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Fifty years ago — December 24, 2018, to be exact — three American astronauts had a special Christmas message not only for their fellow countrymen but also for the world:

This is well worth listening to, as the astronauts take turns reading from the Bible.

Someone said in the Twitter thread that a university professor played this on the first day of term for a class on the Book of Genesis.

I vaguely remember this, as it was on the news that evening. Those old enough will remember it with me.

Retweet, share, whatever: this is a very moving two-minute audio.

Politically and culturally, the whole of this year in the US has been a build-up to the mid-term elections.

I barely scratched the surface of everything I wanted to cover in this regard, so I might use that material to analyse the results in the days to come.

Two things are clear.

One: this is a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.

Two: the Democrat Party is dying. (I refuse to write ‘Democratic’, because they do not live up to it.)

That said, it is incumbent on independents and Republicans to go out and vote on Tuesday, November 6. Here are Cuban immigrants’ views:

The US needs another monster Republican vote to overcome voter fraud.

What follows are my final thoughts before Election Day, written at the end of October.

Trump and young black conservatives

By the time you read this, President Trump will have welcomed a large group of young black conservatives to the White House:

On October 23, the New York Post reported that the first ever Young Black Leadership Summit is sponsored by Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative student organisation founded by Charlie Kirk (see tweets throughout this post). Candace Owens is TPUSA’s Director of Communications and has been pivotal in getting Kanye West to speak out about his support for President Trump.

The Post‘s article says, in part (emphases mine):

Owens, who was gaining traction as a black YouTube star with right political leanings, wanted to hold a forum for young black Americans who were “conservative curious,” as she once was, from day one.

“So my mission was always really clear when Charlie and I met. One of the first things he asked me was, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said, really, in plain words, ‘I’d like to lead the black revolution against the Democrat Party,’” Owens told The Post.

While Owens joined the group in November, the plan to hold a conference for young black people got a shot of dragon energy in April.

Just days before he would put on the MAGA hat and pronounce his love for Trump, rapper Kanye West tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” the first online suggestion that he was more Republican-leaning.

Kirk said that West’s tweet made both Owens and Turning Point more prominent.

“And kind of gave more reinforcement to the idea of a black leadership summit because during that moment we saw hundreds of blacks across the country come out and say to Candace, ‘Oh my goodness, this is an amazing thing that you’re doing, we love you, we’re afraid to voice our mind,” Kirk explained to The Post. “Candace and I wondered, ‘I wonder how many there really are?’”

Turns out there are at least 350 to 400 young black people interested in hearing Trump speak.

Kanye was not at the conference and by Monday, October 29, had pulled away from the Turning Point organisation over a disagreement about Blexit (black exit) merchandise marketing.

That said, the crowd attending President Trump’s address to them was highly enthusiastic:

This is news bad for the Dems:

Border security

ICE have a tough job, especially as they are under-manned patrolling the southern border. That said, they rack up some incredible accomplishments, as TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk tweets:

Think about that, especially when Democrats, the media and other leftists plea for us to ‘think about the children!’

When it comes to illegal entry, there are a lot of bad, exploitative people crossing the border. When I think of the children among them, I think of the human and sex trafficking victims, exploited people.

Obama, when he was a senator, also said that the rule of law must be respected with regard to crossing the border:

The ‘caravan’

While the world still believes the Trump campaign is guilty of colluding with Russia two years ago at this time, there is little news associating the human caravan in Mexico — happening right before the election — with foreign interests.

Vice President Pence said it is being ‘financed by Venezuela’ which is a nuanced way of saying that foreign powers that own and influence the impoverished nation are behind it. The Conservative Treehouse (CTH) explains:

Announcing the migrant caravan is “financed by Venezuela” is a direct notification the Central American invasion force is being funded by Russia and China.  Venezuela doesn’t have any money to sustain its own operational government – let alone a 10,000 person convoy.  Venezuela is entirely reliant upon massive investment from Russia and China.

