We’re at the Brink, So We Need to Get Serious

If you’re familiar with American politics and mass media, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that, between January 1st and October 24th of this year, the nightly news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC devoted three times as much coverage to Hillary Clinton’s emails than to all issues of government policy combined (from the Tyndall Report):

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It’s safe to say this imbalance has grown even larger since October 28th. That’s when the Republican FBI Director Robert Comey sent Congress his cryptic letter regarding Anthony Weiner’s laptop. As Comey should have realized (and no doubt did), releasing that letter eleven days before the election led to an explosion of speculation and related discussion, none of which has revealed relevant facts about anything at all except that Trump and his supporters will use any excuse to paint Clinton as corrupt.

The incessant email stories on the broadcast networks and cable news and in leading newspapers has had a bizarre result. From the Gallup polling company:

We found that “email” was by far the most frequently used word when we asked Americans what they had read or heard about Clinton back in August 2015.…As [we] put it then: “When Gallup recently asked Americans to say what they recall reading or hearing about her, one word — ’email’ — drowned out everything else.”

Now we are asking Americans every day the same basic question — what they have read, seen or heard about Clinton — and once again, “email” dominates. For interviews conducted Oct. 28-31, “email” drowns out everything else, particularly anything relating to policy or substance. Indeed, the second-, third- and fourth-most-frequently used words associated with Clinton also relate to emails: “FBI,” “investigation” and “scandal.”

Believe it or not, 46% of voters in a recent poll said that Trump, the most obvious con man ever to run for the Presidency, is more trustworthy than Clinton (only 38% gave her higher marks). When people are asked to explain why they don’t trust Clinton, the most frequent response is, of course, “emails”.

As a minuscule corrective to the mountain of email nonsense that the media, Wikileaks (assisted by Russia, of course) and the FBI (officially and via politically-motivated leaks) have disseminated, here are an article and a video worth considering. You might also share them with friends, acquaintances, antagonists and random citizens before the voting ends on Tuesday.

First, Matthew Yglesias of Vox analyzes the Clinton email story with the aptly titled: “The Real Clinton Email Scandal Is That a Bullshit Story Has Dominated the Campaign”. He explains what Clinton did and shows why we shouldn’t care. An excerpt:

Clinton broke no laws according to the FBI itself. Her setup gave her no power to evade federal transparency laws beyond what anyone who has a personal email account of any kind has. Her stated explanation for her conduct is entirely believable, fits the facts perfectly, and is entirely plausible to anyone who doesn’t simply start with the assumption that she’s guilty of something.

Given [Secretary Colin] Powell’s conduct, Clinton wasn’t even breaking with an informal precedent. The very worst you can say is that, faced with an annoying government IT policy, she used her stature to find a personal workaround rather than a systemic fix that would work for everyone. To spend so much time on such a trivial matter would be absurd in a city council race, much less a presidential election. To do so in circumstances when it advances the electoral prospects of a rival who has shattered all precedents in terms of lacking transparency or basic honesty is infinitely more scandalous than anything related to the server itself.

And here is an eight-minute video uploaded today by Humanity for Hillary. It features Daveed Diggs and is called “Clinton vs. Trump on the Issues”:

Finally, a few words from Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine

However low my opinion of the Republican Party, it was not low enough….This is not a joke. This is one of the moments in history when the republic is at the brink.

Republican voters chose Trump. Republican donors have supported Trump. Republican politicians, even those who condemned him as a charlatan totally unfit to be President, have endorsed Trump. Others have remained silent. There are no excuses for what they’ve done. But now we have the chance to teach them a lesson. We need to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot. Only an historic, stinging defeat for the Republican Party will protect America and the world from getting this close to the brink the next time someone as dangerously abnormal as Trump wants the ability to launch nuclear missiles.