Media, hot off years of self-flagellation over supposedly missing the story of 2016 election, is missing the story of the 2020 election, which is not about any horse race, but the rapid turn towards violent conspiratorial totalitarianism in Trump's millions-strong base.
Journalists are so addicted to the "Who's up in Florida? What's fundraising look like?" style of coverage, that they're continuing to obsess over it while prominent allies of the president call for violent purges and the seizing of ballot boxes.
Trump himself is echoing this rhetoric, saying he can't lose without fraud, talking about "insurrection." It's dismissed as unserious chatter because it doesn't fit into the horse-race frame. If you reduce all of politics to a 538 poll model, this stuff looks like so much noise.
America's political punditry industrial complex has been a dead weight on journalism for many years, slowly taking over newsrooms.

But now, its inability to comprehend any information that doesn't affect swing-state polling is actively blinding us to an impending disaster.
To put it very bluntly, here's how our media works right now:

Trump: "I can't legitimately lose the election. Anyone who opposes this is an insurrectionist. Retribution killings are necessary. "

Media: "Is this important? That depends on how Florida swing voters react to it."
The election does not supersede all other questions of law or morality or society. It's just a process conducted by our government, as one part of that government. It's totally backwards to ignore attacks on the whole system in favor of focusing on the minutiae of the election.
There is no rational justification for the journalistic primacy of election coverage.

What's happening is that a lot of our pundits are, essentially, sports fans. And the sport they are fans of is "elections." And like a lot of sports fans, they've totally lost perspective.

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More from @whstancil

22 Sep
One myth that's helping destroy our democracy:

The idea that "public opinion" is something that exists independently of elite opinion, a mysterious collective force with deep economic and social precursors, knowable only through polls, but guiding all political outcomes.
The relationship between "public opinion" and political and social elites is perceived as the relationship between a pond and bugs skimming over the surface of the pond. The pond affects the bugs but is unaffected by them.

But that's totally wrong.
Society isn't made up of some mystical volk around which we all maneuver. It's a bunch of social links and hierarchies, and our political and social elites are perched at the top of them. They're not irrelevant to the public or at its mercy; they're the most powerful part of it.
Read 10 tweets
22 Sep
I'm not on board for this. Eliminating judicial reviews means eliminating Brown, Roe v. Wade, Loving v. Virginia, much of the Bill of Rights, the principle of one person-one vote, and so much more.…
It's easy to say "Grr judges bad," but a lot of fundamental principles we take for granted are rooted in the idea that US laws are cabined by the Constitution.
Also, the problem with the current moment is that the court is overwhelmingly appointed by a party who has won the popular once since 1984, increasingly through illegitimate, norm-busting means. And that includes the lower courts too. That's not a problem with judicial review.
Read 4 tweets
22 Sep
I thought Times journalists weren’t supposed to be taking sides. This is taking a side.
Of course. The universal political correspondent language: rolling your eyes at anyone who isn’t a Republican or 90-year old decrepit Democratic moderate
Hey @nytimes, huge numbers of Democrats feel very passionately about both the filibuster and the SCOTUS situation. I am very troubled that your political reporters appear to believe this is an absurd and childish position.
Read 5 tweets
21 Sep
Correct: if you're worried about backlash to expanding the courts, just do it early. Remember how 90% of the earth-shattering events of the Trump administration seemed to be forgotten a couple months later? The public has a short memory.
This gets to a deeper truth:

Usually, despite the pundit/Democratic obsession with polls, public opinion just doesn't matter in politics. Most political events simply don't end up affecting elections. Outcomes are a product of elite decisions, not nebulous public sentiment.
Republicans do incredibly unpopular things all the time - like, things that poll -30 or -40 against. It doesn't matter! The public only gets to weigh in periodically, indirectly, and a lot of other factors affect that decision. For the most part, it's fine to ignore the public.
Read 5 tweets
19 Sep
The Dems can't use the government funding bill to DIRECTLY obstruct a Supreme Court appointment. But they can absolutely use it to throw sand in the gears, by, say, passing a funding bill that the Senate can't really accept without further negotiation.
Dems run the House, there is absolutely nothing stopping them from making serious demands or even kicking a bill over to the Senate with provisions on oversight/elections/stimulus that will require a lot of additional work. You can be creative here.
Everyone has spent the last 18 hours saying "Wow, we should emulate McConnell and use all the levers at our disposal."

Guess what! A government funding bill is exactly one of those levers! And right now, Pelosi is planning on just doing nothing at all with it.
Read 4 tweets
18 Sep
This is the solution. If McConnell breaks his own rule to pack the court, then Dems have to promise to do the same.
Okay, here's what the plan has to be.

They won't confirm someone pre-election, there's no time. And there's a math problem: Grassley said he wouldn't do a nominee in 2020, Kelly takes office immediately if he wins, Murkowski seems reluctant too.
Dems HAVE to immediately promise that any movement on a nominee this presidential term will be treated as a declaration of war and will guarantee court-packing as reprisal. That means, post-election, if Dems retake the Senate (and Biden wins), the GOP has a dilemma.
Read 5 tweets

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