Let’s Talk Specifics

One thing most Americans can agree upon is that this year’s election is abnormal.

We have a presidential contest featuring a convicted felon– supported by a fact-averse cult–who routinely lies, threatens violence, and violates long-established political norms. (I would add that–although we’ve had some unfortunate political actors in our history–we’ve never previously faced a presidential campaign by someone so obviously, seriously mentally ill.)

Perhaps as a result of that novelty, the traditional press consistently fails to convey the actual stakes of the upcoming election–and those stakes are monumental. Handwringing pundits have complained about that failure, but very few have made specific recommendations for change. For that matter, grousing without suggesting what actions might be helpful characterizes most conversations about the upcoming election. 

What should the media do? What should each concerned citizen do?

Jennifer Rubin recently answered that question for the media. She began with a statement of the obvious:

The United States has never had an election in which: a felon runs for president on a major party ticket; a presidential candidate lays out a detailed plan for authoritarian rule; an entire party gaslights the public (e.g., claiming the president was behind their candidate’s state prosecution; pretending they won the last election); and, prominent leaders of one party signal they will not accept an adverse outcome in the next election. Yet, the coverage of the 2024 campaign is remarkably anodyne, if not oblivious, to the unprecedented nature of this election and its implications.

Rather than indulging an obsession with meaningless early polling, Rubin says, show a minute or two of unedited video of Trump’s rambling, incoherent and deranged rants. Rather than “fact checking” the nonsense blizzard, focus on the unprecedented nature of his rhetoric. Illustrate the deterioration in his thinking and speech. Quote experts discussing “how an obviously irrational and unhinged leader casts a spell over his devoted following.”


Rubin says the media should refuse to entertain “laughable MAGA spin,” such as claims that Trump’s conviction will help him win the election. (Those polls they love to cite rebut that premise.) Real journalists would debunk other MAGA lies, including the frequent ones about crowd size. 


Reporters should stop giving spineless Republican officials a free pass when they parrot Trump’s obvious falsehoods. Interviewers should be prepared to challenge and debunk them.


You can read the rest of her litany at the link, but the call for specificity also applies to each of us. After all, fulminations on this blog–including mine– are not actions. Sharing memes and “liking” posts on social media aren’t actions.


Other than the obvious–casting our votes and donating to underfunded candidates–what specific activities are available to those of us who understand the gravity of the threat posed by MAGA? 


Let me suggest three:

  • If everyone who recognizes that threat, everyone who agrees that voting Blue up and down the ballot is essential, would find just one rational person who has not previously voted– or who has not voted regularly–and would take it upon herself to ensure that person is registered and casts a ballot, we would assure a Blue tsunami. (Women who have previously skipped elections ought to be prime candidates this year, given the GOP’s unremitting attacks on abortion and birth control.)
  • When you come across examples of news media engaging in the behaviors Rubin has described, write and complain. If the offending outlet gets enough complaints, especially if those complaints come from subscribers, they’ll notice. They may defend their coverage, but they’re likely to be more careful.
  • If you are on social media, post accurate, credible information about the actual state of the economy, real numbers about criminal activity, and other facts that rebut widespread misinformation–with links to official sources, if possible. You needn’t get into online arguments (if someone has posted that the stock market is down, or unemployment is up, all you need to do is post an article from, say, the Wall Street Journal or other business publication reporting the fact that the market has hit an all-time high and employment is the highest in fifty years.) The people posting misinformation on Facebook or Tiktok or wherever aren’t people who read the New York Times or Washington Post–or, here in Indiana, the Indianapolis Business Journal. At the very least, you’ll be ensuring that they see something other than Rightwing media misinformation. 

If you have the time and can join an activist organization, that would be great, but if large numbers of people just did these three things, it would change the dynamic of America’s upcoming election.

This is our (much safer) beach at Normandy. Storm it.


  1. Yes. Time for positive action.
    May I recommend “Postcards To Swing States” (link below) as one place to find meaningful action? Their goal is to mail simple postcards with messages that encourage and remind voters to register and help their friends and family to register and vote. Worth looking into. Maybe others here have similar organizations they could recommend.

