By Diara J. Townes. July 8, 2017.
Everyone knows the Democrats are expericing some serious turbulence on the port-side of their political fleet. Failing to win special elections and struggling to hold ground against questionable nominees for Trump’s Cabinet are some of the most recent disappointments for Dem leaders.
This week, The New York Times printed an opinion piece by Mark Penn and Andrew Stein, aiming to redirect the flagship. In reality, it only showed the importance of media literacy in the post-election world.
Of all the craziness of 2016, one thing can be said for sure: the right-wing had a good year. The House, the Senate, the White House and the Supreme Court, all under Republican control? If I was a Dem party leader (or just like, a person living in the world) I’d wonder what the hell happened, too.
So many explanations have been provided to explain Trump’s win in November. Repeating them here would turn this article into a Buzzfeed-esque list of “ha-ha, yeah, that sounds about right,” and “what? That’s some bull” so let’s cut to the short of it.
The authors of the op-ed stated that the only chance for the Democratic Party to come back from the brink of obsoleteness is to navigate to the center. The next question shouldn’t be, “well, how do they do that? Don’t the Republicans have the center on lock with the whole, we ‘run the government’ thing?”
The real question Dem leaders should be asking themselves is, “didn’t that already happen?” Quick answer? Yup.
Slightly longer answer? Not only did the Dems move to the center, but that shift totally blew up in their (and the world’s) collective faces.
The primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was a healthy necessity that excited the base. Millions of democrats and moderates came out for their preferred candidates. To keep that momentum going, the obvious move would’ve been to include the popular issues at the forefront of the democratic platform.
But for many liberals, that’s where the excitement ended. Once Clinton won the nomination and took on a more conservative democract as her running-mate, she and the party chose to step away from Sanders’ winning progressive messages. And the decline in leftist enthusiasm echoed throughout the social media waves.
The opinion piece in the Times chose to explain how Dems can make a comeback in future elections by navigating towards the ideology that put Trump into office, rather than sailing harder to the left.
The failure in media literacy was right on the surface of the article. Not one of their arguments is sourced to a statistical report, policy or official statement. Every data point they used to represent their opinions went unattributed.
“A little more than a quarter of Americans consider themselves liberals, while almost three in four are self-identified moderates or conservatives.”
This statement is missing something important. Where did they get this number? Who did they ask? How can we verify this? In other words, where is the source?
After looking up a Janaury 2017 Gallup poll not referenced in the article, a few interpretations of the data provided could be made.
First, it’s true that 25% of Americans identified as liberal in 2016. But Penn and Stein failed to note that while 40% of Americans identify as conservative and the remaining 35% as moderate, the percentage for liberals actually rose from 17% as polled in 1992. This chipping away at the percentage of moderate Americans went unmentioned in the article.
So what could actually be concluded is that there IS a push, away from the center and to the left, while the conservative party has only managed to maintain its numbers.
So when looked at from that perspective, almost 60% of Americans identify as liberal and/or moderate with a little more than 40% identifying as conservative. Kind of changes the feel of their op-ed, no?
That’s bias. While the numbers are true, it’s interpretation is skewed. And that’s just one instance of many that constitute this treasure chest of fool’s gold that Penn and Stein dug up against the liberal wing.
Opinions are good to share and do have a place in the media. But if not properly reviewed, a biased representation of data can and does lead to misinformation.
Be a captain of your own ship. Read the facts for yourself and steer how you deem fare. Freshen up your media literacy skills. Don’t let someone else take the wheel.