The End of Roe v. Wade

I never thought I would live to see the day when Roe v. Wade was overturned. Yesterday, when my phone blew up with the news, I was quietly thankful. I believe that the RVW decision was wrongfully resolved and was an abomination on legal, moral, constitutional and scientific grounds.

I was thankful, but I did not celebrate.

One of my biggest reasons for opposing legal abortion is due to its origins in eugenics. That point was driven home to me yesterday as I browsed the predictably angry tweet storm from the left. More than a few justified the need for abortion based on the notion that the disabled cannot have quality of life. Implicit in their arguments is the real notion that those who are deemed as the caretakers of the disabled cannot have true quality of life. This idea should send chills down the spines of everyone who claims to champion diversity, equity and inclusion. In particular, it should give serious pause to everyone in the disabled community. Yet, in this great paradoxical age in which we now live, I don’t expect much introspection along those lines.

I am glad to see the end of RVW. Yet, two people whom I consider to be good friends are not glad. They are angry. I believe their deep feelings of anger, sadness and betrayal come from a place of good faith. One is a gay woman who is fearful that the reversal of RVW foreshadows the eventual overturning of gay marriage. The other woman has her own personal reasons for championing the rights of women to have autonomy over their own bodies. I will not lord this victory over them (or anyone) using the popular Trumpian tactic of, “Owning the libs.” It is a time for quiet reflection and preparation as the battle over abortion now comes back to the states.

My final point is simple, but not simplistic. Whoever sheds the first blood in the name of political righteousness will lose the battle for public opinion. Mark these words well. The first dead judge, or politician, or clinic worker, or feminist activist will take your side back to the days of the bombing of abortion clinics and dead doctors that retarded the cause of the pro-life movement in the public consciousness for decades. I firmly condemn the violence of political extremism, just as I have condemned the muted violence of abortion.

Slow Joe

In reaction to President Biden’s State of the Union address, many of those on the right have addressed his increasing tendency to speak in a garbled, mush-mouthed style. This is an obvious avenue of attack. Some, particularly those in the disabled community, take offense. The sentiments are best expressed by a young woman who commented on a friend’s Facebook thread in response to several people who were mocking Biden’s verbal mishaps at the podium:

“FYI, laughing at someone’s speech issues is ableist and stupid. Say what you will about his politics, but the man is trying. Speech impairments are real and don’t downgrade someone’s intelligence. Grow up!”

The poster of this comment is 20 years old. She was born just after the time that George W. Bush became president. I was 25 when GWB was elected and 33 when he left office. I remember well the field day that the press, Democrats, comedians and my personal friends (many of them disabled) had with President Bush’s flagrant malapropisms, spoonerisms, stutters and other verbal blunders at the microphone. None of them had any compunction about taking shots at everything from Bush’s IQ to his heritage to his personal appearance.

The difference between 2001 and now is the size of the stage. The internet was still up and coming and social media was not woven into the fabric of our lives. Now, all of you SJW types have a much bigger church in which to profess your beliefs on Sunday, while quietly sinning the other six days of the week. Your outrage is performative in public, carefully designed to check all the right boxes for professional and social capital. You guys are the new family values Republican coalition, mouthing all the right words in front of the cameras in the Congressional chambers, while meeting your mistress at midnight. It’s all well and good to defend Slow Joe, but you’ll take your shots at whomever the GOP nominee will be in 2024 and anything and everything will be fair game in the name of justice, right? After all, politics is the ultimate contact sport.

As for Biden, the notion that he is a victim of a childhood speaking malady as abject horseshit! All you need do is search out his public speeches (both prepared and extemporaneous) from several years ago to see that his speech patterns have degraded of late. He is very likely a victim of old age. So, you’ll likely switch to your next tactic. “Ryan, knock off the ageist bullshit!” I was also 33 years old when John McCain ran against Barack Obama for president. Did any of you leftist snipers care about ageism then? If you answer with any word other than, “Nope,” then heaven bless you for a little fibber. I wonder if any of my disabled friends were outraged when Vice-president Biden told a guy in a wheelchair to stand up. Or did you choose to memory hole that episode as President Biden memory holed Afghanistan the other night?

The reality of the situation is that Joe Biden is a tepid leader who would not have been well suited to the presidency at 40, let alone at 79. His one function was to insure that Donald Trump was voted out of office. He succeeded. All of the rest of this drama is a ridiculous holding pattern while we wait for 2024.

In the meantime, I have no sympathy for President Biden on any front. All I have to do is rerun his Vice-Presidential debate with Paul Ryan in 2012 and watch Biden’s treatment of Ryan to remind myself of what a mean, nasty shithead Uncle Joe really is.

So, bring on the partisan ableism, ageism and all of the other isms, and please do me the courtesy of foregoing the finger-wagging and speak to me with your true voices. I prefer unvarnished honesty to the fraud of performative politics.

Betrayal: Part Two

I get it.

There’s a reason why I pasted Erick Erickson’s letter in this blog. It resonated. You live with something for years until it becomes part of you. Every day, it stares back at you from the depths of the mirror, but you’re so used to it that you can’t see it. You don’t know when it became a part of you. You don’t know when you learned to live with it. But you know it’s there. Kind of like being fat. One day, you put your pants on and your belt is tighter and you have to go up a notch. You don’t know when it happened, but you know why it happened.

It feels as if the last six years of my life have been rife with betrayal. In 2015, I was a Republican. I held a certain set of conservative beliefs that informed my world view. My daily enmeshment in a hostile work environment where my beliefs were constantly challenged, assaulted and ridiculed only strengthened them. Those who identified as liberals and progressives in my life acted predictably. The derisive barbs, the clumsy baiting in the break room, the pointedly unsubtle conversations within earshot, the mocking laughter were all true to form for leftists. At some point, I stopped arguing, recognizing the futility of any attempt at constructive dialogue. Mike Rosen and conservative allies on social media were my quiet workplace refuge.

It was one thing to be assailed by liberals. It was quite another when the party I believed in slowly surrendered to a hostile external force that sought not to change it for the better, but to erode it for the sole purpose of self-glorification.

In April of 2016, I attended the Colorado state Republican convention in Colorado Springs. I heard a lot of dialogue during that day. Most of it was healthy and respectful. Some of it was unhealthy and toxic. All of it was robust. I had no inkling that five years later, the GOP would be transformed into a monoculture of personality held hostage to the ego of one man.

I didn’t leave the GOP after Trump was elected. I recognized that most of the people who voted for him did so for reasons of pragmatism. He wasn’t their first choice in the primaries and they were stuck with him. Trump was not the final straw for me. That honor belonged to Roy D. Moore, a senatorial candidate in Alabama who had quite apparently sexually harassed a number of women. The GOP didn’t care and happily endorsed him. Apparent electoral victories had blinded them to reality. That was when I walked away.

That was over four years ago. Nothing the Republicans have done in the interval have made me regret my decision to leave. On the contrary, their subsequent words and deeds, particularly after Election Day, 2020 have only shown me that I made the right choice in walking away. The putrid resolution passed a week ago censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, while simultaneously labeling January 6th as, “Legitimate political discourse,” proves to me that the GOP party I once knew is now an alien wasteland.

But worse than the betrayal of a national party populated by figures I don’t know is the sudden and radical metamorphosis of people I do know. Relatives and friends who once championed the same conservative values as I do (the value of honesty in politics, respectful discourse, the value in the rule of law), now make sad excuses when leaders like Trump take every rule we’ve ever lived by, wipes his ass with it and flushes it down the crapper. It makes me wonder if these people, some of whom were moral mentors, ever really believed what they preached to me, or if they were always lying. Sadly, they can’t see the changes within themselves. They think everyone else has changed while they have remained static. But this isn’t true. Their refusal to see what they have become while deflecting their role in it is tantamount to betrayal.

One person who was fundamental in the shaping of my conservative values literally got in my face when he learned that I wouldn’t vote for Trump in 2016. “Ryan, your problem is that you’re unseasoned!” he said.

Unseasoned? I participated in two separate Republican primaries as a delegate in Colorado. I’ve visited Washington D.C. three times and been to Capitol Hill as a member of the National Federation of the Blind. I was even involved in student government at UNL for two years when I went to college there. I think it’s safe to say that I am the member of my family who is the most seasoned when it comes to politics. Another mentor, a man who is a devout Christian, characterized the attack on the capitol as, “Civil disobedience.” Sadly, this style of argument has only become more commonplace during the reign of Trump and after.

I’ve never been accosted while peeing in a public bathroom, but I have been bullied, hectored and guilt tripped by people who took my descent from the common Republican ethos very personally. They acted as if I was the traitor. I’ve even had idiots on Facebook call me a traitor, as if my refusal to bend the knee to one man embodied the betrayal of my basic patriotism and love of America. Yet, this is their warped view. This is where we stand today.

As bad as things are in the mainstream political realm, it’s worse as a blind guy. In 2015, I was a solid member of the National Federation of the Blind. My journey with the Federation had been a rocky one. As I stated in my resignation letter, my level of involvement with the organization has fluctuated over the years. When I first became involved, I was deep in the movement. By the time I moved to Colorado, I was on the periphery. By 2015, I had worked at the CCB as a summer youth counselor and was an elected officer in the Denver chapter. It felt good to be home again. When I moved to Omaha, I was quickly elected as Second Vice-President. I agreed to serve despite a growing reservation about the changing direction of the organization. This was solidified in December of 2020 when the #MarchingTogether Movement took root.

I won’t go back over my journey in detail. One can read my past blog entries on the subject if one wishes to chart my progress. I will simply write of two separate incidents that happened that proved to me that it was time to head for the exit.

