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One Glimpse of Liberal America's Role in Enabling the Right

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Schmookler       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Almost everyone knows that the American political system is in bad shape. But way too few seem to understand what's gone wrong and what is needed to set it right.

I assume that readers here understand that people on the right have been misled over the course of a generation into an almost entirely false picture of reality. But what seems much rarer is an understanding of the role that Liberal America has played in allowing that current destructive political dynamic to take hold.

One important aspect of the liberal contribution to America's problems is visible, I believe, in an otherwise valuable piece on Salon.com. The piece's author is Avi Rabin-Havt, and its title is "Lie big, lie often, never back down: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the real reason why right-wing lies stick."

The piece describes well how the lie about Obamacare setting up "death panels" began and spread to degrade the whole political process around healthcare reform. And it makes briefer mention of a second case of successful lying, i.e. the rise of Donald Trump.

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All that is important stuff. But then the piece lets us down.

The author's complaint is that too much attention gets paid to the lies, and this attention only helps to cement the lies in national consciousness. The author's recommendation is expressed thus: "The lesson for the rest of us (and the media) is we cannot give these liars their undeserved public platforms."

I think that is altogether the wrong lesson to draw. The problem isn't that too much attention gets paid to these liars, but that it's the wrong kind of attention.

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This point can be illustrated by a passage from a piece I published - as an op/ed in December of 2009 as an op/ed) in the Baltimore Sun - in the form of an open letter to President Obama:

[Y]ou've denied some of their lies [I wrote to President Obama, back during his first year in office], but you've not called out the lying.

When Sarah Palin and her ilk accuse you of supporting death panels, and you respond by saying, "That's not true, there are no death panels," the national conversation centers on the question: "Are there death panels?" But if you say, "It's unpatriotic for Republicans to degrade our national discourse with fear-mongering lies," then the media will focus on the question: "Are the Republican peddling lies?"

The first question undermines you; the second discredits your opposition. (Emphasis added here.)

 

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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