In fact China owns 49% of Venezuela’s state run PDVSA energy production. A collateral system where Beijing takes oil as payment for prior loans the Maduro regime cannot pay back.  With the crippling treasury department sanctions President Trump put on Venezuela last year, Trump has punched Maduro and Xi-Jinping hard.

With Mike Pence pointing a finger at Venezuela the politics behind the invasion force begin to make much more sense. The invasion objective takes on a geopolitical angle directly targeting a series of U.S. policies that are against the interests of Russia and China.

The post goes on to say that Trump and Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin have sanctioned Venezuela and limited their ability to expand state oil revenue. China cannot trade directly with Venezuela at the risk of losing access to the US banking system. China continues lending to Venezuela, which will have little chance of repaying the loans.

Furthermore, the US has withdrawn $900m in aid from Pakistan in an effort to stop them enabling extremism in Afghanistan. As China is Pakistan’s main trading partner, Pakistan looks to them to fill the aid gap, unless the World Bank decides to bail them out.

Russia is being squeezed as the US increases its influence in the energy markets in Europe. European nations that were getting their energy supplies from Russia are increasingly turning towards the US for LNG, oil and coal.

The CTH post has more details, but, from this, we see that it is entirely plausible for Vice President Pence to conclude that ‘Venezuela’ is behind the human caravan just before the mid-terms. If so, this constitutes election meddling by a foreign power.

On that note, the Gateway Pundit reported that tens of thousands of migrants are already pouring across the southern border into the United States — including Chinese citizens:

Thousands of illegal aliens are swarming the Texas border this month in advance of the migrant caravan marching through Mexico, prompting Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr., the Customs and Border Patrol Sector Chief of the Rio Grande Valley, to beg for help dealing with the onslaught of illegal aliens, gang members and drug cartel smugglers. Just on Saturday over 700 illegal aliens were caught, with over 12,000 caught in the past three weeks. In addition, safe houses have been busted and drug smugglers intercepted by the overstretched CBP in the Rio Grande Valley.

16,000 “family units” were reported caught in the last month in the RGV sector by CBP. All these illegals take manpower and resources to detain, process, house, clothe, feed, and give medical treatment.

Padilla sent out several tweets this weekend with the message, “We need “, in conjunction with video reports by on scene Fox News Channel reporter Griff Jenkins …

In his interview Sunday with Jenkins about the migrant caravan marching through Mexico, Padilla said that just the day before his sector reported 700 illegal aliens caught at the border, 8 human smuggling cases, one dead body recovered, a potential river drowning (body not surfaced yet), over 700 pounds of marijuana and 68 pounds of peyote seized–all on Saturday.

In a separate report, Jenkins noted a group of illegal aliens from China were caught.

This migration is being orchestrated. It is not a spontaneous ‘humanitarian’ movement. It is designed to provoke Trump into taking violent action before November 6.

Nationalism

Nationalism has been a dirty word for nearly 20 years, unless a Democrat uses it favourably. Then it’s okay:

At a recent campaign rally, President Trump described himself as a ‘nationalist’ in the MAGA sense. On October 23, CNN’s Jim Acosta, the son of immigrants, took him to task for it in the Oval Office. Trump replied that he is tired of seeing the US pay more than its fair share when it comes to NATO and trade. Trump’s answer is excellent and measured, especially to a journo who should have had his White House press privileges revoked last year:

Selected state races

Here is an update on a few state races.

North Dakota

On October 17, I wrote about the deleterious effect the Dems’ antics during the Kavanaugh hearings had on American voters. I mentioned North Dakota, where Heidi Heitkamp is running for re-election against Kevin Cramer. Up until the Kavanaugh hearings, she looked comfortable. Now, not so much. She also had to suspend campaigning after her team released an ad which identified victims of sexual assault:

Worse was to come. That day, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released an expose of her and her campaign team. Her campaign workers say that, if the Democrats win a majority, her political stance will move further to the left. Currently, she tries to present herself as a centrist, even refusing an appearance from Obama, so as not to offend Trump Democrats who might vote for her. However, it’s all for show:

Michigan

Another Democrat senator running for re-election is Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow. Her GOP opponent is a young veteran and West Point graduate, John James. Unfortunately, only lately has James’s campaign been getting much traction. That’s because he is a political outsider:

Here’s a short, honest advert from James. I hope he wins:

Florida

Andrew Gillum is the Democrat candidate running for governor in Florida.

He has influential money behind him, as the Tampa Bay Times reported on July 23, which was during primary season:

Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer’s group NextGen America made waves last month when it announced it is backing Democrat Andrew Gillum in the Florida governor’s race.

This week, the group is putting some more money where its mouth is.

NextGen America is making a six-figure digital ad buy in support of Gillum, pushing two new ads on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other online platforms, according to a release obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

“We know that young voters are online, and a strong and smart digital campaign will be key to pushing Andrew Gillum across the finish line on August 28th,” Steyer, the president of NextGen America, said in the release.

Gillum won the Dem nomination, but questions arose soon afterwards:

Gillum admits the following is true and that he has a ’15-year relationship’ with another influential donor:

On September 3, this appeared:

In that interview, the show’s host Chuck Todd summarised Gillum’s platform:

You ran as an unabashed progressive Democrat. You’re for Medicare for all, you talk about getting rid of ICE …

No wonder those two billionaires are supporting him. That’s exactly what they want.

On October 14, online host Bill Mitchell did a little social media stumping for Gillum’s Republican opponent:

Meanwhile, Breitbart was digging into Gillum’s background. On October 17, they gave us more information about the Soros connection (bold emphasis in the original, the one in purple mine):

Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum graduated from an Oakland, California-based training school for progressive revolutionaries that has spawned a list of activists who have gone on to become the who’s who of the far-left leadership world, with many taking senior positions at organizations financed by billionaire George Soros.

In scores of cases, graduates of the Rockwood Leadership Institute founded or directed notorious Soros-financed activist groups, such as Black Lives Matter, Media Matters for America, MoveOn.org and the Tides Foundation, one of the nation’s largest funders of progressive groups.

Soros’s own Open Society Foundations sent top staff to Rockwood for training. Notorious radicals Van Jones and Linda Sarsour are among the many famous names listed as alums.

Gillum graduated from Rockwood in 2012, yet he told independent journalist Joe Biggs (see above tweet), that he has a ’15-year relationship’ with Soros. Interesting.

Breitbart‘s article describes how Soros donates to Gillum’s campaign (emphases mine):

Soros, meanwhile, has directly donated to organizations seeking to get Gillum elected. Days before Gillum’s Aug. 28 primary, Soros joined with billionaire Tom Steyer to lead a group of donors making a $650,000 infusion into Gillum’s coffers.

Soros also contributed to The Collective, a little-known but increasingly influential political organization that says it is seeking to build a “black political power” movement. The Collective reportedly injected nearly $2 million into Gillum’s campaign, funding television and radio ads, get-out-the-vote drives, and playing a key role in helping Gillum defeat his Democratic opponents, some of whom were better-funded and had more statewide name recognition. The group announced plans to continue backing Gillum during the current general election campaign.

On October 20, Breitbart reported voting irregularities among Gillum’s siblings:

Leon County voting records show Marcus Gillum voted by absentee in the 2012 general election, absentee in the 2014 primary election, and early voted in the 2016 general election.

But the trouble is, months before he cast that 2016 ballot in Florida, Marcus Gillum, in an affidavit for an unrelated court case, swore under oath he was a resident of Chicago.

Also, according to records, Marcus Gillum is still currently registered to vote in Leon County at a home that his brother, gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, sold over three years ago. The Leon County Property Appraiser indicates that Andrew Gillum sold 5325 St. Ives Lane on February 27th, 2015.

