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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hideous Coverage of Yesterday's Election Results

News coverage of the defeated Propositions last night was so flabbergastingly bad -- what I saw of it, anyway -- I had to switch off the tee vee. That's rare for me -- I usually like to hear the framing from opponents the better to understand its allure and weaknesses.

The election results, we were told, clearly indicate that Californians don't trust "Sacramento" and have refused to approve "tax increases."

What a completely ass-backwards "lesson" to take away from this atrocious episode! The failure of mass media to provide any kind of context for the budget crisis is simply catastrophic, a complete demonstration of incompetence (at best, complicity at worst).

I suspect that most Californians, if asked what it takes to pass budget or revenue legislation would declare themselves either completely ignorant or would falsely presume it takes a majority of their representatives.

Those who blame "Sacramento" in some general undiscriminating way for this idiotic mess clearly are unaware that it is a minority of anti-government zealots who refuse to compromise with the comparably more-sensible (yes, far from perfect) majority on any legislative measures at all who have trundled this State down the road to its current catastrophe, due to an unworkable 2/3rds provision in the Constitution put there and maintained there to ensure just this ideological result.

These Propositions were punts and poison pills, smoke and mirrors diversions of cash from vulnerable citizens to defer the responsibilities of the privileged. Citizens saw through the bullshit (the vanishingly small minority who voted at all, that is). In parroting anti-tax slogans as explanation, the corporate media is essentially taking up the very reactionary rhetoric of the minority who are causing the problem!

Since Democrats are the majority you can be sure they will get the blame for the ideological obstructionism of the minority -- especially if glib reactionary talking points declaring all taxes evil and all politicians equally corrupt whatever their actual differences are the only public noises that get made by anybody.

Taxes are the price you pay for a democratic civilization that works, and there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Aren't the wingnuts supposed to have originated that little piece of homespun wisdom? How on earth people think they are going to have a working government with a functioning legal system and disaster relief in the face of wildfires and pandemics and commerce-enabling infrastucture and all the rest without ever being expected to pay for anything is completely beyond me.

America -- abundant majorities of Californians among them -- have repudiated the infantile libertopian fantasies of Movement Republicanism on the National stage, and I daresay they would be quite as ferocious in their repudiation of this stupidity at the State level too were the facts laid before them in any kind of sustained way.

Democrats need to find a way of dramatizing the stakes of the current crisis, they should whomp up some highly visible campaign demanding our Governor resign in the face of his failure and use the campaign as a shiny object to redirect media attention to Democrats putting the blame where blame is (disproportionately though obviously not entirely) due, blaming Republicans for their obstructionism, their zealotry, their ideological desire for their State to fail.

Either we have to kill the 2/3rds provision or gain a 2/3rds majority -- neither result is going to happen so long as the movement Republican minority continues to wreak havoc with impunity under the cover of no coverage and an echo chamber of utterly discredited and never really credible market fundamentalist talking points.

1 comment:

AnneC said...

Dale wrote: These Propositions were punts and poison pills, smoke and mirrors diversions of cash from vulnerable citizens to defer the responsibilities of the privileged.

Okay, so it wasn't just me who read through the proposition text and got a primary impression of "weaselly" language? Seriously, reading through most of them, my main thoughts were (a) "where the hell did this come from?" and (b) "I'm not sure what this means but I can tell it was written by someone who didn't actually want to make it apparent what they meant".