Let me say this as politely as I can. Those trying to talk facts and logic in today’s political discourse are very small fish trying to swim up a very big river against an overwhelming tide of ignorance. In many cases, willful ignorance. And it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon.
Too many of the people now officially carrying the national party banners … most (but not all) Republican … are saying some of the damndest things and showing such unfitness for public office that the daily reporting of their activities seems surreal. If they are this unconnected to political reality and how our nation’s governance works, what will the long-term repercussions be if they are successful in November?
Some media, to their credit, have started pushing back against the tide, reporting some of the more outrageous declarations and activities, then holding up a mirror of fact. There are too often clear distinctions between the babble of distortion and the truth.
But two factors undermine those efforts. One is the anger and personal frustration so many feel about life today which, for some, translates into “I don’t care what the facts are, I want change.” A willingness to gamble on the devil-we-don’t-know versus the one we do. Whoever or whatever that is.
The other is the media has been so demonized for so long by the loudest extremist voices that honest reporting and attempts to get to the truth are lost on closed minds that have already judged the messenger. “Forget the facts. I don’t trust the guy who has them.” Credit Limbaugh, Beck, Larson and the rest of the bellicose fear mongers. Frightened people have willingly been led off the main road and told ad nauseam only these loud few know the true path to the land of milk and honey. They don’t. But they keep saying it and playing on the fear.
Some people call it “faith-based politics.” Here’s an example. Several months ago, Limbaugh was holding forth on an old newspaper article supposedly written by President Obama before he was elected to the Senate. It was a mishmash of some facts and a lot of nonsense. The gaseous loud one went on for half an hour about the dangers to civilization represented by the thinking of the writer: Pres. Obama.
During a commercial break, one of his staff told Limbaugh the article was untrue; that it had been exposed months ago and the writer was an anonymous student doing an article of parody for a small college newspaper. Nothing in it was factual.
Limbaugh right went back on the air, described the conversation with his staff member and followed up with this comment. “I don’t care if it’s made up. That’s the way Obama thinks and I believe it.” Our political discourse is filled with this kind of bald-faced crap.
Here’s one for the “get government out of my life” crowd. Idaho’s personal income in the second quarter of this year grew by more than $50 billion on an annualized basis. Great. Or is it? More than half of that growth came from social security, unemployment checks, pensions and other government benefits. “Government out of my life?”
Take the health care law now in effect. More than 4 million small businesses with 17 million employees can get tax credits of up to 35% of their dollars spent on health insurance premiums. In 2014, that direct credit goes up to 50%. For-profit companies can use that as an offset against federal income taxes each year. “Government out of my life?”
And the facts go on and on. Government underwriting of education, highways, bridges, electrical production, air safety, law enforcement, farm production, food inspection, huge water projects, home loan insurance, medical research and delivery. “Government out of my life?”
The thing that scares me most about the coming election is what will happen later. What will happen when some of these governmentally illiterate souls are in office. What will happen when their uncompromising occupation of a sizeable number of seats in congress means crucial, life-changing decisions made in ignorance by ideologues who believe they are our salvation. The Palin philosophy of “I know what I know and I don’t need to know any more.”
The guy who said “we live in interesting times” probably understated the situation. Without overstating, I believe we live in damned scary times. Hang on.