Understanding What’s Really Wrong with Our Country and Our World

These days, I’ve often heard it said that the problem with too many Americans who vote against their own interests is their stupidity, or their lack of formal education, or their reliance on corporate-engineered news sources.

How else can you explain the popularity of someone as intellectually counterfeit and ethically suspect as Glenn Beck in America?

The problem with those explanations is that there are plenty of constant counter examples that don’t hold out. There are plenty of people that might be considered to be “dumb as posts,” who still vote rationally in line with their own interests and the interests of the country as a whole in mind. I’m talking about some of the poor people in my old South Bronx neighborhood, many of whom never made it past 9th grade, yet still understand the importance of labor unions and the need for regulation in big business no matter what they read in the New York Post every single day on their train ride to work. Most of these folks can’t even explain the structure of our government or its history despite being native born Americans, yet they can still spot opportunistic bullshit when they hear it:

These so-called “stupid” uneducated people still somehow knew that anything coming from the Right against Healthcare Reform was going to be the kind of lying you only see go down when corporate profits are at stake.

Another problem with the explanations of ignorance, or misinformation is that the truth and the facts are being promoted constantly in the media despite what my fellow Liberals charge: Someone who watches Fox “News” exclusively still walks around the same world as everyone else and invariably sees other headlines they have to actively dismiss. The devoted Fox “News” watcher has to walk the Earth in a constant state of denial, preemptively disbelieving anything that doesn’t match up with Murdoch’s brand of propaganda and wait for new Fox “factoids” to counter reality when they get home and can watch Hannity or whomever. There were for example far more years (decades in fact) of information on the dangers of global climate change, pollution, the importance of conservation, the dangers of continued and future oil dependence, than there have been of the relatively recent Right wing and corporate-sponsored anti-Environment movement propaganda. So just how did such obvious lies catch up to and overtake the truth for many in America?
-The way it happened was this: Lies, -the kind of lies that are invented to muddy facts and question truths inconvenient to the powerful, the Rich, the Establishment were created to be appealing to the believer. That’s the only way they could work. These lies gave the listener something in return for “buying in.”

“You can still lose weight and eat everything you want”
is a statement I see every night on TV infomercials in some form or another. This American desire, particularly the willingness of our desperate fat citizens to do absolutely anything in the world to lose weight (except eating right and exercising apparently) is the core of our problem, and it is what is behind the Tea Baggers today, and it is what was behind the Reagan revolution of 1980.

Tea Baggers believe that they can groundlessly oppose the Obama administration with criticisms they should have leveled at its predecessors (Spending, irresponsible economic governance, government intrusion, weak national security) because it makes them feel okay about claiming they’ve somehow lost their country now that a Black man is president.
Reagan’s supporters were told America could spend its way to prosperity; that we could deregulate big business and it would never create adverse consequences, -ever, because it allowed us to finally say what we felt was a long overdue “fuck you” to the poor. We believed it because it made us feel good. We believed it because it was allowing us to eat all we wanted, without any ill effects… that was the promise and that was the lie.

So the problem with America my friends, aside from our new impatience with any administration or any policy that takes more than six months to register a measurable improvement is this infantile desire to be lied to in place of an ugly truth, and the willingness to trade our safety and our future for just the right fantasy. Too many of us will buy into any lie, as long as the reality it promises let’s us get away with something. You can’t discuss policy with people who want to be lied to. You can’t have a conversation with someone who is lying about how they really feel, unless your goal is to waste your time. I don’t argue with Tea Baggers.

And that’s where we’re at today, Friday September 10, 2010, almost ten long years to the day after a homicidal fundamentalist asshole decided to make a point to my government with facile destructive attacks that only showed just how easy it is to murder people in an open society and an open nation and little else. The American Republic and its Constitution almost didn’t survive 9/11 and ten years later, too many of us are still taking the bait, too eager to hear lies that give us something in return for our credulity, like believing the lie that only allowing our government to operate secretly will keep us safe… or that the actions of the few can conveniently condemn all. –But that last bit goes for all of us, -the real “all of us” everywhere on the globe, whether we’re burning books, killing aid workers, denying people’s rights, or waging unending wars supported by some fake, self-inflicted distance from reality.

A lie is a kind of trade between the speaker and the listener.
We must always ask ourselves what someone is getting for our belief, and if it’s actually worth what we are getting in return.

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Posted by on September 10, 2010. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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20 Responses to Understanding What’s Really Wrong with Our Country and Our World

  1. Holte Ender

    September 10, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    You can’t have a conversation with someone who is lying about how they really feel, unless your goal is to waste your time. There you have it SJ, right on the money. Rational discussions are impossible with irrational people.

    • SJ

      September 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm

      Yes sir Holte. It’s bigger than stupidity, although on further reflection, stupidity always plays a part when all is said and done.