Furthermore, Florida Department of Motor Vehicle records show that Marcus Gillum has not had a valid Florida drivers license since 2011

This information was presented to Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley. “Based on this information I will initiate an investigation into potential voter ineligibility,” Earley said.

Earley also added that fraudulent voting is actually very difficult to prevent.

“It could be that (ineligible voters) consider Leon County to be their place of residence,” Earley said. “But the reality is until they notify us that it isn’t their residence, or we are notified by a different jurisdiction we have nothing to go on to remove them as an active voter.”

But voting irregularities involving Andrew Gillum’s siblings may not be confined to his brother Marcus. Voter records indicate that Monique Gillum, Andrew Gillum’s sister, voted in Florida despite questions about residency.

Monique Gillum voted absentee in the 2012 general election, absentee in 2014 primary election, early voted in the 2016 general election, and voted in the 2018 primary election.

However, like her brother Marcus, voting records also show that Monique Gillum is still currently registered to vote at the St. Ives address. However, the mailing address she provided to the Leon County Supervisor of Elections is a P.O Box in New York City.

Public records show Monique Gillum does have a current Florida drivers license with a Tallahassee address. However, the address is different from the two provided to the Leon County Supervisor of Elections.

Also, other records, including work she did as a registered lobbyist for the Southern Poverty Law Center, indicate that Monique resided in Montgomery, Alabama from 2014 to 2016 …

Hmm.

On October 23, news emerged that Gillum’s ticket to the musical Hamilton came from an undercover FBI agent:

The Miami Herald broke the story, which also involves Gillum’s aforementioned brother Marcus:

Undercover FBI agents paid for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s hotel room and his ticket to the Broadway musical “Hamilton” during a 2016 trip to New York City, according to a bombshell trove of records that raises new questions two weeks before the Nov. 6 election for Florida governor.

Among the records released Tuesday: photos, a video and dozens of text messages between Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, former lobbyist Adam Corey and an undercover FBI agent. They appear to contradict Gillum’s explanation for the expenses, which have been made a major issue by his Republican rival, Ron DeSantis.

Gillum’s campaign has maintained — and continued to do so Tuesday after the records were released — that Gillum’s brother, Marcus, handed him the ticket the night of the show.

But text messages at the time of the trip show Gillum was told the tickets came from “Mike Miller,” an FBI agent looking into city corruption who was posing as a developer …

The campaign has not said how Marcus Gillum, who lives in Chicago, came by such a sought-after Broadway ticket, or whether Andrew Gillum asked his brother about it.

“These messages only confirm what we have said all along,”Andrew Gillum said on Facebook Live on Tuesday. “We did go to see ‘Hamilton.’ I did get my ticket to ‘Hamilton’ from my brother. At the time, we believed that they were reserved by friends of Adam’s, Mike Miller.

“And when I got there after work, got my ticket, we went in there and saw it, assumed my brother paid for it, and so far as I know, that was the deal” …

Once a close friend of Gillum’s, Corey is at the center of the FBI’s long-running probe into corruption in Tallahassee. No one has been charged, and Gillum has said that agents assured him he was neither a target nor a focus of the probe.

Gillum has repeatedly given vague answers to questions about who paid for the New York City trip. His avoidance of a direct answer became pronounced during a Sunday debate on CNN between DeSantis and Gillum.

“Did you pay for the ‘Hamilton’ tickets?” DeSantis asked.

But there’s more. The new information raises a question over how the trip to New York was financed:

They show that undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen were working for months to get an out-of-state meeting with Gillum, and that Gillum appeared willing to oblige them.

In June 2016, Corey texted Miller, the undercover agent, telling him that he would discuss options with Gillum.

“I just want to make it a good trip and Sweets and B will be booked on something else if we don’t lock something down,” Miller replied.

