I Don’t Plan to Spend Too Much Time on This

09Mar10

*Sigh*

This ad (for Lowden, essentially) is just as stupid as the one I just posted. I’ll even, just for the hell of it, forgive the anti-bailout rhetoric. It mentions our paychecks are shrinking, implying a tax increase, when there has only been tax cuts, specifically targeted towards the middle class. It fails to mention we wouldn’t be receiving paychecks if not for the bailout, but that hasn’t stopped probably the majority of our country from being pissed off about them anyway. As a liberal, I’m more bothered by people not previously paying attention to the whole “evil corporation” thing, but I accepted the bailout as something absolutely necessary to our survival.

Now, that being said, what I really find offensive is the idea that “deficit spending” is something that needs to be stopped. Bullshit, seriously, seriously, bullshit. I recognize I’m getting to a level of inflammatory rhetoric I normally try to avoid, but this so plays on the faults of our education system and general ignorance that it’s unforgivable. I’ve talked to some conservatives who attack the New Deal for not creating enough jobs. That is what it is–I’d argue that in the face of the Depression, any little bit helped, and it set the stage for how we governed ourselves to where we are today. However, nearly all of those same conservatives point to World War II–which required major deficit spending, the level of which Roosevelt never even dreamed of–as pulling us out of the Depression. Roosevelt said he didn’t want anyone to make money off of the War, but we did. We massively improved our infrastructure, and we only had one real competitor in the world. We set the stage for our economic dominance. While coming out of the Great Depression.

The point is, this was all done with, again, deficit spending. I’m not arguing for permanent deficit spending–it can have serious consequences if left out of check. Certainly, these days, China has an eye on our debt, and for good reason considering our economy just nearly collapsed thanks to private debt. But if you’re already fucked, ie people are losing their jobs by the millions and there is diminishing capital, it’s a good idea, even a great idea. If John McCain were president, he’d be spending his ass off to, lest the country go under.

On a personal level, it’s hard to get outraged anymore. And those of you who know me, know I spent my college years basically studying the science of politically convincing people. I’ve read Luntz and Alinsky. I know how political communication works, and indeed, I produced some work of which I was extremely proud that avoided certain truths. I ignored the homophobia of many of our troops to create a campaign for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I did it out of principle, primarily, and by focusing on the amount of high-ranking officers that supported it’s repeal.

I do think, like Obama has been saying recently, that there are some simple, ideological differences between conservatives, liberals, and moderates, on which we can find no common ground. And that’s ok, it’s the nature of brain chemistry and ideas.

However, this issue of deficit spending is not debatable, except for the question of “how many how many hundreds of billions (if not trillions).”  What I’m saying is, if you have advanced cancer, you should get chemo. Of course a doctor should measure how much, but that is the treatment, as painful as it can be for the person receiving it. That’s just what you do. You do not simply say we are strong enough to get through our stage 3 lymphoma because of our American spirit. You don’t say that doctors have too much power over your treatment.

At a certain point, words have to mean something. Campaigning has to be a means towards the end of governing. You can’t just throw out a bunch of scary words out there, claim–without any explanation–that the deficit is affecting the paycheck of everyday people currently. It just isn’t–I don’t have money taken out of my paycheck because we have a deficit currently. And for the record, I don’t particularly expect humility from the GOP or any politicians really, but it takes some guts, as many have noted, to claim fiscal responsibility when you’re the party that turned a balanced budget into a deficit with debunked supply-side tax cuts and–irony of ironies–an expansion of government-run health care (Medicare Part D).

Now, all that said, voters have to believe deficit spending is a bad thing. They have to believe that Medicare is good, but government involvement in health care is bad. And they are falling for it. So I don’t really blame people like Lowden for using the Luntz playbook. It works, and Luntz basically concedes it works because people aren’t well-educated. But it doesn’t take more than a high school education to be up on basic American history. If we’re fucked, and I’m starting to believe we are, it’s because we’re too stupid (that word choice in the first sentence was very intentional) and the GOP is thinks they’ll be dead by the time this country falls in on itself.

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