The Washington Post has a new slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” which was pummeled from the moment it was born as a dark, trite shot fired back at President Trump in his war with the media.
It is only one of those things.
Trump fans may well see the motto as an attack, given the timing of its launch. However, the Post has documented a decades-old ancestry of the phrase in its hallways, pre-dating even Watergate.
Though the Talk Show Host Wing of the Republican Party tore it up as such on Twitter, the slogan is not trite. Its simple truth is stunningly self-evident and prophetically profound. Had it been quill-penned on parchment by one of our Founders instead of written in a wiretapping case by a federal judge, it might now be engraved on a national monument or stamped on our currency.
What “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is, is darkly, starkly, foreshadowing. What else could a warning about a potentially fatal threat to our democracy be? And there is another truth that is undeniably if darkly clear; another manner of death threatening our democracy.
A recent Quinnipiac survey found 86 percent of Democrats trust the media more than the president, while 78 percent of Republicans trust the president more than the media. Republicans trust Trump more; Democrats trust the media more. Gosh. No, really? Shocking!
Whom Americans trust depends upon their Political Jersey. Whom we trust depends upon who agrees with us. Whom we trust depends on who is making us feel good. And who makes us feel good are the people telling us we’re all right and those other guys are all wrong.
It’s “us and them.” Whoever “them” is, we’re “us” and if they’re not us they’re wrong. This is the cartooning of American politics: Bugs Bunny versus Yosemite Sam. Except it’s not funny.
This is who we are as Americans today. If it’s our guy it’s truth and we believe. If it’s not our guy it’s not truth and we don’t believe. And, as we know from other surveys, people more and more are going to the TV news channels, newspapers, websites, and radio shows that agree with them. There is no limit to a person’s capacity to be assured, “it’s their fault.”
Is this the way it should be? Is there no loftier, more honorable determinant of truth and trust than political affiliation?
Are we not better than this? Are we as citizens living up to the level of intelligence and integrity in critical thinking that’s required for our democratic experiment, our system of self-governance, to continue? Do we not owe a duty to our country to seek truth objectively and to trust judiciously, regardless of what Jersey we wear? Have we not seen liars and charlatans of every political uniform?
Democracy does die in darkness.
It commits suicide in blindness.
Observer contributor Keith Larson can be heard weekdays 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. on TheLarsonPage.com.