Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ignorance is not a virtue...

Yesterday, the President of the United States dedicated the latest National Monument.  The burial place of labor leader and activist Cesaer Chavez and his home for the last 22 years of his life is now a new protected treasure of American History.  Chavez was a giant of the 20th century and an important voice.  But here's the thing, many people jumped on Twitter to be critical of the President for dedicating a monument to HUGO Chavez.  Think about that, someone heard somewhere that President Obama was dedicating a monument to the Communist Dictator of Venezuela and felt compelled to comment about it in the social media without thinking.  Let's just pretend you could believe that the President would be in sync with the man who once called President Bush the devil at the UN.  Does anyone believe in a highly politically charged country, during a close campaign for re-election, could anyone allow the President to do anything that would show support of a dictator.  The ignorance of anyone who could believe that is mind numbing.  Yet those people's vote count the same as yours and mine.  

This is the state of our country.  Large chunks of people of live in an echo chamber and seek out information uncritically and just vomit it back into the world.  It use to be this kind of a bizarre thinking that would only be reserved for those seeking the secret knowledge to undo the Kennedy Assassination or UFO cover-ups, now it penetrates everything in politics.  In the last 15 years we have been gifted with a segment of the population that believes, the 2000 election was stolen, Bush and Cheney were part of 9-11, and  President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim who has faked birth certificates and plans to destroy the economy.  Even smaller issues rise up, in the run up to the Republican nomination we heard about all manner of things like vaccines causing retardation from many of the candidates running for President, down ticket races have included "legitimate rape" and support for executing rebellious children.  

People running for office take advantage of this ignorance.  The Romney campaign convened a whole night of their convention around the "We Built That" theme, taking off on a line from a speech where the President expressed the role of government in making growth possible.  President Obama was speaking about roads and bridges but the right wing noise machine edited the tape and focused on 4 words creating a mythology believed by many.  Interestingly, that evening had a business woman running for office in Delaware as a Republican, Sher Valenzuela was speaking about her business she claimed to have built by herself.  However she received over $17 million in government support and is quoted when speaking to other businesses said "But where do I start?" Valenzuela wrote in a presentation to a group of women entrepreneurs at a Delaware business conference earlier this year. "With your BIGGEST secret weapon!" the presentation read. "You start with the no cost/low-cost resources that you, the taxpayer, have already paid for."

Yet we will still hear the GOP say "We built it" acting as if government is something that is hostile to growth.  This to me suggests one thing, the Republicans think the American people are stupid.  That they can lie to them and assume all those who will call them on their lies will be ignored.  The Romney campaign said as much when indicating that their campaign will not be dictated to by fact checkers.

This is not only true on the right, but certainly has been more starkly apparent from them in this election cycle.  We have seen Democrats exploit mythology of the big bad conservatives who will throw Grandma off the cliff, steal candy from babies and of course end all entitlements.  This is a real problem.

This more than anything is a threat to our Republic.  When we have no voices to trust.  News media has spent more time fighting for market share than giving information.  News and opinion are all wrapped up together in people's minds and while there are many more outlets of information, less is looked at critically.  In fact I bet everyone reading this can remember at least one story from the parody website The Onion that was reported as fact by a news agency.  This would be simply a good laugh and we can point at those caught and yell "Burned" or create a meme.  But these mythologies are cause real policy shifts.  Think new voter ID laws and restrictions on soda sizes.

I want everyone to vote, but I also want a voting population with facts.  Tell you what to my GOP friends, I will continue to hold my party to the simple standard of honesty and you do too.  Stop repeating myths that rise up and in the next 25 days let's see if we can have a discussion and not a fiction slam.  Oh, and maybe my guy will show up at the next debate to make some of that happen.

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