Sherrod Brown’s Reelection Crucial to America's Future
You may be thinking that headline is melodramatic and hyperbolic. But it’s not. The election of Josh “The Empty Suit” Mandel to Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat would be a harbinger of the end of the American democracy.
This doesn’t have anything to do with the candidates and what they do or don’t believe, what their track record is, what kind of job they’ve done previously in elected office, or how informed they are about important policy issues.
Of course, Sherrod Brown is infinitely more qualified than Josh Mandel. Both have spent their adult lives in public office. But Brown has amassed a commendable record of defending working people, developing a particular expertise in trade issues. Mandel gets elected, showboats a little, and accomplishes nothing of note, because he’s busy planning his next step up the ladder.
But it isn’t about that.
It’s about money and lies. It’s about whether, with enough money, you can get away with saying literally anything over and over and sneering in the face of anyone who tries to call you out on it. It’s about whether money can buy you the ability to hide yourself and what you believe until a shocked and stunned public has voted for you.
There’s been a lot of chatter about Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican convention yesterday and how it was fundamentally, unprecedentedly false.
Tis morning II clicked on a post this morning on Huffington Post (yeah, I know) that said “Ryan Slammed Over Speech Mistakes." When the link went to Fox News, I thought it was me who’d made a mistake, and re-tried it several times.
Nope. It linked to a FoxNews.com article called “Ryan’s Speech in Three Words.” The three words: Dazzling (style points — guy you’d like to chat with at a soccer game). Deceiving. Distracting.”
Among other things, it said,
To anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.
What people are saying today — and what I am shaking my head over — is that they’ve never seen anything like this. Politicians spin. They make empty promises. They claim they care about things they don’t. They omit parts of their record to make themselves look better and they edit their opponents’ remarks to make them look worse. They make mountains out of molehills like the ginned-up Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayres controversies in 2008. They pooh-pooh their opponents’ accomplishments as irrelevant and inflate their own.
What they haven’t done previously is built a campaign on a web of lies which they repeat over and over and over, even though now — also unprecedented — the mainstream media is calling them out on them, over and over and over.
Paul Ryan lied that President Obama did nothing to stop the closing of a GM plant in Ryan’s district — which closed while Bush was President. He lied again about the President cutting $700 billion from Medicare — a savings not a cut.
And he repeated the “You didn’t build that” lie that the Republicans have designed their whole convention around: the lie that President Obama wants to give government credit for the efforts of private enterprise. (He was actually talking about infrastructure like roads and bridges). So the entire convention was rotten at the roots.
Josh Mandel is pulling the same scam in Ohio — only worse. He spent a year and a half scoffing at the voters by refusing to take positions on all but a handful of issues. And he and his big-money backers have run a campaign based on shameless lies — about just about everything. He’s even lied about the fact that these supporters exist, crying crocodile tears about being outspent by Sherrod Brown. But thanks to these secretive SuperPacs, someone(s) whose identity Ohio voters can’t know has spent $15 million — way more than Brown has spent — on ads attacking Brown on Mandel’s behalf. And virtually all those ads have been flat-out lies.
Mandel isn’t running on his accomplishments, which he doesn’t have, or his voting record in the legislature, which he tries not to talk about. He’s not running on a set of ideas or specific policies. When he’s been pushed into taking a position, it’s usually a reflexive endorsement of current Republican thinking. But like I said, he’s mostly dodged taking positions. He’s running on the hope that with enough money, he can destroy his opponent and get voters to pick a cipher of a candidate on the grounds that “Gee, Brown is so awful, let’s try someone new.”
What if it works — either for Mandel or for Romney/Ryan? You have now banished every vestige of truth from the public sphere by showing that it’s irrelevant. You have proven that he who has the most money need never consider the needs, interests, or beliefs of the public again. You don’t have to engage them ever except on YOUR terms — and your terms are based on lies. We will almost certainly have seen the last of debates and forums where candidates at least make a show of putting on public display what they stand for. At that point, democracy and government in this country is are irretrievably broken.
And if Mandel wins, it will show that if you spend enough money to savage your opponent that voters will choose a candidate who has revealed next to nothing — an Empty Suit whose votes are bought and paid for by a host of special interests. But voters had no way of knowing that. And who’s going to get through to a public made cynic by the endless lies to the point where they won’t know truth if they hear it?
If Ohio voters reward an unqualified candidate with unpopular positions whose main asset is to cultivate people who can spend money on his behalf and whose truthlessness is almost absolute, they will have led the nation into a dark place.