The first occurred on July 31, 2021 during a contentious state board meeting of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska. The subject of the suspension of Fred Schroeder came up. Naturally, much volatile discussion ensued. One member who was a participant at the meeting, though not elected to the board, began to defend Schroeder, claiming that he should not be judged solely on his transgressions. He worried that Schroeder’s accomplishments would be overshadowed by these accusations that some leaders felt were a result of a, “Kangaroo court.” I argued vociferously that the punishment of Schroeder did not go far enough. His retort to me was, “Ryan, you don’t know what you’re talking about!”

This was a man who identifies as a Republican and a conservative. This was a man who sat with me in a Village Inn in 1998 over green chili and peanut butter pie and argued passionately that Bill Clinton should be impeached for his conduct in the Oval Office. This was a man who argued vehemently that character matters in our leaders. Yet, I’m the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about!?

While this verbal tumult was occurring, the people who should have had the most to say sat silent. That includes the state president, who also serves as a member of the national board. She largely stayed out of the conflict. She might have weighed in and given us a clue as to the happenings behind the scenes that went into the decision-making process, but this isn’t how Federation soldiers are trained. They don’t go off script, they don’t contradict the national leadership and they always refer questions (particularly those born of descent) up the chain of command to the message factory in Baltimore. In other words, she was doing her duty as a Federationist, all while neglecting the needs of the membership on a local level.

Eight days after the board meeting from hell, I sat alone in my recliner with a cold beer in my hand and listened to a podcast featuring Wayne Pearcy’s story of abuse suffered at the hands of a camp counselor during his time as a summer student at the Colorado Center for the Blind in 2004. Wayne never named his abuser, but it was clear that he was talking about Brent Batron.

Brent Batron, a one-time mentor and friend to me and to dozens of other students and counselors. Brent Batron, who had espoused the paramount virtues of positive role modeling at seminars, chapter meetings and in private conversations. Brent Batron, who had resigned abruptly from the CCB eight months before the podcast dropped. The Nebraska board meeting was bad, but this was infinitely worse.

I worked for Brent for three months in the summer of 2014. I loved the guy. I respected the guy. Hell, I even hoped that when the time came for Julie Deden to finally step down, Brent would take the reins as the Executive Director of the CCB. Brent was smart, but not intellectually imperious as are so many leaders in the NFB upper crust. He was relatable in a blue collar, down-to-earth way. He was a family man who appeared to be faithful to his wife and kids. He was a born teacher who made you want to be better at your job. He was funny, good natured, friendly and approachable. He was also a predator. When Wayne dropped his revelations, I instantly knew they were true. I didn’t have any direct knowledge. I’d heard a lot of names whispered throughout my time in the NFB. Brent’s was not one of them. I don’t know how I knew. I just fucking did.

It is impossible to explain the pain this harsh truth wrought without explaining the role my time at the CCB played upon my psyche. Looking back, I view my job at the CCB in the Dickensian sense. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” I was a guy doing God’s work, showing blind youth how to live as independent, self-reliant blind people. I was also a guy in over my head, teaching teenagers skills that I was never fully sure of within myself. I always felt as if I were running in quicksand, never certain if I was serving as a positive or negative example as a competent blind adult. The constant weight of responsibilities for the welfare of someone else’s kids after years of bachelorhood took a toll. I found myself sleeping in fits and starts, jerking awake suddenly in the night wondering if one of my boys had snuck out to smoke pot. I would stand in the shower in the early morning wondering how to face another day guiding a kid with obvious cognitive impairments, hoping he could just get himself dressed. I would go through another day dead sure that I was facing harsh judgments from my fellow counselors. There were even a few times when I thought of just quitting and going back to my quiet life, but I stayed for the kids and for Brent. If I could just stay on Brent’s good side, I knew I was doing something right.

By the end of the summer, I was burned out, exhausted and in a black hole of despair. I felt like an utter failure. I had planned to get certified in O&M instruction, but honestly, it was a relief when the job at AIN became available and I could change course. Being responsible for other people was too soul-crushing to be endured for an intractable period of time. Now, years later, I discover that I spent the best parts of myself worrying about what affect I was having on the young and impressionable, all in service to a sexual predator and his enablers! Days and weeks of partial insomnia and self-torment while others who were guilty of actual sins slept soundly? Nights of sweating bullets wondering how I would get through the next day without making another mistake while our leader drew his designs on one of our boys!? Fuck! That!

Sidebar: Karma can be a royal bitch or it can be kind. If not for my time at AIN, I never would have ended up at Radio Talking Book, which proved to be the best job I’ve ever had. God bless Jane and Bekah. They both shepherded me through a lot of heart healing.

Last August was when I stood in front of the mirror and saw betrayal staring me in the face. That was when I knew with absolute clarity that it was time to leave. Now, I am a man who is politically homeless and philosophically destitute. I still have my conservative principles, but the betrayal from the NFB cuts far deeper. The Republican Party was merely an apparatus that I would play a minuscule role in in hopes of furthering political change, but the NFB was my community. They were my kindred spirits in the world of blindness. They wrought a kind of betrayal that inflicts the most grievous wounds of all… The betrayal of family.

There is no betrayal more deeply personal. And I don’t mean to get all emo on you guys here, but it hurts. It hurts like a mutherfucker. That’s all I’m saying. The pain is fuckin’ real. And this kind of pain…all I’m saying is…I don’t know when the fuck it’s gonna go away.

Betrayal: Part One

This newsletter from Erick Erickson is worth keeping. It begins in the realm of politics, but shifts to the realm of the church by the end. Yet, the themes he addresses are universal, even as the examples he sites are rooted in the moment. I will address the theme of betrayal in a subsequent post.

If you want to learn more about Erick Erickson, you can find podcasts of his daily radio show on any major platform. Even Spotify. If you want to read more of his writings, check him out on Substack.

Here is Mr. Erickson.

__On Betrayal and Screedalism
Erick-Woods Erickson
Feb 8

In the Spring of 2016, three men showed up on my front porch. I had written that I would not support Donald Trump for President in 2016. I’d go third party. They were angry with me and their anger led them to my front porch.
Their faces were mean. Their voices were tense. But they were there for my sake. They wanted me to know if I didn’t support Trump, they’d get me fired from radio. I needed to think about my family. I needed to think about my health insurance. I needed to think about my income. I needed to think about my future.
I did. I doubled down.
My children were chased through a store by a man yelling at them that their father was destroying the country. A woman at our church told my wife, after my wife announced she had cancer, that the woman wanted to hit me. I got accosted going from our Sunday School class into church one day. My kids got bullied at school and lost their friends. My son got shoved into the dirt. The school was no help. We wound up having to move our kids to a new school.
More than once, I got yelled at in the airport while peeing. I’m not making that up. I use the stall now. It’s one of the reasons I covet private jets. On multiple occasions, men followed me into the airport to lecture me while I was peeing. Once, at a Chick-fil-A in north Atlanta, an old man came in and did that too. Each of these were by people who vehemently disagreed with me about stuff, mostly Trump, and thought they could correct me. I had a woman come up to me in a restaurant with friends and start berating me for having ridiculed Trump’s “Mexico will pay for it” claim on the border wall.
I had betrayed the fans.
Now, the silver lining here is that it forced me to be a better radio show host. My ratings not only went up, but for the last two radio quarters on my flagship station, they have actually been higher than Rush’s ratings at the height of the 2020 presidential election.
But to this day, I get angry hatemail and email and Facebook comments from people who were once diehard fans who felt a great sense of betrayal. I had been their boy. Now I am a traitor.
We’re in an Age of Betrayal.
We know fewer people personally. We connect to people online. We become “friends” with the person on Instagram and obsess about their lives. All we know is what they show us on social media. When it turns out they have views diametrically opposed to ours, we hate them. They betray us. We’ve created our connection, to a degree, in our heads by extrapolating ancillary information to what is presented. When they provide the actual ancillary information and it does not match that which we conjured in our heads, we feel betrayed.
Celebrity culture, even in the church, can do that. In politics, we spend time in battles with people fighting alongside us. Then one day we find ourselves on opposite sides and feel betrayed. More often than not, we cannot agree to disagree. We must be aggrieved and launch subtweets.
It’s why the left is so angry at Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan.
Chappelle hasn’t been saying anything different about transgendered people. He’s been making these jokes for a while. Back in 2019, he got the Mark Twain award and they showed a clip of one of his trans jokes and everybody laughed.
But now…now some wonder if he really is on their side as he says or does he not like them. They’re hyper-sensitive to begin with and they feel betrayed. They have to attack because they laughed with him and now they think he was actually getting them to laugh at themselves. They are not just betrayed, but the butt of jokes they laughed about. He must pay.
Joe Rogan is a pot-smoking, pro-gay rights, Bernie Sanders supporter. But Rogan frequently dares to have conversations with people with whom he disagrees. He is not combative. He is not disagreeable. In an age of COVID where progressives are Henny Penny expecting the sky to fall, Rogan interviewing people who don’t believe the sky is falling is a great betrayal. This is the comedian, MMA guy, Fear Factor guy who just talks to people. It’s a betrayal now that he talks to people the left already thinks are betraying them, their lives, and their world view. Rogan must pay.
Betrayal is hard because it is premised on a goodbye we did not control or agree to. The root of betrayal translates to “thoroughly handed over” or “thoroughly traded away.”
When one is thoroughly handed over, that person is separated from us painfully largely because they thoroughly handed themselves over. That pain manifests itself in showing up at a house to issue threats or heading to the New York Times to give the tell-all expose on the sins of those you left behind.
It ends in cancellation.
We live in an Age of Betrayal. We don’t have to know our immediate neighbors. We construct communities of like-minded people on social media who we don’t really know. When one then turns out to not be who we presumed or utters heterodox opinions, we thoroughly hand them over to our opponents. We don’t exercise grace or give room to disagree.
I like Beth Moore a lot. We don’t always agree on stuff. But I like her tremendously. I’ve gotten to hang out with her a bit once. She’s sent encouraging Biblical materials to my daughter. She has, through her writings, ministered to my wife. You will note please that Beth Moore, though mentioned in the David Brooks piece in the New York Times that has nursed everybody’s senses of betrayal, did not participate in it.
I get more angry text messages from friends for defending Beth Moore and Tim Keller than any other topic these days. I can openly disagree or praise any politician and might get one or two text messages. If I say anything at all nice about or defend Moore or Keller, I might as well turn off my phone.
People who once loved them feel betrayed by them. Frankly, Beth Moore has way more reason to feel betrayed by people than people have reason to feel betrayed by her. But you don’t see her out there on the attack. People expect grace and don’t want to show it and for reasons, mostly political, it turns out Beth Moore is not who they imagined in their head. Honestly, though, she’s way cooler.
Tim Keller is another one. There is an entire cottage industry on Twitter to nitpick Keller’s tweets, mostly by people who crave his prominence and will never have it. Keller is largely above it all. He has bigger battles to fight these days. But there’s a concerted effort to write him out of evangelicalism instead of recognizing Jesus had twelve Apostles and all of them approached the gospel differently. Only one of them betrayed the gospel. And if you think Keller is Judas, you might need to repent.
But you feel betrayed.
I got a lot of stern emails about my piece last week on envagelicals needing to cool it. One person told me I came across as inauthentic. The person doesn’t know me at all so has no way to calibrate my authenticity to determine the inauthenticity. Another said I didn’t want to give up some perceived insider status so straddled the fence.
No, I made it pretty clear what I thought. You just didn’t like it. I’m not one of those people who thinks if I piss off every side I must be doing it right. Sometimes, when you do that, you’re just a jackass. But here, I just happen to think the people who are friends who feel the need to fix evangelicalism by ratting it out to the New York Times are doing more harm than good. And aligning with the Jesus and John Wayne lady, who is openly hostile to Biblical orthodoxy, not just evangelicalism, is a big way of saying you don’t want to fix things, but burn things down.
But I also think a lot of friends who feel betrayed by these friends of mine don’t appreciate how betrayed those friends feel from their treatment for daring to think differently mostly about politics. In other words, I have a lot of friends who feel betrayed by each other and expect them all to feel betrayed by me for not picking a side.
Betrayal is in us these days. The only way out is to work to not thoroughly hand over those we love to those we hate. It requires making an effort to get to know one another far better than we can know them on social media and when that’s impossible, to simply offer them more grace than we think they’d ever offer us. In environments where we create friendships now online, it requires more effort to maintain those friendships and make them real instead of binary.
Everybody wants to be a victim these days. Everyone wants to complain about someone hurting their soul. Christians on social media want to be Screedal Christians, writing screeds to denounce the ones thoroughly handed over to something, they’re not quite sure what, but they know it is bad.
If I’m betraying you for saying all of this, I’m sorry.
But y’all, I’ve been lectured while peeing by people who feel betrayed. I know what I’m talking about and I’ve just learned to move on and not burn bridges recklessly. It’s okay to disagree without feeling betrayed. And often, when you think you’re the butt of the joke, you just lack a sense of humor.

