Berry: Do your homeworkWritten by Thomas Berry | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We are starved for truth. I can think of no better way to summarize the woeful state of our election process and related public discourse than that. We are lied to, error and ignorance are rampant, and it is to our shame and detriment that we do not bother to seek out the facts for ourselves.
I understand that political campaigning is pure advertising, that is meant to instill false hopes and expectations in the target audience. From “Read my lips: No new taxes” to “Summer of Recovery,” we might as well be rubes buying purple bark sarsaparilla from a medicine show barker or sending our money to an “expert” who promises deliverance from all financial misfortunes present and future as trust any political slogan. In the end, many campaigns degenerate into, or at worst are established as, cults – but that’s a topic for another time.
Support for and opposition to various candidates is also founded on personal beliefs and prejudices. We may hold party affiliation supremely above all other considerations, whether on the basis of upbringing, faith or union membership: “Of course I voted for whoever – my family has always voted for that party/she belongs to my church/he has my union’s endorsement,” and we do so by reflex without ever giving a second’s attention to that person’s experience, character or competence, or lack thereof, because it’s easier to follow habit than do the work of learning the truth.
(There’s a glorious irony in labor unions, which so laudably promote the benefits of experience and competence in the workplace, so ardently supporting the least experienced and least competent candidate imaginable for the job of President in 2008.)
Rather than learn and honor the facts, we vote the party line, including candidates of shady background or whose principles sharply oppose our own. How many pro-life union members voted for Obama?
We support candidates who promise, however faithlessly, to give us what we want. In past columns, I’ve faulted President Obama for playing so crassly to the eroded national character by which more people would vote for him because they want the government to provide for them and, by necessary extension, control them by restricting their liberty than would hold him accountable to his past or his principles.
The mainstream media covers elections with an obvious bias, especially in masking Obama’s background and agenda while presenting opposing candidates in the worst possible light. Witness the horrendous so-called moderation of Republican debates by hostile media representatives.
Lamentably, some local media has become just as untrustworthy. The Blade has been a Democrat mouthpiece for years. But WSPD, which does a tremendous service to the community in covering local issues, including The Blade’s bias, has fallen into the same trap with its heavily skewed support for Ron Paul.
Granted, the content of its excellent early morning and late afternoon talk shows consists in the opinion of the hosts, guests and callers, whereas the Blade editorializes its news content, e. g. the Tom Noe scandal. But beyond the news versus opinion distinction, there often is not a dime’s worth of difference between WSPD’s being a de facto Ron Paul campaign organization and any typical lamestream media outlet, including The Blade, doing the same for Obama and other progessive Democrats.
Given all the good that WSPD has accomplished, it pains me to criticize them. But a broad failure by voters to distinguish fact from deceit contributed mightily to Obama’s election in 2008. Now it’s happening from the other end of the spectrum as well. Dr. Paul’s faults are evaded, his critics are dismissed as liars, and his opponents are misrepresented. How is this different from any other campaign advertising?
Of course, I’ve been accused of falsehood as well. I welcome the scrutiny; but if you’re going to try that, then I expect you to do the homework. See if the information I present in support of my positions is right or wrong; if you can prove that I’m wrong, I will gladly accept and admit correction. But I expect you to be honest and courageous enough to do the same if you find me right.
Please: Do not simply believe what you see or hear, no matter how much you like or trust the source, and don’t dismiss what you don’t like without having truth to back you up. See what the other side says as well, dig out the facts behind the opinions, learn the truth, and follow it, no matter how uncomfortable the journey. When deceit and error are this pervasive, obeying truth – and not just what our prejudices claim is truth – is critical to our future and our freedom.
Thomas Berry, for the Children of Liberty, www.meetup.com/The-children-of-liberty/