So this happened yesterday:
— Guardian US (@GuardianUS) May 25, 2017
Yup, that’s Greg Gianforte, a candidate for the United States House of Representatives body-slamming a reporter who had the audacity to ask him a question he didn’t like about public policy. Because ‘Merica, that’s why.
While news outlets across Montana are withdrawing their support for Gianforte and national media outlets are making the obligatory (and in this case, accurate) noise about the treatment of a journalist being unacceptable, it all reinforces one undeniable fact.
Greg Gianforte will absolutely, without a doubt, be the next Congressman from Montana, because that’s exactly how broken American politics are today. I know virtually nothing about this race, but I can tell you that Greg Gianforte will win it. The reasons are clear as day to anyone who actually pays attention.
- In Donald Trump’s America, journalists aren’t people, and the media serves no legitimate purpose but to spread fake news. While journalists certainly cannot escape their role in the sorry state of our current political abyss, a free and independent media is vital to an informed citizenry (we’ll come back to that in a minute). But because we have been led to believe the media is the enemy by so many in politics, particularly the Republican Party, attacking a journalist somehow seems acceptable, if not patriotic.
- More than half the votes have already been cast in the Montana special election due to early balloting. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube; those votes are Gianforte’s no matter what. It is ironic that early voting, a measure designed to increase voter turnout, will likely reward the political party whose clear objective is to limit voter access.
- Does anybody really think this clown is going to be punished for assaulting a reporter, especially a reporter from a British publication? This is about as good-old-boy as the system gets. There’s no way serious charges will be pursued, and even less of a chance of any lasting consequences. This sucks, but it’s reality.
- Gianforte is a rich white guy, so he can get away with just about anything as long as it doesn’t hurt other rich white guys.
- The Democratic Party ignored Gianforte’s opponent, Rob Quist, until the eleventh hour, presumably because the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is only interested in supporting independently wealthy candidates too. Say what you want about the Republican Party, but they stand by their candidates pretty much no matter what, whereas the Democrats continue to cling to some bizarre notion that only certain candidates are worthy of their support. This is why the Republican Party has dominated on Election Day in recent years, especially in Congressional and State Legislative races.
But let’s get back to that idea of the lack of an informed citizenry, which is an inexcusable farce in the Information Age. For many, if not most voters, their research about a candidate begins and ends with whether their name is followed by a “D” or an “R”. That’s it- that’s the entire gauntlet a modern day candidate must run in many instances. We have allowed the bar to be set so low for what constitutes a qualified candidate for office, the prevailing wisdom is that anyone can be effective in government.
Yeah, the media is somewhat to blame if only because they control the narrative in most cases, but there is still no excuse for an uninformed citizenry heading into voting booths like sheep, or even worse, not going to vote at all. Because if we all continue to stick our heads in the sand and allow the rapid disintegration of civic awareness currently facing America, we deserve exactly what we get, which is Greg Gianforte being sworn in as a member of the United States Congress.