Cultural Assumptions and Irresponsible Journalism

After reading over the many letters supporting various Republican candidates in our local paper, the Central Virginian over the course of these past two months, it struck me not only how similar they were, but how many half-truths and exaggerations these “personal” endorsements contained.  Nor does our local paper appear to be immune from this form of revisionism. Take their two front page articles in last weeks edition; the candidate forum in Mineral, and the passing of the former chair of the Republican Party of Virginia

Perhaps they expect their readers to believe that after parroting Congressman Tom Garrett’s claim that he “…brought credibility and virtue back to the state GOP,” that they’ve done their duty. That nobody would remember the RPV’s toxic legacy under his leadership; which saw some of the most extreme deeds (voter gerrymandering and suppression) by the General Assembly and the most radical legislators (Garrett and Reeves) in living memory.

While the CV did note in their piece on the Mineral candidate forum that because of the Chamber of Commerce’s “concerns” about having a collegial affair, none of the candidates were asked any “difficult” questions. Yet somehow,  failed to notice that those measures affected everyone’s ability to communicate freely and openly.  And it’s precisely where local notions of “get along to go along” have come to mean something entirely different.

 It’s also worth noting that the CV’s lack of scrutiny about how this “event” was conducted was in direct contrast to printing Mr. Skare’s observations about learning more about the candidate’s by listening to them, and that some were “…looking for a job.”  As for their antediluvian claim that there are no “stark differences” between Republican candidates, it’ a convenient social convention … I mean fiction, one which pointedly ignores the reality that all of these Republican candidates are preaching variations of Dominionist prosperity gospel.

And if you’re unfamiliar with this constellation of pseudo-religious attitudes, you’re not alone. It’s a belief system among certain Christians which states that if one has faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity. And only through faith, speech and deeds, and of course donations can they increase their own material wealth. And the Republican Party has tapped into that ideology, reinforcing it with their American’s for Prosperity flavored prosperity gospel.

It’s a  “philosophy” which has its roots in the fringe libertarian John Bircher movement of the 1950’s.  An ideology which has transformed from a myopic focus on limited government over the ensuing decades into something far more insidious and dangerous, a radical right organization, backed by an interlocking cartel of think tanks, research centers, and unlimited money.

Money from sources known and unknown, like the Koch brothers, who have made no secret over the years about their sponsorship of groups like; AFP, ALEC and multiple think tanks.  What most people don’t know is that the Koch’s have taken this game to an entirely different level, using the legal chicanery of 501c3 non-profit advocacy groups to conceal the sources of their funding of political groups and politician’s from the public eye.

The use of “Dark Money” has exploded since the Supreme Courts 2010 Citizen’s v. United decision, and as this past election made clear, the Koch’s aren’t the only billionaire’s playing this game. Like Robert Mercer, who through the use of data analytics, micro-targeting, social media and quite possibly Russian collusion, was able to spread his messages with surgical precision, by passing the Republican Party altogether.

With the final product being our first Manchurian Candidate … I mean useful idiot President. And since Republicans have always been the party of money and corporate interests, they have chosen to respond to this existential threat to our government by adopting a “if you cant’ beat them, join them” mindset, doubling down on every wild authoritarian and free market fantasy imaginable. Knowing full well that any standards of acceptable behavior have been and continue to be shattered by the Cheeto faced, ferret wearing, shitgibbon occupying the White House.

And the Koch’s have found their own way around this impasse, working behind the scenes in Congress to get legislation favorable to their interests and profits passed, using groups like ALEC and AFP to spread their propaganda to the masses.   At the some time, this “support” serves as a firewall for Republicans, particularly at the state level, where they don’t even need to speak in “code” to appeal to and control the faithful.

They can just use ideas provided by organizations like ALEC and AFP to give the appearance of having any values. Using words carefully crafted to project the vaguest notions of an unrestricted “free market,” and even less defined aspirational goals of “protecting our liberties,” and exercising “personal responsibility.”

And these distractions work, because they feed into lingering social, economic, and racial resentments, all carefully packaged to maximize their supporters anger and sense of outrage

like this flier from one of the Republicans running for the 56th House of Delegates seat.

What most of their supporters appear to be unaware of is that whenever the Republicans anything goes free market interpretation of our laws, the constitution etc are implemented, the result is almost always the exact opposite of whatever they are claiming to be protecting.

Republicans long ago ceased to the Party of conservatism, they don’t conserve anything, and are the instrument of their wealthy masters, using their willful denial of basic scientific and economic principles to shamelessly promote the unconscionable accumulation and hoarding of wealth. Unbridled greed which is driving massive increases in the use of fossil fuels which will only accelerate the devastation they are wreaking on the planet.

Whenever they are asked about that discrepancy between their stated positions and their actions, their standard response has is to provide a litany of half truths, exaggerations and distractions from the reality of their Party’s actions.

Much like George Goodwin’s claims that he “helped” get legislature through the General Assembly. Perhaps, but since he’s unwilling to acknowledge or take any “credit” for legislative debacles like Garrett’s infamous “Nunchuckbill, it does raise questions about just how much influence over Party extremists like Peake, Reeves; and now Congressman Garrett, or legislative affairs did he have?

Speaking of extremists; it’s been said that you can judge someone by the company they keep, and Graven Craig has been very busy brown-nosing with the Freedom Caucus and the Tea Party, embracing their retrograde ideas, determined to show that he’s a “disciple” of the faith.

And it remains to be seen if the recently concluded Candidate Forum at Goochland High School this past Saturday attracts many Louisa County residents, or succeeds in changing their minds.

But should you find yourself undecided on the candidates then make it a point to come to the Louisa Street Festival on the 10th of June, and meet some of these candidates, and ask them hard questions.

You will learn far more from watching them relate to others than you would from the CV’s  candidate “profiles,” or a thousand opinions.

Jon Taylor

Editors Note: The shorter version of this letter which was submitted to our local paper, the Central Virginian was not published in their June 8th “rebuttal” edition.

Nor was it any surprise to see them go out of their way to promote their preferred narrative,  changing the rules they posted on their editorial page the previous week.

As we do each election year, The Central Virginian will impose restrictions on letters of a political nature to ensure fairness. Election letters to the editor will be accepted through Monday, May 29. We will only allow rebuttal letters in the June 8 issue and they are due by June 5 at 5 p.m

A problem free philosophy which starts with crowding out any local letters, filling 2/3’rds of their op-ed page with syndicated content, accompanied by a Q & A for the candidates that was so generic, it was the least they could do to “inform” their readers.