  2. Let’s talk FACTS! The blatant fact is that the Trump Cult views his position as already being elected president and allowing him to run the entire Republican party. He chose the Chairman of the RNC, appointed his daughter-in-law as vice-chair, as soon as his youngest son Barron celebrated his 18th birthday Big Daddy appointed him as a Florida State Delegate. McConnell is now that “man behind the curtain” as was the Wizard of Oz, still running the party in the Senate, but from behind the curtain of the current Republican Senate minority.

    The media, for reasons beyond all comprehension, feel the need to report the same Trump lies, distortions, insane speeches and every slow-down by the judicial system repeatedly and occasionally mention we DO have a president, President Joe Biden, who is carrying on the duties and requirements of that position. The media spends more time reporting President Biden’s slips of the tongue or tripping on sandbags than on what he is doing nationally and on the global level.

    I am unable to donate much this year to help the Democratic party due to the Republican operated corporations who are price-gouging the working and retired American public while the media follows the GOP in blaming the current economy on President Biden. WALL STREET RULES as corporations and the wealthy are piling up profits faster than they can count their dollars. Republican House members at the federal level refused to renew President Biden’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to assist low income users of the Internet; I am in a position to cover my $30 monthly cost but millions who need the Internet do not have the resources. Gov. Holcomb has submitted a bill in Indiana for $51 MILLION to aid covering the cost of Broadband which will require being paid by local taxes rather than the coverage through President Biden’s federal Infrastructure Bill.

    Get ready for another Trump administration which will end democracy, Rule of Law and the Constitution, replacing them with his Dictatorship; our allies will become Putin, Kim Jong Un and other enemies of the United States and all allies globally. THE MEDIA IS ELECTING DONALD TRUMP BEFORE NOVEMBER 5, 2024! Democrats, like the idle and mute Republicans, are aiding the media by staying silent about the facts. Is that specific enough for you?

  3. In case James doesn’t come back: https://www.turnoutpac.org/postcards/

    The media is only half the problem. Our two captive political parties are the other half of the poor election outcomes. We have a felon going up against a mass-murderer war criminal. One helluva choice, people!

    Jennifer is just another talking head cheering on the Democrats by being anti-Republican. She writes BS in rags owned by oligarchs. Others get invited on TV owned by oligarchs, while others have radio shows owned by oligarchs. If any of them decided to tell the TRUTH, they’d be shunned so fast your head would spin.

    Our country is heading into a very dark place right now, and our two political parties are taking us along with the legacy media owned by the oligarchy. Will the collective oligarchy-owned press move closer to its intended goals as outlined by the Constitution (the Fourth Estate), or will it censor even more? Based on current laws coming out of Washington, we’ll get more censorship.

    Thanks to the US and Europe, our world is divided into sections, just like our country. It’s swinging further to the right in Europe so we’ll see what happens in November.

  4. We are choosing between a legitimate government and an illegitimate government, not between two old men. Remember how the White House was staffed in 2017? Our allies talked about our whole country going off the rails. Steve Bannon? Rudy G.? The Trump kids? Pence? Jan 7th? A government that is truth-based and one that is propaganda-based, appealing to those whose vision of government is somewhere between the Vatican and the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

    The only way the Reds could possibly sell the clown car that had taken over their party was through copious lies. Those are not the same as made-up conspiracy theories.

    How else could a country be spoken of except off the rails even to consider such a train wreck?

  5. When I was in DC, Jennifer was a conservative and a Republican. She probably still is, but the Overton Window has been dragged so far to the right, she now seems like a liberal. With the Biden election, we began a reset of that window. It’s a bit like turning an ocean liner. It will take time and considerable effort on our part to get that done. Let’s not let a backward slide happen, but let’s not just burn it all down.

  6. Let me see…one of the two largest groups of “sometimes/never” voters are youth. You really think they will respond to a post card? They might not even know what one is.

