The importance of accepting dissent

WARNING: Political rant incoming. That said, no matter your politics, I’d urge you to give it a read.

Just this afternoon, journalists from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, CNN, BuzzFeed and Politico were barred from attending a “gaggle” — kind of an informal briefing — with Press Secretary Sean Spicer at the White House. Anybody, of any political affiliation, should see this as the affront to American values it surely is.

Combined with the ever-increasing rarity of Republican congressmen and senators refusing to hold town hall meetings with constituents, apparently for fear of getting yelled at, and a veritable pall is settling upon American democracy. The very notion of the “loyal opposition” has been perverted into believing dissent is traitorous. And the critical function of a free press in American democracy has been mauled and spindled into “fake media” and “alternative facts.”

I cannot overestimate how horrible and threatening this is to the very fiber of America and her values.

You know, the Obama administration wasn’t perfect in its treatment of the press — each administration has its favorites, after all — and President Obama would even indulge in a little “they’re being unfair to me” now and again. But Obama sat down with Bill O’Reilly and others at Fox News. He went toe-to-toe with his greatest detractors in interviews. He took the hard questions. Maybe the answers weren’t well received, but he gave them. He defended his policies. He made his case.

The Trump administration, on the other hand, will not defend its positions to any but the friendliest of audiences. Republican congressmen and senators accuse “liberal organizers” of stacking their town halls with agitators or whatever.

They’re cowards. Gutless, feeble cowards.

These same congressmen didn’t blink an eye when the Tea Party mobilized their activists to descend on Democratic town halls. Of course the opposition is going to organize and mobilize — that’s part of democracy. Make your voice heard. Hold representatives accountable. This is how it works.

As for the Trump folks, they see “unnamed sources” and believe it’s some left-wing conspiracy — even as Breitbart and other conservative outlets run single-sourced fringe-conspiracy stories, or just run opinion pieces masked as journalism. Trump himself cited “unnamed sources” in pursuing his ludicrous birther claims against Obama, and urged Wikileaks and the Russian government to undermine his opponent.

Republicans are understandably proud of what they’ve accomplished — they captured the White House, both houses of Congress and 33 governorships. They should take pride, then, in their plans for the country, and be able to defend them against all comers — whether it’s the media or their own constituents. They were elected on a platform and vision for the country, and if they can’t defend that, just a month into the new administration, then what they heck did they run on?

Facing the people — whether represented by the free press or individually in town halls and other gatherings — is an indispensable part of democracy. We the People elected these folks. We the People deserve to know what’s going on, and we the People have the right to choose which outlets we get that news from, whether it’s Fox or CNN or face-to-face with the people we elected.

Thus, this sort of behavior is the basest, most despicable, most anti-American and un-democratic form of cowardice possible. This is a betrayal of democracy and the height of hypocrisy.

If you can’t handle the defense of your policies, if you can’t even handle facing the people in your district or state, then you have no right to sit in those plush offices. If you can’t handle the basic media duty of articulating your policies and actions and face any and all comers in your defense, then you have no business trying to run a country.

I’m gonna leave you with the following quote:

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

So which liberal kucklehead wrote that? Thomas Jefferson.

If your media and constituency policies don’t agree with Thomas freakin’ Jefferson, then you seriously need to think about whether you still have a meaningful role to play in our nation’s politics and future.

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Filed under Politics, Rant

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