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When They Flood the Zone with Sh*t, Flush It Out with the Cold Water of Truth

Never despair and never surrender – people have gotten through much worse in history, against much greater odds, and come out the other end triumphant.

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By Kindler

Yes, this is a tough moment to be a Democrat – or even just a democrat, i.e., someone who believes in democracy. But wallowing or crying or rolling up into a ball sure isn’t going to help. Nor should we expect the Avengers to descend from the sky to save our butts. No, we’re going to have to get through this one ourselves – holding our heads high in good spirits to trudge through this mud and come through it with our sanity and our country relatively intact.

Please understand that it’s not your fault if you feel confused, disoriented and frustrated by what’s going on in our politics and with our ridiculous Washington press and pundit corps right now. That’s the intended outcome.

One of the most revealing statements of the MAGA era was when former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon confessed to an interviewer in 2018: “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with sh*t.” We must keep this quote in mind at times like this when the sewage is pouring uncontrollably out of every major media outlet in America.

What Bannon was proclaiming is a very different approach to politics than that to which Americans are accustomed, which is why we – and the media especially– have found it so hard to adapt to.  This is where relying on scholars of totalitarianism and “strongman” rule, like Timothy Snyder, Jason Stanley and Ruth Ben-Ghiat, as well as past historians and philosophers who observed these phenomena directly, like Hannah Arendt, becomes critical.

The MAGA propagandists are not really trying to convince you, they’re trying to confuse you and upset you in ways that make you feel helpless and make you turn away from politics and even the truth itself.  I mean, when a media figure compares his own product to poop and says that his approach to it is not to simply supply it to his audience but to swamp the discourse with it, it speaks volumes about his intent.

They don’t want to win you over, they want to overwhelm you. And that is the one thing we absolutely can’t allow them to do.

As Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell’s 1984, described the totalitarian hell in which he lived, “Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” So let’s work on keeping our gray matter clear and shout out our clear understandings loudly and often enough to compete with the chaos artists.

But let’s be honest: designing, marketing and disseminating a message does not come easily to most Democrats.  Many of us are well-educated folks who have learned to elevate our speech rather than to lower it to the third-grade level at which Trump and his imitators speak to the masses.  We don’t like to repeat ourselves much, even though the many years of endless advertising we have all experienced makes clear that repetition is key to getting your message across.

While Republicans operate as pack animals that clearly prefer not thinking for themselves, Democrats are more like independent, hard-to-herd cats.  And unfortunately, the media loves to exploit the qualities of both sides in order to make money.  They create headlines and social media posts aimed at giving MAGA types ammunition while writing stories that play on Democrats’ anxieties. As a result, our politics ends up like a gruesome encounter between a sadist and a masochist, with the media making sure to supply an ample number of blindfolds and whips.

Bottom line: as we will never benefit from playing the game this way, we need to do all we can to change the rules of the game.

No, you and I don’t have the wherewithal to buy the New York Times or CNN to revamp their coverage.  But we each have our own platforms and spheres of influence where we can do our part to change the conversation.  And these ripple effects can be powerful – I’ve seen such progressive message campaigns reverberate across the landscape and have an impact many times.

The one thing we must avoid doing is reinforcing the official narrative where it is not helpful for those of us who seek to preserve American democracy. Please focus on disseminating our messages and not inadvertently spreading theirs.

My favorite pundit, Simon Rosenberg, shows how it’s done – positively, happily, with attention to facts, key audiences and opportunities.  He’s got a terrific, simple message for Democrats: “Do more, worry less.” And no, he’s not afraid of repetition – which may sound strange or annoying to Democratic ears but is exactly what we need to do to get our messages out.

Focus on getting the job done – convincing friends, family, neighbors and strangers to vote for the presidential candidate with a heart, a soul and a brain, and against the one with none of the above.  Get off social media or mainstream media when it’s bothering you and engage in action to elect Democrats, to energize yourself and others to win the long war to save our country, our planet and our freedoms.  Never despair and never surrender – people have gotten through much worse in history, against much greater odds, and come out the other end triumphant.

Flood the zone with facts, with passion, with honesty, with goodness, with intelligence – with everything you’ve got.  And don’t for one minute accept the sh*t they try to dish out to us. We all deserve better and it’s up to us to turn the tide in the right direction.

Please check out my Substack.

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