Like me, if you have a job and a family it is likely you can only invest limited amounts of time in trying to figure out what’s the truth in this presidential election season. The arguments either way are compelling and those that believe one way or another (Obama’s a socialist; Romney’s a closet liberal but the only hope the GOP has and anything is better than Obama) are only latching on to those news articles and revelations that confirm their beliefs.
Here’s one to consider and why uncovering the truth is so damned hard:
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which did a comprehensive analysis to date of Romney’s tax plan, famously called it “mathematically impossible”. Ezra Klein, a columnist and blogger at The Washington Post and a policy analyst for MSNBC, penned this post for Bloomberg which ignited a sh*tstorm of cries: “it’s NOT mathematically impossible” and “they made ‘garbage assumptions“.
I have family, friends and acquaintances that are smack-dab-in-the-middle of the middle class who either don’t have the analytical skills, the time or the education to be able to wade in to discussion and try to figure out who is telling the truth and what to believe. These same people — some of whom have no healthcare and yet rail against “Obamacare” as well as having worked at companies who have outsourced their jobs overseas — are some of the staunchest conservative folks I know who have cheerfully leapt on to the bandwagon.
The real ‘mission impossible’ these days is determining the truth. As a guy with a German ancestry, I have studied Germanic history and tried to read everything I could about the manipulation done by the Nazi party in the 1930s to sway a nation, in order to attempt to make some sense of how the German people could allow this regime to take hold. The difference today is that it is NOT JUST THE STATE that has become masters of the lie: it’s conservatives vs. liberals; right-of-center vs. left-of-center; the certain vs. the certain. All of these aligned groups of people now have the power of personal publishing (i.e., blogging, social media, podcasting, etc.) on their side to throw their noise in to the fray.
One paragraph has stuck with me from a speech by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and is the filter through which I view the rhetoric and lack of truth discourse going on in our country right now. Think about this as you read all of these articles and watch TV:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”