Well, here we are a few days out from the inauguration and political discourse and intelligence in this country could not be any dumber. We should just officially proclaim as our national slogan “You’re Either For ‘Em or Agin Em” and acknowledge that for most Americans, the idea of holding two ideas in one’s head simultaneously is an impossible task.
This was demonstrated repeatedly during the campaign when voicing criticism of Trump was seen as evidence of being pro-Hillary, and vice versa. This black and white view of the world is reinforced by the media, which now demands rigid ideological conformity of the sort that used to be more restricted to the dueling idiot box outlets of Fox and MSNBC and the insipid, canned commentary of the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow.
The latest example comes with the feud between Donald Trump and Congressman John Lewis. Take your side! It’s an easy call, right? You’re either a Trump supporter, in which case your man can do no wrong, or you’re a a Trump enemy, so you’re with John Lewis, “one of the most respected people in America,” according to a Washington Post headline yesterday.
May I suggest a more nuanced, sophisticated approach to this quarrel?
Trump is performing, as per usual, like a strutting peacock and has made some truly offensive remarks. There are reasons that only 8 percent of African-Americans voted for him and were infuriated by his remarks. Meanwhile, Lewis is a long-time hack whose continued political survival is a sign of the Democratic Party’s sickness and corruption.
The fact that Lewis marched with Martin Luther King many years ago is laudable but it should not confer permanent hero status on him. As Michael Tracey noted on Twitter, he long ago transformed himself into a sock puppet of the political establishment, including his role as a Hillary campaign surrogate deployed against Bernie Sanders.
Lewis’s political courage is seen in his long-time ties and support for the Faith and Politics Institute, which he co-chaired for eight years and aggressively promotes. This little-known organization is based in the DC swamp and it’s board is dominated by (white, just incidentally) lobbyists and representatives of do-good organizations like Goldman Sachs, Fluor, Microsoft and United Health Group, as well as former and current congressional staffers, including at least one of Lewis’s.
It’s a classic Washington influence peddling operation, as seen in its annual Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage across Alabama, which Lewis has led. The Institute apparently charges a minimum of $25,000 to participate and according to this story by Center for Public Integrity, a lot of the those who go along for the ride are corporations and donors to the Institute, along with members of congress.
The Center identified some of the corporate particpants as Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Altria and Freddie Mac (this story dates to before the housing collapse). “They [the lobbyists] have a sincere interest in the civil rights movement,” Lewis explained.
Note: In appointing his cabinet Donald Trump seems to be procuring as many former Goldman Sachs executives as possible, but Lewis has a fairly friendly relationship with the firm as well. Check out, if you must, this scintillating conversation between him and the financial giant’s chairman, Lloyd Blankfein, the man who led a firm that lied to its own investors and who may have perjured himself before congress.