Saturday, November 11, 2006

Reality Pushes Back
The 2006 elections are over and the Democrats won, thank goodness. I've lived in the USA since 2000 and it was kind of depressing to see how the whole country, especially the media, had been hoodwinked by the Republican party. The distortions and half-truths were instantly and uncritically parroted by most of the news shows, and Republican "framing" was the status quo on all discussions. This is well documented at a site called Media Matters and I'd urge you to read it; I also hope they continue their work even if the target is a Democrat, because in government (not politics, but GOVERNMENT), nothing matters more than a full accounting of all the facts and evaluating them with a mind to bringing the most happiness to the most people.

"Reality pushes back" is a favourite phrase of mine. It means that you can only lie about the facts in a given situation for so long, before reality pops your bubble. Any example you can think of where someone lies, or tells half the story on any subject, is prone to having the truth revealed, because facts never stay hidden for long. The Republicans used this tactic on a wide range of subjects: fear, gay marriage, terrorism, the intentions of the Democrats and I was surprised that they were able to use it for so long. "Gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage!" they cried, hoping nobody would notice that many other countries around the world allow it and are doing just fine. The state of Massachussetts has allowed it since 2004 and the hyperbolic claims of looming disaster have obviously failed to materialize. Remember, if you make a ridiculously overblown claim that fails to come true, *someone* is going to notice and remember that you are not to be listened to. Slowly but surely this is becoming a non-issue for many people, especially the young. In 50 years time it'll be as un-remarked as interracial marriage is today.

Reality has pushed back on a grand scale, with the Republicans attempts to scare the populace into trusting ONLY them fell on deaf ears. Their loud and repeated claims of impending disaster should the Democrats take power USED to work, but enough people looked at their track record and came to the conclusion that the Republicans have had 5 years of screwing up everything they touched, putting party before country, making decisions based on ideology instead of facts and REAL expert advice, and therefore their attempts to put words in other people's mouths should be ignored. And they were.

I hope this horrible flirtation with ideologically-led policy making will be seen as a historical anomaly, and taught in civics classes as a warning to future generations about what happens when critical thinking is under-utilized, when a party appeals to fear and abuses power and leads the country astray. Even if someone else dares to try it, I hope they get smacked down a lot quicker than the current adminstration was, which is STILL trying to get around the U.S Constitution (see their warrantless domestic surveillance program).

Whew, ok, I feel a lot better :) I didn't really used to be interested in politics but when I see a government so disdainful of reality it makes my blood boil. And if you only have time to read one blog about American government, make it Glenn Greenwald's work. His clarity and passion are a sight to behold. And if you really like it, kick him a few bucks to help him keep going - the ideas he examines and discusses are the kind of thing that fortify your political mind and help you spot bad ideas when you see them.


peter said...

Hi Brian,

I wondered what you and other people in the states think about Barack Obama over Clinton?

In his presidential announcement speech, he also uses this idea of reality pushing back....

Brian said...

I've haven't been watching the democracts very closely yet. My first impressions of Obama were that he was too vague and fluffy, asking for a lot of hand-holding, bipartisan "let's work together" stuff, which is something the Republicans recent track record shows they are NOT interested in. I think the country needs a hard turn to the left JUST to bring it back to the center again. And a good dose of reality-based thinking for a few decades to undo some of the damage the current administration has wrought.

Clinton is probably going to win it, for my money. I don't like, though, the way she supported the war until it became politically easy to oppose it. I read a very good piece in the Atlantic Monthly which said she's an excellent senator and very good at getting Republicans to work with her. She also has truckloads of money and that kind of cash can buy a lot of good public-relations. She'll be able to fix whatever negative public image of her may still be out there.

I like Edwards and Clarke too, for different reasons, but the whole thing is too far away for me to get too interested yet. Bad of me, I know, but I still spend most of my time reading about how badly the Republican party have messed things up. I used to have a conservative streak in me, but these chumps have shut that down completely.