I don't consider myself really well in tune with the mood of the country, but I am strongly convinced that the people in this country who actually understand what the Bush administration has actually done in its first almost four years in office, and who understand what they would actually be trying to do in another four years, and actually approve of that record and those intentions, comprise a small enough minority to be electorally insignificant. A quite significant chunk of the electorate, however, believe that they understand what Bush really stands for and approve of that. What accounts for that disparity? To put it in its simplest and starkest terms, the Bush administration lies. All politicians lie, but Bush and his crowd have taken the art of political lying to extremes I've certainly never seen before. How do they get away with it?
Our democratic process has been damaged -- arguably completely broken -- by what's happened in the last couple of decades to the way people get their information. People on opposite sides of the political debate get their information from almost completely disjoint sources, and most people on both sides rely on very shallow coverage on TV news. To make matters worse, journalists today strive to avoid being accused of bias by presenting both sides of every issue as equally valid, even issues where the evidence on one side is overwhelming or issues that really don't involve a clear cut argument between two sides. Because the TV news coverage is so shallow, people's understanding of the complexities of actual events is very shaky, and this makes them very vulnerable to indoctrination by pundits, commentators, and talk show hosts who take extreme positions and make the case for them by using one-sided interpretations of complex real world situations at best and simple bullshit quoted from other pundits, commentators, and talk show hosts at worst. Because they are almost exclusively talking to an audience that more or less agrees with their point of view already, their bogus arguments sound very convincing; people who follow them form very strongly fixed opinions, because they hear so many clear sounding arguments for the same side. A good rhetor's argument can sound very convincing even when it's founded on nothing, if the person listening doesn't already know what's wroung with the evidence the rhetor presents and the argument from the other side is only to be found on a show known for the opposite point of view and no overlap in audience.
How can I, or someone else on my side, get through the mental armor that has been built up around anyone on the other side? When anyone who's willing to express an opinion on camera becomes an expert, it's hard to convince someone that the "facts" they know are not correct. If I bring up a piece of evidence, they can bring up an opposing one. By the time I can convince them of one supporting point in my attack on their position, they're through talking to me.
Bush gets away with saying one thing in his speeches and actually doing something else because nobody who's in favor of him is willing to listen to anyone who talks about what he actually does long enough to believe there might be some truth in it. How do we focus the debate on what he's really done and really means to do, rather than the false front?
I seem to have lost the coherence to put together a complete argument. I'll quit before I lose the ability to put together a complete sentence.