucracy is the seeding ground of authoritarianism.
The generational conflict between elected conservative government and the policy-making bureaucrats has reached a tipping point during the Trump administration. This is because Trump declared war on the arrogant and self-important – and dangerous – Bureaucracy. When Trump took on elements of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a prescient warning. He advised Trump to not take them on because they have “a million ways to get back at him.”
We have seen that in the ginned-up investigations and the massive campaign of anti-Trump leaks by mostly nameless and faceless staffers buried in the bowels of the Bureaucracy. We saw it when various bureaucrats accused Trump of acting outside proper order and traditional norms – meaning that he was not taking his orders from the bureaucrats. In a healthy republic, the President’s policies are the proper order.
The Fourth Estate
Arguably, the greatest threat to a republic is a biased and corrupt news media. A common thread of all authoritarian regimes is control of the message. Partisan propaganda displaces ethical journalism. Without the balanced and free-flow of information accurately reported you have the types of controlled media that characterized the Nazi regime in Germany – and is found today in such authoritarian states as Russia, China, North Korea and Cuba.
There can be no doubt that the news media in America has been taken over by individuals – from owners to reporters – with a clear left-wing Democrat agenda. They consistently report favorably on Biden Democrats and unfavorable on Trump and Republicans. They spin events through mendacious analysis. They cancel and censor voices not consistent with their political and philosophic biases.
The left-wing media engages strategically with the Democratic Party by presenting Democrat talking points as accurate news. They block effective counterpoints to the propaganda narratives. This strategic alliance was seen in the fact that Biden had placed advertising against the New York Times tax return report BEFORE it was published.
They perform what they call a “fact-checking” operation on Trump, but not on the many egregious misstatements and lies put forth by Biden – and of course, no one is fact-checking the many misstatements and lies by the reporters, anchors and maliciously selected panels of parroting pundits.
Today’s Fourth Estate plays prosecutor against Republicans and defense for Democrats. Following the news is like hearing only one side of a court case. It has largely abandoned the ethics of journalism. Whether under the thumb of dictatorship or by malignant common interest, the loss of a fair and balanced news media is a threat to the republic. In many ways, it is the press that enables and empowers the biases and narrow interests of the Democratic Party and the Bureaucracy.
If any one of these “legs” – The political party, a self-empowered bureaucracy and a biased news media – did not exist, the entire structure of political intrigue would collapse, and Trump would more likely win re-election. But that is not the situation that Trump and Republicans face. If this unholy alliance succeeds – which is very possible – it will further empower and solidify an extremely dangerous alliance in the future. The danger of authoritarianism will come from the left. It can be no different. Authoritarianism depends on an increasing strong central government – with hegemony over the bureaucracy and the media.
If the authoritarians succeed in this election my pity goes to those under 50 years old who voted for Trump and the Republicans. They will be the victims of the decline of the American experiment in democracy. Those older – like myself – will live out our days in the remnants of personal freedom no matter for whom they voted. We will have enjoyed the best of America. I have no pity for the young folks who voted for the siren allure of Big Brother government. They will deserve what they get.
So, there ‘tis.