Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Family Research Council spins resentment & racism as positives after election

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council gives a deceptive spin of last night's election

In its attempt to spin the Democrat's election night victory, which saw several transgender Americans become elected officials as well as a wide repudiation of Trumpism, the Family Research Council went to an extreme.

In it's latest Washington Update, FRC president Tony Perkins attempted to distract by pushing the same spin that conservatives have been spinning all day, i.e. claiming that since Virginia was a blue state and therefore governor's race which served as a bellwether in the media of this year's election, really didn't mean much.

We all know that had the Virginia election gone to the Republican candidate Ed Gillespie rather than Democrat Ralph Northam, FRC would have elbowed its way to the head of the line of crows proclaiming how "Americans are embracing Trump."

But what caught my attention was this last part of the Washington Update:

The takeaway from Tuesday's results is this: these two states are an extremely small sample size of mainly blue voters. The real test will come in Alabama, the heart of Trump country, where the special election for Jeff Session's old Senate seat will give us a much better indication of what Americans are thinking. Even now, though, in swing states like Pennsylvania, the support for the president runs deep. Virtually unscathed by the congressional drama, the president still polls well in purple states. In a fascinating article, Politico tries to explain why Trump's base is still rallying around the president, supplying the bulk of his rocky approval ratings. 
"Over the course of three rainy, dreary days last week," Michael Kruse writes, "I revisited and shook hands with the president's base -- that thirty-something percent of the electorate who resolutely approve of the job he is doing, the segment of voters who share his view that the Russia investigation is a 'witch hunt' that 'has nothing to do with him,' and who applaud his judicial nominees and his determination to gut the federal regulatory apparatus... In spite of unprecedented unpopularity -- nearly all people who voted for Trump would do it again."

As we saw with Clinton, who was abandoned by blue collar voters for her extreme social stance ("the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job"), Middle America still embraces Trump's agenda. But they also understand his limitations without a cooperative Congress. "I asked [voter Pam] Schilling what would happen if the next three years go the way the last one has," Kruse shares. "'I'm not going to blame him,'" Schilling said. "'Absolutely not.'"

Aside from the fact that Alabama is a deep red state and a victory by Moore has been predicted for weeks,  there are two things worth mentioning about FRC's spin here.

1. FRC conveniently omitted mentioning how the transgender community excelled in last night's election, punctuated by Danica Roem winning a seat on the Virginia state legislature. Not only is she the first transgender American to do so, but she also defeated a legislator, Robert Marshall, who was known for his legislative attacks on the LGBTQ community. He even sponsored a dreaded "bathroom bill."

2. The second reason is more poignant because FRC totally distorted the Politico article it chose to cite. The article, Johnstown Never Believed Trump Would Help. They Still Love Him Anyway., was a look at Trump supporters who like him anyway in spite of the fact that he has broken promises to them.

FRC's cited excerpts from the article. Below are the same excerpts with more context and less doctoring:
Over the course of three rainy, dreary days last week, I revisited and shook hands with the president’s base—that thirtysomething percent of the electorate who resolutely approve of the job he is doing, the segment of voters who share his view that the Russia investigation is a “witch hunt” that “has nothing to do with him,” and who applaud his judicial nominees and his determination to gut the federal regulatory apparatus. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how readily these same people had abandoned the contract he had made with them. Their satisfaction with Trump now seems untethered to the things they once said mattered to them the most. 

 . . . in spite of unprecedented unpopularity—nearly all people who voted for Trump would do it again. But as I compared this year’s answers to last year’s responses it seemed clear that the basis of people’s support had morphed. Johnstown voters do not intend to hold the president accountable for the nonnegotiable pledges he made to them. It’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.

With all due respect to those quoted in the article, it is a piece which paints Trump supporters in that region as folks drowning in resentment and unwilling to change even as they are suffering from their stubborn behavior.  They are painted as people who supports Trump because he articulates their rage even after it becomes clear that he exploited their problems to win the presidency and is now abandoning them. These are people not angry because they are alienated, but because they've also lost their sense of false entitlement.

The last portion of the article, which FRC  omitted because it probably would wreck the group's narrative, proves this point:

More than anything, what seemed to upset the people I spoke with was the National Football League players who have knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. 
“As far as I’m concerned,” Frear told me, “if I was the boss of these teams, I would tell ’em, ‘You get your asses out there and you play, or you’re not here anymore.’ They’re paying their salaries, for God’s sake.” 
“Shame on them,” Del Signore said over his alfredo. “These clowns are out there, making millions of dollars a year, and they’re using some stupid excuse that they want equality—so I’ll kneel against the flag and the national anthem?” 
“You’re not a fan of equality?” I asked. 
“For people who deserve it and earn it,” he said. “All my ancestors, Italian, 100 percent Italian, the Irish, Germans, Polish, whatever—they all came over here, settled in places like this, they worked hard and they earned the respect. They earned the success that they got. Some people don’t want to do that. They just want it handed to them.” 
“Like NFL players?” I said. 
“Well,” Del Signore responded, “I hate to say what the majority of them are …” He stopped himself short of what I thought he was about to say.

We all know what he wanted to say. He doesn't say it but later in the piece, someone else does. After all of the other shady things the Family Research Council has done over the years, it should surprise no one that the organization is now attempting to spin obstinacy and racial resentment as positive qualities.

No comments: