Human Rights & Democracy

November 22, 2022: Missing the Picture

Posted on November 22, 2022 at 12:00 AM

by Elizabeth Clark, Chair, Democracy and Human Rights Task Force

Republican takeover of the House of Representatives is indeed significant, although what should we make of the launching of their major program as the investigation of the President’s son Hunter Biden? This does not have even the pretense of an exciting new Republican policy agenda, let alone one addressing the issues the American public has said they care about, such as inflation. Furthermore, they seem not to see that the American public has also made it clear in the election results that they care about the division in American politics and want to have greater unity in the country.

Before the elections, the talk was all about a new “red wave” coming, mostly from an analysis of historical midterm elections and their impact on the party in power. Where was the big-picture journalist who saw that this was a very different situation?

When Roe v Wade was repealed something else significant happened: in election coverage the listing of issues that the American public “cared about” all of a sudden led with the issue of democracy. This dramatic change on the listings did not get any dramatic change in media commentary, even though even a semi-sharp analysis of the elections was clear on the lack of voter interest in aggressive confrontational partisan politics. But we are back to that now.

The elections produced an “anti-red wave” that was pronounced—but no one seemed to notice. Because no one noticed or talked about why no “red wave,” journalists could go back to the other elections mantra of focus on small issues that Americans care about like the cost of groceries on their kitchen table.

Actually, Americans showed in their elections that they cared about the bigger issues, not only the personal rights of individual Americans being guarded, but the encouragement of civility and good feeling in the public realm.

Journalists should have been digging in to the general message the American public was conveying in the elections and also to the “kitchen table” issues. “I work for Walmart and don’t get a minimum living wage. The head of Walmart is happy with that and wants elections to give him more billions in tax cuts he can park on some yacht in the Aegean.”

Trump is a threat to democracy, even more as he falls back into a Twitterish reality. We need all our media to be sharper eyed.

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