EVERYONE IN THIS COUNTRY SHOULD READ THIS PIECE BY SAMUEL C. SPITALE – AND PASS IT ON.
By now countless journalists, academics, and luminaries have expressed serious concern over the election of Donald Trump. To put it simply, the only ones celebrating his victory are the KKK
, and American conservatives.
This fact alone should disturb anyone who voted for him, but the magnitude of this election, and its inevitable repercussions, are not registering with the populace.
It’s not because a political party who has campaigned for half a century on family values compromised them all by supporting Trump.
Trump’s election to the presidency is tragic because it marks a turning point in world politics. November 8, 2016 is the day that proved Americans could no longer differentiate between fact and fiction.
We are living in a “post-truth” nation.
For those who think people are overreacting, for those who think Trump can improve this country, and for those who think this is merely a political disagreement: this is for you.
It’s not about red versus blue, or liberal versus conservative, or Democrat versus Republican. This is not a disagreement about policy or ideology
. It is much more complex than being on a certain side of an issue.
It’s about the ability to differentiate news from noise.
First, let me say, I am not a Democrat. I’ve been registered independent since I was 18. I’ve voted for as many Republican presidential candidates as I have Democrat. Party affiliation used to mean nothing to me, and I still pledge allegiance to neither. My allegiance is only to the truth, to the facts, and to justice, like most journalists, writers, and storytellers.
This is why I say in no uncertain terms that if you voted for Trump, you have been manipulated by the same power structure you thought you were overturning.
If you voted against Hillary Clinton because you think she’s crooked, untrustworthy, or just unlikable, then congratulations – you’ve been manipulated.
A visceral, negative hostility toward someone we’ve never met is more than likely manufactured. If you can’t point to specific reasons for your dislike, then it’s definitely manufactured.
I’ve encountered this repeatedly over the last year, and it’s not limited to conservatives. The majority of Americans have a negative view of Hillary, but it’s only the minority who can support their emotional reaction with valid reasons.
If someone were to ask me why I might not like Hillary, I would quickly answer:
- Because she’s been known to change her stance on issues to appeal to different voters.
- Because she cozies up to Wall Street and makes us doubt there could be any real financial regulation. Same with her ties to Big Pharma
- Because she and her husband helped strike down the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which led to the financial crisis of 2008.
- Because she and her husband’s welfare reform bill sent more people into poverty.
However, if you happen to dislike Hillary for any of the following reasons, you’ve been conned:
- Private emails
- “I just don’t trust her.”
One of the oldest political tricks is to undermine the messenger, especially when you can’t disagree with the message. Republican strategists have perfected this, and Karl Rove has made a career out of it.
With more than a little help from Newt Gingrich, the Clinton smear campaign undermined much of the Clinton presidency. Instead of battling the Clintons on issues, Gingrich led Congressional Republicans to play dirty and tarnish their reputations instead. Some may call his attacks on Hillary sexist, and they very well may be, but he was successful in souring her name with the voting public, a campaign stretching more than 25 years and ultimately cost her the presidency.
But that hypocrisy doesn’t register with the average voter. All that seems to matter is selling the smear. And if you’re guilty of the very thing you accuse someone else of – like Trump often is – the American public is complacent in its ignorance.
If you need further proof of our willingness to tolerate such hypocrisy, consider the Clinton email scandal. Newsweek
Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails.
By comparison, Clinton lost 33,000 emails, most of which were private. She was exonerated by the investigation, but the myth of her corruption prevails.
How do we know this is a smear tactic?
How flagrant is this Republican hypocrisy?
But there’s no end to Republican hypocrisy.
This is how successful the Republican noise machine is – everyone connects Clinton to extra marital affairs, but no one thinks of adultery when they hear Gingrich’s name.
Several conservative attack dogs have renounced their own party to expose such deceit, like David Brock
, who founded the media watchdog group Media Matters
, and former Congressman Mike Lofgren
The idea that Hillary is crooked – or at least more so than other politicians – is a myth repeated so many times, it clearly no longer matters if it’s true.
