Frank Bruni had a great piece in the New York Times today (read it here).I’ve been on the soapbox regarding the power of words for years, and I guess the tsunami of hyperbole has finally gotten someone’s attention.
There are enough true and honest conversations to be had regarding debt, the national deficit and the two-way social contract that defines us as Americans to descend into the jello wrestling pit of illogical arguments, name-calling and shutting down.
What worries me is that those with a radical bent (yes, those on the right, and yes, I have what I believe to be a well-founded point of view) have taken the fundamentalist religious tactic of simply creating facts to suit their theory. (I would use the phrase “the Nazi’s “Big Lie” but that would trigger Godwin’s Law and there’s no point in going there.) There are “media outlets” that only vaguely fit that appellation with regards to certain topics, and their output is taken as (literal) gospel by a wide swath of Americans who can’t be bothered to research all sides of an issue and then form their own opinions. The deficit has gone down in the past five years. The tax rate has not shot up since President Obama was elected. No one has taken anyone’s guns, and the President of the United States is not an enemy of the state or some kind of terrorist. Folks who believe this, especially the latter, are encouraged to see a psychiatrist. If they have insurance, of course.
I truly hope the GOP gets its act together and decides to gamble its future on returning to the right wing, back from wherever it’s gotten to. The gerrymandering that created “safe” congressional voting districts is now biting them in the ass: with a ‘the more fanatic the better’ mentality sweeping through them like the 1917 influenza. And dare I say, just as lethal to our democratic way of life.
The best way to help them is for all of us, left, center and right to seek points of contact and agreement. Can we decide to take a close look at the Social Security disability mechanism? Yes, we should. Medicaid, Medicare? Of course: every organization should be accountable and transparent. The military? Yes, as well. We’ve got weapons systems for which there are no reasonable enemies, and defense and government contractors that are not just sucking at the hind teat, they’ve got all the nipples in their mouths. We should look at that kind of funding.
By the same token, we should look at what it means to be an American citizen. It’s not the idea of mine, mine, mine. Never was. Shouldn’t be. If we want safe drinking water, let’s be adults and make sure we’re checking on the quality, and thinking two steps ahead before exposing aquifers to risks from industry. We have a great logistics system, but if the government doesn’t invest at the levels President Eisenhower did back in the 1950’s, our ability to keep production up will degrade. Quickly, not slowly. And yes, investments in education are necessary to keep our future adults from believing in quackery. Must as some religious fundamentalists might want to deny it, faith and theory are not compatible. There are plenty of scientists who are deeply religious and mesh their research, their hypotheses and yes, their fact-checked, peer-reviewed theories within their religious contexts. And a healthy population is a productive one. What we had until the Affordable Care Act took effect was all citizens subsidizing the uninsureds’ visits to ER departments instead of cheaper well-person visits.
All topics should be discussed. Rationally. With respect for the other party as a person. Because if we dismiss the humanity of the opposing side, we’ve negated them as a co-equal citizen of these United States, and that’s a slippery slope to social, and then political, anarchy.