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Politcal rant - Phil's Rambling Rants — LiveJournal
September 14th, 2004
09:09 pm


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Politcal rant
The unequivocally, unquestionably worst President in my lifetime is up for re-election, and I am starting to hear people who recognize that situation for what it is resigning themselves to that re-election being inevitable. I feel the need to ramble and rant about this.

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.


(5 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:September 14th, 2004 10:05 pm (UTC)
The fact is: Neither the democratic process nor the sound-bite mass-mediocracy can be overhauled in the next seven weeks. The question is: What are you willing to do in order to make a difference now? Give money, or time? Give up a weekend at the EFRC to take a road trip with Driving Votes or the Kerry Travelers? A day? An evening, to help staff a phone bank? Would you take a day off work on Nov. 2nd to get voters to the polls? Put up a sign on your lawn? A sticker on your car? Are you willing to try, with the knowledge that you may fail?

What are you willing to risk, my friend?

Date:September 15th, 2004 11:31 am (UTC)
I would volunteer locally if there were any point in it...but it's not needed. I'm very confident that my district will turn in a Democratic response no matter what I do; its population center is a fairly enlightened college town. There's a fairly good chance, indeed, that the state result will be blue (unless Nader queers the pitch too much)...but Oregon doesn't have very many delegates. (Of course, every little bit counts.)

The problem is, the places that are Going To Do the Wrong thing are all too far away for me to do anything active or influential. About all I can do is send money somewhere, and I'm dubious of even doing that because I don't have much confidence that it's going to be used well (despite best intentions).
[User Picture]
Date:September 15th, 2004 12:50 pm (UTC)
I don't know what your schedule is like, but I do know you have family
commitments, and that the distance to even your closest battleground state (Nevada) is considerable. So... What about piggy-backing? are you planning to attend any conventions between now and the election, or take any business trips or vacations? If those trips take you to (or through) a swing state, would it be possible for you to extend your trip by a day, in order to work with an organization like Voices For Working Families or the local Kerry group? I'm planning to do this when I go to Archon, ConClave, and OVFF.

As for the idea of making a financial contribution: This is absolutely not a plea for donations, but were you so inclined, I am running a couple of fundraisers ("Desserts For Democracy", aka "Baker-Babes to Boot Bush") for our local (and very active) chapter of Driving Votes. Control freak and bean-counter that I am, I can personally guarantee that any contributions made through me will be used to put gas in a car and take volunteers to a swing state to register voters. Period. No attack ads, no dirty tricks, just volunteers registering voters.

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm pretty passionate about this. If my passion comes across as shrill, or strident, I truly apologize.

Date:September 15th, 2004 03:46 pm (UTC)
"Piggy-backing", as you suggest, will probably not be logistically feasible for me anytime before the election.

However, supporting your fundraisers would be: I'll help fill up your tank. Please send your address to my email and I'll send you a check.
[User Picture]
Date:September 15th, 2004 03:04 am (UTC)

what Bush has really done

Unfortunately, Michael Moore is no Edward R. Murrow. When Murrow submarined Joe McCarthy he spoke from a position of near-universal respect. Nowadays, even Walter Cronkite returning from retirement wouldn't get that much rope from the network execs.
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