(Above: Cornell History Professor Lawrence Glickman)

Cornell History Professor Lawrence Glickman uses Twitter to call for a ban on the use of the word “Washington” to smear Democrats by lumping them in with the intentionally bad governing practices of the GOP.

Appropriately he uses Maggie Haberman to illustrate this practice, though he could just as easy use Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell or any other of the numerous journalists who employ this method of gas-lighting the American people.

(Below is the Twitter unroll of his tweets, but I’ll include his first, in case you want to peruse the comments.)

“I hereby call for total and complete shutdown on the word “Washington,”which both ignores the issue of asymmetric polarization AND materially aids the GOP by serving up their chief talking point that “Washington is broken” and government is disfunctional.

The GOP has developed a remarkably blinkered conception of what governance means. Beyond tax cuts for the rich, cruelty toward the poor (especially if they are women,nonwhite, LBGTQ, or Muslim),military spending, and court packing, many members of the party disdain governing.

Tea Party Rep. Raul Labrador spoke truthfully when he used the word”governing” with air quotes. As he told @RyanLizza,“If people just want to ‘govern,’ which means bringing more government, they’re always going to choose the Democrat.”

Linked New Yorker article

As Labrador’s quotation suggests, the GOP has shifted from a distrust of government to a disdain for doing the actual work of governing.Michael Lewis’s book, “The Fifth Risk” shows the dire consequences of this attitude, by examining how the Trump administration runs things.

Employing the word “Washington” rather than naming the Republican Party,creates a “both sides do it,” style of reporting that helps the GOP whose goal is to create maximum cynicism about the ability of government to accomplish anything constructive.

The linked @CNN article,discussing the “hard consequences” of failing to agree on a budget says, “Democrats would have to accept equally painful cuts to domestic programs, which have long been their top priority in talks.”

BTW, the “painful cut” the GOP would have to make, according to this article, is in defense spending, an area where spending has been huge. Why do Democrats “have to accept equally painful cuts to domestic programs”? Because this fits with the symmetrical narrative.

The piece notes,” The talks are playing out in the wake of Trump’s tax reform, which increased the deficit.” Rather than report that Dems “have to” accept “painful cuts, ” as if there were no alternative, another angle of reporting on this would be to highlight GOP hypocrisy.

So please @CNN and other media outlets, let’s have a moratorium on the word “Washington,” which is often used imprecisely and not only shifts blame from the GOP but actually amplifies their message. It is not a neutral phrase but a partisan one.

Rather than the headline “Washington Is Flirting With a Debt Crisis,” how about, “GOP Tax Cuts and Demands for Military Spending Make Debt Crisis Likely.” Rather than a misleading frame that serves the interests of the GOP, make it one that accurately assesses the situation.

I will also include this link to the Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short) book Glickman mentioned. I haven’t read it yet but I heard him discuss it on Chris Hayes’ Why This is Happening  Podcast and he made many excellent points about the great work being done under the radar by our Federal Employees.

He was also on Bill Maher last night discussing the book:

(Hold your nose long enough to listen, Bill was an A-hole once or twice.)

Our Federal Employees toil, to often great results, in anonymity and go largely un-credited by Wash….er…Republicans.

Thanks to Glickman and Lewis for their great work.


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[cross-posted to PolitiZoom]

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4 Comments on "Cornell Professor Calls for a Moratorium on the Use of “Washington” When You Mean “Republican”."

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Hear, hear! Now the only questins are, “How do we make this louder?” and “Why did it take so long?”


Great piece — and another fine example of bothsideserism. The media has definitely been a player in ginning up cynicism about the value of government, which plays into ONE side: the side that wants to destroy people’s belief in government and cripple it — because government at the bottom is OUR voice and crippling it means taking away OUR power and handing it to whatever interests have the most money and influence.

Carol O
It would be nice if Maher would shut up and let his guest speak, a complaint I have of many hosts, even some of my faves on MSNBC. They spend five minutes framing and asking a question (yes, even Rachael). Professor Glickman is so right on with this. Name the problem (repugs), call them out, put the spotlight on them. Their inherent greed and power grabs are the problem. They don’t care about the citizenry or our issues, just that we are there to be willing peons and to give them all our money. I hope the Prof gets media… Read more »
Alfred Higgins

Ah, the age old mortal sin of false equivalence!