Friday, August 7, 2009
A bit of an abused term, of late. For a small example, blogs are most surely about free speech. Of the blogger. Some of the most widely read blogs don't allow comments at all; most others employ either overt or presumed censorship of egregious commenters. There's no contradiction there, any more than in the fact that it's not allowed for visitors in the galleries of Congress to shout while business is being conducted. People have a right to say things, but it's not absolute. Particularly when they choose to drown out what is arguably the most important conversation of all: that of the people with their elected representatives.
These orchestrated disruptions of presentations on health care around the country are the perfect microcosm of the decline and fall of American democracy. They have it all: foment by crazy media types obsessed with their delusions, of self-importance and of the value of ratings above all; an opposition party so bereft of ideas and so consumed by a sense of victimhood that all they can do is lie; a public so poorly educated that they can be moved by falsehood and stoked anger as easily as a leaf in a windstorm; a lack of understanding of (and, when the chips are down, support for) democracy; people with such an encompassing sense of marginalization that there's no way to get past it, no avenue into their heads by which reason might lead to shared purpose.
I can hear the cackling. In board rooms across the country, in right-wing strategy sessions: how many palms have been slapped over how easy it was to sell their self-interest as public interest? How surprised must they be that people can be so thoroughly hoodwinked, using their fears and prejudices as weapons against them?
Of course there are reasons for concern over health care reform. (Mine, for example, are that they're not going anywhere near far enough.) Without question, reasonable discourse would be a useful way to address those concerns. But it's been clear for a long while that the right wing simply has no intention of providing any. Having decided that it's in their political interest to block reform (both as a way to derail President Obama's popularity, and to curry favor with those who pay for their elections), providing only lip service to the undeniability that our health care system is heading for the rocks, they have zero interest -- ZERO INTEREST -- in real debate, or in providing the public with truthful information. (If anyone can provide an example of honest characterization of Obama's plans for reform by any of the RWS™ I'd like to see it.)
I've written many times that our system works best with two strong parties. By "strong," among other things I mean having intelligent, thoughtful, hard-working legislators, willing to hash out really tough problems, honestly, with the best interest of the entire country paramount. It used to be so. By abdicating their role, the right wing has failed us all.
So scream away, you teabaggers. As you pull us down, don't forget you're at the bottom of the pile. Remember it when you can no longer breathe.
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