Golems

In the wake of the Parkland school shooting four years ago, a new slogan began to emerge on social media. “Journalism is activism.” Michael Blanding crystallized the premise in an August 21, 2018 article for the Washington Post. Blanding posed the question, “Where does journalism end and activism begin?”

In reading the article, it was no surprise to see a generational split on the question. Older journalists believed that a healthy distance should be kept between the activist class and the newsroom, while younger journalists and journalism students believed the opposite.

The Post painted a sexy picture of Rebecca Schneid, editor of the Parkland High newspaper for her belief that journalism is, in fact, activism. Who would dare argue the point in the wake of yet another mass school shooting? In fact, the point seemed to resonate with many moderates and leftists as basic common sense in the wake of then President Trump’s relentless attacks on a non-compliant media.

In the years since, activist journalism has only become more popular with burgeoning issues such as the #MeToo Movement, the resurrection of Black Lives Matter, talk of election fraud and a quickly transforming international landscape. With social justice causes now at the forefront of our collective consciousness, who could possibly argue that activism doesn’t have a place in journalism? And we’re not talking about mere political punditry, but hard news reporting akin to the Washington Post, the New York Times and digital publications like Slate and the Huffington Post.

The finer point amongst the younger journo/activist class is that not every issue has two sides that deserve exploration or nuance. LGBTQ rights, racial justice, climate change and a host of other progressive causes really only have one side, and that side is the truth. Yet, how easily that mindset can carry us down a slippery slope. COVID-19 is the glaring contemporary example. As Joe Rogan, a podcaster who has recently come under fire explained, things that we accept as basic truths in a given issue have a way of changing over time.

When young people and committed progressives thing of activist journalism, they probably hold a certain image of it in their heads. An idealistic reporter fighting for the oppressed, the downtrodden and the marginalized. Avatars of truth and justice speaking truth to power, given voice to the voiceless, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. As it is in any other facet of life, the story may start out that way, but as it passes through the conveyer belt of humanity with all of its complexities and imperfections, the end result is usually radically transformed from the initial idea.

Exhibit A: Fox News

Roger Ailes died three months after Donald Trump assumed the presidency, but by then, the Frankenstein monster he had created had reached full strength. Ailes created Fox News in the mid 1990’s as an answer to a media whom conservatives rightly believed were biased against them. Talk radio flamethrowers like Rush Limbaugh to introspective thinkers at the National Review all reached the same conclusion. That is why Fox News found a climate in which it was able to flourish.

FNC grew in stature during the Bush years in a post 9/11 world. Some predicted its demise once Obama took office, but Fox proved to be indomitable now that it had a nemesis in the White House against whom it could chafe. What Ailes didn’t fully realize was how the monster of populism that he was fostering would turn on him at the slightest hint of descent. He found out when Donald Trump came down the escalator on June 15, 2015.

Trump didn’t take long to lash out at Fox. His attacks were leveled against Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, who asked him a question that displeased him at a presidential primary debate. According to Kelley’s book, Ailes was in between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He wanted to defend his employees, but he also didn’t want to alienate Trump. As it turned out, he managed to ingratiate himself to The Donald, while Megyn soon left Fox.

Roger Ailes unceremoniously left Fox News on July 21, 2016, over a year before the birth of the #MeToo Movement. Yet, he was a harbinger of things to come. He left due to a series of sexual harassment scandals that plagued the company. His departure did nothing to stop the juggernaut that was Trump. The dye was already cast. Trump won the election and throughout his presidency, he heaped favorable praise on Fox News, particularly on Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and the Fox Morning hosts.

When Trump lost to Biden in 2020, the folks at the Fox News Decision Desk got into a lot of trouble with viewers because they called Arizona for Joe Biden early. Even though they were proven correct, many fans never forgave them. No one was more infuriated than Trump. It was a dispiriting surprise when Trump went unpunished for his actions that lead to the attack on our nation’s capital, but it was no surprise that people like Chris Stirewalt were let go from Fox due to his role on election night, 2020. Few of us who paid attention were surprised when we recently learned that text messages were flying back and forth between White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and various Fox hosts including Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade on January 6. Even though they are opinion makers, they are the faces of Fox News. Fox detractors and casual viewers don’t associate Fox with the hard news wing, represented by quality journalists such as Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Jennifer Griffin. In the wake of the departure of Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson has taken the place as Fox’s number one spokesman. Carlson has progressively become more and more unhinged over the years. His crowning achievement has been a documentary on Fox Nation, a private platform outside of the cable news channel, which floats the conspiracy trial balloon that January 6th was instigated by the FBI. This is likely the reason why Chris Wallace abruptly departed from Fox and defected to CNN.

How will that work out for him?

Exhibit B: CNN

CNN, once a prestigious and trusted source of news throughout the ‘90’s, is now viewed as the anti-Trump network. From all outward appearances, they have embraced this image. It is no coincidence that their ratings sored during Trump’s presidency, even as their various prime time hosts railed against Trump and all of his excesses. It is also not a coincidence that their ratings plummeted once he left office and lost his Twitter account. To watch CNN, you might think that they didn’t play a significant role in the rise of Trump. Yet, if you think back to the election cycle of 2016, they covered as many Trump campaign rally events as did Fox. They merely took a different angle in their approach, feigning outrage on camera while gleefully watching the uptick in the ratings numbers behind the scenes.

Trump aside, CNN, along with many other mainstream outlets, fawned over New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic in March, 2020. Cuomo was painted as, “America’s governor,” keeping a steady hand at the helm even as President Trump went crazy at his daily press conferences. No one outside of Fox News and a few other conservative sources talked about Cuomo’s scandalous behavior with respect to his shady book deal, his shunting of patients to New York nursing homes and his fudging of the death numbers once investigators became suspicious. No one on or off CNN cared that Cuomo was holding syrupy conversations with his brother Chris, an employee and prominent on-screen presence at CNN. When a woman came forward and accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in December, 2020, it was barely a blip on the media radar.

On August 24, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned after a series of claims of sexual harassment were lodged against him. The story was broken by the New York Times, not CNN, and only after the scandal was too big to be ignored.