    The way to reach youth is via social media FROM A YOUTH, ABOUT YOUTH ISSUES. They vote issues, not parties or candidates: reproductive rights, cost of living, killing innocents, etc.

  7. The MeidasTouch network is doing just what you suggest and it seems to be reaching the mainstream media – Just this week, I finally heard Jim Acosta report on Trump’s ditty about being electrocuted or eaten by sharks, which appears to be a regular story on his campaign trail. They have nearly 3 million subscribers on YouTube and the thing I love about them is they come with facts, the actual depositions, the actual paperwork for charges brought against Trump – there’s no spin on their reporting and it’s SO refreshing to hear the truth and be able to believe what they say.

  8. I would suggest believing media will report accurately about Trump misunderstands the point of the media. Their goal is not to bring information to the audience. It’s to bring the audience to their advertisers. News was, many moons ago, a “loss leader”. It cost a lot of money to do well, but it got you subscriptions which made you money and brought eyes to your advertisers. News is no longer a loss leader. It is expected to increase net profit, just like everything else. They’re not likely to buck the money trend.

    I would tend to agree that posting straight facts and having outreach based on verifiable facts is useful. But, expecting reasoned and accurate coverage is probably a pipe-dream. When MAGA says crazy things, it’s great for clicks. Clicks are money. Money is the goal. Therefore report the crazy thing. It’s a bummer.

  9. There is no question about the Republicans and the Donald. The questions remain about the Democrats and the election. When we/you/others – PRESUME that Joe Biden – IS the (only choice of) The Candidate – we contribute to the election of the Donald. There are two distinct issues related to this: 1.) The corruption of the Democratic Party and similar – Todd S – addresses this most clearly! – I’m now more concerned about 2.) Winning the Election – 2024 – WHY presume that Biden: a. MUST be the candidate and more importantly b. SHOULD/IS the candidate. I intensely dislike Joe- both because he supports GENOCIDE and Causes it to continue – this may or may not be the case with a different president (Democrat). Others dislike Joe because they think he will die during a second term and don’t want K Harris to be president – whether due to Racism, Sexism, or just because she’s not a “good politician”, Others dislike Joe – because he’s not that bright – in various ways – telling a lot of people that they are “doing better” – when they aren’t the owners of stocks/bonds, and are hurting with higher food/housing/medical etc. costs – is STUPID! The Democratic Party – can NOT nominate Joe – and/or he can pull out of the Race. Presume that he is “the favorite” – but the odds of his winning aren’t at least 65-75% – Do we want to risk the Donald? Some prominent Dems – are waiting for a chance to run – not safe or a good idea now. We shall see! The Dems – can LOSE the election through their incompetency. It isn’t a simple binary of Donald vs. Joe – whether it is citizen pressure or the Dems choosing another path – we shall see!

  10. I watch a little MSNBC and their anchors like Wallace, Psaki, Lawrence, Melber and Maddow are doing a pretty good job of displaying and commenting on the horrors described in this blog. Wallace has done everything except use extensive expletives to describe the orange monster and his ravings. Her guests often describe the “thing” as insane – one way or another.

    The Republican party is so bereft of functioning brains that they have no other place to go except to the power collector. It’s sad, pathetic and tragic to see, but one must understand that their base also lacks intellectual energy. They CANNOT and WILL NOT think for themselves and are, therefore, fertile ground for the B.S. slingers to fill their need for bias confirmation.

    How does one turn that rudderless ship away from the iceberg?

  11. Lester, the Globe is not beyond the paywall, due to no fault of yours.
    Support the Lincoln Project.
    “Cultnapped” is the word I use to describe what has happened to those who can still support tfg, like people who disappear into the world of Scientology, never to be heard from again.

  12. The Globe link is apparently behind the paywall. The article:

    It is 1936. Fascism is on the rise in Europe as demagogues gain control in Germany, Italy, and Spain. In the United States, the Ku Klux Klan is recruiting briskly. The Rev. Charles Coughlin’s antisemitic radio broadcasts are attracting millions of listeners, and Coughlin himself is running for president as a third-party candidate against Franklin D. Roosevelt. The country is in the teeth of the Great Depression, a time ripe for despots.

