I Told You So

Terry at NAB
Trying to teach what broadcasters didn’t know

Dear Mass Media News Industry,

I told you so. I outlined exactly what was happening to you over 15 years ago, devised a way for you to overcome it, and was publicly mocked for being a naysayer and an outlier who dared to challenge your business model. You cannot imagine the profound sadness I feel on a day like today.

My New York Times Tuesday morning newsletter spelled it out. Here’s David Leonhardt’s lament over the loss of local media:

A cornerstone of democracy, collapsing
In the internet’s early days, it seemed to have the potential to crush traditional print media. But its impact has turned out to be more nuanced.

The internet has instead been a boon for some publications with a national audience. The New York Times has never had as many subscribers or readers — or employed as many journalists — as it does today. The Atlantic, The Washington Post and some others are also thriving.

It’s at the local level that the digital revolution has been as destructive as feared.

Hundreds of local news organizations have folded, as their advertising revenue disappears, and the pandemic is exacerbating the crisis. At least 60 local newsrooms have closed since March, according to Poynter. Some of them were more than a century old, like The Eureka Sentinel, in Nevada; The Mineral Wells Index, in Texas; and The Morehead News, in Kentucky.

This isn’t a story of creative destruction, in which nimble new entrants replace older companies. Often, nothing replaces a shuttered newsroom, leaving communities without any independent information about local government, schools and businesses. (A recent Times investigation found that some partisan groups have begun posing as local publishers, trying to pass off political propaganda as news.)

There are consequences for society. When a community’s newspaper closes, voter turnout and cross-party voting tend to decline, while political corruption and government waste rise, academic research has found. A democracy struggles to function when its citizens can’t stay informed.

What can be done? Eventually, savvy entrepreneurs may figure out how to make local news profitable. But several have tried in recent years, without success. For the foreseeable future, the only reliable answer seems to involve philanthropy. Americans have long accepted that the arts, higher education and organized religion all depend on charitable giving. Local journalism is now in the same category.

“We need philanthropists across the country to embrace robust local journalism,” Sarabeth Berman, the chief executive of the American Journalism Project, which funds local news sites, told me. “If you care about education, you need to worry if school boards and charter boards are covered. And if you care about the environment, you should make sure reporters like Ken Ward Jr. are covering coal country in West Virginia.”

There are many other shining examples of the new nonprofit journalism. But even more communities receive little to no high-quality coverage.

I decided to write about this topic this morning, because today is Giving Tuesday, when people take a break from online shopping to focus on charitable giving. If you are worried about the state of local news, you can donate through NewsMatch, which matches donations to local publications, or to your local public-radio affiliate.

So, it’s come down to begging for handouts from a stiff-necked industry that thinks so highly of itself that it dares to make the remarkable claim of being a “cornerstone of democracy.” Upon this foundation, the industry has the temerity to hallow its business to one that serves democracy. This, my friends, is absurd, and let me tell you why. It’s always, always about money, for local media isn’t locally-owned; it’s run by big corporations and their attorneys.

There is no such thing as the news “business” anymore. There used to be, because people will pay for knowledge of what’s going on around them and the world. However, this revenue model is called “subscriptions,” and it can cover expenses for individuals and start-ups, but traditional newsrooms require more, a whole lot more. Subscriptions alone won’t cover the costs.

Ever since Walter Lippmann’s “professional” journalism of the early 20th Century, the industry moved to an advertising model, for the only real reason to pursue objectivity was to create a sterile environment within which to sell advertising. In less than a hundred years, advertising became the main value proposition of news organizations and their largest budget line, by far.

It isn’t a stretch, therefore, to make the statement that the real business of news organizations is advertising, not news. While these media giants looked at technology as providing new means of distribution, the advertising industry was undergoing a major restructuring that went completely unnoticed by these corporate executives, at least until I came along and told them about it.

