Truth and Democracy

Inviting those who live in the right-wing alternate universe to join the rest of us out here in reality.

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Location: Hackensack, New Jersey, United States

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fair and Balanced.....

Fair and Balanced....

Barack Obama seemed to reach across the political aisle in his 2004 speech to the democratic convention. Again in his 2008 presidential campaign, he extended a hand to those who disagree with him. Throughout his career he has made a point of articulating respect for conservative views. This behavior undoubtedly won him votes in unusual places for a democrat last year but I'm not sure he gained any practical political advantage in the process. If you've seen the kind of things the right are accusing him of now, you may have reached the same conclusion.

Despite Obama's sometimes congenial tone, the divide between right and left in this country remains as wide as ever. It even seems to be widening. The healthcare reform debate has put a microscope over the situation, crystallizing just how far apart we are. The month of August, 2009 has become an angry one indeed, with people all over America screaming at each other in town hall meetings. What mature adult Americans actually believe that other Americans are trying to force upon them is unsettling, at least, and downright frightening in reality. At such a town hall "listening" (ironic word) event I met two somewhat rational looking grownups who had used an obviously dying pen to scrape something about "Obama's Death Squads" into a piece of foam board. If this is what we've come to, then where do we go from here?

For their part, the right seems to see an agenda on the left which includes slavery to pure communism, euthanasia, taking all their guns away, taxing them until they have nothing left, banishing the practice of religion and otherwise depriving them of any personal liberty. Probably surrendering to all our enemies too. They call it "evil". Knowing the left as well as I do, this seems like extreme paranoia. There are a couple of way out radicals I've met who might like one or two of these ideas but to see this as the motivation behind the entire democratic party is a stretch of monumental proportions.

Observing their paranoia, I must also assess my own beliefs about the right. I see an "evil" agenda within the GOP as well. An agenda which seeks to eliminate the constitution and institute a theocratic government based on christian fundamentalism, install a fundamental christian version of sharia law, make the government responsive only to the rich and powerful, allow large corporations to operate with no concern for individuals or public safety and return us to a socio-economic scenario not unlike the late 19th and early 20th centuries where most people work hard for next to nothing with no legal rights while a few wealthy families reap the windfall. In my more "fair and balanced" moments I have to consider the possibility that most republicans don't support this agenda either.

So, where from here? Good question. Our ever proliferating news media is not about to bridge the gap. Even as the left plays catch-up in the "opinion as news" arena, we are still only likely to believe the voices that tell us what we want to hear anyway. The internet news boom offers only more partisanship and an awful lot of disinformation to boot. I don't have the answer and I'm not altogether sure there is one. There's nothing wrong, of course, with an ongoing robust debate between right and left as to the future of America. It just seems like that debate would be more constructive if both sides saw a little less hidden agenda and trusted each other a bit more.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Four years later.....

What a difference a few years can make! This blog has been dormant for a very long time. I've just now rediscovered it. I haven't been writing much in the interim and it will probably show. Reviewing the material here it strikes me that while I occasionally struck gold and even showed some prescience, for the most part I was just blowing off steam (anger at the right).

The political landscape has altered since then in ways I didn't dare dream. In '06 the democrats took back control of congress and two years later America elected an African-American president while giving him an historic legislative majority. Barack Obama redrew the electoral map in '08, increased the number of so-called "purple" states and probably solidified some new "blue" states in the process. I would be remiss here if I didn't acknowledge the inspiration and contributions to this political sea-change made by the former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean. Kudos, you screamin' genius!

The radical right hasn't been this powerless in the political arena since the mid 1970's. Of course, they recovered pretty quickly back then. You might even say with a vengeance. Remember Ronnie Reagan anyone? I'm sure you do. As I write this, right wing forces are gearing up to bring down president Obama and sweep the mid-term elections much as they did to Clinton in '94. The first item on their agenda is to kill health care reform, thereby embarassing the president on one of his fondest wishes. A couple of the more honest, or foolish, republicans have actually publicly admitted to this strategy. And so, opposition to health care reform is based on political strategy, not principled disagreement. The good of the party before the good of the country. At least the republicans are consistent.

Tomorrow evening I will be attending a town hall meeting in Hackensack, NJ hosted by democratic congressman Steve Rothman. The stories of paid organizers and chanting and yelling "dittoheads" are numerous enough that I don't have to review them here. I look forward to personally shaming the right wing activists who make the unfortunate mistake of attending this meeting for the sole purpose of disruption and discord. They're in for a big surprise. I will write about it in the near future. Thanks to anyone who might accidentally read this. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Paul Roth
Hackensack, NJ