Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Telling the truth

 During the Second World War, the British Broadcasting Corporation was perhaps the allies' most important propaganda weapon in occupied Europe.  Although Britain was fighting for its life, the BBC's short-wave news broadcasts had a simple rule: tell the truth.  Britain suffered a long series of setbacks and disasters during the first three years of the war, but the BBC never tried to peddle false optimism about the campaigns in Norway, Belgium, France, North Africa, Greece, and Crete.  And therefore, when they had good news to report, their listeners believed it as well.  Meanwhile, they could note the contrast between British news reporting and the Axis propaganda they had to deal with every day.

I was reminded of this, sadly, this morning, when I picked up my newspaper and discovered that Mark Sanford had defeated Elizabeth Busch in a special South Carolina Congressional election.  Checking online, I found that the victory was a comfortable one: 54% to 46%.  And that made me rather angry--not because of the result, which didn't surprise me, but because of the barrage of emails I had received from Democratic organizations begging for a contribution to Ms. Busch's campaign.  In the last week, quite a few of them reported polls showing the race to be almost a dead heat, and I even received one of the morning of the election itself.  The key poll came from a left-wing outfit called Public Policy Polling.

The Democratic and Republican parties are at war, just as surely as the British and the Germans were--albeit nonviolently.  And even today, I would argue, truth could remain a weapon of some consequence.  I have been thinking about blogging for some time about the steady stream of requests for donations to fight the Republicans on almost every major issue that reach me every week.  In my youth the advantages of incumbency were generally enough for a President to hold his own in Congress; now it seems they are worth nothing.  Charles Krauthammer, whom I despise, raised eyebrows a couple of weeks ago by suggesting that President Obama only cares about issues like gun control because they bring in money from his supporters.  I think the President is sincere about that, but I have to conclude Krauthammer might be more broadly on to something.

In fact I was right not to give money, I think, because Busch evidently never had a chance.  In Charleston, S. C., adultery can be forgiven (and I have argued here that I think it should not be a political issue), but running on the Democratic Party label can't be.  And Ms. Busch, like so many other red state Democratic candidates, wasn't willing to support the President directly on most major issues anyway.  The Democratic Party, like the Republican, is relying on its own base, which is held together by emotion.  It is not too concerned, it seems, with appealing to the facts.

There is other bad news for the Democratic Party.  A new study of the last election suggests that the black turnout won the contest for Barack Obama.  Had black and white voters turned out in the same percentages as in 2004, Romney would have won the popular vote at least.  The Democratic candidate in 2016 will not be black.  Nor will the Democrats, I now think, be able to appeal to Hispanics on the basis of successful immigration reform. The Republicans will block it.

The United States will be in terrible trouble until at least one party has the courage to rely upon the truth.


Bozon said...


Many thanks for this post.

I will not hold my breath waiting for one party here to embrace the truth.

all the best,

steveftw said...

As someone from the smack dab middle of the baby boom, I too continue to see the society I grew up in morph into something I either don't recognize or wish I didn't.

As much as I wish I could find something other than cynicism in the actions of any our our national politicians whenever they can catch a microphone, it's becoming more and more self-evident what you and others have observed for years - any semblence between our elected representatives representing US instead of their own financial interests is just a coincidence or (more likely) simple marketing.

Maybe it was the same pre-Carter and I was too naive to see it. The world I remember was one of government actually functioning (Interstate, NASA, quality of education, police that were "your friends", civil rights to continue the uniquely American tradition of rights expansion, both depth and width)just to name a few.

Now, it seems that the ruling class have completely abandoned ruling for the common welfare in favor of ruling only in their own self-interest (to the exclusion of benefiting any significant numbers other than themselves)

You've pointed out this transition quite effectively over the 3-4 years I've been reading your postings, and I've been looking in hope for evidence that some leaders are coming that are NOT of that vein.

I think the sad truth is that for any politician to achieve the national stage, it requires their soul be sold in the process - intentional or not.

I am coming to the conclusion that until there is something that "changes everything", nothing is going to change.

To me, the issues are fairly clear:

1. Loss of representation - with the concentration of people in the cities, the majority of the population is under-represented in Congress and the Senate, giving unwarranted power to the rural middle of the country - if power were more equally distributed with population distribution some of these issues would become more manageable.

2. Recognize that health care is something that is in the "common defense" as well as the "common welfare", stop this insane transfer of wealth into the health care delivery system, and put those savings to work enriching our country (infrastructure, education, public financing issues, etc.)

3. Reform our primary education system, including (somehow) getting parents involved in the process, instead of looking for babysitters.

3. Stop over-medicating our youth for behavior control(part of that babysitting of today)

4. Admit/(own)the falsehoods of the retirement promises made to our generation (public, private, federal, local), and work together on answers that are both humane (for us) and rational (for the upcoming generations)

5. Get those 12 million illegals on a path to citizenship - does ANYONE (that thinks) really think that the corporate powers controlling our legislative bodies REALLY don't want those illegals driving down labor costs? Or that the "most powerful government in the world" CAN'T control the borders? REALLY?

One of the items I'd like to see you address in a future column is the chaos created by the uncontrolled access to information - any information, right or wrong - that the 21st century technologies have brought, and will continue to bring.

But most important is to re-awake the electorate. Knowledge is power, and the lack of knowledge about our history, culture, theory of self-governance, etc. among the younger generations is simply appalling - and it would appear, at first blush, that there are 20-30 years of generation out there that don't understand how it's "supposed to work". I understand that retired Justice Stephens has taken that on as his mission - I wish him nothing but success.

Part of growing older, it seems, is mourning the loss of things we considered important as we were raised.

Still looking for that leader for the turning; still praying it isn't a Stalin or Hitler.

Larry said...

I noticed this trend with Democratic support groups too David and to be honest I have avoided them like the plague. Their shrill cries for help reflect the same approach as their counterparts on the right and I'm getting a little sick of it all.

I've learned to pick and choose specific candidates I'll help and very few of them will be outside the regions where it will directly affect policy where I live.