In his remarkable book about disruptive innovations (The Innovator’s Dilemma), Clay Christensen wrote of how the railroad industry blew it when the airline industry came along, because they saw themselves in the railroad business, not the transportation business. Had they rightly seen the disruption, they could have and should have owned and operated the airlines.

In the same way, media companies could have and should have owned and operated a form of local Google, because advertising online is VERY different, vastly more effective, and much cheaper than via mass marketing. The only way for a corporate media company to address the disruption was to join it. As Steve Jobs once famously said, “If anybody is going to cannibalize us, I want it to be us. I don’t want it to be a competitor.” Would that media companies could’ve been so visionary.

The essence of what I taught them was that the web not only serves the ad to eyeballs, but the browser being used by those eyeballs talks back to the server. In this way, the web was building a data advertising juggernaut that would blow apart all those money-making wonders of mass marketing. I said they needed to build a local version of Google (ad network, ad exchange, etc.), that it would take them less than a year and a $500,000 software purchase to build it. I told them the revenue gains they’d see would more than offset losses from their mass media business model.

Their response? Show me who’s doing that. Media companies could copy but not innovate. My heart bleeds for them today.

Nobody would go near it, even though they were amazed at what I was saying. Remember, these are investor-owned corporations whose purpose is to make money for shareholders, not spend it on something that “might” happen. I was even summoned to a hastily-called gathering of doom-destined newspaper executives from around the country to explain all of this. Despite the reality that they could’ve pooled their resources, not a single company pursued what they’d been given.

Finally, I was interviewing a sales guy from Alexa several years ago about partnership with clients. He told me, “We don’t need to partner with anybody, Terry, because we already have access to 100% of the browsers in any market anyway.” Think about that. This is where advertising went, taking with it all those dollars that media companies used to rely on to support their journalism. That is all gone now. It’s just gone, and to continue to play the mass marketing game is to pick at the bones of the dead carcass once known as local news.

Local media doesn’t mean local ownership, and this is the rabbit hole that continues to consume large swaths of democracy along with it.

And, for all the damage we potentially face for it, I say “good riddance!” We’ll handle this without you.

Oh, and, I told you so.

Deconstructing Life, A Series

When we awaken each morning, we do so from within the confines of life under the sun. By that I mean all the beauty, emotions, and grandeur of that which our animal senses provide. Unfortunately, it also binds us to this animal world, and rather than study what “might” lie beyond, we fix our attention on that which we can touch, taste, see, smell, and hear. The traveling of great distances all begin with our knowledge under the sun. Earth is the starting point, or so we believe. The mere suggestion of time travel is the stuff of science fiction, with its warp speed, jump drives, and time travel machines. All of it begins with the assumption that, as animals, we must develop our science around that animal experience.

One of the greatest revelations in my own life was the discovery that I am a spiritual being on a human (animal) journey, not a human being on a spiritual quest. I can’t make myself or ever be any more spiritual than I am today. This body of mine is the vehicle within which I live and move and have my being under the sun, as Ecclesiastes puts it. As such, I’m bound to a perspective of life as an intelligent animal, and time travel is limited to my imagination within that perspective. But, if I can allow my mind to wander, I find that a whole new world of rules apply, beginning with the filter that there are no rules, other than that which can only be understood from outside, beyond, or from deep within our animal experience.

This makes questions far more important than answers, because we know so little about the subject.

For example, in the Messianic Psalm 110, David writes: The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” It’s a very important Bible verse, because Melchizedek was a “priest of the most high God” in the book of Genesis, which is essentially the story of the birth of the Jews and their priesthood on behalf of Jehovah. Abraham encountered Melchizedek early in life and paid a tithe to him, thus validating his priesthood for all time as being greater than the priesthood of the Jews. Abraham’s son Levi was the head of the priests of the entire Jewish faith, and yet, his priesthood was lesser than that of Melchizedek. Why is that, and how is it so?

