America’s Story

“Democrats stand on their message so poorly. Republicans, on the other hand, win the salesmanship merit badge every single year.” Lew Goldfarb

Situational analysis — commonly misnamed conspiracy theory

Even Right-Wingers Become Liberals When They Turn Off Fox News By Paul Rosenberg, Salon.com, November 8, 2013 …there is broad consensus across the boards on the basic contours of government spending priorities…It’s just that the center is not where it’s supposed to be: It’s not somewhere in between the two parties, it’s well to the left of the Democrats in D.C. If you look at how much liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans agree with one another — regardless of the positions they take — you come up with figures for a cross-ideological consensus…the big picture was strikingly clear….nobody ever asks the public what they want in ways that allow them to articulate a coherent vision… the bottom line boils down to this…The real polarization in American politics is a split between symbolic conservative intuitions on the one hand, and pragmatic liberal facts on the other…The more informed that people become, the closer they are to the problems that need solving, the more liberal they become…Sober facts bring us together. Unchecked fantasies drive us apart…We need facts now, more than ever, to get our country — and our government — working again.

It’s Important to Know How the Stories We Tell Ourselves — True, or Not– Shape our World… for Better or Worse By Marty Kaplan, AlterNet, November 26, 2013  …narrative. Real events do happen in the real world, but people can’t help trying to fit them into larger stories.  We love to connect the dots.  Storytelling isn’t some atavistic remnant of our pre-scientific past; it’s how our brains are hardwired…There’s no question facts will play a part in how we rate the deal, but there’s too much input bombarding us to process as data.  What will win the day isn’t the power of facts, but the power of one story or another to feel right – yes, an emotion; we will retroactively find the facts we need to make our path to that feeling seem rational. The public sphere is where competing storylines slug their way out, it’s where politicians, journalists, experts and yakkers connect the dots, find patterns and fashion narratives…This process is often accused of being powered by political ideology, moral bias, religious dogma or personal psychology, and all that may be true to some degree, but I think the underestimated driver is our innate need for narrative.  Once upon a time isn’t kid stuff; it’s species stuff. However, stories that feel right may be clueless about reality.  We are chronically required to revise the patterns we see in the past because we’re forced to absorb history’s hairpin turns.  At any given moment, there’s a fair chance that the stories we tell ourselves about the world are goofy…When no one knows what comes next, the political advantage goes to the most powerful narrators.  When no one knows how things will end up, the same events can be construed as signposts toward tragedy or triumph…But as we lay odds on those outcomes, it’s useful to recall that the lessons of history are more art than science, and the art is the skill of the storyteller.

You Might Have Been Fooled by Republicans Ifby The Thom Hartmann Program,Truth-out.org, The Daily Take, November 7, 2013… Republican Party, don’t care about making sure that all pregnancies are brought to full-term. Instead, they care about protecting the Republican brand, and the interests of big-business. And the only way to protect the Republican brand, to keep Republicans in power, and to further the interests of big-business is to bring together a whole bunch of small, sliver-sized single-interest groups – like the pro-life movement – under one big umbrella, and convince them Republicans care about their issue. Republicans have to build a coalition this way, because if they were honest about their governing philosophy, they would lose every single election. Democrats have a clear governing philosophy, and that’s to do whatever it takes to protect average hard-working every-day Americans….

 

How the Media and the Elites, Not the Voters, Move the Country to the Right By Paul Rosenberg, Salon, November 19, 2013  …the notion that Christie’s a moderate is absurd…The media may eventually fall back to a more plausible take: that Christie, like George W. Bush before him, is a governing conservative, not a burn everything down conservative. It’s a distinction that’s not always easy to make…especially when the media helps out, as it did during 1999 and 2000, painting Bush as a bipartisan Washington outsider… Clinton definitely helped move the Democratic Party right…To begin with, the “move to the center” narrative is implicitly based on the “median voter” school of political science analysis, which paradoxically assumes that low-information median voters are the crucial drivers in U.S. politics, while at the same time assuming they’re sophisticated enough to move incrementally left or right, in careful calibration to how parties and candidate present themselves. … small groups with specific self-interested goals are more readily organized for political action than large groups representing broader, common interests. Political action of any sort requires an investment of time and energy, simply to understand what’s going onthere is much more for small special interests to gain by investing not just time and energy, but also pots of money — which is why blocks of big donors play a much larger role in determining the contours of political power, forming the de facto core of political parties… Democratic elites abandoned liberalism well before Clinton what actually happened — and continues even now — was a rightward shift of the entire political class, regardless of public opinion generally. The “center” elite journalists are talking about is not the center of public opinion, as it pretends to be, but rather, the self-referential center of elite opinion, which they are tasked with helping to construct, legitimate, normalize and ultimately present as existing without any conceivable alternative.  This is particularly true on economic issues, where the public is far to the left of both political partiesMeanwhile, back in reality, over this same time periodthe general public became steadily more liberal……  When Republicans, for various reasons, stopped being the party of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility with the election of Ronald Reagan, they threw the everyday policy world into a period of prolonged, multifaceted chaos, as the decades-long pattern of rising average incomes came to an end. But elites of both parties were ultimately responding to a changing world, with rising new challenges from abroad and the rapid erosion of forces constraining them from below — which had never been all that strong to begin with.  Together, these are forces that both reflect and reinforce the rapidly growing phenomena of economic inequality — income, wealth and political purchasing power.   The left-right spectrum for median voters is increasingly more like a holographic projection cast down from on high by competing elites with the means to control the illusions presented to us as everyday politics, or more commonly, simply as spectacle. This is why, for example, there are very real parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, right alongside vast differences.…What’s most notable, for present purposes, is the complete lack of any GOP donor block that would work to steer the GOP “back to the center” in any sort of coherent way. It’s hardly surprising. The more unequal that wealth and power become, the less and less likely it is that any donor block on either side would act to move either party to the left — where the disenfranchised median voters of America have been left behind.