“Mike Sweets” and “Brian Butler” were the two other undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen

… they met in New York, while Gillum was attending a conference on behalf of the People for the American Way Foundation, a liberal advocacy group that employed him.

Text messages show Miller paid for the airfare and hotel room for Gillum’s brother, Marcus.

“Send me the mayor and his brother’s information and I will have my girl book their flights,” Miller wrote.

Corey replied that Gillum had already booked his flight, but he would send his brother’s information “ASAP.”

“Just tell them to let me know what their flights cost and I will cover it,” Miller said.

The ethics complaint was filed against Gillum in June this year, and Gillum met with investigators in early September

Tuesday’s document dump was the type of event Democrats feared when Gillum won the party’s nomination in August but hoped would never come. Though supporters generally dismissed the significance of the texts and emails between Gillum and Corey, one Democratic consultant acknowledged that anyone on the fence about Gillum could be deflated.

The timing of the release — exactly two weeks before Election Day and on the second day of early voting — comes during a key period for the Democratic Party, when voters typically begin showing up to the polls in large numbers and making up the advantage Republicans build during absentee voting …

On October 31, Project Veritas issued a damning video of Gillum’s campaign and a written summary. Gillum is left wing, not just left-of-centre. Omar Smith, the main campaign worker interviewed, said Gillum promises things he will not be able to accomplish. Be prepared for untoward remarks about Floridians:

James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, went to follow up. Omar Smith, the main speaker in the video, has asked that these videos not be circulated. This is bad news for Gillum:

From 1968 …

In closing, this 50-year-old poster about voting helped Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew win an election in a highly turbulent year in the US (Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, Bobby Kennedy’s assassination and the riots by radicals during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago). It’s no surprise that Republicans won that year:

It has the same message that Republicans are trying to get out today, especially taking other people along so that they, too, can vote.

Fifty years on, here is the unofficial, but no less powerful, Republican slogan circulating online:

President Trump has tweeted several times recently, including in the tweet below with a short video from his Houston rally, promising what Republicans will continue to do to shore up the US:

PROMISES MADE. PROMISES KEPT.

Readers of mine and admirers of Lleweton will enjoy this guest post from him about Fleet Street, which, until the 1990s, had been Britain’s journalistic home for nearly 300 years.

Llew has written guest posts before about Fleet Street and newspaper work:

Fleet Street, a lost Bohemia

Fleet Street’s cut and paste diplomacy

Llew’s post today concerns in part the controversial ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech by the well-known Conservative MP Enoch Powell. Powell was an erudite man and devoted MP. He was steeped in the Classics, having learned Greek and Latin in his childhood. He became a full professor of Greek at the age of 25. He also served his country during the Second World War, attaining the rank of brigadier. As he achieved so much during his lifetime, suffice it to say that Powell was a polymath.

Enoch Powell 6 Allan Warren.jpgPowell (pictured at left) hoped that, when he gave his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968, it would open up an honest nationwide discussion about immigration and integration, both of which concerned his Wolverhampton South West constituents in the Midlands. Like them, he believed that rapid immigration was harming integration into English society.

The title alludes to a line from Virgil’s Aeneid. Powell wrote:

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’

It has been said that Powell used that line only as an expression of foreboding, not as a prediction of conflict.

He sent out advance copies of the speech so that it would not be ignored. Certain Conservative MPs, including future Prime Ministers Ted Heath (party chairman at the time) and Margaret Thatcher, criticised Powell’s speech. Whilst the British public thought Powell had said nothing untoward, the elites were damning.

Powell gave the speech just three days before the second reading of the Race Relations Bill in the House of Commons. Heath had sacked Powell from his shadow Cabinet position two days before the reading.

The speech is still controversial today as is Powell himself. Both are taboo subjects.

Powell left the Conservative Party for the Ulster Unionist Party and served as an MP for South Down from 1974 to 1987. He died in London in February 1998.

