The following is a response to a couple of things someone posted to my personal Facebook wall as I was commenting on Mitt Romney’s GOP acceptance speech.
I made a comment making fun of Romney’s polished attempt to appear to be hip with younger voters when I posted, “Romney just proved he’s so hip by mentioning his Ipod.“ Then I commented on Romney’s criticism of Obama’s record on the economic recovery, and hyperbole fluff statement made by Romney on “restoring the promise of America.” The FB thread is located here.
I wanted to respond to couple of the comments by someone. Being that it involves quite a bit of explanation exceeding Facebook’s 8000 character limit, I’m posting it here instead.
A reply to my post goes like this:
Your killing me Jim! You are a funny man…OK but seriously..Living off the teat of society is so college and hippie….I mean really? Time to put on big boy pants and support yourself and stop blaming others as to why you and others feel so deprived…support yourself, look to no one but yourself to survive and help others along the way..its pretty simple..Oh and stop blaming others for your lack of intestinal fortitude, it’s so liberal and out dated. Oh and PULHLEESE…Bush has been gone for 4 years …stop blaming him, It’s Obamas mess that he created, stop blaming everyone else and own up….
But the second post, seems to be more informed, and eludes to a really good point about Ron Paul/Lieberman.
Agreed Jim…but the lesser of 2 evils at this point is by far Mitt. Nobody outside the 2 major parties stand a chance due to the organized crime they call Republican/Democrats. Just ask Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) who was ostrasized by the DEM’s…. and Ron Paul….BOTH stand -up guys, but threaten the mafia…I mean government and were casted out. Until we take our government back…by force.. we are destin to the Russian election…who THEY think we should vote for. In the meantime, I don’t need the government stealing…..er I mean taxing me out of my ass and giving it to who they hope will defend them when the revolution comes. Both of these guys are a joke, but at this point, only 1 has proven it so far.
FAIR & BALANCED v TRUTH & LIBERTY
Even though I was commenting on Romney, please do not take that out of context. I posted on his speech, because last night was his night to speak at convention. Taken at face value, out of the context of everything else I’ve been saying, I can see how one might think I’m taking sides in the attacks on Romney. However, it’s not Obama’s convention, and he’ll get his turn and you can be sure I’ll be writing parenthetical remarks to many of his talking points as well. I may or may not post it on Facebook, but it will certainly be discussed on PaleoRadio.
HOW I BECAME A PALEOCRAT
It is easy to assume that if I am critical of Romney, that this automatically places me in the Dem camp. That is the problem of partisan politics in our country, it creates a false paradigm that everyone is an either or between an R or an D. So I will give some background on my worldview evolution in regard to politics.
In my teens and 20′s I viewed myself as a Republican mainly because of cultural presuppositions and voted as such. I shifted away from Bush due to him ignoring a genocide of which he had the resources and legal authority to intervene upon and his subsequent hypocritical words at the grand opening of the Holocaust Museum. My thought of Clinton at the time, with his saxophone on late night TV, was ‘who is this goofball?’ Bush – hypocrite (twice over), Clinton – goofball, Perot – great charts.
During the Clinton era I gradually became more intentional about politics, but in doing so, I slowly began to buy into the idea of partisanship. I first ran for political office in 2004 and with the partisan paradigm as the prevailing worldview in our culture, even though I felt more like an Independent, and ran as a Democrat caving into the belief that Independent candidates do not have a chance.
During that time period of direct involvement in politics, I also served as the organizer of a grassroots group. From time to time, through this activity, I became aware of the Party pressure to squash the truths we were realizing as a grassroots group, in the interest of propping up the Party. By the end of my first run for office (I was not elected), I had become more entrenched in the partisanship. In addition to my campaigns, I worked as a Communications director on a couple of Congressional campaigns (Dems) and advised a State candidate (Dem) on speech writing.
Also during this time of direct political involvement, I became acutely aware of big problem in the local scene (later I learned it was a problem across the nation/world). And that was (and still is) that the bias of the local established media. Biased in their selectivity over which races to cover or not cover, in the way they downplayed/up-played some aspects of local races, in the ways they misquoted people, in the ways they got only one side of the story, in the ways they allowed partisan wonks to manipulate the message via the local media and in the abdication of getting beyond the horse-race to serve the public with coverage that gets to the heart of the heart of the matter.