The Con­sti­tu­tion is inher­ently pro­gres­sive by John Podesta and John Halpin, Politico.com, Octo­ber 10, 2011 - Pro­gres­sives dis­agree strongly with tea party views on gov­ern­ment, tax­a­tion, pub­lic spend­ing, reg­u­la­tions and social wel­fare poli­cies……As pro­gres­sives, we believe in using the inge­nu­ity of the pri­vate sec­tor and the pos­i­tive power of gov­ern­ment to advance com­mon pur­poses and increase free­dom and oppor­tu­nity…Cou­pled with basic beliefs in fair play, open­ness, coop­er­a­tion and human dig­nity, it is this pro­gres­sive vision that in the past cen­tury helped build the strongest econ­omy in his­tory and allowed mil­lions to move out of poverty and into the mid­dle class. It is the basis for Amer­i­can peace and pros­per­ity as well as greater global coop­er­a­tion in the post­war era…Our orig­i­nal Con­sti­tu­tion was not per­fect. It wrote women and minori­ties out and con­doned an abhor­rent sys­tem of slav­ery. But the story of Amer­ica has also been the story of a good nation, con­ceived in lib­erty and equal­ity, even­tu­ally wel­com­ing every Amer­i­can into the arms of democ­racy, pro­tect­ing their free­doms and expand­ing their eco­nomic opportunities…

America’s War for Reality by Robert Parry,  January 15, 2013 by Consortium News The real struggle confronting the United States… is testing whether fact-based people have the same determination to fight for their real-world view as those who operate in a fact-free space do in defending their illusions.….Simply put, the Right fights harder for its fantasyland than the rest of America does for the real world. The American Right’s collective departure from reality can be traced back decades, but clearly accelerated with the emergence of former actor Ronald Reagan on the national stage. Even his admirers acknowledge that Reagan had a strained relationship with facts, preferring to illustrate his points with distorted or apocryphal anecdotes…The remarkable success of Reagan’s propaganda was a lesson not lost on a young generation of Republican operatives and the emerging neoconservatives who held key jobs in Reagan’s Central American and public-diplomacy operations, the likes of Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan. The neocons’ devotion to imperialism abroad seemed to motivate their growing disdain for empiricism at home. Facts didn’t matter; results did…But this strategy wouldn’t have worked if not for gullible rank-and-file right-wingers who were manipulated by an endless series of false narratives. The Republican political pros manipulated the racial resentments of neo-Confederates, the religious zeal of fundamentalist Christians, and the free-market hero worship of Ayn Rand acolytes…That these techniques succeeded in a political system that guaranteed freedom of speech and the press was not only a testament to the skills of Republican operatives like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. It was an indictment of America’s timid Center and the nation’s ineffectual Left. Simply put, the Right fought harder for its fantasyland than the rest of America did for the real world…This post-modern United States may have reached its nadir with George W. Bush’s presidency. In 2002-03, patently false claims were made about Iraq’s WMD and virtually no one in a position of power had the courage to challenge the lies. Deceived by Bush and the neocons – with the help of centrists like Colin Powell and the editors of the Washington Post – the nation lurched off into an aggressive war of choice. Sometimes, the Right’s contempt for reality was expressed openly. When author Ron Suskind interviewed members of the Bush administration in 2004, he encountered a withering contempt for people who refused to adjust to the new faith-based world.Citing an unnamed senior aide to George W. Bush, [author Ron] Suskind wrote: “The aide [to George W. Bush] said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ …“‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.…”… Election 2012, with Obama’s reelection and a general rejection of Tea Party fanaticism, has created the chance of a do-over for American rationalists. After all, the United States continues to see the consequences of three decades of right-wing delusions…Yet, if rational and pragmatic solutions are ever going to be applied to these problems, it is not just going to require that President Obama display more spine. The country is going to need its conscious inhabitants of the real world to stand up with at least the same determination as the deluded denizens of the made-up world.f course, this fight will be nasty and unpleasant. It will require resources, patience and toughness. But there is no other answer. Reality must be recovered and protected – if the planet and the children are to be saved.

“For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” John Kennedy, speech at Yale University during the Cold War

Myth and Its Dangers by Gary Hart, published by HuffingtonPost.com, October 7, 2012…Myths in politics… “Widely held but false idea” is one dictionary definition of myth in common usage…myths abound in recent American political history. Perhaps the most glaring and consequential was the myth that Iraq under Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction…Myths in politics are dangerous… Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth. If this strange world were the product of mere laziness it might be understandable. But today’s political myths are more perverse. They are a conscious hiding place from a changing, challenging, and often uncomfortable new world.…Myths which have no basis in truth, or which do not operate as metaphors for religious truth, eventually fade away with the passing of those who perpetuate them and in the face of reality and fact. But the most dangerous myths create demons where none exist, the demons being anyone who disagrees with the myth-makers. In the meantime, however, they serve not only to delude the deniers but to frustrate our Founders’ belief in the progress of the human mind. 

Justice and Prosperity, Edi­to­r­ial, New York Times[President] Obama and [Chief Justice] Roberts visions of Amer­ica are very dif­fer­ent. No dis­agree­ment is more fun­da­men­tal than that about the con­nec­tion between jus­tice and prosperity. To Mr. Obama, pros­per­ity enables jus­tice and vice versa…Roberts… has reg­u­larly ruled as if jus­tice and pros­per­ity are unre­lated or even anti­thet­i­cal…The con­nec­tion between jus­tice and pros­per­ity is clear and strong….jus­tice of all kinds, espe­cially social jus­tice, is an essen­tial means of achiev­ing prosperity…

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