By Michael D. Evans
Countdown to Socialism by Devin Nunes. Encounter Books, 900 Broadway, Suite 601, New York, NY10003, Paperback, $9.95.
The first takeaway from Countdown to Socialism, the latest book from Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare), is that “socialism” is a backdrop to what Nunes refers to as the “Disinformation Funnel” by American media to serve the causes of the American left. He employs his disgust with the media coverage of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion and his own perceived victimhood vis-à-vis the media to rationalize media support for a Democratic/socialist takeover of society.
The second clear takeaway is that Nunes is either clueless about what Democrats stand for, clueless about what socialism is, or both. He contends throughout his treatise that “Democrat” (the party and its platform) and “socialist” are synonymous.
Nunes embraces the time-honored Republican practice of accusing the opposition of doing exactly they are doing themselves. “The Left is working hard to skew the playing field so that once they gain untrammeled power…it will be permanent.” Switch “Left” to “Right,” and you have the preamble to the right-wing playbook.
He further claims that the left now rejects “free speech, a fair voting system, private property, and the rule of law.” That, of course, obscures a few realities.
- Republicans repeatedly want to stifle speech that takes a viewpoint contrary to their own and demonize as “politically correct” challenges to their perspective.
- Aside from expansive long-term right-wing efforts at voter suppression and made-up tales of voter fraud, the response to the 2020 electoral outcome tells you all that you need to know about Republican “devotion” to a fair voting system.
- Those crafty socialists must have removed the plank about the Democratic Party calling for the abolition of private property from any mention on the Web.
- And the rule of law? Look at the Trump administration and all that it has gotten away with (or the George W. Bush and Reagan administrations). The Republican right has no respect for the rule of law and little expectation that they will be held accountable for any wrongdoing.
Nunes adds that the left, both at the state and national levels, is “working hard to fundamentally change the voting system by abolishing the Electoral College, greatly expanding mail-in voting, enfranchising felons, legalizing vote harvesting, lowering the voting age, and allowing current non-citizens to vote through mass amnesties and other means.”
- Nunes fails to note (or even grasp) how un-democratic the Electoral College (and for that matter, the U.S. Senate) is. So, yes, any true supporter of democracy would advocate for the demise of the Electoral College, or at a minimum, its revision.
- Mail-in voting proved to be a huge success in the 2020 election, with the highest turnout since the election of 1900.
- Ex-felons should be allowed to vote everywhere in the country.
- He might have a point with vote harvesting, but to date the Republicans have proved more effective at gaming that option than Democrats.
- The last amnesty occurred under Ronald Reagan. We must stop treating a substantial part of our workforce—central to our economy—as second-class residents. A viable path to citizenship is essential.
Nunes says that the “media hysteria…turned the Russia collusion conspiracy into the biggest news story of my lifetime.” In his rather extended Rip Van Winkle phase, Nunes conveniently missed the Iran-Contra crisis, Black Monday, the first Gulf war, 9/11, the stock market crash of 2008 and the election of Donald Trump (the latter two of which occurred while he was a sitting member of Congress), among other significant events.
Continuing with his media obsession, Nunes states that “if you get your news exclusively from mainstream sources, you would not even be aware that there is a conservative point of view at all.” He goes on to estimate that “55 percent of the U.S. public has no exposure whatsoever to conservatives’ ideas and proposals.”
Talk about living in a bubble. When you go to the gym or have your car repaired, you will likely encounter Fox News. Imagine the outrage that would ensue if you insisted that the channel be changed to Democracy Now, or even MSNBC. Almost all mainstream media is owned by five corporations: Comcast, Walt Disney, News Corp/Fox Corp., WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS.
The truth is you cannot escape exposure to right-wing views in our society—from the mainstream media to your local coffee shop.
The Tea Party and the current radical right could only have surfaced with the complicity of the mainstream media. And that is also true for the Trump candidacy. That same mainstream media works aggressively to deny legitimacy to progressives (witness the treatment of AOC and the Squad). And when was the last time you saw Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader interviewed on mainstream media?
“The socialists think they have a winning hand by keeping their candidate underground and messaging through the Funnel,” says Nunes, and that “the answer to all our problems is a warmed-over socialism that’s failed everywhere else in the world.” Was there a “Socialist” candidate in this election cycle? Wait, Nunes is referring to Joe Biden! Seriously?
Nunes further shows his ignorance of socialism by listing regimes that are more authoritarian or fascist in nature than socialist. But that is a discussion far too nuanced for his Father Knows Best worldview.
Nunes refers to his 90-page Countdown to Socialism as a broadside, referencing a popular method of communication in the 18th century. “If there’s one lesson to take from my broadside, it’s to stay out of the Disinformation Funnel—it’s powerful and destructive. It can confuse and misinform people even about the most basic facts and most crucial issues related to the place where they live.”
He goes on and on about disinformation, yet he is one of the country’s foremost purveyors of such within the Disinformation Funnel—starting with his referring to the Democratic Party as being a bunch of socialists. If he really believes that, how can we take him seriously about anything he says?
The bottom line is that Nunes operates in an alternative reality where the Democratic Party and socialism are one and the same, where Republicans can do no wrong, where racial oppression does not exist, where only people who are likely to vote Republican should be allowed to vote and where democracy is synonymous with corporate control of society. That’s the real Disinformation Funnel.
In his previous book, the mistitled Restoring the Republic, Nunes states that “Americans must demand their representatives offer concrete solutions, not empty political rhetoric…Judge politicians not by what they say, but by what they do.” Nunes fails his own test and miserably so.
His obvious ignorance and unwillingness to address the problems that face us, both in the San Joaquin Valley and across the country, make him particularly dangerous.
Here’s hoping that redistricting puts an end to Devin Nunes’ war on Americans.
Michael D. Evans is an activist, writer and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.