Who would have thought that a party, any political party, which had done nothing but say, “No,” to every positive action and proposal significant to the nation put before its delegation in Congress could possibly be laying a plausible claim to “winning” after a year of such negatives? “Nobody would’ve thunk it,” to use a Yogi Berra expression. That is so far from a winning tactic, it is difficult to imagine any success could come from it.
Well, it would likely have not been so, had there been a fair debate on the merits of the issues placed before Congress for consideration.
The Republican Party, and its various spin-off radical groups with heavy financial backing, had minions out in full force. They were in the mainstream media, their Fox channel, talk radio, the so-called town meetings, and the faux grass roots “tea bagger” movement sponsored by organized moneyed sources. The American people, regardless of the wisdom and credit lauded upon them by politicians, may well be the most gullible people in the world.
With control of talk radio and a right wing news channel, the republicans have told the people, over and over and time and time again, that everything coming out of Washington is evil. Of course, this is emphasized all the more during a democratic administration. Big business in this country has always preferred a laissez faire, deregulating government with an attitude that anything that is good for business is good for the country. Never mind that such an attitude usually results in hurt and catastrophe for the little people, and in the most recent case -- the country’s big banks and a near collapse of the nation’s economy.
The country is indeed sick and tired of politics as usual in Washington. They are tired of stalemate and gridlock. They are tired of democrats fighting among themselves and squandering their opportunity to accomplish something good. They are tired of their welfare and their interests not receiving attention commensurate with the big banks and car companies. They are sick of losing jobs while our buying imports abroad increases.
The right-wing communicators in this country have taken advantage of all this pent up anger, and they have blamed it on actions that the democratic leadership has taken to try to save the country from disaster and to help the people. Hence the financial bailout bill was condemned as giving taxpayer money to big banks, which then gave their management big bonuses. The stimulus package, which has saved millions of jobs across the country, has been examined microscopically and a few seemingly dumb projects exploited in the mainstream, as well as the right wing media, to color the whole effort black.
Mainstream media have assisted the nay-sayers in getting their message out. In their constant search of controversy and audience interest-building for their own dollar inflow, mainstream media have given wide circulation to negative voices with nothing other than criticism to stir up questions and controversy. Apparently, critical remarks draw bigger audiences than do positive explanations of the better features of a proposed program.
More lies have been told about the president’s proposed health care reform measures than any other. This has been demonized in every conceivable fashion, using every conceivable mass communications technique. Kept busy refuting the falsehoods and distortions spread by republicans and their fringe fanatics, those favoring changes for the benefit of consumers have simply been drowned out. Those for positive change were always on the defensive, and it is terribly difficult to combat distortions, lies, and half-truths and to explain something complex at the same time.
Indeed the party of “nope” has been winning, because the American people have been responding to emotion, to their pent-up frustrations, and to false and misleading information. Members of the public have neither examined the logic nor the validity of information presented to them. They have been deluded into ditto-thinking according to what they hear. They have not been engaged in critical thinking for themselves.
Those of us with careers in education who thought we were teaching students to think critically have been proven to have a high rate of failures. Too few of our protégés have been practicing that logic. But on the other hand, there is always that “audacity of hope.”
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate