At War On Our Own Soil -- How Do We Fight Against the Right Wing?
Day after day, we are battling the forces of evil on American soil as they attempt to regain political power at all costs. The truth is damned as they wage an all-out attack, using their "war on error." The weak mainstream press is no match for the narrative created by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and Wall Street Journal, the GOP and the Tea Party. Often, they aid and abet the enemy by reporting their untruths in a misguided attempt to show “fairness."
Mainstream media are mistaken when they believe their job as journalists is to feature both sides of a story, because more often than not, one side is totally fabricated. It's destructive for journalists to promulgate spin. The rules of engagement no longer apply, leaving us to try and fight falsehoods after many people have already cemented their first impressions, thanks to the controlled and insidious right-wing propaganda machine.
Many of us may understand what is going on, but it seems that far more do not and are thus influenced by the lies and falsehoods that spew forth from conservative outlets. They appeal to people's most deep-seated fears, and give them comfort by showing that others actually agree with them.
Every election cycle, using Rovian politics, the right-wing creates issues causing millions of people to wrongly believe that conservatives champion their causes. In fact, the country's economic collapse is not the result of too much government, as they would like us to believe; it happened because there are still not enough of the right government controls. The idea of the common good has been redefined in such a way as to keep people voting against their own self-interests, by conservatives who promote the faulty thinking that the billions of dollars deferred by anti-tax movements, starting with Howard Jarvis’ Prop 13 in 1978, was a good thing.
It's totally understandable why we are so enraged by this opposition. We generally get our views from some deep-seated attitudes we grew up with, whether they are liberal or progressive. Some of us even grew up as “Rockefeller Republicans.” Each day, we also find comfort in reading pieces in the New York Times that reinforce our views, and we may check out the Nation or watch Rachel Maddow or the "Daily Show." We put ourselves in this silo and miss the enormity of what we are battling in the hearts and minds of millions of our neighbors. We get angrier and angrier each day and find our values being subverted without fail. When we wake up the day after Election Day, we will once again find ourselves as part of the quiet majority with no power and no mechanism to control the slide into the abyss of conservatism that plagues this nation.
The late Senator Patrick Daniel Moynihan declared long ago that while we are all entitled to our opinion, we are not entitled to our own facts. Certain information is factual and needs to be differentiated from the fiction of right-wing propaganda. We used to require broadcasters to mark the distinction between editorials and news. Now, news is merely a fabrication of events that either creates a tidal wave to promote a false sense of the common good, or reports enough information to support a group of advertisers that are keeping them in business. Broadcasters are always looking over their shoulders, and are anticipating their next steps based on polls and the fear of retribution.
So here I sit in the comfort of my home, reassured in the knowledge that many people share my concerns about what is happening in this country and the world. Yet to assuage the anger, we turn to our pundits for reinforcement and try to avoid the stress by busying ourselves with our lives.
The challenge today is to share our anger and anxiety in the most vocal and productive ways. We cannot just blunt our pain and retreat to the comfort of our shared believers. It's time to revolt and make sure we take action in the most productive and urgent ways. Like many, I am not sure what we need to do to turn this around. Yet, I can begin with questions. We need to set a clear agenda of action among common believers. We have to accept that we may not agree on everything, but at the very least, we need to understand what would happen if we let these forces of evil take further control of our lives. As we retreat to our bunkers, let us ask questions that will lead us to success in this new American war.
1. Spending. If all the projects that were deferred over the years because of the anti-tax movement had been made, what would have been built that is now costing us billions in 2010 dollars either just to maintain, or replace? (Think of the crumbling roads and bridges around us.) What is the cost to future generations for putting off today’s needed investments?
2. Education. For those who convinced taxpayers that to fix schools all we needed to do was rein in the unions and stop school spending, explain to me why we have crumbling buildings in the poorest districts and young people who are still not being given a fair chance with early education and reasonable class sizes? While we’re at it, how come we live in a nation where a good education is determined by the wealth of one’s neighbors?
3. War. It still sucks up so much of our tax dollars, everything else becomes discretionary. Why do we continue to spend a disportionate share of our tax dollars on defense?
4. Jobs. We need to really come to grips with what type of jobs are going to be left in this country, as our grandchildren enter the workforce. As China declares it will spend billions on green technology, we’re still pumping gas in big family cars and trucks because we didn’t believe in the early ‘70s that our dependency on fossil fuels made our economy vulnerable. Look at the advances the Chinese will make in the technology we failed to advance through a strong public policy commitment. Capitalism is great, but state-controlled initiatives can often win out in the 21st century.
5. Healthcare. Just ask someone who is uninsured and uses the emergency room for a primary care physician. If we made incremental steps with the recent health care reform, we need to work hard to make what is good better and remove the bad parts that may make it fail in the long run. I’m no expert on this, but when politicians slice and dice good intentions, we tend to lose in this world of partisan and destructive politics.
6. National Debt. Let’s accept that we need to spend our way out of this abyss, yet find ways to promote those sectors that in the long-term will create innovation and jobs, thus tax revenue to work our way down as we did in the '90s.
7. Government. Make sure we create a campaign finance system that differentiates between those who need the services only government can provide and corporations that use the government to increase their bottom line without regard to the public health and welfare.
8. Media. How can we improve the dissemination of facts and points of view that lead to an understanding of the real challenges we face? Help us understand the facts behind these crucial questions that cannot be ignored and stop reporting distortions as if they are real.
We are at a pivotal juncture in our nation’s history. Our value system is being challenged by forces willing to take away our basic freedoms in the guise of protecting us from evil. Religious freedom is being hijacked, by those who have determined that only they hold the superior moral high ground. We are a nation divided by greed and self-interest, without regard to our shared history, or a shared future. We now live in a country that fails to protect those most in need over those most willing to take.