On December 4, 2021, Chris Cuomo was fired from CNN after an internal investigation showed that he was using his media contacts to dig up dirt on his brother Andrew’s accusers.

On February 2, 2022, Jeff Zucker abruptly resigned as the president of CNN. He claimed that he was engaged in a consensual romantic relationship with an executive and had failed to disclose it in a timely manner. The executive of which he spoke turned out to be Allison Gollust, Vice-President of Chief Marketing Officer at CNN. She also happened to be a former Communications Director for Governor Andrew Cuomo. In light of a lawsuit brought against CNN by Chris Cuomo, we can be sure that many more facts will be unearthed in this case, but it’s not hard to guess where the trail will lead. Zucker, Gollust and Chris Cuomo did their best to use CNN to lionize Andrew Cuomo in the hopes of aiding him to sell more books and possibly to further his future political career.

The handwringing of CNN’s public faces such as Don Lemon, Brian Stelter and Jim Acosta has been predictable and predictably self-indulgent. They claim that Chris Cuomo is the real villain and that the termination of Zucker is a punishment that did not fit the crime. Again, I suspect that there is much to the story that will come to light in the coming months. But more to the point, the unctuous outrage pouring forth from the CNN talking heads is reminiscent of the performative anger that spewed forth from loyal Fox News stalwarts such as Hannity, O’Reilly and Ingraham in the wake of Ailes’ departure. In both cases, it is doubtful that those who trumpeted their disapproval didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes despite their protests of good faith ignorance.

At this point, all two of you who read this may be saying, so what, RyanO? These are two old white guys who misbehaved themselves, got caught and got canned. What does that have to do with the search for truth and justice? If the point isn’t obvious, I can’t do anything for ya.

Both Ailes and Zucker didn’t start out as men in charge of news empires. They started out as young, hungry warriors who wanted to bring their own brand of activism to the marketplace of ideas. They quickly realized that activism starts in grass roots, but real change is brought about through legislation. Legislation is authored by politicians. Politicians are influenced by lobbyists, who are merely professional activists who are lucky enough to profit from their idealism. Politicians are flawed, imperfect human beings who can easily be tempered by a multitude of dark forces. Many of those dark forces are journalists who serve as conduits through which flow mutated ideologies. Often times, that ideology starts out in pure form, but no matter which side of the political spectrum it springs from, it is corrupted by base human drives; greed, lust and envy. One day, these activists suddenly realize that they are sitting atop a major platform with millions of loyal followers. They then realize that said platform can be used to elevate preferred politicians to higher office.

That’s how we find ourselves with living golems like President Trump and Governor Cuomo. A good deal of their success can be laid at the doorstep of activist journalism. When journalism proves popular and results in ever increasing ratings and clicks, it feeds the beast. That beast results in corporate executives crawling into bed with the very politicians against whom they are supposed to be the watchdogs. When certain personalities prove too successful for the suits upstairs to control, you get Tucker Carlson and Chris Cuomo. The journalistic organs they purport to serve are mere extensions of political parties or figures.

If you think I’m engaging in hyperbole, ask yourself why you haven’t heard about the latest kerfuffle involving Black Lives Matter? Did any of you know that the California Attorney General has formally warned the group that they are delinquent in the registration of charitable contributions totaling millions of dollars from 2020? Did you know that other states are launching inquiries into the fundraising practices of BLM? Did any of you notice that the BLM fundraising page has been suspended? If you don’t read the Washington Examiner, a conservative alternative to the Washington Post in the D.C. Beltway, you wouldn’t know it.

Is the investigation of BLM activist journalism, or is it mere hackery? If it is the latter, what constitutes the former? Is there a good kind of activist journalism and a bad kind? My educated guess is that the answer would depend upon which side of the political divide you get your news from. If you hail from the right side of the spectrum, you likely believe that the most successful non-profit advocacy organization currently in existence should account for all of its assets. You probably believe that the public has a right to know what BLM is doing with their money. If you hail from the left side of the spectrum…white privilege, systems of oppression, systemic racism, etc. Yet, if you were to substitute the NRA for BLM, you would see that very spectrum engage in a teeter-totter effect.

“Democracy dies in darkness,” indeed. I’m sure the Uyghurs would agree.

Activism starts with a specific narrative. This is fine as far as it goes. Activists are human beings whose experiences drive them to push for change in the public square. But personal experiences can also result in viewpoint bias, blinding people to all of the variables at play. Good journalists who are interested in fairness and balance should be able to weight those variables in the reporting of a story. When it’s done well, you get quality newshounds like Jake Tapper, Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Karl, Jennifer Griffin and the good folks over at The Dispatch. When it goes wrong, you get Dan Rather and Mary Mapes.

If you’re the right kind of reader, you’ll judge Dan Rather on his entire body of work. If you’re the wrong, kind, you’re one of those suckers who thinks that Robert Redford was convincing in Truth.

Suppress This, Muthafuckas!

One of the reasons I am leaving the National Federation of the Blind is due to its entrance into mainstream partisan politics with the passage of Resolution 2021-02. If you honestly hold a good faith belief that voeter suppression exists on a grand national scale, and that Republicans are actively engaging in it through election reforms in various red and purple states, then you likely are in favor of the NFB’s position.

If, like me, you believe that all of the talk from President Biden and the Democrat party about voter suppression amounts to self-serving political rhetoric, then you likely find the passage of Resolution 2021-02 to be a dubious proposition. If you are in the former camp, you will likely not find the following newsletter from Jonah Goldberg to be persuasive.

I am pasting it here as another snapshot in time. A day after Biden’s shameful speech in Georgia, and on the week when I will make my official exit from the National Federation of the Blind after 27 years of service, I will offer this series of arguments from a man who can articulate them far better than I ever could. I am offering them as an illustration, not only of why the grandios claims of voter suppression are bogus, but also as an illustration of how such spurious claims are used for rank partisan purposes.

If you find this newsletter to be useful, please consider subscribing to The Dispatch for thoughtful news and analysis from a conservative perspective. Here it is.

About That Speech …
As his presidency spirals downward, Joe Biden lashes out.

Jonah Goldberg

Jan 12

Hey,
I’m going to try to not lose my temper, but I make no promises.
This is from Joe Biden’s inaugural address, which is eight days shy of exactly a year ago.
We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never ever, ever, failed in America when we’ve acted together.
This is from his speech in Georgia yesterday:
So, I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered? At consequential moments in history, they present a choice: Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?
So, what changed? To listen to Biden, Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, most Democrats, and a whole bunch of journalists, what changed was an existential threat to democracy. “Voter suppression” is a plague sweeping across the land that literally threatens to end democracy in America. Biden & Co. base this grave appraisal on three distinct claims.
The first is that there has been an epidemic of laws “making it harder to vote.”
The second is that Georgia is at the bleeding edge of this effort with voter suppression laws so heinous that they, by themselves, represent “Jim Crow 2.0.”
Last is that Trump loyalists are in the process of rigging the 2024 presidential election by preparing an end run on legitimate vote counts.
So, here’s my grading of these claims: The first is very, very weak. The second is shameful, demagogic, ahistorical garbage. The third is incomplete.
Restricting the right to vote.
So let’s start with the first claim. It comes almost entirely from an accounting by the Brennan Center for Justice.
As Joe Biden said yesterday, “Last year alone, 19 states not [only] proposed but enacted 34 laws attacking voting rights.”
Here’s how the Brennan Center put it October:
In all but seven states, regular legislative sessions are now over. Between January 1 and September 27, at least 19 states enacted 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to vote. At the same time, lawmakers in many states responded to Americans’ eagerness to vote by making it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballots. Between January 1 and September 27, at least 25 states enacted 62 laws with provisions that expand voting access.
I don’t know which state got in a restrictive law to bump up the tally to 34, but it doesn’t matter. As you can see, nearly twice as many laws enacted expanded voting as restricted it.
Now, the Brennan folks make a perfectly fine point that not all voting rights laws are equal. If, for example, a state banned absentee voting—which hasn’t happened—that wouldn’t cancel out a state expanding absentee voting by another week.
But here’s the first problem. Many of these laws essentially repealed the changes made to account for the pandemic. A reasonable person can argue that they should all be made permanent, I suppose. But a reasonable person cannot plausibly argue that returning our voting practices to those in effect in 2018—when Democrats had sweeping victories—is proof that democracy is on the cusp of being eliminated and that anyone who supports the status quo ante of 2018 is taking the side of Jefferson Davis and Bull Connor. (Heck, voter laws were much more restrictive across the country a decade earlier, according to the criteria pushed by Democrats. Does that mean Barack Obama was elected our first black president in a Jim Crow country? Big, if true.)
Now, some laws went further than that, and I am entirely open to arguments that some of those changes were ill-advised. Heck, I agree that some were ill-advised and unnecessary. But none of these changes amount to “Jim Crow 2.0.” One reason I know this is because nobody—including Joe Biden—has been able to point to a single example of a law that comes within miles of Jim Crow restrictions. If they had such an example, you can be sure they wouldn’t be keeping it secret.
Consider voter ID laws, which are constantly cited as part of this racist, undemocratic tsunami. Tightening voter ID laws may or may not be a good idea. Personally, I think they’re fine in principle. But let’s concede that they’re bad. You know who else thinks they’re fine? A very large majority of Americans, including a majority of black Americans. A Monmouth poll this year found that 80 percent of Americans support voter ID requirements and only 18 percent oppose them. That’s not a new finding. In 2016, Gallup also found that 4 in 5 Americans support voter ID requirements, including 77 percent of nonwhite voters.
Again, are the majority of Americans siding with Jefferson Davis? Really?
And just to be clear, not all of the laws expanding the “right to vote” are good. Democrats have been pushing to make ballot harvesting (allowing individuals to collect ballots from others and drop them off at polling locations or early-voting drop boxes) easier. I think that’s wrong. If you disagree with me, that’s fine. But if you think that makes me a racist, my response is, “Go to Hell.”
Georgia, out of their minds.
More on that in a moment. Let’s move on to Georgia, which, we are told over and over again, is slipping back into Jim Crow because of an election law, SB 202, passed in March. The next day Biden called the law “un-American” and “Jim Crow 2.0.” Again, I don’t think the law was necessary and there are parts of it that I think are bad, but there are also parts of it that are good. Or, more to the point, good from the perspective of making it easier to vote. It expanded early voting to 17 days, including two Saturdays. It did tighten the window to get an absentee ballot in the first place to … 67 days prior to the election. The horror.
A lot has been made of the law’s “ban” on bringing food and water to people waiting in line to vote. But it does allow for polling places to provide water and says this restriction applies only: “(1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established; (2) Within any polling place; or (3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.” More horror.
By the way, the average wait time to vote in 2020 was less than three minutes.
Again, reasonable people can disagree about all of these provisions. But Biden is trying to bully reasonable people, especially reasonable Democratic senators, with accusations of racism. That’s grotesque.
Jim, what now?
Let’s pause to talk about Jim Crow for a moment. When assessing the very real evils of Jim Crow, restrictions on voting are pretty low on the list. I’m not saying they weren’t evil, but the root of their evil was that they were a means to an end to secure far greater evils—like the ability to beat or lynch blacks, often with impunity. Jim Crow impoverished generations of blacks by preventing them from participating in the economy, traveling, or utilizing their constitutional and God-given rights. Jim Crow was a form of apartheid.
If Georgia has been moving toward Jim Crow 2.0, one has to wonder: Why are so many blacks moving there, never mind staying there? The black population of Georgia nearly doubled from 1990 to 2019. Whatever you think about their right to vote, a lot of them voted with their feet to live in Georgia—and disproportionately from states like Chuck Schumer’s New York, where voting is notoriously difficult compared to places like … Georgia. Again, Georgia has 17 days of early voting. New York? Nine. Georgia allows “no excuse” absentee voting. In 2020, Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing people to use COVID as an excuse. A ballot initiative to allow “no excuse” voting failed by a healthy margin in 2021, a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 2 to 1.
They come from below.
Okay, let’s move briefly to the third claim: that Trump loyalists are positioning to ignore the will of the people by ignoring legitimate votes. These claims take two forms: 1) Some “Big Lie” Trump loyal Republicans are running for office and can’t be trusted to follow the rules, and 2) Some states have passed laws that put partisan officials in charge of the election process (or empower them to overrule apolitical state officials).
Obviously, I would prefer such people not run for office. But to date, they haven’t done anything yet, and so I don’t understand what people think can be done about it. Surely people have a right to run for office and, more importantly, if voters elect such candidates, the self-styled saviors of democracy can’t really be arguing that the will of the voters must be ignored.
As for the second problem, I think those changes to state laws were unnecessary, unhelpful, and in some cases indefensible. But again, if duly elected officials change laws within the boundaries of the Constitution, I’m at a loss to see how that is, in itself, undemocratic. It’d be one thing if they were enacting Jim Crow style laws. That would be undemocratic. But. They’re. Not.
Dividing America.
Okay, I think I’ve been remarkably restrained. So let me speak a bit more freely now. Biden’s speech yesterday, and this whole project, is shameful, dangerous, stupid, and profoundly hypocritical.
Because the wheels are coming off his presidency, Biden has decided to divide Americans in ways he vowed he would not. Now, I don’t have any problem per se with politicians “dividing Americans.” Democracy is about disagreement, not unity. Unity is Biden’s bag and, as I pointed out at the time, I thought Biden’s unity schtick was clichéd nonsense. I’ve spent the better part of two decades ranting about the “cult of unity.”
But I do have a problem with a president dividing Americans by casting people he disagrees with as evil racists bent on destroying democracy—particularly when it’s not true (and when Biden himself played footsie with the very segregationists he’s now associating with his political opponents). Even worse, his lies are intended to sow even more distrust in our elections purely for partisan gain.
And let me just say right now that if any readers come at me with, “But what about Trump?” their arguments will find no purchase. I’ll stack my record of criticizing Trump for spewing hateful lies against pretty much anyone. But Biden staked his entire presidency on taking the high road; on not being like Trump. He vowed in his inaugural address, “I will be a president for all Americans. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.” He cribs Obama’s better rhetoric about there not being red states and blue states but the United States all the time. And he threw it all away yesterday.
And for what? I could go on about how the legislation he wants would make our electoral system worse in myriad ways, but that misses a crucial point. This legislation almost surely won’t pass, and probably the only way it can pass is by getting rid of the filibuster (even then it’s unlikely). If Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi actually cared about saving democracy and thwarting the Trumpist threat from below, or the joys of unity and bipartisanship, they’d focus on reforming the Electoral Count Act or writing a bill that could attract the votes of people like Mitt Romney. Instead, they’d rather cast Romney—who, as Sarah Isgur notes, was the first senator in American history to vote to impeach a president of his own party—as a partisan hack in league with Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis. If he cared about letting the “will of majority” prevail in the Senate as he claims, he’d work to craft legislation that a majority of the Senate could support. Instead, he’s saying they have to swallow policies that have been on the shelf for years or be guilty of racism.
That’s cynical and shameful—but it’s also so incredibly stupid. If this thing doesn’t pass, Biden will be the second president in a row to tell voters in Georgia there’s no point in voting because the system is rigged. If it does pass, thanks to a successful effort of abolishing the filibuster, these idiot demagogues will still probably lose the House and Senate in 2022. And if they lose the presidency in 2024—a reasonable bet—they might see all of these “reforms” repealed by Republicans. And Democrats would be powerless to stop them without the filibuster.
Biden’s presidency is spiraling into abject failure. Calling tens of millions of Americans racists to change the subject isn’t just bad politics and bad policy, it’s immoral, and it deserves to put him on the wrong side of history he keeps prattling about.

American Frankenstein

Kyle Rittenhouse is an American Frankenstein.

I’m not saying he’s actually a monster. I don’t know the kid and I don’t know what was in his heart the night he killed two people and wounded one other. I do believe in our system of jurisprudence. Many social media lawyers are screaming about racism, vigilantism, heroism, gun rights, etc. These are all narrative templates. From what little I know of the trial, it sounds to me as if prosecutorial ineptness and overzealousness played more of a role in his acquittal than any other factor.

I believe that the phenomenon of Kyle Rittenhouse is an American Frankenstein. He may have had youthful romantic notions about getting a gun and defending a community, but shit got real when progressive politicians, activists and a sympathetic media established a permission structure for mobs to go forth into the streets and commit violence in the name of justice. That collective mob serves as a blind, heedless juggernaut that gives no thought to consequences or reactionary forces that manifest themselves as an impulsive 17-year-old boy with an AR-15.

I am certainly open to the notion that said mob was born out of police brutality, but even so, reckless, destructive ideas such as “defund the police” only served as fuel for the street juggernauts to grow in size and scope. That is a primary reason why no cops were available to defuse the situation between Kyle and his pursuers.

An additional factor in the chaos of 2020 was Donald Trump. He is another American Frankenstein.

Republicans are celebrating recent and unexpected electoral victories in Virginia and New Jersey. Many pundits are confident of a massive red wave that will reclaim legislative sanity across the country next November. But Trump, fueled by his own insatiable pride and an incessant need for political pugilism, may have other plans. His role in the upcoming midterm elections will be dictated, not by any sense of constructive social cohesion, but by which candidate demonstrates the proper fealty to him. Regional electability will play no part in Trump’s discernment.

Trump is the monster that his voters created. His actions in Georgia in December of 2020 are the reason why Congress just passed a 1.2 billion dollar spending package that will only fuel inflation. You want to cast stones at Congressman Don Bacon? Why not the man who insured a Democratic senatorial majority?

A lot of the people who put Trump in office and who would like to see him returned there are the same folks who label Kyle Rittenhouse as a hero. Kyle is not a hero. Nor is he a villain. Like Victor Frankenstein’s creation, he is a tragic figure, too young and stupid to understand that his rash actions on August 25, 2020 will, for better or worse, likely brand him for the rest of his life. It is sad to behold, and sadder still that so many people are too busy clinging to their own hot takes to exercise the appropriate compassion for a soul that is very likely damned.

Whatever the case, we can only be sure of one thing in the next year. More American Frankensteins will be coming.

The Dark Path

One week ago, the National Federation of the Blind took another step down the dark path of subtle metamorphosis. I’m not talking about the continuing firestorm over sexual misconduct. I’m speaking of policy. The NFB has now taken a public position on a controversy that should not be a blindness issue. It is the issue of so-called, “voter suppression.”

In Resolution 2021-02, the author makes the following provision:

“WHEREAS, the time and expense in obtaining state issued ID or other forms of identification can be onerous and therefore create a barrier for voters with
Disabilities;”

The action statements read as follows:

“BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this tenth day of July, 2021, that this organization condemn and deplore
all acts of suppression that make it difficult for blind and disabled voters to exercise their right to vote; and”

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that state and local election officials protect the right of voters with disabilities to cast a private
and independent ballot, as required by HAVA and Title II of the ADA, without having to provide difficult-to-obtain state-issued identification and documentation;
and”

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that all state and local governments implement legislation and election procedures necessary to expand
the number of polling locations so that they are accessible to public transit routes and so voters need only travel a reasonable distance to cast their
vote.”

I won’t go through all of the problems I have with this resolution. Others who spoke against it at the convention did a fine job of articulating its glaring weak points. Yet, in spite of very reasonable objections, it passed by a vote of 483/299.

This may seem like a minor event to some, but consider the enormity of what has just occurred. The National Federation of the Blind has now taken the position that obtaining a state ID is a form of voter suppression.

If you pay attention to current events, you know that this issue has been in the spotlight since the presidential election of 2020. Georgia, Texas and Arizona are just some of the states to come under fire from Democratic politicians, social justice activists and many members of a sympathetic media for attempting to tighten their election laws to prevent voter fraud; a problem that both political parties acknowledge exists. Corporate America has taken a stand, complete with the MLB moving the All-Star Baseball Game from Atlanta to Denver in protest. The president of the United States even compared new voting reform laws in red states to Jim Crow; a claim that is inflammatory and spurious.

My purpose in writing this is not to re-litigate the issue of voter ID. My larger purpose is to focus on the slow, gradual transformation that is taking hold of the NFB.

Whether you believe in voter suppression or not, if you are a member of the NFB, than you must believe as I do in the capabilities of blind people. Our contention has always been that our capabilities are equal to those of our sighted counterparts. By passing this resolution, the membership has now taken the position that we are a marginalized community that is, in fact, less capable than our sighted peers. Obtaining an ID is a hardship for us. This is not an issue of ballot accessibility or of privacy in the voting booth, but a basic issue of convenience.

The sentiments of those in favor of the resolution can best be summed up by a tweet from Patrick Bouchard, which states:

“Why do some people think we should exclusively speak up about issues that affect the blind and only the blind? Whatever happened to intersectionality? If something affects many people including us, we need to add our voice lest any solutions leave us out. #NFB21”

This didn’t happen in a vacuum. For years, there has been a growing strain of progressives within our organization who wish to shoehorn the NFB into larger causes with which the left sympathizes. One such example is so-called, “net neutrality,” championed by our late colleague, Rachel Olivero. Rachel brought a resolution to the floor in 2014 that would have had the NFB take a position in favor of net neutrality. It failed before the convention body because a majority of members felt that, despite claims to the contrary, net neutrality was not an issue specific to the blindness community.

Seven years later, we now see that the NFB has adopted the opposite view. We have abandoned our traditionally non-partisan stance in favor of a purely partisan political viewpoint. We have previously stayed out of mainstream controversies ranging from abortion to gun control to tribal identity politics within our movement and within the arena of public policy. The passage of resolution 2021-02 signifies that the wind is shifting. Today, its voter suppression. Tomorrow, it could very well be climate change, transgender athletes or police brutality.

Given the recent swell of woke language in statements from the leadership, I don’t foresee moderate influences gaining traction any time soon. If it continues to recede, there will come a point where many of us who hold views in opposition to the social justice movement will be forced to choose whether or not to continue to dedicate our time and energy to a movement that is no longer bipartisan. I do not look forward to such a choice, but to quote Phil Collins, “I can feel it comin’ in the air tonight.”

Devil’s Brew

In my previous entry regarding sexual misconduct within the National Federation of the Blind, I said that sexual predation is not a partisan issue. I misspoke (or mistyped as the case may be.) What I wish I’d written was that sexual misconduct should not be a partisan issue. I guess I could pull a New York Times or Newsweek and go back and edit my entry to make myself look better, but I’ll let it stand. Yes, sex and sexual violence is definitely a partisan hot potato.

Why? Why should a base crime that affects everyone equally be so polarized.

My answer comes in the form of political observations gleaned since I was old enough to take an interest in politics. With my lifetime serving as the parameters of the scope of the high-lights of the politics of sexual misconduct in the public eye, let me give you some prominent examples that will serve to illustrate why this topic is so divisive.

1991 (I was 16)

On July 1, Judge Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court by President George H. W. Bush to fill the pending vacancy of Thurgood Marshall. During Thomas’s confirmation hearings, Anita Hill, a former employee, accused him of sexual harassment while he was her supervisor at the Department of Education and at the EEOC in the early 1980’s. Thomas declared his absolute innocence, but said little else. It was a classic ‘he said/she said’ affair, with everyone from Nina Totenberg to Rush Limbaugh staking out their ideological territory.

After Hill came forward, Committee Chair Senator Joe Biden reopened Thomas’s confirmation hearings, which quickly became contentious with many people testifying both in support of Thomas and Hill. On October 15, the Senate finally took up the vote and Thomas was confirmed with a close margin of 52/48. The vote fell along party lines.

In 1992, a record number of women were elected to various political offices, causing feminists and the media to call it, “The year of the woman,” or, “The Class of Anita Hill.” Hill was celebrated as a modern feminist icon who brought the issue of workplace sexual misconduct out of the shadows and into the light.

In his autobiography, My Grandfather’s Son, Thomas put forth the theory that the Democrats went after him due to his well-known stances in opposition to abortion and affirmative action; two issues that were and are central to the DNC platform.

The battle lines had been drawn. Conservatives who supported Thomas saw the allegations as an opportunistic political hatchet job designed to keep an originalist conservative off of the Supreme Court. Liberals who supported Hill saw her as a brave survivor who came forward and told her story in the face of hostility. Both parties wrote autobiographies, published 10 years apart, that dealt with the issue. Two made-for-cable movies have been aired featuring the event. In the last 30 years, the socio-political boundaries have not changed with respect to the case.

1998 (I was 23)

President Bill Clinton was no stranger to scandal. Throughout his two terms in office, several women accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from verbal harassment to rape. Victims included Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones. In 1994, Jones filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton. The suit took time to wind its way through the court system, but in 1997, Pentagon employee Linda Tripp began surreptitiously recording phone conversations with her friend and former coworker, Monica Lewinsky, in hopes that evidence of an affair with Lewinsky would aid in Jones’ legal effort.

On January 17, 1998, future conservative internet warrior Matt Drudge published allegations of Clinton’s affair with his former intern Lewinsky on his website. This forced the mainstream media to run with the ball. It was a story that would dominate the news cycles for the next year. It was a tawdry business that involved an independent council, denials, an incriminating blue dress, retraction of said denials, perjured grand jury testimony from the president of the United States and impeachment proceedings.

In December of 1998, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Clinton on two articles. The vote fell along party lines. In February of 1999, the Senate acquitted him on both charges. The vote also fell along party lines. IN April of 1998, Paula Jones’ lawsuit was thrown out, but she appealed. Later that year, Clinton quietly settled with her, but admitted no wrongdoing.

During the scandal, the issue of character was front and center. Republicans, led by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and conservative talker Rush Limbaugh, claimed that character matters first and foremost in a president. The Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution stating that God blesses a country based upon its morality. Democrats downplayed the character issue, claiming that the GOP was engaging in a witch hunt against Clinton. In March of 1998, feminist icon Gloria Steinem wrote a now-controversial column in the New York Times defending the president and minimizing the plight of his victims. The controversy translated into thousands of arguments over dinner tables, around water coolers and at parties as to whether or not Bill Clinton was fit to serve as president.

After Clinton was acquitted in 1999, his reputation was bloodied, but not broken. Clinton left office in January of 2001 with a fairly high approval rating. Everyone with even the slightest of political inclinations knew that his wife Hillary would soon be angling for higher office. Matt Drudge’s website, The Drudge Report, became a mainstay for conservatives in the following decade. During the investigation, software entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd founded MoveOn.org, a website dedicated to the censuring of Bill Clinton rather than the more drastic course of impeachment. The site became a mainstay for progressive activism in the following decade.

2006 (I was 31)

On March 15, rape and assault allegations against three lacrosse players at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina exploded across the media. The alleged victim was an African-American college girl who was working as a stripper. She had been invited to a private party at a home owned by Duke U and occupied by two of the captains and accused perpetrators. The accuser claimed that she was gang raped and beaten in a bathroom by three of the players. An Email sent by one of the players hours after the party seemed damning.

Even as the players were arrested and indicted, the case was unraveling. In the subsequent months, the firestorm of controversy would shift from issues of race and sexual violence to those of police and prosecutorial misconduct. The shift was due to the actions of District Attorney Mike Nifong, who acted as lead prosecutor on the case. Over the months between the party and the eventual dismissal of the charges against the players, investigators uncovered gross misconduct on the part of Nifong, who was charged with withholding crucial DNA evidence that would have exculpated the accused. Investigation of the Durham police also unearthed wildly varying accounts of the assault by the alleged victim, as well as several problematic photo ID’s by the police.

The cracks in the case didn’t stop the media dog pile. In the ‘90’s, Americans had their choice between the three broadcast networks, CNN, print media delivered to their doors or bought at the stand, or Rush Limbaugh. By the mid 2,000’s, their options had increased to four broadcast networks, three major cable news networks, dozens of internet news sites and a veritable army of A.M Limbaugh clones. The fault lines were partisan and predictable. Limbaugh, Michael Savage and the entire pundit wing at Fox News pre-judged the case in favor of the defendants. Nancy Grace, Rolling Stone and feminist blogger Amanda Marcotte were among those quick to pre-judge in favor of the accuser. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the NAACP were quick to emphasize the racial angle of the case by stoking the narrative of three rich white college kids raping a black single mother who was only stripping to put food in her child’s mouth.

