Playground Defense

Three months and counting. I have more confidence today toward Obama’s re-election than I’ve had all year, but the truth is, this campaign season will get even uglier in the few remaining months.

We can’t be too surprised, we saw Democrats go for the jugular 4 years ago in the primaries as Obama and Hillary Clinton sparred, and this year, during the Republican debates, it was clear that Republicans are capable of eating human liver with fava beans. And with the Koch brothers picking up the tab the chianti will flow like water.

Even if the Democrats lose again as they did in the Midterms, I won’t be one of those saying “Bon Voyage, America! I’m going to become a shepherd in Scotland and escape this plutocracy and corporate tyranny.”

No, I will stay right here and continue to offer my ideas toward correcting what I see as mistakes. Historically, America changes Presidents and Congressional control as effortlessly as Rush Limbaugh changes wives and prescriptions and I am fairly certain the lights will continue to go on in my house and the water will continue to flow.

This isn’t a surrender in the War of Ideas, rather it is a call to arms in the Battle for Truth. The political landscape has been manipulated by fraudulent claims that have swayed the American people into a hostile discourse; lies, misinformation and twisted messages have dictated our national debate and that is what scares me the most.

Every time I make a call toward civility, I get cited by friends for my own negative statements and I have to consistently remind myself to look inward before my outward positions will resonate.

In recent posts I’ve talked about searching for truth, facts and justifiable statistics, because I don’t want to see America go Blue or Red because the information the electorate received was false. Even though the stoplights will still function, no matter how the election goes, that is a testament to our past and not a guarantee for our future.

So, let’s get some facts straight…

A few weeks ago my 13 year old son told me he had gotten into an argument with some kids from school who said, “Obama put us in this recession.”

My son countered, “The recession started before Obama took office.  How could he have started it?”

Another friend responded, “That’s not what my Dad said.”

Okay, so kids parrot their parents, but that parent has changed the space-time continuum.  Just last night I overheard someone at a favorite restaurant say, “The United States wouldn’t qualify for a car loan because of Obama.”

Because of Obama? That disingenuous refrain is repeated so often that it’s echo sounds like the truth even to those who should know better.

I hear Republicans talk about Obama’s “bail out of Wall Street” and his “government takeover of private business.” Even when I remind them that TARP (Trouble Asset Relief Program) where $700,000,000,000 in bad debt was purchased by the government and signed by President Bush in 2008, they return with a dismissive, “Blame it all on Bush, is that all you Democrats can do?”

Republicans have effectively maneuvered the message so that bailouts and spending only attach to incumbent Democrats. It was in 2008, however, that the phrase “Too big to fail” entered the financial/political lexicon and when AIG angered us all by taking the money and giving themselves giant bonuses.

When I point out that the Big Three automotive CEO’s travelled to Washington to ask for bailout loans in the Fall of 2008, I get the same dismissive response, “When are you Democrats going to start taking responsibility?”

It is an application of that brilliant playground defense that we all learned, “I’m rubber and you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!” ( “I know you are, but what am I?” might be a better example).

There is no come-back that ever feels satisfying since their intention isn’t to make a point; it’s just to shut you up. I remind them that the package was approved and signed by Congress and by President Bush and that is the “government takeover of business” they remember, but timeline facts only seem to make their denial more resilient.

What Obama did, in fact, in February of 2009, was create a task force to oversee the restructuring of GM and Chrysler to guarantee that the American people wouldn’t be asked to bail them out again. 3 million jobs were at stake in the automotive industry and I am not afraid to say that I agreed with President Bush just as I agree with President Obama that we needed to keep them afloat.

The Right, however, has beaten the drum so loudly that this is an Obama failure and a “liberal conspiracy to socialize business” that it now rings as a Gospel truth among Republicans and their evil twin, the Tea Party.

I remember thinking in 2008, “Well, the Republicans can’t run away from this collapse. They had the White House 8 years and Congress for 6 –they will have to own up!”

Democrats did sweep into Washington and statehouses because everyone recognized at the time the bad management of the Bush administration….but soon after the election I noticed something happening; leading Republicans and right wing pundits started to cleverly transfer the blame by writing a new story that it was Democrats all along.

I can’t count how many times I said, “It won’t work! It won’t work! They’re counting on Americans developing amnesia!” (Hold for laughs)

OMG! It worked!

And then came the healthcare debate…call it bad timing, maybe, but in terms of political clout, the time was right. Would the opportunity ever exist again to pass reform that has been talked about since Eisenhower (that even Nixon proposed)? The President ran on the promise of such a bill and had a Congress controlled by his party; the stars seemed aligned.

Well…they weren’t.

What was frustrating, however, is that the American people never heard a rational argument. The Right seized another opportunity to change the story and they did such a good job that I still have to correct people that what passed is not “Universal Healthcare” or “Socialized Medicine” or even close to it. The message was twisted and engrained in so many (in the same way 25% of Americans still think Obama is a Muslim) that the truth never entered the debate, it became solely about Democratic spending and the debt.

Never mind that Americans were going broke faster with the previous system than what this reform can do, never mind that the bill is designed as a non-burden to the budget as 35,000,000 new subscribers pay into the system; the Right manipulated the message into a cost issue that “we cannot afford.”

It was lumped into the “Democratic spending run amuck” rhetoric and it fit perfectly into the fear mongering that was galvanizing the Republican base and the new Tea Party.

As for the “car loan”….the relevant equation is the Debt to GDP ratio and not the staggering deficit number. America’s Gross Domestic Product is 1/5 of the entire world’s purchasing power. Where were the Republican tears for “our children’s future” in 1985 when serious deficit spending began under President Reagan’s tax cuts and increased military spending and took us for the first time from being a Creditor nation to a Debtor nation?

Where is the accountability among present day Republicans who approved a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans while simultaneously entering two wars?

Where was the outrage and fear for the monstrous debt that one-two punch created?

And how can Republicans still sell the same myth that Trickle Down works?  The wealthy were supposed to take the money that they saved from the Bush tax cuts and put it back into the system by building their businesses and creating jobs.

They didn’t.  Instead, they kept their wealth and increased their personal holdings.  How can that not resonate with the American people, if they are, in fact, looking for the truth?

I’m not afraid of a balance of party power in Congress, I’m afraid of the fact that too many will have gotten there by manipulating the truth or propagating lies that too many Americans will have bought into.

That is the part of this story that makes me kind of…mean.

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