Jonathan Chait’s False Equivalence

Pundits get justifiably upset when voters or political candidates suggest that Hillary Clinton is just as bad as Donald Trump.  The differences between Clinton and Trump and the dangers Trump poses are frequently overstated, but for those of us who believe in social justice, there’s no denying that four years of Trump would be expected to be worse than four years of Clinton.

Yet the pundits themselves commit a much greater sin of false equivalence when expressing their unhappiness with those critiquing the Democratic Party.  Jonathan Chait, for example, recently equated protesters at the Democratic convention with Republican politicians, asserting that the only difference between these two groups of “unhinged extremists” was that the former had been “screaming at the stage” in Philadelphia while the latter had been “screaming from the stage” in Cleveland.

On Saturday night, I met one of the people Chait maligned, a Bernie Sanders delegate from California named Yolanda Gonzalez.  A veteran elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, Yolanda has been touring the country as a volunteer for Brand New Congress during her summer break.  The organization plans to run a full slate of congressional candidates in 2018 who commit to a grassroots-developed platform in the mold of the Sanders agenda: getting money out of politics, taking bold action on climate change, revamping our criminal justice system, ensuring a basic standard of living for everyone, and ending discrimination against historically disadvantaged communities.

Yolanda is proud of her protests at the DNC; in contrast to Chait’s insistence that critiques of Clinton are “more characterological than ideological,” Yolanda’s beef with the Democratic nominee is substantive.  She takes issue with Clinton’s history of pushing fracking around the world and her hawkish foreign policy and believes that Clinton faced far fewer consequences for what FBI director James Comey called “extremely careless…handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” than would have been faced by a less powerful person (Yolanda is almost certainly right).  Yolanda says her students deserve politicians who will fight for the real changes they need, not those who insist that incremental change is all that’s accomplishable.

That’s why Yolanda became a Sanders delegate.  It’s why, despite the rudeness she endured from Clinton delegates (one of whom called a member of her delegation a “fag”) and the Democratic Party’s attempts to silence her protests (which included the installation of noise-cancelling machines) throughout the convention, she continued to show up every day and join her fellow delegates in chants like “No More War,” “Stop the TPP,” “Ban Fracking Now,” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Chait may not share Yolanda’s social justice inclinations and might disagree with her tactics.  But “unhinged extremism” comparable to what you saw from the likes of Rudy Giuliani at the Republican convention those tactics most certainly were not.  In fact, it’s a lot less accurate to say that than to say that Clinton is the same as Trump.

5 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election

5 responses to “Jonathan Chait’s False Equivalence

  1. carlbradleyherman

    Yup: corporate media only and always use marginalizing rhetoric (or silence) rather than address the comprehensive facts. Ben, in 1975 the Director of the CIA admitted to the US Senate they had over 400 operative within US corporate media to control messages, especially to maintain US foreign military missions that were/are, of course, Orwellian unlawful.

    Any rational observer of the Dem’s convention, nomination process, and reporting (if allowed comprehensive factual consideration) would likely report the following rather than foaming the any dissent is “unhinged extremism” (I wonder if they trot that phrase out to focus groups):

    1. The US wars are all started on admitted lies, and are the opposite of legal.
    2. This history of rogue state empire has gone on for nearly 200 years, beginning with ~600 treaty violations with Native Americans and really starting to roll with stealing half of Mexico in 1848.
    3. The statistics of exit poll data versus unaccountable voting machines show Sanders won the primary.
    4. Corporate media “reporting” and DNC e-mail leaks show dictatorial control to nominate Clinton.
    5. Clinton is a War Criminal, felon for running a rogue state private State Department, and racketeer for operating election fraud.
    6. US policy enables a .01% oligarchy of key corporations to operate outside of law and public interest to parasitize massive profits.
    7. The sum of this parasitism can be easily documented in the tens of trillions, with total damages to Americans ~$100 trillion.
    8. When someone truly powerful voices/acts with dissent to the oligarchy, assassination is a response. This is easily documented with President Kennedy and Martin King.

    I could go on.

    My personal analysis after 39 years of activism that includes working directly with both Clintons is that all we’ll ever receive is empire clothed in bullshit rhetoric until We the People demand lawful arrests of the “leaderships” in government, corporate media, and finance/banking followed by Truth & Reconciliation to allow the minions to brief us with the full facts.

    I helped construct and deliver ~300 policy briefs to Members of Congress, and am very well trained to only and always provide irrefutable objectively factual information. That said, the above claims require posting more documentation than a comment should have, so I’ll only provide a paper with most of this information that I was asked to write and deliver to the Claremont Colleges’ 2015 international conference for ~2,000 people: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/05/seizing-an-alternative-recognizing-the-emperors-new-clothes-as-the-story-of-today-1-of-7.html

    The truth shall set you free. But it’ll usually piss you off first.

  2. Pat

    Very good call, Ben. Thanks for your righteous throw down. Will be glad to share it with the CA delegation and more.

  3. Donald

    I haven’t looked into it, but I have read people who say the noise cancelling machines were in fact something else. So if you have time you might want to look into that and correct your post if it turns out to need correcting.

    Great blog, btw. I just found you and I am going to be a regular. What impresses me is that you are passionate, but obviously try to be as fair minded to your opponents as humanly possible. That’s rare and better than I can do much of the time, especially when your opponents have the MSM on their side and every slander they make is accepted as truth.

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Donald. I will definitely correct the post with an update if it turns out that those weren’t actually noise-cancelling machines. Glad you like the blog; I’m looking forward to reading your comments!

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