WASHINGTON – How can we be blamed for feeling cynical or politically helpless in view of President Donald Trump's repeated assaults on democracy, the plain truth and the rule of law, the emergence of brownshirt-style gangs at his rallies and Fox News' betrayal of the most fundamental rules of journalism?
A number of readers have written to me that a new kind of fear and confusion is closing in on them in view of the behavior of Trump and his friends. And this writer believes that this is precisely what the Trumpsters want – to discourage our citizens from exercising the surest cure for what ails us: casting our votes in the upcoming congressional and Senate elections, just three months from today.
This is addressed to half the eligible voters in the nation, and certainly in New York State. Half of those who can vote in off-year elections don't. The New York Times said that in 2014, less than half the eligible voters in 43 states bothered to vote. In New York, the Times said, the turnout of eligibles was 28.8 percent in that most recent off-year.
All studies show that New York leads the nation in political carelessness. This situation is tailor-made for a militant right wing.
Margaret Sullivan, in her media column in The Washington Post, wrote about agitators from the group QAnon, who demonstrated at the rally for Trump in Tampa, Fla. They like guns, believe in the deep state myths and all the conspiracy theories promoted by hate radio and Fox's smear-squad of "experts." QAnon's target on Tuesday was CNN's Jim Acosta; they crowded his perch, menaced him with shouted obscenities at him and the network.
Acosta, at a White House briefing, asked the president's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether she believes – as President Trump says constantly – that the press is "the enemy of the people."
The German phrase "lugenpresse," or lying press, was a favorite among Nazis in the early 1930s as Germany handed Hitler absolute rule.
Last week, in an astonishing moment that will live forever in that West Wing briefing room, Huckabee deflected. She wouldn't say – with nearly 100 journalists from publications and blogs from around the nation and the world watching, Huckabee would not state for the record that the press, people she dealt with every day, that they were not the enemy of the people.
If this isn't madness, what is?
Fortunately, Trump's hysteria against the press is not catching on, possibly excepting the primates recruited for his rallies. A July 25 Quinnipiac University poll showed that while a strong majority of Americans question the media's coverage of Trump, an equal number, 65 to 32 percent, dislike the way Trump talks about the media.
The same poll showed that 71 percent of those surveyed believe a free and independent press "is important to democracy." Twenty-one percent believe the press is "the enemy of the people."
The same survey shows that – on paper – the House Republican majority will be defeated soundly on Nov. 6.
The Republicans' Achilles heel is the women's vote, Quinnipiac found. In their projections for the congressional elections, Republicans were competitive among white males, but they were close to wiped out among those calling themselves independents, 50 to 30 percent.
Women, Quinnipiac found, favored Democratic congressional candidates to Republican candidates 52 to 37 percent. All that is on paper and the strategy, as always, must be to rouse Democrats and anti-Trump voters from their off-year slumber.
There's nothing you and I can do to deal directly or through our representatives with Trump and his gang, but there is the vote. So blank out everything else you would do on Nov. 6, and line up and vote, whether there is a hurricane that day or not. If your uncle or aunt isn't registered, get them a registration form, and mail it in no later than Oct. 12, or get down to your local board of elections no later than that day.