Someone who knew Powell wrote a long article about him for The Telegraph in November 1998. The author seems to have been a politician, but the archive post has no byline. In any event, this person wrote:

As I have noted, Enoch was no racist, but he was a nationalist in the best sense of the term – that is, a British patriot who also acknowledged and respected other nationhoods. This was surely why he understood so clearly and so early the European Common Market’s true nature and purpose. Like me, he had originally favoured EEC membership because of the benefits of opening up European markets to British trade. But in the late 1960s he changed his mind and started to emphasise the incompatibility between the root assumptions of the Treaty of Rome and British legal and national sovereignty.

Now onto Llew’s guest post, which touches on Powell’s speech and, briefly, the EU Referendum. It also includes an overview of classic journalism. Enjoy!

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The perils of copytasting

So much of the current political/moral climate brings back memories.

I don’t think I need to stress that I deplore racial hatred and discrimination. But one thing that I think links 1968 and now is that the working class world, under a Labour Government then, felt that its worries were not recognised or taken seriously and were even despised. We have seen that same sentiment recently in reaction to Brexit.

Because many Britons did not think the Labour Government was interested in their concerns, the Tories won the 1970 General Election. I remember winning a pint from a very left-wing Revise Sub-Editor for predicting that result. (Ironically, we got Ted Heath who took us into the EU!)

In April 1968 I was working as a Night Sub Editor at the Press Association (PA), similar to America’s Associated Press (AP), when Enoch Powell sent in an embargoed copy of his controversial ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. That was during the Easter Recess that year. Easter fell on April 14.  Powell gave the speech on April 20.

The question that evening involved how much of the speech to print in the morning edition. Was it a minor story or a major one?

Determining what news runs in newspapers involves a process called copytasting. Editors and sub-editors – subs — decide what stories get covered and at what length.

I’ve done plenty of copytasting in my time. It’s always a gamble. I remember once we spiked a Ministry of Defence story about a new warship.  It was a rehash of an old announcement.  The MoD press officer, a former colleague, confirmed that. Then the Daily Telegraph led with the story the next day and we caught a rocket for not using it.

In my day the pecking order in a subs’ room at a daily newspaper or agency such as the PA, Daily Telegraph and the Leicester Mercury was:

Day or Night Editor

Deputy  “  “  “ (sometimes)

Chief Sub Editor

Copytaster

Those were Top Table positions. Also involved often would be a senior sub-editor known as the Splash Sub. Then there were the Down Table subs.

This is how the process worked.

The original copy first went from the reporter to the copytaster, who decided whether to use it, how much and marked it up.

He handed the copy to the Chief Sub who sometimes made more assessments.

Then the copy went to a Down Table Sub who followed the instructions, looked out for pitfalls, cuts, checks, etc. In my day this often involved complete rewrites.

The Down Table then passed his work to the Revise Sub–Editor, a Top Table sub, who checked through and could make more amendments before handing the copy to the printers.

When computers came in this was still the process, but it was done on the machine.

It may all be very different now.

With regard to the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, I did not witness the exchange but was told that evening that the then Night Editor had looked at it and told the Night Chief sub to cut it to 300 words. I presume because of the nature of the Powell piece the Chief Sub involved the Night Editor from the start. The Chief Sub, a tough Glaswegian veteran of the Scottish Daily Express, insisted: ‘We’re using it in full.’ He won that argument.

It was the Night Editor who wanted to use 300 words and the Night Chief Sub who said every word should be used.  The default position of all subs in those days was to try to keep things as short as possible, within the confines of fairness.

I think, essentially the Night Editor, for whatever reason, didn’t pick up the seriousness of the Powell speech. It didn’t miss the awareness of the old sweat from the Scottish Daily Express. Real judgement. There were reports among my colleagues that evening that they had quite a row about it.

