Sunday, June 08, 2008

Political Myth Busters.

There are some things that I hear repeated time and again that frustrate me to almost ridiculous lengths. I realize that I am setting myself up for this by choosing to listen to partisan hacks, but I think it's important to expose myself to perspectives and views that I find objectionable. The reality is that many people form their political beliefs by listening to pundits who consider themselves expert analysts. Generally the strategy is to utilize repetition until certain core assertions are accepted as fact regardless of how ludicrous they really are. We have certainly gotten our fill of this approach over the last seven plus years with the Bush administration. Their talking points have been well distributed and utilized.

So anyway, I've decided to mention a few of the more egregious ones. These are examples of claims that really get under my skin and annoy me to no end. They cause me to yell at the radio when there is no one else in the car with me. Sometimes they give me short bursts of energy that get me through an especially sluggish day.

1. The media is controlled by the Left.

Is there anyone who sincerely believes this chestnut nowadays? Simply put, the media is a corporate-run industry. The vast majority of media outlets are owned by huge multinationals who will ultimately manipulate the news to serve themselves. Naturally different sources skew their coverage to relative degrees. But I don't understand why anyone would still insist that the US has a "liberal media"- especially in an age when more people watch FOX News than the other networks, and when it's impossible to find a progressive voice on the radio. Our mainstream choices range from "moderate" to reactionary conservative.

2. The Democrats want to take away guns from lawfully-acting citizens.

This claim is particularly insidious in Western Pennsylvania, due to the high proportion of its inhabitants that are members of the National Rifle Association. Believe me when I tell you that there are a lot of people around here that will consistently vote Republican merely based on the false premise that the GOP will protect their rights to arm themselves with whatever weapons that they so desire. I don't remember the last national Democratic leader that seriously suggested that we curtail gun rights. Yes... once in awhile they will devise some proposal aimed at a half-hearted measure of regulation (usually having to do with assault rifles), but this is almost always lip service, and meant to appeal to an urban population that is legitimately worried about gang violence.

3. Republicans hate homosexuals and have deep convictions regarding social issues that are based in religious faith and family values.

If the conservative leadership truly wanted to outlaw gays and abortion it would have already happened. The GOP put together tremendous consolidated power in the wake of 9-11. They controlled all three branches of the federal government and the majority of the states. The Constitution has never before stopped them from doing things that curtail our civil rights. We are living in a time when our liberties are slowly being eroded. Faith-based conservatism is a sham. Abortion and gay marriage are only national issues because they can be used to manipulate the masses. They are used to muster voter turnout and increase divisiveness. If these issues were resolved, they would no longer be useful for the Republican leadership.

4. The Democrats are causing our reliance on foreign energy by blocking drilling in ANWAR.

This is another cynical smokescreen. Believe me- if we had significant oil resources left in America, we would have already tapped them. Anyone with any true power- the oil industry, energy companies, national politicians, foreign policy experts- knows that ANWAR would (at best) take care of our fuel needs for 3-6 months. It's not worth the investment. This is simply used as a distraction from the real problem- a dependence on fossil fuels, and the effect it has on our foreign policy. The discussion needs to go far beyond domestic expansion of drilling... we need to confront our government's destructive resistance to embracing a new energy paradigm. The only way to do this is to elect leaders that have little or no connection to the oil industry. Good luck with that.

5. George Bush's War in Iraq has been a failure.

This all depends upon your personal perspective. If you mean that the five plus years of occupation and invasion are an immense drain on the public resources, and a distraction from the truly pressing and urgent issues of our times- then you are entirely correct. But if you look at it from the point-of-view of Dubya and his cronies... well, it's worked out exactly as they have planned. The NeoCons have achieved their goal of having a radically-increased military presence in the Middle East for an indefinite period. The energy companies and military-industrial complex are reaping insane profits off of subsidies and no-bid contracts, and all of that money has been taxpayer dollars redistributed from social programs that the Far Right has been trying to eliminate for years. How is that not an unqualified success? Dubya has served his only true constituency in an exemplary fashion.

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