I love Joy Reid. I love her show on MSNBC, “The Reidout”. I love the way she focuses on long neglected stories like those dealing with white supremacy and other topics the majoritarian press covers from arm’s length. But her approach to the rising heat of the culture wars stoked by the GOP is, I fear, a losing strategy.
It’s not that she’s wrong when she notes the dire condition of our Democracy with so many state legislatures passing anti-voting laws or the US Senate refusing to come up with the votes to make the Senate democratic — yes, I am talking about the filibuster.
But Reid’s tactical flaw of engaging with the other side in the culture war is counterproductive, giving oxygen to an otherwise crazy faction that should not be argued with. Here I am talking about those who believe there is a child molesting anti-democratic cabal operating out of the basement of a DC pizzeria that doesn’t even have a basement. Harry Potter style, I guess.
I could be wrong. Matching crazy for crazy might be a smart ploy by the network to garner viewers during sweeps week (whenever that is). But it’s lousy political strategy or even tactics. When Michelle Obama told us to go high when they go low, it wasn’t because she was reframing the biblical admonition to turn the other cheek, that rarely helps. But by going high you deprive the other side of someone to engage with thus prolonging any silly argument that really ought to die of natural causes as soon as it starts.
Argument, as a matter of rhetoric, is an attempt by two opposing sides to exercise an idea so that they can come to agreement on a sensible path forward. But there’s no hope for a path forward when one side is stuck in the non-existent basement of a pizzeria.
We’re not missionaries, we aren’t here to save the world, especially those who vehemently disagree with us — and that’s the good news. We are here to persuade the persuadable. Does this work? Sure, but just understand that matching vehemence with vehemence never works. Look at the last three elections, including the runoffs in the Georgia Senate race. Middle of the road candidates, led by women running for Congress won the 2018 race for control of the House.
In 2020, another middle of the road candidate, Joe Biden, won the presidency. You might observe…