They’re wrong. Wrong. On the facts, on the issues… wrong.
See, in a recent Facebook discussion following the Fox Republican debate, a “fact” was brought up: 93+ million Americans aren’t even seeking work. Much more important than income inequality, this person maintained. You know, that whole takers vs. makers thing?
OK, I replied, but I’ll bet a majority of those 93 million people are retired or disabled.
Nope, he said, they don’t count if they’re retired.
That so? I thought. So I challenged him: “can you document this?”
He says yep, sends me a link… and in the very link he provides, I find this sentence: “People 55 and over do, as you might expect, account for more than half of the 85.9 million adults (as of October) who say they don’t want a job.”
Wrong. Of course, this same person also once told me the government can’t create jobs, even though he’s a public school teacher in a country with compulsory public education. But the point is, as usual, he–a Republican, Conservative, Tea Partier–was wrong.
Sure, this was just one instance, some might argue… except it’s not. Since the time I’ve become politically aware and active (around 2000), I’ve had dozens and dozens of arguments of this sort. Republican friends and family members sending multiple emails my way, all of which turned out to be wrong: facts inaccurate, pictures photo-shopped, false statements, outright lies–I remember one in particular in which a professor had supposedly endorsed the Bush administration/condemned Democrats in some way, only to find that this same professor had issued an official statement on his webpage saying that he said nothing of the sort, and in fact, disagreed with the conservative position entirely.
It continues to this day. Just this morning, on my Facebook feed, there was a photo-shopped pic of Hillary Clinton with Osama Bin Laden. Wrong.
And it’s gotten to the point where nobody should buy it anymore. When a group of people are this consistently wrong; when their surrogates in the media, their politicians, their base of constituents are just wrong, time and again; when they knowingly lie, swallow and regurgitate bad information, spout theories that have been long proven to be false, support positions that are absurdly extreme and/or barbaric–I guess the question is: why does anyone believe them anymore? How is it that these people are even taken seriously?
These are people who believe we should build a wall across the whole of our southern border in response to illegal immigration. That most Mexican immigrants are rapists, drug runners, or killers. That the Mexican government is sending them on purpose. That a sane immigration policy is to round up the more than 11 million Hispanics/Latinos in the country, and if they can’t prove their legal status, ship ’em to Mexico. Even if they’ve been here for 20 years. Even if they’re not from Mexico. Even if they’re kids are legal citizens by birth. That we should end birthright citizenship for that very reason.
These are people who’re screaming for a preemptive war against a country alleging they’ll develop weapons of mass destruction. The same people who said the same thing about Iraq just a little over a decade ago.
These are people who insist that more trickle-down economics–tax cuts and deregulation for large corporations and the very wealthy, the same policies that have driven wealth inequality, wage stagnation, and the decline of the middle class over the last 30 years–are just what we need. Their second suggestion on the economy is that we should repeal Obamacare, which would cause at least 16 million Americans to immediately lose their health insurance and cause premiums for everyone else to skyrocket.
These are people who believe in problems proven not to exist: that voter fraud happens regularly and on a large scale, that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts for profit, that Obamacare is a job-killing failure, that there was a conspiracy surrounding Benghazi…
These are people who don’t believe in, or don’t believe in solving, problems proven to exist: income inequality, climate change, our decaying infrastructure, student loan debt, the cost of college…
Oh sure, they have their “facts.” And Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly and all the others. But their “facts” are almost always wrong. And the people on conservative airwaves are well documented liars and frauds. People who are wrong. Go to mediamatters.org–it’s an entire organization based on exposing the conservative media for what it is: wrong.
Indeed, the entire Republican operation is pretty transparent–every position based on political advantage: backed by oil companies, they deny climate change; in the pockets of military contractors, they agitate for war; for corporate lobbyists: tax breaks, deregulation, and subsidies to grease the wheels. They’re against abortion, gays, and Muslims to secure the religious vote, for guns in everyone’s home to satisfy the NRA and weapons manufacturers. Unions, especially teachers’ unions, are hated, because they’re members tend to work politically and vote for Democrats. And on voting, it’s quite simple: as few as possible–especially minorities, elderly, and young people. And why? Because those groups tend to vote for Democrats.
Make no mistake: that’s a big reason why Republicans, Conservatives, and Tea Partiers are wrong all the time. Because their positions aren’t based on logic or truth–they’re based entirely on political advantage. On attaining and/or maintaining power in order to reward their lobbyists and donors, who in turn reward them.
Now look, this isn’t to say that Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives never get it wrong on the facts, or that some Democratic positions aren’t based on political advantage, or even that there aren’t legitimate conservative positions on various issues. They do and there are.
But this strain of Republican–this cult-like Conservatism–is categorically wrong. It’s hurting our country and robbing us of a legitimate discussion of the problems we face and how to solve them. And that’s not a wild-eyed liberal view. It’s the truth. And no person can argue otherwise without being proven clearly and definitively wrong.
So two things need to happen:
1) The media needs to stop giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt during interviews–they ought to be challenged on facts and questioned harshly on policy positions, both of which are so often deeply at odds with reality. Furthermore, the media needs to name the parties and politicians involved when reporting on politics; there are way too many times when even supposedly liberal outlets like NPR leave out basic information like “Republican” and “Democrat.” And finally, in the big money era of Citizen’s United, the media needs to expose big donors funding the ads we see and hear running up to the election. We need to know who they are, what they want, and why they’re spending so much money to buy politicians.
2) Ordinary Americans need to point out, whether it be through discussion or social media, that these people are wrong. It’s not hard. There’s any number of lines we can give them:
“Your party doesn’t believe in climate change. That’s dumb. And dangerous.”
“Your party thinks we should round up everyone who’s brown and speaks Spanish and deport them to Mexico, whether they’re from there or not.”
“A majority of your party thinks Donald Trump should be our next President.”
Or any of the other things I’ve pointed out above. For example: “why should I believe people that lie all the time–and what does that say about your party?”
That’s it. Basically, we as a society, just need to stop being afraid to say what today’s Republicans, Conservatives, and Tea Partiers really are… they’re wrong. They’re just wrong. And yes, it really is that simple.