Democrats seem determined to mimic the worst instincts of the tweet-ranter-in-chief — to only his benefit.
Recently when Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal announced her big Medicare for All legislation on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, it was a positive and optimistic event. Maybe some years from now, it will be seen as a watershed moment in expanding medical care to all.
“Everybody in, nobody out,” Jayapal cheered.
But not long after the event, the messaging took a bit of a darker turn.
The Bloomberg news service sent out a story about how some stocks in the managed care insurance sector had dropped suddenly due to Jayapal’s bill.
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“It looks like the Democrats’ new Medicare for All bill is tanking health insurance stocks,” a Bloomberg reporter tweeted.
But it’s what happened next that is the subject of this column. Jayapal herself responded a few hours later.
“Sorry not sorry,” she tweeted. She added one of those ubiquitous “shrug” emojis (¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
Her supporters were ecstatic. Yeah, screw those money-sucking insurance companies! Meanwhile, conservatives used her comment as more proof that liberals want to destroy free enterprise.
“Remember, to progressive Democrats like Jayapal, bad news for the market is good news,” summed up one right-wing website, owned by Salem Communications.
And so a day that began with a much-needed discussion about an important policy devolved into everyone fighting about … a dumb tweet.
Sound familiar? Sound like every other day recently?
Seriously, Jayapal has been admired in local Seattle politics for being as constructive as they come. Now she’s getting all Trumpy on Twitter.
“Please keep in mind that insurance companies employ many thousands of regular people with good jobs,” one supporter pleaded with Jayapal on her Facebook page. “So can you be a little more sensitive?”
Actually health insurance alone employs 850,000 nationwide — nearly 20 times more than, say, coal mining. And you know what happened that last time, when a certain Democrat said something derogatory about coal-mining jobs. It was a major unforced error.
Jayapal’s Medicare for All bill would take out much of the private insurance industry in short order if it became law. This is a feature, not a bug, to supporters. And it’s true the insurance industry is about as popular as the measles. But still, shrugging at what would be a jarring transition seems like pointlessly raising the temperature.
In fact that could be the new motto for our national politics: We’re pointlessly raising the temperature, one tweet at a time. Trump does it daily with streams of hostile, ignorant, utterly unnecessary tweets. Incredibly, the Democrats now seem determined to mimic him, most recently engaging in an ugly, weekslong squabble over anti-Semitic tweets.
“Everyone stop tweeting!” one of the more senior Democrats pleaded with her colleagues at a caucus meeting this past week. Though they were probably too buried in their phones to hear her.
I used to view the daily twitter carnival as a side show, something to gawk at only. But it has become the main event. The U.S. House just spent the better part of a week crafting, debating and passing a resolution in response to some tweets. Think back over the first few months of the year and contemplate how much time the nation — OK, mostly the press, but maybe you, too — has squandered on avoidable and ridiculous social media controversies. The mind reels.
Meanwhile, Trump is blowing up his own presidency, in case you hadn’t noticed. But as one wag noted: “There’s only one thing that can save him now: Democrats. And, on cue, here they come.” They’re tweeting away about such popular electoral topics as Jews and money, 70 percent tax rates and tanking major sectors of the economy.
I know, you’re probably reading this saying: “But Trump started it.” Here’s the thing, though: Polls show that his tweeting is the least popular aspect of his unpopular presidency — 70 percent of Americans want him to stop. That includes a majority of his own supporters. In that light, it’s a suicidal time in our politics for the Democrats to start aping the worst instincts of the tweet-ranter-in-chief.
So I rise to second that one congresswoman’s plea: “Everyone Stop Tweeting!” I bet it’s the only political proposal in America that will enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support.