The Democratic Party has a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome, or at least the “liberal media” projecting its agenda does.

“Stockholm Syndrome” refers to “the condition in which hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors during captivity,” according to a psychiatric journal. It was coined following an amazing 1973 case in which hostages held during a bank robbery in Sweden defended the criminals, and refused to testify against them in court.

One might expect that, given the stakes this November and the outrages against democracy perpetrated by the former president, Democrats would be in a fighting mood. Such appears not to be the case.

Instead, we get varying shades of doom-saying, with the inevitability of Republican triumph not only assumed, but wallowed in. The reason advanced is usually “history,” which voters don’t care about, and now “inflation,” slightly more plausible, though hardly the only concern with a major war involving NATO raging, and the unresolved business of Jan. 6 still at hand.

In one of the citadels of old-line liberal thought, the New York Review of Books, there’s a survey of volumes about Trumpism with the headline, “Who’s to Blame?” One book under review attributes the presumed sour mood of the voters to lost manufacturing jobs – as if this hadn’t been going on since the 1980s, and is pretty much over; net manufacturing employment actually increased during the decade before the pandemic.

But there must be other reasons. The reviewer posits Trump’s “enormous appeal” (must be an acquired taste) and proceeds to give a fictitious account of the last two presidential elections one thought could only appear on Fox News.


Among other misleading statements is that Trump got 11 million more votes in 2020 than 2016, to which one must respond, “So what?”

Joe Biden got nearly 16 million more votes than Hillary Clinton did, as turnout soared, and – as should be easily remembered – she won the popular vote by nearly 3 million. The two Democrats combined bested Trump by 10 million votes, and the 2020 election wasn’t close – Biden won by more than 4% over Trump.

Yes, there’s the Electoral College, but in no other country, and in no other election in this country, is there anything like this antiquated, undemocratic procedure distorting elections. Still, Democrats can’t seem to to get behind the National Popular Vote Compact, which would fix the problem, assuming a constitutional amendment is currently out of reach.

Nonetheless, the former president has created enough static through lies and threats to leave a preponderance of Republicans thinking he must have won – even though they can’t begin to coherently describe how he did it.

The New York Times, meanwhile, weighed in on this week’s Ohio primaries, with an open U.S. Senate seat at stake. It chose to feature an interminable, fawning profile of bestselling author J.D. Vance, the Republican who caught Trump’s eye.

Trouble is, Vance trashed Trump up one side and down the other in 2016, then suddenly reversed course. Readers reassured that his sympathetic portrait of his “hillbilly” upbringing meant he wasn’t a MAGA man were disabused; it’s all about votes, after all, and power.


Oh, yes: The Times did profile the Democratic congressman who’ll be Vance’s opponent in November – a month earlier, with a much shorter piece, headlined, “Tim Ryan Struggles to Reach Ohio’s Exhausted Majority,” which accurately describes its tone.

What readers are the New York Review and New York Times trying to reach? If their own, do they think this has to be a horror move, with voters trapped in their seats? (See: Stockholm.)

We could multiply examples, but suffice it to say this is representative of news organizations across the board. We hear every day about Biden’s currently weak poll numbers, but Trump’s equally bad numbers are somehow never mentioned.

As my father sometimes said to us kids, “Quit your bellyaching.” It’s sound advice for Democrats, and for presumed allies in the press.

There are literally dozens of things voters care about that will influence their decisions; to adapt a phrase for the Stockholmers: “The voters are smarter than you think.” It would be good to start hearing about those issues.

A political party whose leader is now trying to help defeat an aggressive autocrat who, under his predecessor, was given every indication he could take what he wanted, and which will finally televise in June the story of what really happened on Jan. 6 – and still won’t fight, doesn’t deserve our votes.

Let’s say it again: Quit your bellyaching, and get to work.

Douglas Rooks, a Maine editor, commentator and reporter since 1984, is the author of three books. His first, “Statesman: George Mitchell and the Art of the Possible,” is now out in paperback. He welcomes comment at [email protected]

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