“You could say,” Paul notes in the New Testament, “that Levi himself paid a tithe to Melchizedek — while in Abraham’s bosom.” And, this not only validates the Psalm as Messianic but also raises some interesting logic for our consideration, namely that Levi, who hadn’t yet been born, was bound in his life to the deeds of his grandfather. For those who think only of life under the sun, this is impossible, for Levi was his own man, with his own agency, his own set of responsibilities, his own sense of time, and completely separate from his father.

And yet, we have evidence presented that Levi was present when Abraham paid the tithe to Melchizedek. So, if Levi was so bound, what can be said of the rest of us? Are we all subject to the actions of our roots? Are we then responsible? Do we carry forth in the shadow of our roots or are we actually guided by them? Was I there — in my father’s, grandfather’s, great-grandfather’s bosom — when he ruthlessly managed his slaves? Do I carry the mark as a slave owner? If we are to understand this correctly, the answer must be yes.

This is why it’s so preposterous to argue our terminal uniqueness. None of us are truly unique, because we are all human beings. Now, can we be unique in our view of life? Of course, but that view often attempts to escape roots we’d rather not be a part of them, and in so doing, we can make enormous mistakes.

Consider the new rage among us with the use of the word “agency.” The Urban Dictionary describes it this way: “The new hip word, meaning one realizes and uses their power to further their ends.” Basically, it means that you have tools available to develop and shape your own reality, and — here’s the important part — nobody else has a right to deny you your agency. What it really applies to is life under the sun, for your agency is lost the moment you try to separate yourself from everybody on a human level. That’s not possible, so even those who “identify” a certain way, may be setting themselves up for future disaster, because humans are more alike than different.

You’re entitled to create your own best version of yourself, but you have no right in stating that we must accept your agency. It doesn’t work that way, for your being has so very much in common with mine. This is a key part of the pathological fantasy that Donald Trump is living. We just can’t bring ourselves to believe his view of himself (and we don’t have to). Donald Trump is a garden-variety human being, just like the rest of us.

For most believers, time is a linear construct, one that is always moving forward, never backwards. For those with knowledge beyond the sun, however, time is fixed, and we are the ones who are moving. And, if time is a fixed construct, then time “travel” isn’t nearly so mysterious as we think. The problem we have is that we’re attempting to travel forwards or backwards from our lives under the sun. Why? So we can bring things back to use in positioning us for this life. We can’t help it; it’s our animal nature to be so.

Einstein proved that time is relative, and this is down to the cellular level. Each day for me as a 74-year old man moves at a speed that is much more rapid than when I was a young man of 18, for each day today represents 1/74 of my life, whereas at age 18, it was only 1/18 of my life. And while it moves quickly for me, that movement is different than all others, because time is fixed for everyone. Immortality under the sun is absurd, because such a person would burn and move at such a high rate as to be invisible.

Hence, spiritual truths like the above involving Melchizedek cannot be understood without knowledge that doesn’t exist under the sun. It must come from the world of the spirit.

If I’ve lived my life in the past, then I will live my life in the future. There. That was pretty simple, right? If I was there a thousand years into the past, then I’ll be there a thousand years from now. Time and distance are physical constructs within which human life exists. But it also exists outside these dimensions, beyond them, and within them simultaneously. This is Zoe life, the Life of God, eternal life, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God. Think of a portrait plane traveling left to right across a landscape plane. Only dead center of their connection is fixed. Everything else is moving.

And, it is to this Life that we must give our attention, if we are to grow as a species. The price is a high one, though. We must first possess a soft and giving heart, for the life of God flows from the source, through us, to the rest of the human race, and only then, beyond.

Religion fears sex above all, because sex threatens their logic by occupying all of our animal senses simultaneously. In this way, their thinking goes, it’s impossible to be connected with God when even such thoughts of sex occur. The animal is not the spiritual, they would have us believe.

However, the truth is that sex is one of the very few human sensual experiences that can actually do the opposite. By occupying all of the senses simultaneously, sex completely frees the spirit and the mind to fly to and from the source. There is no higher calling for animals than to reproduce. Throw in the deep spiritual connection available to humans during the act, and it’s also very high on a spiritual level. Our species has it so wrong here.

When we die, our spirits don’t really “go” anywhere. They simply return to occupy their place back within the whole of life, which then influences those living under the sun. It’s why evolution is undeniable, despite the insistence of some believers that we were made exactly the same as all those who’ve come before us. There is not a lot of logic in such a belief, because life is much too efficient to toss aside everything that a generation has brought to its table for dispersal among the population yet to come.

Evolution comes from a spirit filled with possibilities based on all that has gone before. Evolution is the result of the species learning, bringing that knowledge to life beyond the sun, sharing it widely, so that life in time brings it about. What do other animal species do with what they’ve learned? It’s imprinted forever in the life that governs all in the here and now.

Just because I leave life under the sun does not mean that I lose my ability to influence this life, because, for all practical purposes, I will be, indeed, still here. Just because your animal senses can’t detect me doesn’t mean that I’ve disappeared into nothingness. My thoughts and views are actually more influential beyond the sun, because of what I’ve learned and applied in my animal life, a life that requires marketing to the masses for influence to be counted. Influence coming from within the whole of life beyond the sun is lasting, because it speaks to the inner man instead of the outer man.

There ought to be an entire branch of science that investigates this, but science under the sun requires measurements that only exists under the sun. Therefore, it’s a useless enterprise.

When a baby breathes in life, she’s automatically entered into time and distance from an animal perspective. But, she also has the ability to access all that came before her and all that will come ahead, because this connectivity is what will determine life’s quality or quantity throughout her days under the sun. It’s hard to look upon a baby and see her potential as anything less than amazing. Parents can set her on the right path, but she will need to do her own living without outside interference.

Such interference is the curse of the wealthy, because discontent increases with opportunities for acting on it. We never learn the necessary lessons of humility and sacrifice absent the lack that encourages both. This is why every act of humankind is ultimately vanity.

Time and space are only for our animal selves, as is Maslow’s quest for self-actualization. In truth, we are all part of the vast resources that make up our planet, but life doesn’t begin or end there.

And that, my friends, is our hope, and the best way to prepare ourselves for that hope is to first align ourselves with it, then to consciously keep ourselves in the moment, and then finally try our best (it is the nature of human beings to be born with clay feet) to live in accordance with a new set of rules that begin with self-sacrifice.

To be continued…

The Saints Who Vote For the Likes of Donald Trump

There’ve been many reasons cited over the last few years as to why a certain large, right-wing political sect of the Christian religion voted for an undeniable reprobate in 2016. Permit me to deconstruct what I feel is the most causal of all the issues they claim to face, one that forces their hand to vote Republican as faithful Christians.

Most observers look at the Christian political right today, self included, and conclude that the only logical reason for their vote is that they’re being deceived and manipulated. Why else, the thinking goes, would people who worship Jesus Christ align themselves with those who reject the poor, the outcast, the sojourner, or the immigrant. Surely, according to Scripture, these suffering people are close to the Lord’s heart, so it’s hard to understand why any Christians would reject such people.

Why would, how could they turn their backs on the poor the way they have with Trump? It’s not that they’re anti-poor as much as they are anti-government involvement in poverty. They didn’t require a hand-out, they believe, because they were following the Biblical mandate to care for themselves and their own. In their view, the community and the church are responsible for the job of helping the poor, not the government, and that there’s a proper response and an improper response.

The white working poor especially feel themselves better than those who don’t or, as they see it, won’t work to better themselves. To feel otherwise would completely invalidate their own experiences, and that is intolerable to those who’ve bet their lives — and the lives of their families — on the opposite.

In the same way, their beliefs about the importance of family in such matters as taking care of our own are likewise validated by such an extreme position, and to support the opposite would be spiritual suicide. Add this to the statistical reality that black people are disproportionately represented among the poor, and racism is all that’s left. The fear that poverty will rub off on them unless they internally fight against it is a powerful motivator for this Christian sect.