This effect is known as the “illusion of truth
” – when you hear certain information so many times, you believe it, regardless of its accuracy. Political lies stay with us not because of their authenticity, but because manipulative campaign strategists understand psychology.
The majority of the time, this information works against our best interest.
For instance, if you believe Democrats tax and spend more, then congratulations – you’ve been manipulated.
This is little more than another campaign strategy used to mislead voters.
Furthermore, if you think Democrats increase the size of government, while Republicans reduce it, then congratulations – you’ve been manipulated yet again.
If you voted for Trump because he pledged to lower taxes on the wealthy in order to create jobs and return industry to Middle America, then congratulations again – you’ve been manipulated.
Trickle-down economics did nothing but transfer all economic gains to the 1% and business class at the expense of the Middle Class. The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can address our country’s economic woes.
America is right to be angry at decreasing wages, diminishing opportunity, a do-nothing Congress, a dying heartland, out-of-touch politicians, and the corporate takeover of our country
. We are all angry. But we do not all understand whom to be angry with.
Instead of directing our ire at the real culprits, Donald Trump fueled the flames until a fire of racism
and resentment spun out of control and consumed the election cycle.
Our politicians are responsible for our economic decline – but let’s put the blame where it belongs.
1. The reason our income taxes are so high is because the 1% pay so little. The majority of the 1% who do not work or earn a paycheck live off of capital gains and dividends. Before Reagan took office, this type of money – the kind you do not work for (i.e., trust funds) – was taxed at 70%. The logic was: the harder you work for your money, the less it should be taxed. In other words, if you didn’t do anything to earn the money, you should pay more for it. When Reagan and other Republican presidents slashed this rate down to 15%, our nation’s debt was created, and we have never recovered. It is because the leisure class pays such low tax rates that those who pay income taxes from actual jobs are overburdened.
And now, this leisure class, or 1%, enabled by Republicans, and Democrats to a lesser degree, have reengineered our political system to work only for them
. The election of Trump put the very beneficiary of such corruption into the highest position. Wait till he makes even more money from his executive privilege.
3. The more mergers and acquisitions, the fewer jobs, and less competition
. The U.S. has now deregulated so many industries, and stopped enforcing anti-trust laws, that we now allow monopolies, oligopolies, and conglomerates that were once illegal. We removed countless regulations that our forefathers put in place to prevent another Great Depression, like Glass Steagall,
and as a result, we got the Great Recession. The idea that business can regulate itself is farcical. Greed must be regulated. This is the root cause of our healthcare problems, the skyrocketing of pharmaceutical prices, and our credit debt that preys on the poorest in our society
The clearest marker of our dire straits, besides staggering inequality, is that culpability is mostly with the 1 percent and the business class, and as it is often throughout history.
Demagogues like Donald Trump have helped focus resentment, fear, uncertainty and anger by blaming the poor and immigrants, who are in no way responsible for any of our predicaments. Instead of focusing anger at the REAL culprits – the business class, Republicans, Wall Street, the 1 percent
– Trump chose to demonize the most helpless members of society.
And we rewarded his behavior with the presidency.
What will bring back jobs and spur economic growth? Billionaire entrepreneur Nick Hanauer says it best in his TED Talk
on the subject. He explains why rich people aren’t job creators:
“There can never be enough supe
There can never be enough super rrich people to power a great economy. The annual earnings of people like me are hundreds if not thousands of times greater than those of median Americans. But we don’t buy hundreds or thousands of times more stuff. If the 400 richest billionaires in America could generate just as much economic activity alone than the rest of us can, then maybe they’d be an argument for such vast wealth, but they can’t. The typical billionaire doesn’t buy thousands more pairs of pants or thousands more ties, or thousands more cars than the typical working class American… I can’t buy enough of anything that the millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans can buy – any new clothes or cars or enjoy any meals out to make up for the decreasing consumption of the vast majority of American families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages.”