  2. One Fly

    September 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks for this post SJ. Yes people love to believe the impossible and that is what many of the lies of the right are about. There are no lies associated with math but to believe some of the shit coming from these people you have to disregard obvious truth.

    • SJ

      September 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

      Amen, One Fly. Amen.

  3. Stimpson

    September 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    It’s really all about intellectual laziness and rationalization of injustice. It’s the same as how some spoiled suburban classmates in my university days always found a way to justify their privilege and dismissed any suggestion that not all is right in the political economy.

    The more things change …

    • SJ

      September 10, 2010 at 3:27 pm

      …the more they get presented as “grassroots” movements when they are in fact sublimated arms of the Far Right.

  4. Demeur

    September 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    It’s become quit obvious the motives behind the lies. For Bush it was the oil. If he couldn’t capture Iraqi oil he would at least cause the prices to got up. Even an idiot could execute that plan.
    For congress it’s about making people vote against their own best interests while being well rewarded by the corporations that own them.

    It should be an interesting election when republicans who’ve been pandering to their tea bagger base must then try to gain moderates to win.

    • SJ

      September 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm

      interesting or terrifying.

  5. Jess

    September 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Stupid and uneducated are actually some of the politicians coming down the pike, that think people are just as stupid as they are. See Bible Spice, Sharron Angle, Miller, Paul as a few examples of the wingery and yet, you are right, people vote for them. I fight them and take delight in it, till it gets stupid. You can never win an argument with an idiot, they always, ALWAYS beat you with their experience in it.

    How does that saying go, the truth isn’t even getting its pants on, when a lie has travelled half way to the moon or something. Or my favorite to use, “the lie told often enough becomes the truth”, me adding, this does not make lies truth, just makes it a well used lie. I think Lenin, maybe someone else said it.

    • SJ

      September 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm

      Very true Jess. What’s mindblowing is how brazen the self deception is in these arguments at times. John Boehner’s definitely the boldest most televised practitioner of this, but it’s that willingness to believe on the part of the public, that meeting of the lie half way that is really sending everything down the shitter.

  6. fourdinners

    September 10, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Politicians lie. Been that way for ever. Even the stupid know that.

    Sad but true – politicians lying that is, not the stupid knowing they do…..

    • SJ

      September 10, 2010 at 4:53 pm

      Sure has. But what’s different is people knowingly buying into it because it makes ’em feel better than dealing with the truth. The Anti-concervation movement here in the states for example, is bought into by people who can’t stand the thought that the big SUV inn their garage might have something to do with climate change, or the wars we are fighting… they’d rather believe what Fox “News” tells them: that it’s a Liberal conspiracy, when everyone knows it’s neither. It’s simply what’s happening… But buying into a lie allows them to watch the oceans rise and not give a fuck about their gigantic car’s mileage, or their country’s foreign policy.

  7. Krell

    September 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Excellent and well thought out analysis! It has been said that somebody that convinces themselves are the ones that will hold on to that conviction the hardest.

    I have always felt that the election of Obama was like a lit match in a darken room, illuminating things that were always there, but in the dark.

    Good one, SJ!

    • SJ

      September 10, 2010 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks Krell.

  8. osori

    September 10, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    You make an extraordinary point by contrasting the “uneducated poor” from the South Bronx who know enough to vote their interests with the teabaggers who choose to be lied to and vote accordingly.

    • SJ

      September 10, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      Oso, it’s as if presumed ‘stupidity’ is almost used as a cover isn’t it? -Then one doesn’t have to explain their reasoning for opposing something so obvious like letting tax cuts for the Rich expire… Weird.

  9. The Lawyer

    September 10, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    “Too many of us will buy into any lie, as long as the reality it promises let’s us get away with something.” That’s a golden quote.

    • SJ

      September 11, 2010 at 11:40 am

      Thanks Lawyer, this piece was akin to my Charleton Heston moment: i.e. finding the Staue of Liberty destroyed on the beach in a world of Apes wanting to delude themselves about reality and history.

  10. lazersedge

    September 11, 2010 at 1:19 am

    SJ it sort of reminds me of a couple of books written by Thomas Harris 20+ years ago. One was “Transactional Analysis” and the other was “Games People Play” both of which involved how people communicated, or did not communicate with each other. The later involves primarily dishonest transactions between people where one person is trapping or tricking the other within the conversation. The biggest problem seems the be is that most people in America today tend to be the child waiting for someone else to be the parent and tell them what they should think.

    • SJ

      September 11, 2010 at 11:38 am

      I don’t know the Harris books Lazer, but I will look them up (I’m finishing up TeaLuck’s Shock and Awe) as soon as I can. This is a real point of interest with me lately as it goes against what I’ve thought most of my life (That if you inform people, make them see the truth, they’ll act sensibly) but it appears that education and good newswork and honest reflective history teaching won’t do it alone. It’s as they’ve always said Lazer, you can lead a horse to water… but in this case you can’t make it think either.