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The Golden Age of Both-Siderism is Upon Us

Two things to consider going forward:

One, Biden is way more popular than the mainstream media would have you believe.

Two, Trump is way less popular than the mainstream media would have you believe.

The common denominator here is the mainstream media, who seem bent on ushering the well-honed “both sides are bad” narrative into a golden age.

The more Trump descends into a Shakespearean sort of madness, and the more the Republican party follows him into the abyss, the more the press will strain to find something, anything, that makes Democrats look equally bad.

It isn’t easy, but this is their formula and they’re sticking to it. They stuck to it all through the 2022 midterms — remember the Red Wave? — and ended up looking like inept fools. There is no sign that they’ve learned anything from that.

And it’s not just about their stories, or the deceptive spin they put on their headlines. It’s also about their dishonest use of polls.

When The New York Times releases a poll showing Trump up a point or two, you can smell the panic in the reality-based community. Never mind that the sample size was under a thousand. Never mind that the results were within the margin of error.

And never mind all those other polls, from organizations with less of an agenda, which show exactly the opposite. These are as under-reported as The Times polls are over-reported.

But even if all these polls were totally accurate — even if they weren’t there to scare us into manic doom-scrolling — they are in no way indicative of how people will act when it’s time to actually vote. Most of the electorate is still not paying attention, so polls will be largely meaningless until at least Labor Day — and even then they’ll be suspect. We need to resist the urge to take them seriously.

Of course, there’s no shortage of other things the media deliberately under-reports, all in the interest of creating the illusion of a level playing field.

Like the huge number of Democrats who have, up to now, refused to believe that Trump would actually be a candidate, and who are just now coming to terms with that preposterous idea.

I admit I was once in this camp myself. To me, it was inconceivable, not just that Trump wouldn’t be in prison by November, but also that the Republican party would allow such a transparent fraud to bamboozle them yet again. Silly me.

But the GOP primaries have been a wake-up call for Democrats, and the SOTU speech was a bracing moment. Those same people who were already shocked at Trump’s inevitable candidacy got another surprise that night. They’d been led, again by the media, to expect Biden to drool on the podium and pee in his pants. When neither happened, they whipped out their credit cards in droves, and the DNC set three consecutive records for fund-raising, all on that one night.

Their giant war chest notwithstanding, the DNC also has at least a half-dozen campaign messages they know will move voters on a gut level. Not just the abortion bans, or the removal of basic rights, or the voter suppression, or the plainly visible threat to democracy. Beyond all those compelling messages is a visceral loathing of Trump that is there to be exploited. So the messaging is there, and Trump can’t stop himself from adding to it whenever he’s in front of a camera. He is his own worst enemy.

Then there’s Joe Biden, arguably the DNC’s biggest asset. He’s now running in his fourth presidential campaign, and he won the first three. Before that he won seven consecutive senatorial elections, each by sixty percent or more. It’s safe to say we’ve never seen a campaigner more experienced, more savvy, and more underestimated.

At the same time, we overestimate Trump, mostly because the media is so invested in keeping us terrified of him. The reality is that he’s way more despised, even among Republicans, than is being reported. Just looking at Nikki Haley’s numbers in the primaries — even after she dropped out — it’s clear that millions of Republicans were voting, not for Haley, but against Trump. These were real numbers, not polls, and they tell a grim story about Trump’s increasingly flaccid hold on Republican voters.

But widespread disgust for Trump is not the both-sides story the press wants to sell. They prefer you to believe that Trump “crushed” Haley in every state. The inconvenient truth — that the GOP is currently on track to lose twenty to thirty percent of its own party — does not fit that narrative.

Meanwhile, Trump is facing two massive financial problems at once. He’s desperate for someone to pick up the tab for his $500 million in civil settlements. And he’s racking up astronomical legal bills in the run-up to his four criminal trials. Which are — the media’s doomsday reports notwithstanding — still on the docket. His intention to loot the RNC treasury for his own ends is not a secret.

Apparently, this has not escaped the notice of traditional GOP donors, who are not opening their wallets. Will that change later in the campaign? Maybe. But they’ve surely seen enough of Trump to know what happens to money when he’s around.

This is wreaking havoc on the GOP party apparatus. With so little money coming in, we’re hearing of wholesale layoffs of reliable party staffers, including senior operatives who actually know what a real campaign looks like. They’ll be replaced by MAGA hacks who aren't nearly as expensive, but who can't tie their own shoes. And they’ll be led by Lara Trump, the brains behind Eric, need we say more?

They’re going up against the DNC, which is now a well-funded, well-organized apparatus of seasoned pros who already know everything the MAGA hacks will have to learn the hard way.

So it’s no wonder that even some famously repugnant people are fed up with Trump. Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney, and Mike Pence — his own vice president, think about that — have each said publicly that they won’t vote for him. And those are just the headliners. Most of his former Cabinet members want nothing to do with him. And a surprising number of House Republicans are suddenly leaving Congress to spend more time with their families, isn’t that sweet?

But even as the GOP faces disaster on the financial front, their messaging is already bankrupt. Beyond tbe “Biden’s age” and “the crisis at the border” memes — both of which are well past their sell-by dates — they have no viable messaging at all.

All of this is good news, but none of it should inspire confidence. We’re still at the mercy of an electoral system that gives the ultimate sway to seven swing states, each one volatile enough to keep us biting our nails right through November.

And through it all, we’re being dangerously misled by a media establishment seemingly oblivious to reality. They, of all people, should know better than to bet their own democracy on the both-sides narrative.

And we should know better than to trust them.


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