When the Republicans took over the House, they immediately leaked that they were going to force the United States to default on its debt, in order to force the Democrats to accept cuts to essential programs like Social Security and Medicare. These Republicans aren’t the brightest, and they’re playing a dangerous game that could backfire on them spectacularly. But they do know what they’re doing in one sense. They crafted this threat knowing that the entire mainstream media would immediately jump on it and hype it in doomsday fashion, for the sake of ratings.
We’re just two weeks into the media’s all day every day effort to convince audiences that we’re going to default any minute and we’re all doomed, we’re already seeing widespread hysteria from audiences. Several times a day I receive panicked questions about whether we’re about to default, whether Social Security and Medicare will survive, and so on. But here’s the thing: none of this is even real. Or at least it’s not being presented in a real way. It’s being presented in precisely the way that House Republicans want it presented.
First of all, even if House Republicans force us to miss the initial debt ceiling limits, it doesn’t matter. There’s no scenario where we’d default on our debt until at least June. Last I checked it’s still January. So we’re five months away from this even having a chance to be a thing.
That’s before getting to the obvious reality of what House Republicans are attempting to do by threatening to force a default. Republicans always try to pull this same strategy whenever they take control of a body of Congress during a Democratic presidency. They threaten to blow up the entire economy, in order to see what they can get the Democrats to give them in exchange for not blowing up the economy.
The Democrats, for their part, have no intention of giving House Republicans anything substantive. Why would they? There are, obviously, not 218 House Republican votes to default on the debt. Nor are there 218 House Republican votes to cut Medicare and Social Security. There just aren’t. The Democrats keep saying, over and over again to anyone who will listen, that they’re not going to cave.
Unfortunately, no one out there seems to be listening to the Democratic Party. Instead the mainstream media has collectively whipped most of the Democratic activist base into a panicked frenzy. The media has actually convinced folks on our side that yelling “oh no we’re all doomed” somehow makes them vigilant – and that anyone who’s not yelling doomsday stuff is failing to be vigilant.
But let’s come back to reality for a minute. The only thing House Republicans have going for them is the widespread belief that they’re going to blow up the economy and we’re all doomed. They want that messaging out there, because it gives them leverage. And the main reason they’re succeeding in pulling that off is that they’ve got you running around insisting, to anyone who will listen, that they’re going to blow up the economy. House Republicans are using you to carry out their messaging. Please, for God’s sake, you need to STOP IT. Yes, you, the person reading this.
At this point half of you are unwittingly working as full-time publicists for the Republican House. You’re spending every day handing House Republicans more leverage, by spreading the narrative that they’re going to go through with defaulting on the debt. You – yes you, the person reading this – are backing the Democrats into a corner where they might end up having to give the Republicans something in return, just because you have convinced everyone out there that it’s the only way to stop the Republicans from blowing out the economy.
Frankly, we’ve been over and over and over this, for years now. Half of the “activists” on our side spend every day of each election cycle yelling some variation of “We’re gonna lose no matter what” as loudly as they can, under the media-brainwashed belief that yelling this crap is somehow vigilance. But all this helpless defeatist hysteria does is make it that much harder for the still-functioning people on our side to fight and win any given political battle. And it’s got to stop.
You have got to stop spending every day signing up to be a gullible puppet of the mainstream media and pundit class, as they use repetitive doomsday narratives to paralyze you into staring at your screen all day and yelling around about how the sky is falling. You need to turn off MSNBC and CNN entirely. You need to unfollow every Twitter pundit who’s pushing doomsday hysteria about the debt ceiling. These people are just bullshitting you for the sake of ratings – and in the process they’re goading you into unwittingly helping the Republicans with their messaging.
As usual, the Democratic Party is getting the messaging right. House Democrats up and down the line are pushing the unified message: the Republicans are evil for even threatening to these awful things, but the Democrats aren’t going to let them do it. This is how effective messaging works. You ding the Republicans for their evil antics, even while making clear that the Democrats are going to save the day. That’s the kind of messaging that motivates people out there to get behind the Democrats, which in turn gives more leverage to the Democrats in these negotiations.
It’s time for all of you to get with the program. You need to get these doomsday pundits out of your life. You need to distance yourself from all these news outlets who spend all day feeding you hyperbolic doomsday hysteria for ratings. Only then will you stop being a hindrance to your own side, and then you can start figuring out how to be an asset to your own side.
Again, the Democratic Party is generally excellent at messaging. You might not know that, because major media outlets (even the “liberal” outlets) generally ignore the Democratic Party’s messaging entirely, so they can try to make themselves look important by pretending the Democratic Party has no messaging. It’s up to you to directly connect with Democratic House leaders. Follow them on social media. Set up alerts when they tweet. See their very effective messaging. And help them spread it.
Anything else is just you running around like a chicken with your head cut off, screaming histrionic doomsday nonsense, and playing up precisely the narratives that House Republicans want you playing up. Are you really willing to sit back and let yourself get played by Kevin McCarthy? He’s an idiot. But if he’s got you running around yelling about how House Republicans are about to default on the debt and we’re all doomed, then Kevin McCarthy is playing you like a fiddle. You’re all smarter than he is. You just have to turn off your television and remind yourselves of it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report