Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How our government makes “civil debate” impossible

CNN Political Analyst, Gloria Borger, published a criticism of the “hecklers” at the many town hall meetings across the country, in which citizens who are concerned, even infuriated, about the Obama Healthcare plan, are vocalizing their opposition to the plan in a way she describes as “bad behavior.” She says: “Their bad behavior is a derivative of the questionable quality of the political debate they listen to every day. Indeed, if there's one thing we've gotten really good at over the years, it's this: reducing complicated problems to bite-sized slogans.”

Bite-sized slogans? You mean like "HOPE" and "CHANGE"?

She then tries to reassure us: “The effort on Capitol Hill has been serious…members of Congress are actually doing some real work.” Well they apparently are not working hard enough! They haven't read at least TWO of the major legislative pieces they've drafted and admit as much publicly.

As an example of the alleged misbehavior, she specifically refers to a recent town hall meeting organized by Senator Arlen Specter with the HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.”In attempting to answer questions, they were shouted down by folks more interested in venting than discussing.”

Other examples can be seen all over the news, such as this confrontation between a “Democrat Tea Party Protester” who confronted the House Majority Leader, or another meeting in St Louis, or the one in Austin. And following the Hugo Chavez model of governance, rather than accept that the people are furious at the government and leaders, the Obama administration has instead lashed out and accused the protests as being “manufactured”— that is to say, according to the ruling elite, they are being artificially generated and staged. This was also the same accusation they leveled at the hundreds Tea Party protests a few months ago.

What’s more, the administration is accusing groups of passing “disinformation” about their “plan”, and have even created a mechanism by which private citizens can report sources of “disinformation” directly to the White House –effectively creating a form of domestic spying network reporting directly to the President (yet another tactic eerily reminiscent of Hugo Chavez).

On the White House website, you can read: “There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to”

What are they calling “disinformation”? How about the video of Obama stating that he wanted Single Payer healthcare, published on Or articles such as this one, in which the President was quoted: “ ‘If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system,” Obama told some 1,800 people at a town-hall style meeting on the economy.’ ” These comments have also been recorded on video. They additionally call “disinformation” the videos that have been assembled showing the many times that Obama stated that he wanted a single-payer healthcare system.

More importantly, Obama and other "leaders" have been caught saying that, while they acknowledge that the public would not support going directly to a single-payer system, their plan would eventually lead us there. They then state in other forums that this is not their intention, and that they want "competition". They say that the "plan" (which they admit they have not fully read and with which they are "not familiar") would NOT eliminate private healthcare insurance. Analysts who actually HAVE read the bill are warning that the opposite is true.

So what should we believe? Should be believe what they say they didn't say after they have said the thing they deny having said? Or should we believe the analysts who are telling us that what is in the bill will lead us directly into the situation they said they wanted before they said they didn't want it?

What Borger fails to comprehend is that it is the government’s fault, clear and simple, that “discussion” has degraded into furious screaming matches. Democratic dialog can only occur in an environment in which all sides can feel that they are being mutually respected, and in which the leaders who are answering to their constituents understand that A) they work for the people, not the other way around, and B) the information they provide is true, to the best of their knowledge.

But when government leaders have stated, on camera, a position that later they say they never said, and then accuse the citizens of “manufacturing” dissent and spreading “disinformation”—which implies they are lying—the government has alienated itself from the people it pretends to govern. It also has undermined the necessary conditions for “civilized debate”.

These government officials are just like the criminal who is caught on tape robbing a store and later claims “I wasn’t there when they caught me”; their credibility is shot from the start. When they then turn around and claim that the people who have seen the video are “liars” for reminding them of what they have seen, they are engaging in a not-so-subtle ad hominem attack on the citizens.

The Democrats, who proudly bragged that they were part of a young and hip generation that understands modern technology such as Twitter and Facebook and the Internet, have apparently misjudged the overall sophistication of the average citizen, and have ironically overlooked the fact that their previous statements are out there for all to see. The Democrats have repeated the mistakes made by the Iranian regime that thought it could silence the opposition by quashing journalism, only to have their criminal exploits exposed via the new information media.

Americans have lost respect for their leaders. These leaders are bewildered that we don’t just trust them, even though they are exposed every time they make contradictory statements to different audiences (remember Obama’s “guns and religion” quote? Or his gaffe about the police “acting stupidly”?). Instead of admitting that they misspoke, or admit the mistake, they act as if we are all stupid, and explain themselves by saying something to the effect of; “I know what I said but what I meant was the opposite.”

The citizens are screaming because they are honestly angry. They are yelling because they do not believe what they are being told. They are heckling because they know that it is impossible to have “civilized debates” with arrogant government officials who disrespect them, ignore them, and lie to them.

And if this does not change, soon, the screaming, yelling, and heckling may morph into actions a great deal more serious. Remember that the 1773 Boston Tea Party was not the start of the Revolution: it was just a warning that was not heeded by the arrogant and bullying British aristocracy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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