But the most disturbing attack came from the so-called, Gang of 88; various faculty members at Duke U who signed an open letter and published it in the Durham Chronicle. In the letter, they condemned racism, sexism and other forms of oppression that were rife at Duke. Their bias in favor of the alleged victim was obvious and shameless.

Nearly a year after they were arrested, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges against all three players. He went a step further, declaring them innocent. In June, 2007, Mike Nifong was disbarred over his handling of the Duke Lacrosse Case. The three players subsequently went elsewhere, but sued both Duke U and the Durham police department for its handling of the case.

2011 (I was 36)

On April 4, Vice-President Joe Biden stood in front of a group of college kids in New Hampshire and proclaimed that sexual violence was no longer merely a crime, but a violation of a woman’s civil rights. This announcement was immediately followed by the issuance of a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter from the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education to all colleges and universities across the country. The letter contained strong language suggesting new guidance on the enforcement of Title 9, the federal statute prohibiting any sex discrimination under any education program receiving federal financial assistance. The letter emphasized the point that Title 9 requires any institution that is aware of sexual violence to take swift and forceful action on the matter. The letter went on to suggest that consideration of a sexual assault case should entail a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lesser legal standard than the reasonable doubt measure that is used in a court of law. The hammer falls at the conclusion of the document, when institutions are warned that a failure to comply with the guidelines may likely result in the withholding of federal funding. This is the kiss of death to all institutions of higher learning.

Unsurprisingly, conservatives and libertarians stood aghast at the directives, but objections were also raised in unexpected quarters. Two professors from Harvard suggested that the new guidelines resulted in a, “sex bureaucracy,” placing more and more normal behavior under federal scrutiny. Legal theorist Janet Halley also expressed concerns about the fairness of the process, worrying about the trampling of the rights of the accused, particularly men of color.

2014 (I was 39)

On November 19, Rolling Stone Magazine published an article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely entitled, “A Rape on Campus.” It told the story of a female student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, who claimed she had been gang raped by several members of a fraternity while at a party. The story received much media attention and predictable partisan reaction from the pundit class. It also resulted in the president of UVA suspending all fraternities. However, other independent journalists found notable discrepancies in the accuser’s story.

On January 12, 2015, Charlottesville police officials told UVA that their investigation resulted in no corroboration of her story. The Columbia School of Journalism performed an audit of Rolling Stone’s editorial processes. On April 5, Rolling Stone issued a full retraction of the story and published the audit report from Columbia.

2016 (I was 41)

On July 21, Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News, resigned in the wake of more than a dozen allegations of sexual harassment brought forth by female employees including Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly. Media figures who despised Ailes and his so-called right-wing propagandist network rubbed their hands together with glee. FNC pundits such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity circled the wagons.

On October 7, the Washington Post dropped the granddaddy of all October Surprises when it released 11-year-old audio of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blatantly admitting to sexual assault. The video was recorded while Trump and television host Billy Bush were preparing to record a segment of Access Hollywood. Trump described how he had unsuccessfully tried to bed Bush’s co-host, Nancy O’Dell. Then he saw an actress outside the bus and said:

“I’ve got to use some tictacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know…I’m automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet…just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…grab ‘em by the pussy…you can do anything.

Even before the Washington Post released the bombshell, Trump’s campaign learned of the audio and had gone into crisis mode. The following weekend was full of GOP officials disavowing Trump and his remarks. Paul Ryan very publicly disinvited Trump from speaking at a fundraiser in Wisconsin. Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell and Chris Christie all distanced themselves. Every political operative and big-name donor forecast doom for the Trump campaign. Trump laughed them off. The only person who’s opinion concerned him was his running mate, Mike Pence. Pence dropped off the radar on Saturday, spending time alone with his wife in prayer at his home in Indiana.

On October 8, Trump posted a short video to his Facebook page in which he apologized for his remarks. He then deflected, accusing the Clintons of doing far worse.

On October 9, just two hours before his second presidential debate with opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump held an unannounced press conference in which he appeared with Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick. During the debate, Trump and Clinton exchanged verbal barbs. She accused him of being unfit to serve, while he accused her of enabling her husband’s bad behavior. When pressed by Anderson Cooper about his comments on the tape, he dismissed them as, “Locker room talk.”

Over the next two weeks, Trump’s poll numbers cratered, but then began to rebound in the days before the election. On November 8, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton and became the 45th president of the United States. The reason for Trump’s ultimate success with his voting base in the face of initial opposition from the GOP machine can best be summarized by a quote from Tim Alberta’s book, American Carnage:

“Trump may have been a shameless deviant, but in the eyes of conservatives, he was running against the first family of perversion.”

Since the discovery of the Hollywood Access tape, 26 women have come forward and accused Trump of sexual harassment and assault during his time on the NBC reality show, The Apprentice, as well as in connection with the Miss U.S.A. beauty pageants. Trump denied all of the allegations and threatened to sue his accusers, as well as the New York Times for publishing their accounts. As of this writing, no lawsuit has been forthcoming.

2017 (I was 42)

On April 11, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly announced that he would be taking a hiatus from his nightly show, The O’Reilly Factor. This was the flagship program for the cable network and the highest rated program in its time slot. O’Reilly claimed he was taking his annual Easter vacation, but the true reason was transparent. Earlier that month, the New York Times had published an expose in which it unearthed the settlement of five lawsuits against Fox News and O’Reilly for sexual misconduct. Backlash against O’Reilly was immediate, with 60 percent of advertisers withdrawing their sponsorship for the program. On April 19, FNC announced that Bill O’Reilly had been dismissed from the company. On April 21, The O’Reilly Factor was canceled.

On October 5, the New York Times published a bombshell report alleging over 30 years of sexual abuse and misconduct by Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Five days later, Ronan Farrow published another article in the New Yorker in which 13 women alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Weinstein. The most damning portion of the New Yorker piece was a leaked audio recording in which Weinstein admitted to groping Ambra Gutierrez. Farrow claimed that he wanted to break the story months earlier, but was stonewalled by NBC, where he worked as a reporter.

Since the initial reports in October, 2017, over 80 women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of harassment, assault or rape. Weinstein initially tried to downplay the scandal, but the rising number of accusers resulted in his ejection from The Weinstein Company, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and nearly all of his other professional associations. Conservative pundits were quick to blast Democrats in general and feminists specifically, claiming that Weinstein was a typical Hollywood figure who had poured millions of dollars into various Democrat-friendly causes and candidates in exchange for the political machine looking the other way with a wink and a nod at Weinstein’s criminal behavior.

The toppling of Harvey Weinstein soon gave rise to a social media phenomenon known as the #MeToo Movement, in which thousands of survivors of sexual violence across the globe came forward to share their stories. On January 1, 2018, over 300 actresses published an open letter in the New York Times that gave birth to the Hollywood-based Time’s Up initiative. In the wake of the Weinstein allegations, a number of high-profile men were subsequently accused of sexual misconduct and were terminated from their professional positions. Casualties included Kevin Spacey, John Besh, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Les Moonves and John Conyers. Judge Roy D. Moore was credibly accused of sexual misconduct by eight victims while running for the Senate seat in Alabama. Though the Republican Party endorsed him, he lost his election to Democrat Doug Jones.

In 2018, both the New York Times and the New Yorker received the Pulitzer Award for their coverage of the Weinstein story. In 2020, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape in the third degree and sentenced to 23 years in prison.

2018 (I was 43)

On July 9, President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Anthony Kennedy. The pundit class immediately began to incessantly chatter about the impact of the nomination. Kennedy had been an unpredictable swing vote, while Kavanaugh was more solidly conservative. Everyone knew that Kavanaugh’s nomination, if successful, might change the philosophical bent of the court for at least a generation.

On September 16, the Washington Post reported that Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school in the summer of 1982. Ford claimed that Kavanaugh and a friend locked her in a bedroom during a party and that Kavanaugh tried to rip off her clothes before she managed to escape. Questions arose over the conduct of Senator Diane Feinstein, who apparently knew about Ford’s allegation but sat on it until it was finally leaked to the media.

One week after the Washington Post report, a second woman accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in 1983. Subsequently, two more women came forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, but their claims were discredited by investigating journalists. The already contentious confirmation process became explosive, inflamed by flagrant grandstanding by various senators on the Judiciary Committee, tweets by President Trump engaging in rampant victim-blaming and the behavior of Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing one of the accusers.

On September 27, both Kavanaugh and Ford testified separately in front of the Judiciary Committee. Reaction in pundit circles was partisan and predictable, though conservatives were generally impressed with Ford’s composure and consistency on the stand. Democrats pounced on Kavanaugh’s emotional testimony, particularly a combative exchange with Senator Amy Klobuchar. After the hearing, several GOP senators and the entirety of the Democrat minority called for a delay in the full senate vote so that the allegations could be investigated by the FBI. More controversy ensued when the White House attempted to limit the scope of the FBI investigation.

On October 6, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court with a narrow majority. The vote was 50/48 and fell along party lines.

Reaction to the Kavanaugh drama was predictable. Kavanaugh accused the Democrats of orchestrating a political hit job on him, suggesting a revenge motive for his role in the Ken Starr Report and Bush v. Gore. Many right-leaning pundits were skeptical of the timing of Ford’s allegations, noting strategic parallels to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill affair. Democrats were indignant, particularly in the wake of the burgeoning #MeToo Movement, claiming that Kavanaugh was another powerful predator who was going to get away with it, while Christine Blasey Ford was a hero for coming forward.

