Randy Evans’ article published yesterday in The Des Moines Register and elsewhere had a fun but misleading title. Neither Party is Immune to Ineptitude oddly equates Democrats’ poor messaging (no one disagrees, super-frustrating!) with Republican corruption and lying. Sadly, most people who see the headline will never read the content of a pretty good article with one major flaw. Evans’ piece while true, was an example of the “both sides” narrative – the idea that Republicans and Democrats are equally bad.
The “both sides” narrative serves Republicans well. It allows people to take refuge in the idea that Democrats are no different from Republicans. I see this all the time with friends who post on Facebook, lamenting how bad “congress” is or “government” or “politicians.” They are always Republican or no-party voters. “Both sides” serves the side whose fault it is. It’s a constant source of frustration when newspapers say at the top of the article that congress or state lawmakers did something but bury any mention of which party was responsible if they mention it at all.
The “both sides” narrative is of course false and harmful when presented in the media. It is a form of denial of the problem. Some would say it is subtle right wing propaganda because it helps Republicans who are the problem and harms Democrats who are the only thing standing between us and the end of American democracy.
Evans slammed Democrats for weak messaging on the Grassley re-election announcement. Fair enough. Why wouldn’t Democrats have a hard time figuring out what to do and say when the other side is lying and cheating and they can’t count on the press anymore to get the truth out there to a large enough numbers of voters. They can’t count on the press asking Republicans follow-up questions or accurately portraying the Democratic point of view on their behalf like they do for Republicans.
I absolutely will concede Democrats are poorly equipped to deal with the GOP lies-and-corruption machine.But consider that Democrats are just regular people. They weren’t installed by the Koch Brothers or the Heritage Foundation. Democrats don’t have professional propagandists. They don’t have the advantage of getting their talking points handed down to them like Republicans do, from Fox News and sophisticated pollsters that gauge reactions to buzzwords, probably originating from Putin. They don’t have anything like ALEC. The Democrats have the old fashioned idea that if they deliver policies that benefit regular people and tell the truth that should be enough to win an election and govern.
Yes, there is no question the Democrats suck at modern messaging in this era of fake news because Democrats unlike Republicans are not trying to manipulate the public into believing lies. Democrats undoubtedly need an updated strategy to deal with the current situation the Republicans have created. But they are not the problem.
Ineffective Democratic messaging was not the only trivial issue being equated to Republican treason. On the Capital Dispatch photo it says, “Leaders of both major political parties seem unable to demonstrate leadership.” Really? President Biden hasn’t shown leadership over and over during his first 8 months in office? That is a blatantly false statement.
President Biden ended the war in Afghanistan as promised, delivered the Covid vaccines on time as promised, put forth the American Rescue Plan with provisions to greatly help regular Americans, came up with an infrastructure and climate plan as promised, to name just a few of the ways President Biden has shown tremendous leadership. With all the things Biden has done Evans picked one appointment not yet made to suggest Biden has shown no leadership.
My beef with the article is this: If Democrats are inept about messaging which no one would argue, still that is not even in the same category as what the Republicans have done and are continuing to do. Republicans have clearly shown that they have given up on Democracy simply because it doesn’t advantage them.
Evans mentioned Grassley who has obstructed, voted against constituents’ interests, and spread false information (e.g., remember “pulling the plug on grandma” and “death panels”). He rightly mentions Marianette Miller-Meeks who deliberately spread fake news about Biden from a satirical website that clearly displayed none of its content was true. Yet Democrats’ weak messaging and one example of Biden not making an appointment are presented as equally wrong, equally problematic, equally inept and examples of poor leadership?? Come on.
Providing false equivalencies that benefit Republicans who attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election that Joe Biden won is not objective journalism. Providing false equivalencies for the party that spreads Q-Anon conspiracies and leaves our schools defenseless against Covid is not objective journalism.
The Iowa press needs to give up the “both sides” narrative and face reality no matter how much they would like to appear bipartisan.
Reality and objective journalism should be the same. “Both sides are equally bad” is fake news. It is a harmful practice that needs to stop.