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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/5/10

Lies, Money, And The Fate Of Our Liberty

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The November 2 elections whittled away at the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate and gave the Republicans control once again of the House of Representatives.

So what prompted so many people to vote for the GOP -- the very same party that got this nation into the current economic mess?

Two things that go hand in hand: Lies and money.

The lies came via the campaign ads and partisan propaganda. The money to pay for them came from the corporations to whom the U.S. Supreme Court awarded the keys to the floodgates through its decision in a little case known as Citizens United. Big business can now pump unlimited funds into the election process to further its own interests, little people be damned.

To convince the voter of the need to vote Republican, and thereby preserve the greedy comfort of the very rich, the ads twist reality better than any circus contortionist.

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I've heard ads slamming Democrats for supporting "Obama's bank bailout" -- even though it was actually Bush's bank bailout.

I've heard ads slamming Democrats for supporting "Obama's auto bailout" -- even though it was actually Bush's idea.

I've heard ads slamming Democrats for supporting "Obama's tax increases" -- even though Obama actually cut most people's taxes.

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I've heard ads slamming Democrats for supporting "government-run health care" -- even though the same old greedy insurance companies will still be running it, and even though people love their government-run Medicare.

On a similar note, I've heard ads slamming "Obamacare" as if there's something wrong with wanting insurers to cover children with pre-existing conditions.

And I've heard ads slamming "Obamacare" as if there's something wrong with wanting insurers to continue your coverage when you get sick and really need it.

The ads are designed to appeal to emotion (usually fear), to strike the audience at a primal level that bypasses the filter of critical thought. It's a technique that folks like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have mastered quite profitably.

And it's a technique that works because it's much harder to think independently than it is to passively absorb whatever Fox News and the campaign airwaves happen to throw your way.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree."

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I don't think Jefferson had the Fox News kind of "information" in mind, nor the kind of "enlightenment" that comes with corporate-sponsored campaign propaganda.

And so, by Jefferson's own reasoning, we appear to be reaching the end of true liberty -- if we really ever had it at all.

 

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 
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