The subs had an ironic joke about their seniors on the Top Table or the ‘back bench’ paraphrasing their instructions as ‘Cut it to the bone and let the good stuff run’. The virtue of the system was – and I hope still is – that we reported events without slant, political or any other. In those days we also did frequent updates and summaries of running stories – and no computer copy and paste function. We were also, broadly speaking, an agency of record: Law Courts, criminal cases, both Chambers of Parliament, all sports, including horse racing, etc. etc. Output was enormous.

The PA, like the AP, Reuters and the AFP, served outlets all over the country and, via the foreign agencies, the world – from regional newspapers like the Falmouth Packet and the Southport Visiter (sic) to the national UK and Irish newspapers as well as the broadcasters – all via teleprinter and, in some cases, ‘train parcels’. Yes, really.

I often attended the early morning Holy Communion at St Bride’s when not working at Westminster. The vicar was the much admired Canon John Oates, who arrived in 1984. He helped to smooth the waters at a time when Fleet Street was undergoing dramatic change.

No. 85 Fleet Street was the HQ of PA and Reuters then. Metro International, publishers of the free newspaper Metro, are there now. Reuters moved to Canary Wharf along with some of the national newspapers, the Murdoch titles and the Telegraph. The PA stayed in central London, relocating to Vauxhall Bridge Road, not far from Victoria Station.

I started in local newspapers before that time. I think that is where my heart is still. To sell papers we needed to report what went on in the town or county. People loved reading about their community. I’ve many good memories of calling on vicars and pub landlords and eating cheese ‘cobs’ with parish councillors in their local pubs and Women’s Institute (WI) ladies, gathering their news and editing the reports they sent in on my own WI page.

The job involved day and evening coverage. If there was something to report, we went to it. And reported it. Yes, there was a romance about the job. Reporters are not funded, or allowed, to do that now.  I know that from my battles with the local press as a former volunteer press officer for a charity here. Not that I recall being paid overtime for my trips out of office hours. Four shillings for a lunch – around £5 today — with a contact was the max. It was not a lot.

Free newspapers, based on ad income, have been the ruin of truly local newspapers. It’s a great loss to community cohesion that this sort of coverage doesn’t happen anymore. Online local news does help keep the parish pump flowing but, to me, it’s not the same because it is only seen by initiates.

Times change. Newspapers change. Fleet Street, in journalistic terms, is a shadow of its former self. Only D.C. Thomson & Co., Metro International and the AP are there now. Modern computerised printing plants were built to the east of London in Wapping, hence the transfer of newspapers to Canary Wharf. The widespread use of the Internet has seen newspaper circulation decline. Most people receive their news online for free.

Looking back, I am pleased to have been part of local journalism and Fleet Street in their heyday. Despite the hectic pace – often there were days when stories and names blurred past because of the breakneck speed — those are memories to be treasured.

The latest edition of The New Yorker, 11 & 18 July 2016, has an article from one of their writers, George Saunders, who summarises his encounters with Donald Trump supporters in ‘Trump Days’.

Saunders doesn’t tell us anything new in his lengthy article, except for a delightful, incisive paragraph or two in the middle. (Scroll down to ‘Who are they? (Part 1)’.)

Trump’s appeal

Americans who purposely ignore Trump because he is perceived to be ‘unclean’ in some way — spiritually, intellectually or politically — might not realise how popular he actually is. The media will never tell them. Yet, it is mid-July and he continues to be within striking distance of Hillary Clinton. Less than 5% separates them in the polls, both nationally and state-specifically.

Saunders rightly observes (emphases mine):

I didn’t meet many people who were unreservedly for Trump. There is, in the quiver containing his ideas, something for nearly everyone to dislike. But there is also something for nearly everyone to like. What allows a person not crazy about Trump to vote for him is a certain prioritization: a person might, for example, like Trump’s ideas about trade, or his immigration policies, or the fact that Trump is, as one supporter told me, “a successful businessman,” who has “actually done something,” …

That is what is attracting tens of thousands of people to his rallies around the country.

