Monday, September 20, 2010

You Can't Debate The Far Right

I've said this before and I repeat it here:  You can't debate the far right because you have to spend all of your time correcting the falsehoods they've been fed. 

I'm old enough to remember when political discourse was based on policy and actual facts.  Liberals and conservatives used to argue actual ideas based on real information that both agreed on.  It was good for the country too - no one has a lock on the truth or good ideas and debating those ideas helped us move forward.  To paraphrase what former Senator and Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern said once:  We need both conservatives and liberals in America.  We need conservatives to slow down the exuberance of liberals and liberals to speed up needed change when conservatives slow things down too much.

Those days are gone.  Conservatism has been replaced by knee-jerk reaction from the right against any and everything the liberals propose.  Absolutely nonsensical claims from the right are now the norm, bolstered and fed by rightwing hate radio and TV.  I don't need to rehash them here - you all see and hear them everyday.  The fact that most if not all of what the far right claim as truth is easily debunked matters nothing to them - tell them the truth and you get back the lie, over and over.

The right is looking more and more cult-like as the days go on as well.  There was a book named Holy Terror written in 1984 just before the Religious Right took over the Republican Party.  The authors made the point back then that some Christianity was very cult-like in that its adherents could listen and see nothing but Christian materials (news, music, television, etc.) all day, every day if they chose to.  Thanks to the explosion of cable and the internet the rightwingers can now spend their day listening to rightwing talk, visiting rightwing "news" sites and finish their day watching Fox News if they choose.  All with not a single time having to deal with real news reporting or information.

And that's exactly what they do too.

If this described just the more fervent members of the "conservative movement" there would be not as much reason for concern.  Both sides have their extremes - I've heard a version of Glenn Beck's "FEMA camps" going back as far as the days of LBJ and Nixon coming from the left who breathlessly assured me that both Presidents were secretly building concentration camps for anti-war demonstrators.  My response then as now to such madness was to nod, smile and back away slowly. 

The dangerous part is that the nuttiness that used to confined to fringe groups that were dismissed and derided is now coming from Republican candidates and elected officials.  When people on the internet and out in the streets talk about Obama being a socialist and talk about secession and revolution just because an election didn't go their way needs to be watched but is mainly harmless.  The prospect that people who are or can be elected to propose and vote on actual laws acting to put that crackpot-ery into effect should scare the hell out of anyone with a lick of sense.

What to do?  Those of us with "a lick of sense" and more need to realize that we're not going to reach everyone, but everyone needs to know how the modern far right thinks.  Arguing with the idiot right is fruitless and a waste of time (although, admittedly, driving them even crazier is big fun):  they are absolutely convinced that they, and they alone, have the truth and everything to the contrary is "liberal propaganda."  Realize as well that the truth doesn't set anybody free - repeating it over and over and over until it sinks in does. 

Don't count on the Democrats to do this for us either - the Dems are and always have been timid when it comes to confronting the ridiculous right.  Don't count on the corporate media for help either - when they aren't pushing fluff, they continue to carry the GOP's water for a very good reason (for them):  the GOP is more likely to give them more goodies, tax and legislation-wise, than the Democrats.  What we need to do is blog, post, talk to our neighbors and get the facts out there.  Be our own media, as it were.

The most important thing to do this year?  GET OUT, VOTE, AND BRING YOUR FRIENDS.  I know some of us are disappointed that voting Democrats back into power in '06 and '08 hasn't brought everything we hoped it would, but it has done a lot of it.  Swallow hard if you must, but sitting home and letting rightwing nuts come to power by default is not an option.  Arguing may not work with the right but defeating them sure as hell does.  Then we can say to them what Dubya once said to one of his detractors:  "Who cares what you think?"

1 comment:

anitamurie said...

Agreed. However, I am old enough to remember the Iran Contra Hearings, and all the lies made by the Reagan administration. Lying Republicans are nothing new.