So, their Bible looks past all the admonitions to care for the poor in the name of protecting themselves from what they view as a threat of the devil in their daily comings and goings. And, remarkably, they dismiss social programs designed to do the job as being “anti-family,” because social programs weaken the family unit by taking away their need to strive against lazy self-interest like they themselves once did. They want the pride they feel in this accomplishment to be made available to the poor who wish to work. Poverty, in this sense, is acceptable if a man is trying to take care of his own. These, the church will support.

And so, they’ve taken up war against their own potential poverty by taking the position that God is their provider, not a political system, and that the church is their most significant ally in the conflict. It’s quite ironic therefore that, in railing against such governmental poverty efforts, they find themselves also in the unseemly position of piling on efforts to “make” the poor do some sort of work.

Meanwhile, the extreme wealthy look on and smile.

Unfortunately for them — and fortunately for us — God judges His people on how well they treat these other ones. They can rail against this or that, but God judges those who are supposed to know Him, not those who don’t, so when we look around and find chaos, we must conclude that we’re doing something wrong. The responsibility falls on us. We don’t think so, because God helps those who help themselves, right?

This is the road to perdition, not the path to Heaven, whether that’s in this life or beyond.

It’s on display fully in the response of White Evangelical leaders to the election of Joe Biden, a man they’re convinced will use Federal programs to support the poor, because in that way, the poor will always vote for left-wing (read: socialist) candidates. This is the view of those “pro-family” Christians who will do anything to push their tax money away from such use. After all, they cannot allow themselves to be party to such anti-family, anti-Republican affairs.

Witness the reaction of Megachurch Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas. He’s been one of Trump’s most ardent Christian supporters, a regular visitor to the White House, and a key member of Trump’s evangelical advisory group. In an opinion piece for Fox News last week, he called Joe Biden’s win a “bitter pill to swallow” but went on to tell his followers to “pray fervently’ for the President-Elect.”

But here’s his most important remark: “President Trump’s strong policies on life and religious liberty would have seemed, from our vantage point, to be a better path for our country’s future.”

That’s right. Jeffress said this with a straight face, completely ignoring the truth of the past four years in his dreams for a more Christian nation downstream. He can wait, as other leaders of the Christian Nationalism movement appear ready to do, too. They have all the necessary tax-deductible machinery in place; it’s just a matter of finding another candidate for 2024, even if that candidate is Donald Trump again.

Here “religious liberty” means “religious license” to discriminate based on this fear that the life of the flesh is corrupt and best kept at a distance from God’s people. Almost everything we consider “progressive” is judged to be the opposite, which means anti-faith, and this is then elevated to a level of importance just below God in their lives.

What good is knowing God, the reasoning goes, if there’s not a reward for so doing? To these Christians, that reward equals blessings in this life and beyond. They believe theirs is a righteous calling, and they’re taught that holding on to such beliefs is cause for ridicule, misunderstanding, and persecution from the world.

And so, they feel they are fighting against the devil himself, one who is trying to lure them away from the safe harbor they’ve found with their faith, each other, and the church overall.

To me, this is how the extreme wealthy are able to manipulate their mass into a voting block that actually works against their own real interests in favor of a pathological fantasy that they dare not let go of, one that represents their passionate belief that tax monies collected should not be spent on social problems, only those that support their idea of faith and family. Sometimes, it’s actually against their best interests, but they vote so anyway, because it’s their sacred duty to present their view of reality as THE cultural solution we all seek.

We cannot justify it, but we can understand it. And, we need to understand it, so that we can talk to them from the right perspective.

We’ve got four years to figure it out.

A Message For Bewildered White MAGA Christians

My dear White MAGA Christian friends, the election is over, and now, it’s time for us to talk about God. That’s right. What better time to talk about God than when your butt has been handed to you in a fair fight?

I haven’t been kind to my former cronies at CBN or any of the ministers who’ve, whether willingly or by their silence, supported the last four years as if God Himself was ordering them to do so. You, my faithful friends, are going to have a lot of explaining to do at the end of this life.

