We will miss this voice
Last year we barely celebrated the season since we were looking down the barrel of what had the makings of the worst presidency in the history of this country and perhaps one of the worst mistakes in history. Less than a year since the inauguration and our worst fears are being borne out.
Throughout the year our spirits were lifted by a massive and sustained resistance to administration policies whether by the huge outpouring of calls to elected officials, marches in the streets, court challenges and an increasing challenge to the administration both in congress and in the news media.
Now it feels like in one fell swoop much of the gains have been muted when what appears to be a concerted effort on the right has brought down one of the most intelligent and most pugnacious voices on the left in what feels like a matter of weeks.
Of course it hasn’t been a matter of weeks. Al Franken has been a loud and proud critic of the right for a long time. From at least the days of Bill O’Reilly, Franken has been the object of the hunt. Franken had been one of the leaders in poking holes in the inflated egos of the right wing blowhards from his small base on AirAmerica radio. Despite the right wing owning nearly all the media, Franken was able to get his message out and keep the right at bay to some degree.
In a near repeat of what happened to Hillary Clinton, after years of unprovoked attacks and misleading stories, right wing media was able to exploit an opening and divide Democrats on Franken. So, while the right wing attack machine did the set up, it was Democrats themselves who landed the fatal blow.
While losing Franken is bad enough what his resignation portends is kind of frightening. First off is the nature of the charges against Franken. In a matter of degree they are light years less than accusations against Roy Moore and the admissions on recordings by Donald Trump. Yet in a purity purge Democrats insisted on throwing Franken out without any hearing. What does that say to other Democrats that may be accused of some misdeed?
Maybe I am wrong, but it appears that Franken had been the target of a Republican hunt mostly because he called them on their BS in plain and simple language. Witness the way he made Jeff Sessions squirm and even lie. Who else has been targeted by Republicans and demands real answers? How about Elizabeth Warren? How about Kamala Harris? How about Ron Wyden? Fraken’s demise will only embolden the Republican hit machine. Will it in turn stifle some of the criticism coming from Democrats?
There is also the question what this will do to Democratic turnout in the fall elections. You can bet the somewhat covert members of the right wing attack machine that pose as “local” stations but are actually owned by the likes of Sinclair on the TV side and Clear Channel on the radio side will be pushing the “both sides are the same” message to try to suppress votes even more than they are already suppressed.
Finally this pushes Minnesota into electing both senators, a governor and all members of the House in the 2018 election. That will be a heavy lift for the Dems (or DFL in Minnesota) next year.
Since Nixon and especially since the days of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove and now with the help of Russians, Republicans have exploited every trick there is for taking power and invented new ways. Extreme gerrymandering, vote suppression, closing polling places, untraceable voting machines, control of most of the media and now taking control of the internet and micro targeting on the internet.
As Ben Franklin said “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”