In other words, when high concentrations of wealth accumulate at the top, as Republicans continually pursue, the economy suffers
. The billions that sit in offshore accounts in the Caymans are not funneled back into the U.S. economy. If this money were put into the hands of the lower class, it would be used immediately at malls, grocery stores, and car dealerships. When everyone has disposable income, the economy soars. When only the 1% has disposable income, money sits and accumulates, creating dynasties with unparalleled power and influence. (I’m talking about you, Donald Trump.)
This is why petty welfare abuse is akin to telling employees to keep an eye on the supply closet while the CEO embezzles millions. (And why if you vote based on petty welfare abuse, you are once again being manipulated by the embezzlers, i.e. the 1%.)
Furthermore, if you think Trump has any ideas on how to bring back jobs to the rust belt, you are in for a rude awakening. You can read all about his business failures HERE
. And HERE
To understand just how bad conservatives have screwed the individual states they’ve governed, look no further than Kansas and my home state of Louisiana.
In 2010, Republican Governor Sam Brownback, with majorities in both houses of legislature, enacted the standard conservative failed policies: he repealed income taxes on more than 100,000 businesses, signed the largest tax cut in the state’s history, tightened welfare requirements, privatized Medicaid, cut funding to education, reduced the size of government by laying off 2,000 employees and closing four government agencies. Proving for the millionth time that tax cuts do not – and have not ever – created economic growth, but resulted in a nearly $700 million deficit.
In Louisiana, the failed governorship of Bobby Jindal mirrored Kansas. When he began his term, he inherited a $1 billion surplus (yes, that’s billion with a ‘b’), and he left the state in utter disrepair with a $1.6 billion deficit. In the process he slashed social services, denied the Medicaid expansion, depleted the rainy day fund, defunded education (by 44%) and hospitals (by $64 million). The futility of my Republican friends who continued to vote for Jindal, but who also worked in higher education and complained of continual budget cuts, confounded me. Do they not understand that their jobs equaled wasteful government spending to Republican leadership?
A reminder: this is not partisan preference; this is merely the facts.
Why do we continue to trust Republicans to steer the economy when Republican presidents and governors leave us in worst shape?
Because in this day and age, we can no longer differentiate between fact and fiction.
Political lies and smearing have been around for centuries. What is worrisome is that in the Information Age, they are not debunked, but disseminated.
It is because of the lies and distortions that liberals and conservatives can no longer reach common ground, as only one group is grounded in reality.
In 2002, Karl Rove dismissed journalists as being part of the “reality-based community.” He explained:
Rove would know, as he’s spent the majority of his life constructing false narratives and selling them to the public like an ad agency shills laundry detergent. His words go a long way to explaining why so many Americans are so misinformed – because that’s exactly how conservatives want it.
This is why Big Business and Republicans
dismantled The Fairness Doctrine, which required news outlets to show equal sides of an argument
. Conservatives targeted this legislation because they wanted to fight facts they didn’t like.
In other words, they wanted to sell and market their free-market ideology. It was the Nixon administration that coined the term “liberal media” during the Vietnam War. The news stations for the first time had live footage of the carnage, and that was changing American perceptions about the war.
Not happy about this shift in support, Nixon’s war propagandists began blaming the messenger, i.e., the “liberal media”. (Remember, when you cannot counter a message or refute the evidence, you must attack the messenger – hence the use of the terms, “liberal elites,” “liberal media”, “gotcha questions,” etc.) Nixon’s chief propagandist was Roger Ailes, who was responsible for blurring the lines between news and propaganda in regards to the Vietnam War. This is why he was hired to run Fox News.
Reality has been debatable ever since, as outlets like Fox News turn smearing the opposition into a full-time job. (Yes, I realize MSNBC is also agenda-driven – but there is no competition when it comes to down-right deceit.)
In a capitalist culture, information should not be a commodity. Truth should not be a brand. Disinformation should not be a product.
We lost when you chose to believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, even when our own administration didn’t believe it.
“Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
The greatest problem of our future is not political; it is not economic; it is not even rational. It’s the battle of fact versus fiction.
Sadly, a Trump victory illustrates that we are no longer able to distinguish between the two.