Saunders adds:

The Trump supporters I spoke with were friendly, generous with their time, flattered to be asked their opinion, willing to give it, even when they knew I was a liberal writer likely to throw them under the bus. They loved their country, seemed genuinely panicked at its perceived demise, felt urgently that we were, right now, in the process of losing something precious.

This is also pertinent:

Some (far from all) had been touched by financial hardshipa layoff was common in many stories—and (paradoxically, given their feelings about socialism) felt that, while in that vulnerable state, they’d been let down by their government.

In that sentence Saunders seems to want Trump supporters to equate a hand up with socialism. They do not, because they understand such a measure is only temporary. They also think that the government has let them down because no one in Washington or state government cares about a middle class or working class person losing his job.

Despite his bankruptcies, which are more complex than the average person understands, Trump keeps going and going.

This is also true of his campaign. It is not unusual for him to have more than one rally — in different states — in one day and give lengthy interviews to television media. He turned 70 on Flag Day — June 14 — and only needs four hours of sleep a night. I don’t know how he does it. I couldn’t.

This is not an appeal to get non-Trump people to change their minds about him other than to say that people do find something that connects them to him. Love of the Great Republic is high on that list of common interests.

In many ways we are seeing a resurgence of the socio-political scene of 1968 which, in the United States, Great Britain and France, featured a denigration of the working and middle classes as useless, unthinking mugs deserving of derision.

Unforgettable 1968

On July 9, The Atlantic published a considered article on the events that led to the unrest that year. Those who were not alive or sentient then would benefit from reading it in full.

Much of the unrest had its roots in Lyndon B Johnson’s Great Society initiatives of 1964 which, ironically, should have helped to equalise an unequal society. Instead, riots erupted in 1967 — the long hot summer — and, the following Spring, Martin Luther King was assassinated in cold blood. A spate of university protests also took place, which culminated at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that summer.

I was a child then and was transfixed by the news coverage which did cut into prime-time viewing. (That didn’t matter much, because most of the programmes were reruns.) My family, nearly all blue-dog Democrats, were bemused and angry, especially when it emerged that a number of the students engaging in violence against the police were actually from upper middle class homes. What did they have to protest about?

There was a general election that year. Hubert H Humphrey was the Democratic candidate and Richard M Nixon the Republican nominee. To the surprise of my family and the other residents of the overwhelmingly Democratic city where we lived at the time, Nixon won.

Interestingly, Nixon’s popular vote was only 0.7% more than Humphrey’s, however, the Electoral College result went for Nixon 301-191.

It is also worthwhile noting that, in his acceptance speech, Nixon said:

Working Americans have become the forgotten Americans. In a time when the national rostrums and forums are given over to the shouters and protesters and demonstrators, they have become the silent Americans.

One year later, on November 3, 1969, he revived the expression ‘silent majority’:

And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.

Silent majority

Incidentally, the expression was coined in the 19th century and was a polite way of referring to the dead.

By the early 20th century, an advertising man working on Calvin Coolidge’s presidential campaign — Bruce Barton — began using it. Coolidge was billed as the candidate speaking for the ‘great silent majority’, voters who felt they had no voice.

In 1955, John F Kennedy used the expression in his Profiles in Courage, a copy of which he gave to an enthusiastic Nixon, who was serving as Vice President to Dwight D Eisenhower at the time.

Yet it was probably labour leader George Meany who inadvertently got Nixon using it. In 1967, Meany spoke of fellow union members who supported the Vietnam War:

the vast, silent majority in the nation.

It is possible that, one year before the presidential campaign, that Nixon’s speechwriters seized on the expression and began using it in some form.

Conclusion

This year, 2016, is likely to be compared with 1968 in many ways. The United States has the protests and the unrest. Americans will soon have a new president. Could the silent majority make themselves heard once again in the polling booth? We will find out after November 8.

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