I conducted a mini-survey since late June to determine how many anti-Trump headlines or articles I would read up to the election. I kept track of the headlines and the writer or publisher read from one of our local papers (The Daily News), which included (mostly) columns written from the traditional Trump adversaries, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN, writers known for being both conservative (George Will and Michael Gerson) and liberal (Leonard Pitts, S. E. Cupp, and E.J. Dionne), and writers from Politico, Newsweek and from an obscure political organization (it’s really not supposed to be political but very much was…or is…) “Word-a-Day,” a blog for word lovers (words at wordsmith.org), where the editor, Anu Garg, made no attempt to withhold his emotional opposition to Trump.
I stopped counting on Nov. 4 (even though the election had not been called yet and) even though the negative Trump columns kept-a-comin’ at a furious pace. And they still are.
My count? One hundred anti-Trump columns and headlines from late June to early November. And that’s just little ol’ me subscribing to the little ol’ Jacksonville Daily News, watching an hour or so of TV news each day (switching between Fox, MSNBC, ABC and CBS to get opposing views), and scanning the web for a few minutes.
Having neither the time or desire to conduct my study full time, I wonder how many anti-Trump headlines and news broadcasts were actually out there in the traditional and social media during the same period between June and November? Adding Twitter and Facebook (which I didn’t track) I would have to do a Scientific Wild Ass Guess (a SWAG as we called it in the Marines) and surmise it be in the hundreds of thousands.
My point here is not to condemn either the Democrats or their allies in the news media or to advocate for either of the political parties or their nominees. Whatever I was prior to the election, I am now a supporter of President-elect Biden and a strong advocate for his success as our president.
But in the midst of this constant barrage of negative reporting from even conservatives, in the midst of a pandemic that any armchair quarterback could criticize Trump’s response to, and in the midst of an economic recession as a result of that pandemic, it IS my point to suggest that the fact that Trump could nonetheless do so well in the election … make it a very close call against all odds and the polling and pundits’ prognosticating … is amazing.
Frankly, it’s kind of amazing he didn’t win. When I was in the Marines, in excusing our drill instructor’s apparent dislike of us we would dismiss their behavior by reasoning, “Well, at least they hate us all equally.” Likewise, it can be an indicator of a politician’s (good) performance if most-everyone hates him or her equally.
Even overseas they have opinions. I have relatives and friends in Germany and France. My German cousin says, “America was my favorite country when I was a kid but Trump’s lack of concern for Europe bothers me.” My French friend (a “Republican” or conservative in France who liked Trump but nonetheless) questions the negativism of American politics. Both question the costs.
They followed the election very closely, staying up late to watch the debates and the election returns. I’m pretty worldly, having served in the Marines, seeing the good, the bad and the ugly all around the world. But my foreign relatives and friends cared far more about the American presidential election than I have ever cared about their countries’ elections. That says a lot about America’s position and status in the world.
Yet they can’t understand the negativism and the expense of American elections where so much good could be accomplished with the millions of advertising dollars, instead, flushed down the toilet. I can’t say I disagree with them.
According to the AP on Nov. 10, “[Cal] Cunningham accepted defeat after out (fund) raising Tillis during what became the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history. The two campaigns and outside groups spent $282 million on the general election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”
And according to the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Dispatch, also on Nov. 10, “Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison spent more than $130 million en route to losing to Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham in South Carolina’s closely watched U.S. Senate race, while Graham spent more than $100 million, according to their campaigns.
Those figures do not include substantial spending from outside groups from both parties.”
A study released by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks political spending found, “The total cost of this year’s federal elections will reach a record high of $14 billion, a number twice as much as the amount spent to influence the election cycle four years ago.”
We all need to ask the question, I think, and be able to answer our foreign friends’ questions (as well as our own): for what true benefit for America was the negativism spewed and obscene amount of money spent?
Newspaper columnist Barry Fetzer writes from his home on Queens Creek.