2020 (I was 45)

During the Democratic presidential primaries, former Vice-President Joe Biden was accused of sexual harassment and assault by former staffer Tara Reade. In an interview with Katie Halper on her morning radio show on March 25, Reade alleged that Biden had pushed her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers when she worked as a senate staffer for him in 1993. She made the same accusation in subsequent interviews with NPR, Newsweek and Politico. Biden flatly denied the accusations. In an interview on MSNBC on May 1, he touted his accomplishments on behalf of women by passage of the Violence Against Women Act. Subsequent investigative efforts by journalists turned up a mixed record on Reade’s credibility; some viewed her as a hero, while others claimed she was manipulative and duplicitous. A probe into Biden’s past uncovered a series of women who felt uncomfortable with the level of touching that Biden engaged in, but none of the concerns rose to the level of Reade’s claim.

Conservatives noted the relative lack of outrage in media and DNC circles over Reade’s allegations. Even though various journalism outlets did background work, the general consensus was that they went easier on Christine Blasey Ford than they did on Tara Reade. By late Spring, the issue had disappeared from public conversation, replaced by the ongoing pandemic and racial unrest.

On November 4, Joe Biden was elected as the 46th president of the United States.

On December 14, Governor Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment by former aid Lindsey Boylan.

WHAT!!! YOU NEVER HEARD ABOUT THAT? I’M SHOCKED!

Sidebar: I have painted each of these events in very broad strokes. If you want more nuance and detail, I encourage you to research all of these stories for yourself.

Conclusion:

Why have the politics of sexual assault become so divisive? There are many reasons, I guess, but in my view, it all comes down to one big one. The stakes.

If Clarence Thomas is right, Democrats opposed his nomination, not because he sexually harassed Anita Hill, but because they didn’t want an anti-abortion judge on the court. If Democrats and the media ignored Hillary Clinton’s role in enabling her husband’s predatory behavior, it was because America really needed to obliterate the glass ceiling by electing the first female president. If Republicans reversed their earlier position on character and morality playing a central role in the presidency in order to defend Donald Trump, it was because the alternative of President Clinton 2.0 was far worse than rank hypocrisy. If the DNC and the mainstream media sought to downplay the possibility of the fact that Tara Reade was telling the truth, it was because the idea of a President Biden was far preferable to that of four more years of President Trump.

In all cases, the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t. Everyone from high-level staffers to political pundits to keyboard warriors across the social media spectrum have the same internal and external conversations. Ok, maybe I don’t like what Trump says and does, but I like him better than Hillary! Or socialists! Ok, maybe the timing of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations are a little iffy, but we just can’t let the Supreme Court transform America into Gilead!

When scandals like these flair up, reaction is always immediate and very partisan. Those in the camp of the accusers will point to Harvey Weinstein or Roger Ailes as an example of a man who got away with sex crimes for decades. Those in the camp of the accused will point to the Duke Lacrosse players or the UVA fraternity students as evidence that men can be falsely accused. There is plenty of evidence on both sides. People cherry pick their facts, build them into talking points and go forth into the arena of social media armed for battle. Names are called. Fingers are pointed. Labels are attached. Everyone wages war on the bad guys, all while the victims continue to suffer. The spirit of unhealthy partisanship festers and coalesces into an unholy devil’s brew that is poisonous, but tastes so, so sweet on the tongue of righteous gladiators.

The thing that struck me as I journeyed down memory lane to put this thread together is how often the victims of these crimes are blatantly used for the purposes of others. Donald Trump’s pre-debate press conference with three of Bill Clinton’s accusers was a transparent attempt by him to use them for political leverage. They, in turn, allowed themselves to be used, ostensibly for payback. Al Sharpton was clearly using the alleged victim of the Duke Lacrosse players for his own ends, just as he used Tawana Brawley in 1987. It is entirely possible that Diane Feinstein used Christine Blasey Ford to further her political agenda. I seriously doubt that Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer are great vessels of empathy and compassion. Who wouldn’t want a Pulitzer? When are we going to see the journalistic blockbuster vindicating Juanita Broaddrick? Five months after Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News, Sean Hannity hosted him on his program and gave a very sympathetic interview. A month later, Hannity was excoriating Democrats for giving Harvey Weinstein a pass for decades.

This is a vicious cycle that will keep repeating as long as we as a society view this issue through the lens of tribalism. Honestly, I don’t know if it will change in my lifetime.

Bad Choice Road

In 2014, I spent three months as a counselor at a summer program for blind and visually impaired youth. My time there was largely an exercise in futility. It was, among other things, a stark reminder of why I have no desire to be a parent. I did, however, try to impart certain universal truths to my teenaged students.

One of those truths was, for every action, there is a consequence. Every time you sneak out after curfew to smoke a joint, there will be consequences. Every time you get freaky with another student because you think your blind counselor is clueless as to his surroundings, there will be consequences. Every time you cheat with your sleepshades, there will be consequences.

Six years later, I have no idea whether my message took or not, but I get an A for effort.

Rush Limbaugh always said, “Elections have consequences.” The election of 2016 was no exception. The country chose to elect a man whose professional credentials included bankruptcy, beauty contests, gambling casinos and a successful reality TV show. His personal credentials included open sexual predation, a string of high-profile divorces and unashamed boorish behavior. Four years ago, the GOP (the party of family values) made a collective choice that personal character in a president no longer matters. Four years later, we have seen the consequences of these choices.

Yes, President Trump has enacted some public policies and made some judicial appointments that are favorable to conservatism, but they are overshadowed by chaos wrought by his erratic behavior. His contraction of COVID-19 and the infection of many prominent Republicans in his orbit is merely the latest (and most ironic) example of consequences befalling a leader and a base of supporters too incompetent and thickheaded to affect a course correction.

I think Ben Sasse is exactly right. We are in for a political blood bath. I think Trump is going to lose next month. I think Republicans are going to lose the Senate. I think local races in red states will feel an impact as well. Trump supporters love to tout the so-called, “shy Trump vote.” This is the phenomenon in which those who are secretly supportive of Trump don’t admit it openly to close associates or anonymous pollsters. I think the opposite will and is occurring. I think we’re in for a Trump fatigue vote. I think many voters who did take a chance on Trump four years ago are now exhausted with his antics, particularly in light of COVID-19, and are ready for a return to normalcy at the top of the electoral chain. Given the nature of many of Trump’s supporters who tread a very thin line between persuasion and bullying, it’s easier for these quietly exhausted voters just to smile, nod and go with the flow when pressed. This includes everyone outside of the base from operatives inside the D.C. Beltway to fellows and gals at the local pub who just want to have a beer in peace without being inundated by the MAGA crowd.

Sidebar: I’m not talking about the opportunistic huxters who are raking in the eager suckers through sham operations such as The Lincoln Project. I’m talking about average voters.

I don’t know, of course. Two weeks is an eternity with Trump at the helm and the chaos factor is always high. If the GOP loses, it will be a loss much deserved by a party that was all too quick to abandon its long-held principles for short-term victories. Yes, they’ll successfully appoint Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, but it will come with a very large price tag.

I take no pleasure in this forecast.

The Democrats have also squandered much of their credibility. They refused to loudly and roundly condemn the mob violence that has erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death. They insulted the intelligence of the electorate by equating racism as a comparable disease to the Coronavirus. They constantly move the definitional goal posts of long-held terms such as, “court packing,” “sexual preference,” and “white supremacy,” all in the name of a strategy of domination and cultural subjugation in the public arena of ideas. Their ‘blame and shame’ tactics with respect to all things white is reactionary, short-sighted and it will prove to have a very short shelf life before the public at large cries, enough!

Moreover, the Democrats have chosen as their candidate a man whose chief claim to the White House was won upon the coat tails of Barack Obama. Joe Biden was never a politician known for his deftness, and he now seems decrepit in comparison to his glory days in the ‘90’s. His running mate is a woman who is clearly an authority junkie, given to her own fits of political hyperbole. When they win and enact their leftist policies, whether it be packing the Supreme Court or implementing the quixotic Green New Deal, there will be consequences.

The left is lampooning Trump for holding rallies while numbers of new COVID cases are spiking around the world. This is a valid criticism. Yet, as I type this, the Women’s March is holding a national protest in Washington D.C. This protest is populated mostly by the blue state, pro-lockdown crowd. The CDC is advising people to reconsider Thanksgiving holiday dinner with family, but they are happy to go out and flaunt CDC guidelines when it suits their purposes.

Whatever happens in November, neither candidate has won my vote. Both men are singularly unfit for office. I miss the GOP, but I plan to remain an Independent voter for the foreseeable future.

To any of my former students, have you guys figured it out yet? Have you learned the lessons that the GOP forgot on election night, 2016, and the Democrats forgot after Memorial Day Weekend, 2020? Have you realized that the Bad Choice Road really exists and it only gets harder and harder to steer away from the further along you travel upon it?

If you’re reading this, I will try to impart one final lesson as a nod to the ghost of Ryan O, teacher. At some point in your life, you will face a test. Someone (likely someone you know, love and respect), will ask something of you that you know is wrong. They will have seemingly good and sound reasons for asking you to do, think or speak something that you know in your heart and mind not to be true. At that moment, the courage of your convictions will be tested. You will be standing at a fork in the road of life. One path leads to a road shrouded by the mists of uncertainty, unpopularity and disenfranchisement. The other leads to the bad choice road.

Both political parties have stood at this fork in the past four years and both have taken the wrong path. But then, who am I to judge? I have faced this test more than once and I too have failed.

Take heart, former students. When your time comes, rejoice in the knowledge that you were warned beforehand.

Ben Sasse for Senate!!!

Don Bacon for Congress!!!

Jean Stothert for Mayor!!!

Optimus Prime for President!!!