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Creating Realities?

Posted by MacZad
Sep 08 2012

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

How our politics have changed since the Moynihan era. During the past few years it's become apparent from the utterances of Republican leaders that they see manipulation of truth as a powerful tool in helping them to gain power and pursue their objectives.

Here's a quote from an extensive article on the Bush presidency by Ron Suskind in the October 2004 New York Times Magazine.

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

The aide (Karl Rove?) appeared more than willing to invent or distort facts to "create our own reality." The arrogance displayed is almost unbelievable. One of those created realities was the "weapons of mass destruction" reality that led to the Iraq war. That ignoring/distorting of the truth didn't lead to a smashing success, did it? My last posting about Republican wisdom had this example (from the time of the 2012 RNC) of this continuing willingness to manipulate the truth. All but admitting that the Romney campaign would be lying pollster Neil Newhouse said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

What a disservice this use of deceit is to political discourse. Presenting the electorate with distortions or downright lies blunt the truth, and the country suffers as decisions based on anything other than the best understanding of the truth are bound to turn out badly. As the old saying goes, "Garbage in garbage out."

However, this behavior by Republican leaders is not surprising considering Christian fundamentalists influence in the party. Creating alternative realities is old stuff to Christian fundamentalists. They do it in their theme parks where they show people and dinosaurs coexisting.

So, are the Democrats guilty as well? Yes but to a lesser degree, and a willingness, even an eagerness, to ignore hard facts and "create our own reality" does not seem to be present when they are governing.

All this means that voters now have to be much more skeptical about the information presented during campaigns. Fortunately the media has become quite alert to this decrease in truthfulness, and the lies and distortions are increasingly being called out. Also there are now political fact checkers so voters can check truthfulness themselves. The fact checkers sure called out Ryan on his RNC speech. The most respected fact checkers: FactCheck.org - PolitiFact.com - The Fact Checker

Categories: Illuminating Dark Places, Seeking Better Governance