The Twitter presidency of one Donald J. Trump is about 7 weeks away from becoming a “real” thing. And while the media is verklempt with reporting every insane tweet pushed by the President-elect, some real stuff is happening that will have a long-term impact on the nation.
While i get the inherent news value of Trump’s digital missives, I also hope that the media will settle in to more substantive reporting on the PEOTUS and his incoming administration rather than settling for the easy headlines that his Twitter-fits provide.
I’m not holding my breath, I’m just hoping.
There’s been a popular theory floating around the internets that Trump’s twitter-fits are a brilliant ploy to distract the media. I do think some outlets get too wrapped up in this kind of foolishness (I’m looking at you CNN), but I also believe that we, as Americans, have a duty to walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to news…and expect media outlets to do the same.
I tend to agree with this article…The tweets are news, as are the things the tweets might distract us from. Its incumbent on media outlets, as news producers to present what’s happening (from tweets to cabinet appointments and policy positions) to us without overemphasizing the low hanging fruit (tweet-storms) when there’s nothing there.
Vote with your feet. Outlets that do this well should be rewarded with your views, those that don’t should be told they’re doing a shitty job and then cast aside until they get their shit together (still talking to you CNN).
Right now, the two most important things I see going on are his potential conflicts of interest, some of which can’t be easily overcome, and his cabinet appointments, which is what I’m focusing today.
Cabinet of Conservatives
The Donald may have run like an outsider, but he’s nominating consummate insiders to cabinet positions. What he’s setting up is an outright assault on reforms that have been in place for the bulk of President Obama’s tenure.
Jeff “I’m not sure Civil Rights is such a big deal” Sessions and Elaine “employees should donate to my husband’s campaign” Chao are easy Conservative hacks to keep Republicans in the Senate happy. Tom “I hate Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid and puppies” Price and Betsy “public education sux” DeVos will keep people who advocate for equal access to health and education on their toes. As will Steve “Foreclosure King” Mnuchin and Wilbur “ship jobs overseas” Ross (no relation) at Treasury and Commerce.
Folks, that’s just the initial salvo. Its only going to get worse from here.
Its going to be really important that the media keep their eye on these cabinet level appointments, especially after they get in office, to keep these guys in check. This ain’t the sexy part of reporting, or activism for that matter, but it will be vitally important if we want to make it out of the next four years with any part of the social safety net intact.
How to Fight
There’s a lot that will happen in these administration posts, and keeping on top of it will be a big job. But keeping on top of what’s moving through Congress is equally important. Tom Price can hate Obamacare or want to privatize Medicare all he wants, but he needs Congress to dismantle it, and Paul Ryan is aiming to do just that.
So the key will be communicating with people in Congress, and getting them to come out for, or against a proposal, then holding them accountable. Talking Points Memo has a list of where people stand on Medicare privatization. There are a lot of Republican wobblers like Sen. John Bozeman (R-AR) who may need some cajoling to keep from supporting Ryan’s plan.
Engage with your people in Congress…but be smart about it. A former Congressional staffer released a tweet storm about how to get your voice heard. Phone calls are best, and a flood of phone calls makes an impact.
That shouldn’t stop you from writing, or using any other organizing tactic, but just know, if you can get 100 people to call in a 2 hour window, you’re going to have a greater impact than if you send 500 letters. Letters (especially form letters) can be dismissed, phone calls have to be answered.
Its going to be a long 4 years, but staying vigilant is the way to make it out of this. And organizing around issues (like Medicare) that are important to people across the political divide in your community is a powerful way to get people to move to our side of the ballot in the long run.
Make your elected officials stake their claim, and stake their re-election on that claim. We may not be able to turn the district blue, but at least they’ll know they can’t run roughshod over their constituents without a fight.