And yet, I had been studying the propaganda machine of the Republican Party, and the psycholinguistics of propaganda in general, so that by the time I went back to college in 2008, because I still embraced the partisan paradigm, I was fully prepared to become a propagandist for Democrats.
Then something wonderful happened when I returned to college. I changed my major to psychology to journalism, and my views were further challenged and reshaped by the collision of two notions: the role of the press and the false dichotomy of partisan politics.
THE ROLE OF MEDIA
I came to understand that the press has a historic and Constitutional duty to be liberal. Not liberal by the definition of Bill O’Reilly, (albeit there is left-biased media such as Thom Hartman, just as their is right-biased media such as Bill O’Reilly) but liberal in the root meaning of the word, which is to protect liberty by seeking the truth. In doing so, being liberal includes having a critical truth-seeking eye toward all politicians.
In taking this position, inevitably people with their Party blinders on will get mad at the media/press, whenever we reveal truths which may threaten the power-hold their Party has or is attempting to have. Because I used to embrace a partisan position, now some people in the Dem Party have a hard time when I might cover Ron Paul’s visit to West Michigan, the Occupy movement’s criticism of Obama, or when I have an unwillingness to promote a particular candidate over another one. Some of them seem to think, because of my prior work with them, that I am obligated to helping them stay on their message.
For the most part, most of the established media plays into the partisan game, especially when you have less than a dozen corporations or people who control 90% of the most prevalent media. Brittany Spears becomes more important than the details of someone’s economic plan, because the company that owns the news channel, also owns Spears’ music label. And, somewhere tucked into that plan, the corporate office or a subsidiary has something to gain by the economic policy. It’s not entirely the news corporations’ fault either, few of us have the time in our busy, recession impacted lives to pour over boring economic plans until we can’t take it, take it, take it no more.
REDEFINATION OF TRUTH
The greatest influence in the call to make “seek truth” as my top priority in journalism, was inspired by the way by a guy who was a Republican who served in the Iraq invasion. He is now is a journalist and and documentary maker. You may have seen him in the movie called, “Control Room,” I’ve met him in person.
Recently, the NYT, took the time to study Romney’s tax records -the two years that he did release. The NYT, typically disparaged as a Party-liberal newspaper, found that Romney indeed has been paying his taxes for the past 10 years. This is an example of the media being truth-liberal. Regardless of who it helps or hurts, the NYT researched and published the truth… this is what journalism is supposed to be. People on the left, are not going to be happy about this finding, the people on the right will post it all over their Walls, but perhaps not until FOX covers the story. The partisans pick and choose which stories and media outlets they will promote merely to promote their definition of truth.
A great deal of our society’s effort it seems is involved in the redefinition of truth. Truth, it seems, by and large in our culture, is not ‘truthiness’, but rather a set of often hypocritical policies and imaginary ‘facts’ in order to promote a certain world view, with convoluted explanations for the exceptions.
And if someone does not agree with another person’s political truth, three things are promised to occur:
1. The person who does not agree is told to shut up. “How can you call yourself an American, if…” “Well you must not care about…” “If you don’t like it here, move to Russia”
2. There will long term consequences for the person’s life, involving either an eternal burning sensation or the weight of a millstone around one’s neck, giving the professors of their own truth, permission to condemn, reject and ostracize that person, instead of engaging in an honest dialogue.
3. And as it that’s not enough, there will eminently dire consequences as well. Yellowcake, mushroom cloud, daisy girl…
4. Oh, and fourth, if you are not with us, then you are against us. So you media people, you really should only report on positive stuff from your embedded positions. In January, I attended a Michigan Press Association conference where Gov. Snyder was the keynote speaker. He told the audience in so many words, that he only wanted us to report on the positive things he’s doing.
Don’t question the “truth” they will say. My President knows things we don’t know, and we just have to trust that killing a few million people is a good thing. Let’s throw God into the mix, because you are not supposed to question God, right… so yeah, God wants this war too. They will also say that your President isn’t even a natural born citizen, or he’s not a true Christian or that the stars line up to indicate he’s bears the mark of the beast. Politicians, particularly within the partisan system, refuse to be honest with themselves and they make up lies about the “other side” (that’s assuming there really is an “other side”). And often lies based on imaginary beliefs which conveniently cannot be proven, but are quite convincing when supplied with a good narrative. All of this sets the minds of voters up for believing in all kinds of myths promulgated by the politicians who sometimes have entirely different reasons for what they want to do, but they need us to agree with them, or perhaps they need us to believe that some sort of democratic decision making is taking place.
BACK TO THE ROLE OF MEDIA
The established media plays along with this game, by and large. But this is not what journalism is supposed to be. And because I’ve been willing to place ‘seek truth’ at the forefront of my journalistic pursuit, I’ve had to receive veiled threats, false accusations of harassment in the pursuit of truth.
The Pulitzer prize is not awarded to people to regurgitate spin.
The press’ duty is to hold the government (and by extension all public affairs) accountable to the people – all the people, and the way to do that is by revealing the truth. Ignoring the truth, publishing propaganda under the guise of truth, promoting only one side of the story or simply ignoring it – that makes the media a Party machine tool.
Nixon didn’t like this whole truth thing. Neither did did Bill Clinton; Cheney really hated it… the list goes on. The conservatives call it the ‘liberal’ media trying to equate it with pro-Dem bias (a clever twist on the true definition of liberal), and the Dems accuse the media of ‘sensationalizing’ or they attack the messenger, claiming that he/she didn’t get their facts right. Dems love their facts.
I observed this in college. Every time my college’s newspaper covered an incidence of alcohol-related fraternity violence on campus, what did the Greeks do? – They tried to steal the newspapers so no one would be able to read the truth, or they attacked the reporter, saying things like, ‘Oh, this was so poorly written (citing supposed grammatical errors). Not once did I ever hear a Greek say something honest like, ‘Yeah, things got out of hand, that’s something we regret.’ World leaders/dictators or supposedly democratically elected ones, with their pack of lies and charades want us to continue to believe their truths… and so they don’t like the ‘liberal-truth seeking press. Journalism is at times a dangerous gig. That danger reveals just how essential the free press is to a free society.
THE FALSE PARTISAN DICHOTOMY
Today, I’d call myself a Paleocrat, which is what I have listed in the About section of my Facebook profile. Among other things, Paleocrats do not accept the false dichotomy of partisan politics. We do not wear the Party blinders, nor do we allow others who do wear them to get away with controlling the message.
If you get a chance to listen to PaleoRadio, you will discover that the host of the show, Jeremiah Bannister, and I have been critical of Obama as well as Romney. We’ve consistently included perspectives which fall outside of the partisan paradigm.
For example, check out the August 30, 2012 editio In the first hour, we criticism the Dem Party’s attempt to co-opt the Occupy Movement, in the third hour we’ve got some criticism for the RNC as well.
You rarely, very rarely will find a talk radio show like PaleoRadio, because it is so much easier and lucrative to play the partisan game.
RON PAUL & THE PARTY SYSTEM
In his Facebook reply, the person mentioned of Lieberman and Ron Paul and I would say that he is quite right in pointing out they were ostracized. Something the established, corporate-owned media did not even mention, is how Ron Paul’s valid attempt to be on the GOP nomination slate was squashed. We talked about this the Thursday, August 30th episode of PaleoRadio. We are working on getting some guests on the show to talk about this in the coming weeks.
The Party System, which will be talked about more on PaleoRadio in the coming weeks, has not always been what it is today. The ‘lesser of 2 evils’ argument is an invalid compromise because we could do so much better. Until Americans break free from it, we will fail to break free from the inertia of partisanship that paints a broad brush that the guy (or gal) on the ballot with a D or an R is the Messiah and the other guy (or gal) is the AntiChrist. And then 4 years later, we do it all over again. As long as we accept the partisan system, and act as if it is the only thing we have to work with… then we will never be able to take our government back, because the partisans won’t let us.
So, I hope you get a chance to listen to PaleoRadio, you might hate us some of the time, and love us some of the time, and who knows maybe you’ll agree with us that there is a better way than partisan politics to resolve our shared quality of life concerns. Get too many of us thinking that way and Glenn Beck will find out what a real revolution looks like.