Apparently this video by the Lincoln Project, entitled “Mourning in America” (a sad riff on the famous Ronald Reagan ad), really got Trump worked up into an “unhinged rant” on Twitter:
“Americans are asking, ‘if we have another four years like this, will there even be an America?'”
Seriously? Why do you share this trash? This is the absolute worst that elections have to offer. The people who made this ad should be ashamed of themselves. Of course it got Trump worked up. And it should get you worked up too. And it should get anyone worked up who is in any way concerned with reality, good government, and with living in harmony with our neighbors. This ad should be condemned as fear mongering and as nothing better than what Trump himself has to offer.
These are the ads that should be made, that should be shed light on, that should be praised, and should be shared:
Boy from Hope
Yes We Can
I take this as raising two unrelated questions.
1) Are the Lincoln Project repubicans making these ads making the “right sort of ads” or should they be making uplifting ads like in your examples. Your examples are ads by campaigns. But the ad I blogged wasn’t by Biden, Biden’s buddies, or anyone who has anything to do with Biden: it’s an independent group. And, every modern campaign manual says, it pays for those groups to go negative. So just tactically, yes, those are the type of ad that this type of group should be making to have an effect on the race, in part because it’s much harder for the Biden campaign to do so directly.
But that’s just tactics. Morally, I don’t at all see the problem with tying Trump to the tens of thousands of deaths he is most singly reponsible for.
Let’s suppose one were willing to say the destruction of the US preparedness for pandemics was justified by a focus on competing priorities (e.g. preparing for anthrax attacks by terrorists or something). I don’t think I buy that, but that kind of hindsight deserves a tiny dose of caution. Even so, I cannot see any justification for pissing away February, March, and — by all accounts — April. A proper response would by no means have kept the death toll at zero, but we could have achieved something almost as good as South Korea’s curve rather than the mess we are now in.
So, yes, I think the ad is justified.
2) Why would I post the ad? See #1. Plus the fact that our head of government lashes out on Twitter is a fact of interest. I don’t read his tweets directly, I get my info about them from sources like the Washington Post column that Iinked to, which was in fact the inspiration for this particular post. (By the way, he thought it was worth linking to also.)
As to whether people really are asking if the country can survive four more years of this guy, yes, I personally know people who ask that question in all seriousness. And it seems more reasonable every day.
Your response opens an unfortunate pandora’s box of material for me to disagree with. But I will focus on where I tried to start, this ad is reprehensible and has no place in civil society. This ad and others like it speak to a race to the bottom. And, indeed, the “modern campaign manual” surely encourages this race to the bottom. And, the bottom is where we have come to rest. The result of the “modern campaign manual” is a trashy-as-the-ads POTUS, bitter partisanship, and a dysfunctional democracy. It sickens me. And it saddens me that thoughtful and intelligent people like you continue to reach for the “modern campaign manual” in defense of this trash.
My comments, expressed more simply, are summed up as follows: the ends do not justify the means.
I believe the biggest flaw in your argument is failing to note how low a point we hit before the ad: Kids in cages, Pandemic ignored and at times encouraged.
The ad makers can hardly be blamed for dealing with the world as it is. Charging them with incivility seems to me to be besides the point. It reminds me of the outrage people expressed at signs saying to “Fuck the Draft” during Vietnam. Not a way people should talk at Yale, profs I knew who had lived through it would still say 20 years later. And the argument that the war was a barbarity that required some incivility in response did not alter the course of their sherry.
I would argue that we got to “kids in cages” by desensitizing and dividing. And that this ad, and others like it by both parties, are the cause of, and not the solution to, many of our problems.
I respect that this is your blog, and that as the author, you should rightly have the last word. So, absent some really compelling further comment, I will leave it here.
I am truly perplexed by the apparent suggestion that the barbarity and stupidity of the Trump administration can in any way shape or form be laid at the feet of the people who oppose those things.
I imagine that the argument goes something like, all those people who voted for Trump did so because they were driven to it by the “dividing” caused by Evil Liberals. But that’s just — excuse the technical term — nuts. Trump won a Republican primary in which voters apparently decided that right-wing crackpots like Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul were … hold on … too liberal? Or too something? How does both siderism partisanship figure into that?
Trump then campaigned on the fantasy that Mexico would pay for a wall between our countries. This delusion was treated by voters not as a sign of mental illness or pathological mendacity or at least unhinged relationship to reality, but rather as a charming enticement. The idea, I suppose, is that ‘tribalism’ and ‘partisanship’ — always found of ‘both sides’ of course — is to blame for people actually casting ballots for this.
Democrats ran a quite middle-of-the-road candidate (as they are about to do again), one committed to the consensus militarism of the two-party establishment. This is divisive partisanship? I fault not the partisanship of Trump’s opponents, but rather the absence of it. A candidate from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party might have brought more people to the polls. To be fair, one also might well blame their (her) rather limited electoral competence.
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