    Into this perilous scene steps Sinclair Lewis, the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. Under the auspices of the New Deal’s Federal Theatre Project, he adapts “It Can’t Happen Here,” his dystopian novel about a fascist takeover of America, into a play. On Oct. 27, 1936, it is performed simultaneously in 21 cities, from Boston to Seattle. Some productions are in Spanish, or Yiddish, or have racially integrated casts. Thousands attend. One week later, Roosevelt is reelected in a landslide, winning 98 percent of the Electoral College vote.

    It is 2024, and the parallels are uncanny. Nativism, economic grievance, and disinformation are again threats to democracy. Hearing that echo, the group Writers for Democratic Action has adapted the cautionary Lewis play for our times. On July 19 — the day after Donald Trump presumably accepts the Republican nomination for president at his party’s convention in Milwaukee — actors organized by WDA will mount free staged readings of “It Can’t Happen Here — Again” in more than 40 locations across the country.

    With just five people reading from a scaled-down script lasting roughly 35 minutes, “It Can’t Happen Here — Again” is designed to be performed by ordinary citizens, in backyards and bookstores, church halls and living rooms. Anyone can sign up. Some of the readings will be in Spanish. At least one will be staged overseas. Boston’s well-regarded Poets Theatre plans a reading, venue to be determined. Some, like the one directed on Cape Cod by Jeff Zinn, the former artistic director of the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, will be professional stagings (reservations required). But all can be powerful antidotes to despair.

    “It’s a literal expression of collective action,” author and poet Rachel DeWoskin, chair of WDA’s Michigan chapter, said in an interview. DeWoskin hopes the productions will motivate Americans to shake off their political exhaustion and get involved. “That’s what art does.”

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    As of this writing, “It Can’t Happen Here — Again” already is slated in more states than the 1936 version. “It’s kind of magnificent what’s starting to happen,” said author James Carroll, who is on the WDA steering committee and co-wrote the adaptation with DeWoskin and Wesley Savick of Suffolk University’s theatre department. “It’s citizens finding a way to do something, rather than jump off the roof.”

    In New York City, the July 19 reading will be performed at The Lambs, the oldest professional theater club in the country. Lewis himself strode the halls of its original location late in his career, after a film production of “It Can’t Happen Here” was canceled by skittish executives at MGM Studios. “I feel like everything we do now as artists needs to help make people aware,” said Tony-nominated actor and director Walter Willison, who will be producing and acting in the New York event.

    Willison’s production will be professionally filmed and uploaded to social media so that even more people can absorb its message. The hope is that another round of readings, including student productions in high schools and colleges, will be staged in late October, just before the election. “The whole idea is ‘seed to the wind,’ ” Carroll said.

    Lewis was inspired to write “It Can’t Happen Here” by his wife, Dorothy Thompson, a pioneering journalist. She spoke fluent German and interviewed Adolf Hitler in 1931, becoming the first US correspondent expelled from Germany after she described the Nazi leader as “inconsequent and voluble, ill-poised, insecure … the very prototype of the Little Man.”

    Thompson is given perhaps the most chilling lines in the new play, taken from her published writings about the danger of fascism. “When liberty is taken away by force, it can be restored by force,” her character says. “[But] when it is relinquished by default, it can never be recovered.”

    In other words, complacency is the real danger. Ultimately, the staged readings are efforts to get out the vote — to combat the apathy, or sheer ignorance, that has led too many Americans to shrug off the existential threat posed by Donald Trump. An informed electorate is a prerequisite of participatory democracy, and “It Can’t Happen Here — Again” is a provocation, a call to action, a lesson in a history we can’t afford to repeat.

