Two vital lessons from the election so far, about lies and force
Summary: This campaign season has, as they should, taught us much about the condition of the Republic’s most vital political processes. We should have learned that the Republic is dying. Watch your TV and smell the rot. Our leaders lie — big lies — and are willing to casually use overwhelming force to suppress protests. What will we learn in the remaining two months? We can re-take control, if we can muster the will to do so.
Wonderful is the effect of impudent & persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves.
— Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William S. Smith, written from Paris on 13 November 1787
- Romney’s willingness to exaggerate, misrepresent, and lie
- Significance of the use of armed force at the Occupy Protests and Party Conventions
- For more information about the campaign, propaganda, fixing America
These are not partisan issues. No matter how pleasing the rhetoric, don’t accept lies from politicians you support. And our history shows that major public events in America need not be locked down by heavily armed troops (no matter if called police, SWAT, or national guard) like those in some tin-pot fascist state. These things happen only because we allow them to happen. Speak out! Each of us is potentially a force for change.
(1) Romney’s willingness to exaggerate, misrepresent, and lie
Among the froth of condemnation, few mention this is merely this is the logical growth of a long-standing trend. Going back at least to May 1960, with Eisenhower’s lies about the U-2 shot down over the Soviet Union. Since then the lies have grown in size and frequency, from the Tonkin Gulf incident to Iraq’s nukes to the big lie of Afghanistan. Each success showing our weakness, encouraging further weakness.
A strong, proud people would not tolerate leaders who treated them with such contempt. Now our leaders have looked at this history and made a discovery of the kind that changes the destiny of nations. Our leaders (both left and right) have discovered that they can routinely lie to us. Not just without consequence, but their supporters will uncritically believe almost everything. Lie after lie after lie.
Now both left and right lie constantly. They’ve learned that even bizarre large lies work. The Left terrorizes us with exaggerated tales of climate change (unsupported by the climate science literature). Administrations of both parties frighten us with carefully constructed terrorist incidents.
However, the most enthusiastic application of this insight appear (for now) on the right. Such as the lies about Obama’s birth certificate, his apology tour, his gutting of welfare work rules, his “You Didn’t Build That” remark — and in general describing Obama as a radical leftist Muslim foreigner. Lies and obstructionism worked for them in the November 2010 election, as forecast in my post of February 2010 (Republicans have found a sure-fire path to victory in the November elections).
Now Mitt Romney takes the next stop, going so far that even the news media have noticed. As in Abandoning the pretense of caring about facts, at The Maddow Blog, MSNBC — Excerpt:
Today, Team Romney abandoned the pretense of caring about honesty altogether.
Mitt Romney’s aides explained with unusual political bluntness today why they are spending heavily — and ignoring media criticism — to air an ad accusing President Barack Obama of “gutting” the work requirement for welfare, a marginal political issue since the mid-1990s that Romney pushed back to center stage.
“Our most effective ad is our welfare ad,” a top television advertising strategist for Romney, Ashley O’Connor, said at a forum Tuesday hosted by ABCNews and Yahoo! News. “It’s new information.”
The claims are “new,” of course, because the Romney campaign made them up. Sure, it’s “new information,” in the same way it would be “new information” if Obama said Mitt Romney sold heroin to children — when one invents a lie, its “newness” is self-evident.
Romney pollster Neil Newhouse added, “[W]e’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”
Right. So, in early August, Team Romney believed “the various fact-checkers” should be the arbiters of rhetorical propriety, but in late August, Team Romney believes they’re irrelevant.
It’s important to realize there is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate rejecting the premise that facts matter. Mitt Romney is trying something no one has ever seen — he’s deemed the truth to be an inconvenient nuisance, which Romney will ignore, without shame, to advance his ambitions for vast power.
Bill Keller at the New York Times sees that Romney goes beyond past precedents. “Lies, Damn Lies and G.O.P. Video“:
In another campaign season, the fact that the opposition edited the president’s voice to say something he didn’t say would be regarded as audacious. This year it’s almost unremarkable.
We’ll learn in November if my forecast of April 2011 proves correct: Why Conservatives are winning: they use the WMD of political debate. If Romeny wins, America will have crossed another line marking the transition from the America-that-once-was into a New America. Action now or forever
(2) Significance of the use of armed force at the Occupy Protests and Party Conventions
Our police and security services have grown like weeds since 9-11. Not just in numbers and power, but also in their aggressiveness (which is impressive, since police in America have a long history of crushing protests with overwhelming force).
Anyone planning protests should plan on them being broken up brutally, unless they highly disciplined (difficult to do) or framed in a way generating wide public support (ie, as a late stage activity).
For more about this see:
- How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
For more information
See the FM Reference Page Politics in America – and the 2012 Campaign
Other posts about propaganda:
- Facts are an obstacle to the reform of America, 20 October 2011.
- Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda, 28 December 2011
- More use of the big lie: shifting the blame for the housing crisis, 29 December 2011
Three steps to fixing America:
- Fixing America: shall we choose elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
- Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
- Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008