A new excuse for Democrats?
Misinterpreting election cycles is a pretty consistent theme in the Democratic party over the last decade, and it seems to be starting early this cycle.
It seems like Democrats are preemptively embracing a new bogeyman in anticipation of midterm losses they've already resigned themselves to.
Last week, President Obama spoke at a three-day gathering at University of Chicago co-hosted by The Atlantic focused on disinformation and democracy. And while our former President's comments (you can see here: https://news.uchicago.edu/story/uchicago-barack-obama-warns-disinformation-threatens-foundations-democracy) we're more nuanced and balanced than reported, there was a troubling general frame to the broader conversation.
There is (and always has been) disinformation in the world, and our information systems are profoundly unhealthy and historically dysfunctional. AND disinformation remains a relatively minor part of most Americans' daily media diets. Does that minor part erode trust in the rest? Absolutely. Are trustworthy voices harder and harder to discern? Yes. Are certain communities target of election-specific disinformation during elections? Yes. Do we need platforms and publishers to take the responsibility for a health public sphere seriously? Yes.
AND Democrats are also seemingly preparing to blame disinformation for an ongoing lack of clarity and imagination, for an unwillingness to see their culpability in losing hearts and minds and failing to win them back, for an inconsistent ability to deliver for people. Failure of leadership is never the answer. The Russians, Trump, McConnell. And now disinformation. Never a lack of imagination, vision, organizing, effective long-term investment, being valuable to people, empathy.
There is more to explore on the connections between disinformation, trust, and populism to come, but for now, as we start to interpret these pre-takes on the upcoming election cycle, we need to look beyond easy and disproportionate scapegoating and search for the heart and complexity of what people are really choosing when they vote and why.