One of the top stories running in this morning’s Daily Memphian was a piece by former CA writer Chris Herrington. The title: Election Day Notebook: “Blackburn wins ugly, urban-rural divide deepens, Gibson’s gets flack, and more.”
Talk about ugly. He spews it, writing,
Two quotes in the closing days of this year’s midterm election, both on the subject of the “migrant caravan” as a political motivator:
First, outgoing Tennessee junior Sen. Bob Corker:
“We all know what’s happening. It’s all about revving up the base, using fear to stimulate people to come out at the polls,”
Second, now-incoming Tennessee junior Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn, in a tweet on Sunday:
“There is a right & wrong way to come to our country & the illegal alien mob marching on our border is an invading force that must be stopped. My opponent has doubled down on his belief that there is no threat & thinks the wall is ‘political theater.’”
Hunter S. Thompson wrote about fear and loathing on the campaign trail in 1972, but it fits the present moment like perhaps no time since.
These days, loathing is a kind of free-floating condition, but a lot of the fear was strategic and targeted, built on the flimsy foundation of a few thousand poor people (a heavy percentage children) with conveniently brown skin on foot a couple thousand miles south of the U.S. border.
Most Americans across party or ideology would generally agree with Blackburn’s first statement, that there is a right and wrong way of coming into the country. The closing contrast with Bredesen was politics. But “illegal alien mob” and especially “invading force” crossed the line that Corker named. This messaging was in no way a one-off for Blackburn. This video spot equates “gang members” and “known criminals” with “people from the Middle East” as commensurate types.
Tennessee has a recent tradition of elevating mainstream politicians in statewide races. Maybe Blackburn ended that tradition on Tuesday night or maybe “mainstream” has shifted to absorb the kind of raw fear-mongering represented by her closing, no-doubt consultant-tested (and President-approved) messaging on migrants — on a distant, slow-moving, ever-shrinking huddled mass of would-be refugees.
Unlike the fellow Republican she replaced or the fellow Republican (Lamar Alexander) she will join, Blackburn proved herself happy to say whatever it took to win.
Given an apparent margin of victory larger than polls suggested, it probably wasn’t necessary. But even with Blackburn’s big win, she still seems to have run more than 10 points behind fellow Republican Bill Lee in the less-heated governor’s race.
How much of that gap represents opponent Phil Bredesen’s strength relative in a state where the demographics work heavily against Democrats and how much of it represents a resistance on the part of a significant sliver of the Republican-leaning electorate to buy what Blackburn was selling? Were the Lee/Bredesen voters more pro-Bredesen or anti-Blackburn? Would younger, more potentially exciting candidate James Mackler, who bowed out in deference to Bredesen, have fared better? Impossible to say.
Regardless, Blackburn made herself something more than a willing accomplice in the degradation of our national discourse.
If anyone practiced a fear technique it was the Dems. They have consistently told their base that Trump and his allies are racists, misogynists, bigots, Islamaphobes and anti immigrant. It worked pretty well because their people came out in droves.
Herrington repeats the Dem talking point about the migrants being harmless, decent, distant refugees. No matter that they are unvetted, breaking the law and taking taxpayer funds and jobs. Oh and did I forget the disease many of them carry?
As for degradation of our national discourse, I can remind him of Eric Holder’s mantra that when they go low, kick them. Plus all of Maxine Waters’ comments, Obama’s, Biden’s, ad nauseum. As for civility, the Bredesen smearing broadsides against Blackburn that daily marched into my mailbox were hardly civil. Does that help the national discourse?
He also blames Bredesen’s loss on rural people. You know the knuckle dragging, gun toting, Bible believers who weigh our state down: “This is the real story of modern American electoral politics: Not the red/blue state maps made famous in 2000, but an increasing urban/rural divide nationwide.”
If only we all thought like our urban betters who live in crime infested, poverty filled areas with poor schools, few jobs and high taxes!
Mr. H even slaps down Gibson’s donuts. “So, I guess Gibson’s Donuts didn’t see this coming. The beloved — and expanding — East Memphis donut shop was where Marsha Blackburn began her Election Day before heading east across the state:
“This drew the ire, at least on social media, of some Blackburn critics, who swore to remove Gibson’s from their culinary itinerary.
“While I’m not about to deny myself a Gibson’s apple fritter (pro tip: when still warm, maybe the best thing to eat in Memphis) due to a candidate stop, to each his own. Customer complaints, business boycotts, or simply “voting with your pocketbook” for political reasons are a totally legitimate means of self-expression and often an effective method of activism. We all choose our battles. And our donuts.”
Here’s hoping none of us runs into him while picking up his favorite apple fritter.
Maybe he should find a safe spot that sells donuts to other snowflakes like himself.