You’ve probably not heard this — because you watch Fox News religiously — but you’re going to hell unless you bring forth a serious level of repentance. It’s not Terry that’s doing the cursing here; it’s the Holy Spirit, and your response is going to mean everything as we attempt to build something meaningful out of this horrendous mess. Maybe, just maybe, this was God’s plan all alone — to raise up Donald Trump in order to end the heresy you’ve been following, that prosperity for you is promised if you just go along. You clearly haven’t exactly been doing what you’ve been called to do by Jesus Himself, so take it up with Him, not me.

So, let me be completely honest and up front with you. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves for at least the following:

  • Casting your lot with the Pharisees as they proceeded to crucify our Savior all over again.
  • The relentless bearing of false witness in the name of God Himself.
  • Damning the poor simply because you’ve already gotten “yours.”
  • Your defensive NIMBY, suburban responses to poverty. The simple fact that you voted for Trump validates this, because he’s certainly used it to scare you over the years.
  • Trading your spiritual lives for political power under the sun.
  • Your false narrative that pro-choice people are actually pro-abortion.
  • Failing your faith dramatically and your walk with God.
  • Seriously damaging the church and by extension, the very person you claim to represent, Jesus Christ.
  • Worse, you continue to damage the church’s mission. Do you really think that God approves of what you’ve done?
  • By giving yourselves over to idolatry, you’re also damaging our relationship with the planet that God gave us in the beginning. Did you honestly think He would stand by and let you get away with this?
  • Standing by as hundreds of thousands of Americans died in this pandemic. You claimed Psalm 91 for protection, Are you saying that those who died deserved it, because they were unable to swallow your dogma?
  • Closing your ears to the moans and whimpers of the children torn from their mothers by your xenophobia. Are you so unaware of God’s anger with the hurting of children, that you could ignore this?

I have to ask again: Did you really think you could get away with this? That God would bless your licentiousness? That, as “God’s people” you are somehow better and more deserving than everybody else?

You are living the Gospel of Self, and I know this, because I was there at the beginning when this whole plot to overthrow the government of the United States was first hatched. I’ve repented and publicly apologized for my role in it, and I urge each of you to do the same.

Here’s the thing. Let’s suppose that the sovereignty of Almighty God is a real thing, and that God lifts up nations and casts down others based on their responses to Him. You have to ask yourself if God wasn’t actually engineering all of this from the get-go in order to break the Prosperity Gospel heresy, and to teach us to first love Him, ourselves, and our neighbors. As He often does, He gave you enough rope to hang yourselves, because you wouldn’t listen to Him. Did you really think that voting for mammon was “of God?” Really?

You have been betrayed by those who lead you, and I’ll grant you that. But, they are not responsible for your actions and behavior. Only you can do something about that. Now is the time, not a few weeks or months down-the-line. Christians of all stripes need to get on their knees right now and beg for forgiveness, for only in that way can we even begin to hope that God will heal our land.

The 2020 Election: Reality Meets the Shared Pathological Fantasies of the Right


Removing God From Hallin’s Sphere of Deviance

Illustration of  a theory of media objectivity posited by journalism historian Daniel C. Hallin in his book The Uncensored War. (Wikipedia)

A new piece of the puzzle I’ve been writing about since before the 2016 election came to me last night as I watched CNN’s Dana Bash and Abby Phillip try to explain the pathetic speech of Donald Trump on Thursday. Ms. Bash and other news commentators failed to make an effective argument — other than to state that he was lying — because they don’t believe anybody could sincerely believe the way Trump does.

And that’s a coverage problem, because the entire MAGA camp is living their own pathological fantasies. They sincerely believe that they are God’s messengers, that Trump is a key player in their end times theology, and that THEIR heretical gospel (The Gospel of Self, The Prosperity Gospel) is the “real” reality. The press tends to see only Elmer Gantry when it views the Christian Right, and there’s certainly elements of that in play. However, that perspective can only present followers as deceived idiots — can you say “deplorables?” I know these people, some of them extremely well, and I can honestly report that this observation completely misses the mark.

