exploring as possible ways to launch my radio show on the station in
Virginia, with a mostly right-wing audience, where I appear
For ten years before I moved to New Mexico for a while in 2002, I
created a lot of conversations here on WSVA. My hope for those
conversations, as I often said, is that we could talk with each other
"in a spirit of genuine inquiry," "as if we might actually learn from
But I find it more difficult nowadays than before to conduct our
conduct our conversations about contemporary political issues in that
spirit. What's changed?
It's not my own adherence to that value. I still believe that
neither the liberal nor the conservative perspectives have a monopoly
on the truth, nor that either provides all the wisdom we need to
achieve the good for our society. I still believe that genuine
arguments from ALL sides should be considered.
But what about when the debate's between the position that the earth is
round and one that says the earth is flat? There are not two
respectable positions in that debate. There's one that declares
an established fact and another that's a delusion.
What's changed is that our political discourse has become full of "the
earth is flat" kinds of notions. What's changed is that there is
a coherent political force that works to put delusions and distortions
and outright lies right out at center stage of our political
life. And there are millions of people who mistakenly look to
that political force --made up of media propagandists and vested
interests and a political party-- to get their political information
I'd love to get back to conversations about the realities of the issues
we face, and about real questions of value and principle. That
can happen if people will stop and take a look and ask: Who's
been lying to me? Who's been trying to manipulate me? And
then remember that these liars are unworthy of their trust.
Here are a couple of examples we've discussed here before:
Who are the people --not just neighbors but important political
players-- who tried to get you to believe that Barack Obama was not
born in the United States? Those people surely knew better --or
at the least were irresponsible in not knowing better-- and they should
not be trusted.
Who are the people who have tried to get you to believe that the health
care proposals being considered include provisions to allow the
government to pull the plug on old people? Anyone with a major
soapbox who's spread that scary lie is someone you should never trust
Politics always has its share of "spin" and manipulation. But
never before in American history has sheer dishonesty played so central
a role in shaping our public debates.
We had lies in the election of 2000 (remember that idea that Al Gore
had made some false boast about his role in "inventing" the
Internet? That whole thing was shown to be a lie: he never
made that claim and what he did claim was true) and lies in the
election of 2004 (there's a reason that "Swiftboating" now means to
smear an opponent with false accusations).
And in between, there were lies that led our country into a war that's cost us dearly.
The people who told us that Iraq had been shown to be involved in the
atacks of 9/11-- those people had been told differently by their own
experts, and their lie to us shows that they were unworthy of our trust.
The people who told us that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium
yellowcake in Africa-- those people had been told differently by their
own experts, and yet they tried to deceive us to get us to support a
war that they'd wanted all along for other reasons.