It's the countdown to the 2016 presidential election and emotions are running high. Since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the Democrats have come to believe that their party will govern in perpetuity. To achieve this, the media manipulates the "news" in order to obfuscate Hillary Clinton's mistakes on Benghazi, her mishandling of top-secret classified government documents, and her questionable ties with donors associated with the Clinton Foundation while serving as Secretary of State. Hillary's behavior draws associations with the "pay for play" practices that caused former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, to end up in jail. Nevertheless, she remains the Democratic candidate for president.
How does Hillary Clinton deflect criticism away from her poor judgment and lack of leadership to tarnish Donald Trump? The answer was evident at a recent fundraiser when she characterized half of all Trump supporters as "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic" and "you name it."
Hillary contends that Donald attracts the most hate-filled, venal, group of Americans, a category she lumps together with the "alt-right" movement she associates with David Duke and "other white supremacists." Indeed, earlier in the election cycle, Democratic strategists tried to link Trump's campaign with that of Vichy France. It bombed. Most Americans have little familiarity with European history, let alone an understanding of the collaborationist ties of the French government with Hitler in World War II.
But why such spurious associations? The goal is to make the case, absent all evidence, that the Trump campaign is tied to some of the most heinous, most evil, most despicable political movements of the 20th century.
The irony of these false accusations should be evident. Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for president, has, over the years, supported both parties, donating significant sums of money to Democrats and Republicans. He's been an advocate for many programs that transcend the political divide between left and right as his child and elder care proposal demonstrates.
Nevertheless, Progressives and the news outlets--with Fox News as the notable exception--have tried to brand him as the most racist and vile populist since Father Coughlin, whose radio broadcasts in the United States during the 1930s had a decidedly anti-Semitic and pro-Fascist tenor that demonstrated his support for Hitler and Mussolini.
The Progressive avowal to win by means fair or foul has led the media to shift from political impartiality to impassioned advocacy of the Democratic Party. As a result, the forum and presidential debates overwhelmingly favor Hillary Clinton. When, occasionally, this strategy fails, Progressives are incensed.
At NBC's "Commander-In-Chief Forum" last week, Matt Lauer neglected to challenge Donald Trump's statement that he had opposed the Iraq war. Progressives were outraged. They had counted on Lauer to undermine Trump's support. However, Lauer demonstrated that he was no Candy Crowley. Crowley, as some of us recall, had inserted her biased partisan perspective into the debate between Romney and Obama to side with Obama, thereby ensuring that he would be perceived as the "winner" in the second and, as it turned out, most influential presidential debate of 2012, ultimately ensuring his reelection. The implication should be clear: A moderator's job today--according to Progressives--is, or should be, to sabotage the Republican candidate for president. No wonder Trump has said, "I think the system is being rigged."
This Progressive outlook is deeply troubling. It suggests that much of our press, many of our Democrats, and potentially a growing number of Americans no longer embrace the concept of a democratically elected government in which candidates for president are impartially questioned by reporters in the interest of delivering the "truth" to voters.
Why? Many Democrats believe that their party should be eternally victorious. They don't want to acknowledge that under Progressive governance these past eight years the economy has faltered and wages of Americans have significantly declined, thereby threatening Hillary's dream of becoming president.
Instead of focusing on how to rebuild America, how to create wealth, and how to empower people to achieve their dreams, the Clinton campaign slogan--the most recent of several used thus far--is "Stronger Together." However, some Democrats, Independents, and the rest of us with longer memories and disquieting thoughts about the declining standard of living can't help being reminded of how her husband, Bill Clinton, in 1992 defeated then sitting president, George H. W. Bush, with a far more memorable slogan: "It's the economy, stupid."
Contrast Hillary's approach with Donald's. His campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" revives the words of Ronald Reagan and with it the memory of how in 1980 he defeated Democratic President Jimmy Carter, whose weak governance and lackluster economy persuaded voters to vote Republican. For Trump, economic opportunity is the engine of prosperity. It fosters growth. It improves wages. It allows Americans--all colors and all creeds from across the social spectrum--to, once again, have the opportunity by means of hard work and ingenuity to achieve the American Dream. Best of all, rebuilding America is the most effective means by which our post-industrial nation can compete in a globally competitive economy. Finally, without economic growth Entitlement Programs are in peril. For their funding relies upon the entrepreneurial engine of prosperity that provides the financial means to support our social programs.
Come November 8th, instead of all those invectives levied at Trump by Progressives, let's ask ourselves one question, nearly identical to that posed by Ronald Reagan to the American people in 1980: "Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?"
Dr. Diana E. Sheets, an iFoundry Fellow and Research Scholar at the University of Illinois, writes literary criticism, political commentary, and fiction. Much of it can be read on her website, www.LiteraryGulag.com.