This is why my book wasn’t always reviewed favorably, because I stated my view that Pat Robertson was sincere in his beliefs. When he told us in 1985 that God had called him to run for President and that he would win, we had no reason to doubt him. We were all living within this shared pathological faith fantasy that we had been chosen by God for the task of restoring the country to its rightful place under God. A competent argument to the contrary was never presented, because the press simply has been ignorant and therefore unable to accurately describe the events of the past five years.

This is a shared pathological fantasy, and any observation to the contrary simply doesn’t reflect the reality of what’s occurring around us. Arguments presented from outside this fantasy will be automatically blocked by the people from within, and therein lies both the absence of trust to influence them and the big divide that we now see in the U.S. It’s not nearly as much about politics as it is about faith, and I guarantee you the American press doesn’t speak of such matters, because they “belong” in what Daniel C. Hallin called the “sphere of deviance” in his book about the Vietnam War and what influences the press. I promise these people do not believe they are deviant thinkers, and ANY attempt to put them there is automatically rejected.

What difference does that coverage make? To not acknowledge the pathological nature of this shared fantasy, the press has consistently instead tried to make sense of it, and there is no making sense of it outside the fantasy. We’re talking about people’s faith, and that requires a level of understanding not found in the contemporary press. Fox News doesn’t really acknowledge it either, but their conservative political point-of-view doesn’t have to; all that’s necessary is for them to visibly parrot their fallacies. Fox News is much more the Elmer Gantry role than those Christians who are very happy to have some media outlet reflect their own words and deeds. Another point it highlights is that their back room strategies and tactics flow from this pathological fantasy. Blend that with the wants and needs of the wealthy white hierarchy in the country, and you have The Council for National Policy (CNP), a real world governor within the shared fantasy. In this context, the CNP’s efforts can clearly be viewed as a serious attempt to overthrow the government of the United States in 2020.

The question is where do we go from here? The serious Democratic Party weakness revealed by this election is the failure of local and statewide candidates — despite massive investments in advertising — to transform a Biden victory into local victories. Pollsters will be agonizing over this for years, but as a former executive in local news, the answer is pretty simple. It’s a fool’s errand for local media units to disrespect the people making up its audience, and the more hyperlocal this becomes, the greater the difficulty in challenging those local beliefs. After all, local advertisers wouldn’t stand for it, because it would be THEIR customers being snubbed. The symbiotic relationship between local news organizations — especially today — and their advertisers cannot be overlooked, and it’s going to take a serious reformation in the way Democrats speak to this group.

Their messaging is all wrong. Local candidates especially need to feel competent in arguing within the shared fantasy, not outside of it. There IS a way to speak to this group, but it’s going to take a ton of education if the Democratic Party truly wants to reach everybody.

As I’ve said a hundred times, the shared fantasy will throw Trump (and his pathological fantasy) under the bus as being a man with deep personal flaws, because he doesn’t really accept their God. This will allow them to explain what happened in their terms and thereby still judge Trump the President as a God-appointed leader. It was his weaknesses that kept him from reelection, the thinking will go, and that God knew it was time to let him go. In this way, the CNP and its base, the Christian Right, will continue to plague elections until the IRS steps in and punishes them severely for violating tax exemption laws, even removing tax exemptions entirely from some of the CNP’s most important base.

Press attempts to explain all this as a cult does a disservice to the truth, for Donald Trump simply doesn’t have the intelligence to actually run such a group. That his pathological fantasy blended so well with the Christian Right’s ought to be the foundation of subsequent studies of what happened in America in the first quarter of the 21st Century.

We’ve no choice but to talk truthfully about God and religion in the years ahead.