  13. Holy therapy Christ. Joe Biden is the democratic nominee. There is no “step down” at this point. He COULD have done so (in fact, didn’t he initially claim he was only interested in 1 term?) a year or more ago. He could have made it clear he wasn’t running. But, he’s the incumbent and he decided to run. That’s it. Even logistically (getting on ballots and what not in all 50 states and whatnot) it would be hard to swap at this point – even if there was an appetite to do so. Also, because she’s VP, the presumptive candidate would be Harris, who I’m not sure would pick up any more votes.

    He’s been actually okay at most things – weirdly, more progressive than Obama was (though that’s a low bar). He’s a bog-standard politician, which is why he does the same dumb stuff all main democrats do – IE, Lucy with the football style politic attempts with Republicans (sadly, our side is Charlie Brown).

    He’s uniquely poised as one of the only people who could lose to Trump. Kind of like Hillary before him. Boy, howdy do the democrats always pick the wrong people. BUT pick ’em they have and THIS is what you get to pick from: You get the old, cartoonishly corrupt, vengeance guy who wants to be a dictator with his Christian nationalist violence following doing real harm to the world and who will absolutely clear-cut Gaza and every Palestinian he can in order to build branded hotels or the old, bit dull, regular politician guy who is trying to broker a peace deal, but hasn’t stopped arms shipments (note, I LOATH that). How is this even a hard choice? People like George Marx exhaust me.

  14. I don’t understand how self-proclaimed Progressives can state that Biden is unfit to be president after his policies have sustained our economy during the post-COVID era, created millions of jobs and stoked business and infrastructure investments that will benefit all in the next decades. He doesn’t present himself like a reality tv player. He speaks coherently and he presents his policy ideas in plain English.
    Every politician has baggage, but Bidens baggage is inconsequential compared to that of his unworthy opponent. If you’re seeking a perfect president, good luck.
    This presidential campaign is a no-brainer.

  15. Amen, daleb! Many progressives have also castigated AOC because she’s reached across the aisle to pass legislation and endorsed Biden for re-election. Not pure enough. The election isn’t about politics but about democracy.

    Obama’s ‘Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good’ still applies today.

  16. Most people I know are casual acquaintances, never mentioning voter registration. I cannot imagine that my pushing that subject would be met with anything but avoidance.
    What I can do is reach out on things like the neighborhood FB page, to let people know when, where and how to register, deadlines to register, and encourage them to vote, posting links to ballot information, etc.
    The local media is owned by Gannett or Sinclair. You can be sure you will never hear about anything positive re the Biden Administration. For example, there was no mention of the fact that the Baltimore bridge that collapsed after a ship strike, closing the harbor, has been cleared. The harbor is open after less than 100 days due to the combined efforts of multiple local, state and federal agencies, as well as trade unions and private commercial partners.
    The collapse was newsworthy but the rapid repair led by Sec. Buttigieg was not.
    I posted an article about the reopening on FB. Maybe someone will see it as a positive and pay attention. Who knows. It can’t hurt to post it and it actually might help.
    One of the most startling things I have read recently, is that Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, an OB/GYN doctor, had voted “No” on the bill introduced to codify IVF. I struggle to understand how this man can represent constituents who voted overwhelmingly to keep abortion legal in their state. He is a longtime member of a Pro-life doctors. So who elected him? And why? It is a puzzlement, for sure.
    I keep trying to find ways I can provide factual information. I won’t stop. I hope others won’t either.

  17. Michael Wright writes, “Progressives…castigated AOC because she’s reached across the aisle to pass legislation and endorsed Biden for re-election.”

    Reaching across the aisle doesn’t bother most progressives, but the progressive caucus in Washington accepts donations from AIPAC, so they support genocide in Gaza. That’s a big deal!

    When AOC stood up for Genocide Joe, instead of condemning him for being complicit in genocide, she tossed her progressive credentials in the water. Even the Progressive Caucus profile claims they support peace, but they support genocide and funding Ukraine. They even waved Ukrainian flags after the foreign aid package vote. Toss those progressive credentials into the Potomac.

    If you’re not paying attention to international events right now, you’re not going to understand what’s happening in Washington. It’s all connected.

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