One reason for the divisions and misinformation plaguing this country is that the activities of a few extremists dominate the news and skew people’s opinions. There can be 2,000 peaceful protesters marching for a cause, but if 10 of them become destructive, they’re the ones who get the most news coverage. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, and that’s the way it will probably always be. High drama sells.
The latest example is the news coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement. All over the country, even in small towns, concerned citizens have marched peacefully to protest against incidences of police brutality and racial injustice in general. Here in Baraboo, the protest organizers met and coordinated with the local police chief. As a result, it was quiet and peaceful, with no violence or destruction. Unfortunately, protests like that rarely make the headlines.
During the past few months, in a few large cities, a handful of arsonists and looters dominated the news cycle. Their stupid criminal actions played right into the hands of the Trump campaign and resulted in the president’s order to send out unidentified federal troops. That, of course, made it worse when, again, a few demonstrators did exactly what Donald Trump and his enablers knew they’d do — act even more stupid and destructive.
That prompted the president as well as columnist Michael Reagan, Fox News hosts and other right-wing extremists to label all Democrats “socialists” who hate this country and who want to destroy it. Then they made up lies about former Vice President Joe Biden.
We can hear those lies every day in a Trump campaign ad that spreads the lie that Biden wants to defund the police. It shows a man trying to break into the house of a frightened elderly woman while she’s trying to call 911. Nobody answers her call. Viewers then hear Fox’s Sean Hannity say that Biden will defund the police. It also ridiculously implies that emergency calls would not be answered if Biden is elected.
The truth is that Biden has consistently said he does not want to defund or abolish the police. He does want money allocated to groups and resources that would assist police officers during times when, for example, it’s suspected that individuals involved in criminal or other disruptive behaviors have mental health issues. Trump, of course, approved the ad and the lies. Why our local TV channels air those ads, or any ads containing blatant lies, is beyond me. In Trump’s case, he approves the lies because of his personal ambition. In the media’s case, it’s all about the almighty dollar.
What Trump enablers don’t want voters to know is that Biden is a moderate who has no connection to the angry, destructive mobs. They also don’t want the voters to know that most Democrats are not socialists, nor do most Democrats want destructive protesters to go unpunished. In truth, most Democrats support and appreciate the police and realize that only a few police officers abuse their powers.
Also, most Democrats know that very few Republicans are white nationalists and that most of them don’t support people wearing swastikas or flying the Confederate flag. They, too, want the racists called out for their abuses and inciteful words.
But even though they’re in the majority in both parties, the voices of moderates are rarely heard. If moderate lawmakers speak up, they’re called wishy-washy or weak by the extremists. If they’re Republican, they’re labeled “RINOs” — Republicans in name only. If they’re Democrats they’re called “DINOs.” You know the rest.
These days it’s rare that lawmakers compromise or work together for the good of the country. Now, it’s party above people. That won’t change, either, unless moderate voters from all parties start to get involved and insist their voices be heard over the clamor of the extremists. That means attending listening sessions and contacting legislators to express their views. It means learning who’s running for office, including city and county offices, and finding out what they stand for. And it means learning how incumbents have voted in the past.
And then, all eligible voters need to vote. To find out if you’re registered, how to register or request an absentee ballot, go to Iwillvote.com or call 833-336-8683. Another good site, operated by the Wisconsin Election Commission, is myvote.wi.gov. Voters can also visit their city halls to register and will need a valid ID and proof of residence, like a recent utility bill containing their name and address. They can also register on Election Day if they bring the required documents.
Wisconsin’s Primary Election is Aug. 11, and the General Election is Nov. 3. Vote wisely. The results will affect every one of us for years to come.
Pat Nash has lived in the Baraboo area, off and on, for more than 35 years. Contact her at email@example.com.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!