After Tuesday

So, here we are on the eve of what’s been billed as the most important Presidential election of our lifetimes. Anybody who claims to “know” how tomorrow is going to end is a fool, but I must say that it sure feels like a walloping is at hand. Of course, your view likely is based on your sources of information, but an electorate that feels it made a mistake four years ago, is not about to perpetuate that error.

I not only believe that Joe Biden will win in a landslide, but also the Senate will be flipped, for to run locally as a Trump sycophant makes for really crappy and creepy local advertising, as witnessed here in Alabama with Tommy Tuberville’s attempts to paint Doug Jones as a liberal, anti-gun, pro-abortion monster. It just doesn’t work anymore, because the electorate has become hip to such manipulation and wants to see and hear about new and creative thinking in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t care about our artificial government made up of big corporate interests and nothing else. Hardcore liberalism isn’t going to do the trick either, so what comes next is going to be very interesting for an old observer like me.

Democrats must think carefully about their next moves, because the machine that created “President” Trump in the first place (The Council for National Policy-CNP) will simply reload with a more mainstream-approved candidate next time. Unless, that is, we do something about it.

Therefore, I’m going to take advantage of this “day before” status to do a little forward thinking. Assuming a Biden victory, here are things I see ahead.

  • There will be a significant sigh of relief, which will likely result in a season of inertia at a time when significant action will be required. America is worn and weary, and we just want to rest. We must guard against this, because the real work of redefining America is going to take a Herculean effort.
  • The struggle to reclaim the brand “Christianity” will be ongoing, because Trump’s right-wing church leaders will blame Trump the person for losing. They will continue to press their causes, which are mostly found in the bedrooms of the country.
  • Biden and the Democrats must resist trying to resolve all of the problems created by the previous right wing government and work instead on efforts to prevent it from ever happening again. This America will support.
  • Biden’s first year will his most fertile in terms of getting anything serious done, and the danger will be in attempts to force putting everything back together in order to satisfy his coalition.
  • American business will be painted as the victim of an anti-capitalist plot by the left.
  • Regardless of any perceived mandate from the election, the right will deploy whatever weapons they have to create a stand still government until they can groom their candidate for 2024. It won’t be Mike Pence.
  • The wealthy will throw everything they have at maintaining their grip on the culture, including damage to our economy that they will blame on the socialist left.
  • The media will still be unable to stay away from Trump.
  • The National Debt MUST be attributed to the right and Trump’s corporate welfare. Somebody has to pay for all that greed, and that will likely be us. After all, that debt is ours.
  • The most important agenda item for Biden would be reformation of the tax exemption laws that will prevent the kind of right wing mischief of the CNP and the religious right. Politics should not be a tax exempt enterprise.
  • We will need to produce an effort that keeps Trump’s damage front and center. I promise the right is working on media strategies that will frame a narrative that Trump was the problem, not the ideology of the right. We must reframe that to marry Trump and the GOP, that without each other, they couldn’t have done the damage that they did.
  • I maintain my belief that the scent of victory supplied by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is enough to pause the pro-life movement’s energy.
  • The silk stockings need to be seen as a curse on freedom, not the blessing thereof. In 1646, John Milton wrote his Sonnet 12 as a part of his writings on divorce. It very well frames the big issue with the haves, and I’d like to see us find a way to use it. The most famous line from this poem is “License they mean when they cry liberty” — referring to the absolutism of the church and those elites who benefit from it. They want a form of licentiousness (freedom from all restrictions) instead of democratic freedom, which includes responsibility. Straightening out this difference contemporarily must be given our attention.
  • We should also not be afraid to acknowledge America’s anger with corporations.
  • News organizations must continue to investigate everything that’s happened over the last four years, for, as NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller wrote in the introduction of the new edition of Edward Bernays book Propaganda, “…the investigative journalist is the propagandist’s natural enemy, as the former serves the public interest, while the latter tends to work against it.”

This is a very incomplete list, but I hope you can see where I think the focus should be — on preventing another Trump from ever getting near the White House.

Winning tomorrow is just the beginning.