BY DON NELSON
Say it, repeat it often enough, and people will accept and believe.
That has been the way politicians have, since political rhetoric began, created public opinion.
As Sir Winston Churchill once remarked, repeating a falsehood over and over does not change its character and make it the truth. On the other hand, despotic political personalities have effectively utilized this method of making true that which is not necessarily true.
Half-truths are also half lies. Half-truths often become big lies as they are perpetuated by those desirous of power and influence.
In the current socio-political climate we find the claim that increasing the taxation percentage paid by those earning more than $1 million a year – something that 68% of those in that category are in favor of and about the same percent of those making less, agree with [a move that would increase the revenue coming into the government] – will end up costing the taxpayers more because it will reduce job creation.
The counter argument to this is that if the rate of taxation is lowered for everyone – reduce the revenue coming in for government programs – more jobs will be created.
This is the constant and oft-repeated mantra of the Republican, Tea Party, Grover Norquist right wing segment of what now passes for our government. It is the outgrowth of Norquist’s closed-minded approach to economic policy and principle.
This is the polarizing effect that an extreme – right or left of center – ideology creates when it is promoted and institutionalized.
We in this country are quick on the trigger when it comes to a young person being schooled and radicalized in a Madrasa, and subsequently participating in activities that such schooling promotes. Yet when it is public knowledge that someone with political influence has been “schooled” or “trained” in an institution that covets to promote its own system of extremism that a segment of this society agrees with, we say, “Oh, well that is how the political game is played” or “that’s politics.”
Norquist has taken advantage of the conservative right of the political spectrum and radicalized it to a point where it will concede nothing and would rather see our government destroyed than work for constructive solutions.
Not every student in a Madrasa is radicalized, not every young Muslim wants to kill Americans, but today it seems that every Republican with Tea Party sentiments wants to wreak havoc with not just the economic system, but with the very frame work of our constitutional democracy.
Tell the lie often enough, convincingly enough and the majority will believe it and follow.
Along with that theory goes an assumption that the majorities of people will not – and in some cases, willingly – refuse to think. It is through gesticulating and simple expression that populations are led. Posters and slogans, containing half-truths and out of context references, gain support among the masses.
When anti-intellectual sentiment becomes the expression of political campaigning and when the populace prefers a simple-minded, cliché-oriented candidate it does not bode well for society.
I make no claim to intellectual superiority or even to being the smartest person in my household. I read and study and seek to understand what is happening to this nation that has provided me and my family a standard of living that would not be possible if I were starting over today.
The fact that college education was made possible and jobs were attainable is evidence that something was working correctly. I shudder to consider what the out come would be, for my family, if we were just beginning.
Alexis de Tocqueville opined that there is a very real tendency for democracy to trend toward, what he called, a “tyranny of the majority.” Aristotle has been quoted as saying that republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.
What I am inclined toward is an opinion that we are being subjected to both interpretations of political authoritarianism. We do not now nor have we had a real democratic system for several decades. Ours is an oligarchy of military-industrial power.
The obit of a governance Of the People, By the People, For the People has yet to be written. But it is coming – if the patient is allowed to continue in the malaise of the moment.
I have been encouraged by the Occupy movement for one primary reason: It has opened a door for those that have been frustrated and denied a voice to speak to their frustrations.
I find it an unfortunate fact of history that it is often through the ideological enthusiasm of youth that social change is begun. That enthusiasm and idealism is not always thought out or even reasonable. Yet it is the catalyst that sets change in motion.
My generation did not see a need to change anything until Martin Luther King Jr. came on the stage. His call to civil rights and civil disobedience enlivened a generation. The Vietnam War had a similar effect. It was through the various youthful movements – some constructively intentioned and some not so much – that changes came about.
To those that discount what is currently taking place as a bunch of malcontents and anti-social, anti-American misfits, I’ve heard that all before.
I’ve heard the claims of violent behavior when I knew full well that it was not factually accounted. I’ve heard claims of sexual attacks when it was not factually accounted. I’ve heard claims of subversive intent when no factual accounting can be shown. It has all happened before.
It is the desperate lashing out of a frightened segment of society. Grasping for any claim that can discredit, marginalize and build public sentiment to oppose. It happened when Joe “the Commie Killer” McCarthy arrived on stage, it happened when the John Birch Society attacked the character and patriotism of Dr. King and it is happening today with the paltry attempts of Fox News and conservative reactionaries to make unsubstantiated claims that all manner of filthy, criminal and anti-social behaviors are involved in the Occupy movement.
It is how the fearful and closed minded respond to change.
Back to my starting point. We are bombarded with the half-truths and the falsehoods of those that want to deny freedom of speech. We are bombarded by the lies of Norquist and the minions of his ideological perversion.
Sir Winston Churchill described a fanatic as one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. In my opinion that is a fit description of Norquist and his followers.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts – Sir Winston Churchill.
– Don Nelson lives in Lawton, OK and is a frequent contributor to The Oklahoma Observer