It’s been a while since we talked about Glenn Greenwald and his insufferably haughty attitude about the American system of government and our, admittedly, weird yet effective political process. Frankly, since my brief and amicable exchange with Greenwald following the well-deserved Oscar victory for Citizen Four, I’ve avoided most topics orbiting him and his publication, The Intercept. Briefly put, I dropped out of the Greenwald business for a while.
But this… this can’t be ignored.
While appearing with Amy Goodman on her “Democracy Now!” program, Greenwald once again reminded us of his unmitigated privilege by downplaying the consequences of either a Mitt Romney or John McCain presidency. Granted, Greenwald agreed that a Trump presidency would be extraordinarily damaging to American democracy. However, Greenwald seemed to suggest that Trump is really the only example, recently, in which the Republican presidential nominee was at all a potentially destructive chief executive.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we’ve talked a lot about Hillary Clinton, and she did get a lot of negative attention this past week over these—the revelations of the Associated Press, but not as much as she would have, because of all that Donald Trump has been saying and tweeting and representing. Glenn Greenwald, what are your comments on Hillary Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump?
GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, Donald Trump is—I mean, the tactic of the Democratic Party in the last 25 years—they know that ever since they became the party of sort of corporatism and Wall Street, they don’t inspire anybody, so their tactic is to say the Republican Party is the epitome of evil. Even when they have conventional nominees like Mitt Romney or John McCain, they demonize them and say they’re this unparalleled threat to democracy. In this election, just by coincidence, it happens to be true.
This cuts to the core of what Greenwald, along with his contrarian-left followers, believe when it comes to the outcomes of elections and why it’s more or less inconsequential, in their minds, who’s elected under normal circumstances, Trump aside. This worldview gives Greenwald a cushion of latitude with which to prioritize the so-called evils of NSA metadata collection or the use of predator drones in the war on terror over big ticket domestic issues that impact middle and lower income Americans like healthcare and income equality, not to mention reproductive and civil rights.
Indeed, if Mitt Romney had defeated President Obama in 2012, we could’ve counted on several things to have occurred. First, Obamacare would’ve been repealed despite Romney’s relationship to the bulk of the legislation. He also would’ve gone to war in Iran, and, most importantly, he would’ve absolutely nominated conservative justices to replace John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia — all with the help of Republican congressional majorities. Similarly, if John McCain had won in 2008 during the collapse of the world economy, we can’t even begin to contemplate what would’ve emerged from the crisis. And Sarah Palin would’ve been a cancer-survivor’s-heartbeat away from the presidency.
Would these alternative timelines have precipiated unparalleled threats to democracy? It depends on who you’d ask. While the American republic would’ve (maybe) endured, we’d be eight years into who the hell knows what. Again, Vice President Palin! And certainly the Supreme Court would be, today, locked into a 6-to-3 advantage for conservatives, lasting decades more. Good lord, the overall ripple effect would’ve been too terrible to contemplate, especially for the LGBT community, for minorities and definitely for women. I know I’d be without health insurance, along with millions of others, and while it’s not a matter of democracy or not, it’s definitely a matter of remaining alive without going bankrupt in the process.
Greenwald tells us that we shouldn’t have been in such a panic four or eight years ago, probably because he wouldn’t have been all that hurt by a McCain or Romney presidency. Good for him. But the rest of us wouldn’t have been so lucky, yet we’re being instructed to remain calm when faced with the very real threat of losing our health insurance or our voting rights or, hell, our environment.
I get that Romney and McCain seem like quaint, reasonable options compared with a would-be President Trump. I also appreciate that this isn’t lost on Greenwald. But the fact that one of the far-left’s A-listers, played by Zachary Quinto, by the way, in Oliver Stone’s forthcoming Snowden movie, thinks issues like healthcare and abortion rights aren’t as important as his own pet issues. Everything else must wait in line. It also tells us that the privileged far-left leadership is extraordinarily out of touch with the rest of us.
So, yeah, make sure not to “demonize” Republican candidates who threaten your very existence. They’re harmless… unless they’re Trump.