Both right and left guilty of misstatements

By Alma Lones
Posted 2/6/20

My issue with partisan discourse today is less about divisiveness and more about what I call intellectual laziness. Many seem incapable or unwilling to do the research before making blanket statements. Shades of gray have ceased to exist. Morality has been replaced by self-righteousness.

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Both right and left guilty of misstatements

Posted

My issue with partisan discourse today is less about divisiveness and more about what I call intellectual laziness. Many seem incapable or unwilling to do the research before making blanket statements. Shades of gray have ceased to exist. Morality has been replaced by self-righteousness.

While I believe the far-right wing of what once was the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt is more culpable, the progressive wing of the party of FDR is not without fault. None of us are innocent.

After reading the recent article in the Taos News “It couldn't get more divisive” (Dec. 26, 2019), I felt compelled to research some of the statements made by the interviewees. Full disclosure, I am a registered Democrat. I do not like Trump. That said, I am loath to blindly believe statements made by individuals or news sources who may share my political leanings.

Fox News has been accused by the left of perpetuating lies; MSNBC has been accused by the right of the same. According to what is generally recognized as a reliable, nonpartisan fact checker, Punditfact – a project of the Poynter Institute – neither can be considered reliable news sources.

Sixty percent of the claims on Fox were rated mostly false or worse, with 9 percent termed “pants on fire.” NBC and MSNBC fared only slightly better; 44 percent mostly false or worse, with 4 percent “pants on fire.” Interestingly, for CNN, a news source often disparaged by both ends of the political spectrum, 80 percent of the news is rated as half-true or better.

What I am most disturbed by is accusations without any basis in facts and half-truths, with the speaker using words such as crook, sore loser, phony or fake. Or they yell to hide their lack of knowledge on the topic. George Lakoff, in his book "The Political Mind," writes about how many [people] base their political beliefs on emotion rather than logic. The art of civil debate has been lost.

One only has to compare the difference between the Watergate hearings and today's impeachment hearings. It is disconcerting that many find that yelling and speaking over witnesses to be acceptable behavior by individuals elected to protect the Constitution. As parent and grandparent, I would not wish any of these men (and it is mostly men) to serve as a role model for my grandchildren. Sadly, many politicians have chosen to put party before country.

The most egregious statements made were that the country is looked upon more favorably and respected by the rest of the world. I am curious where the speakers got their “facts.” Clearly not by traveling or reading foreign newspapers. During the past year, I spent almost five months in Europe, mostly studying Spanish. To most, with the exception of members of far-right, nationalist, neo-fascist parties, Trump is considered a clown, lacking intellect. One of my classmates, an interpreter for the European Parliament, described how difficult it is to translate the president’s speeches due to his inability to speak in complete sentences. He was laughed at publicly during his speech at the United Nations and covertly by world leaders.

There is also the stated “fact” that the economy is doing well, yet does not say for whom – perhaps for those whose stocks are doing well. The top 10 percent of the country holds 73 percent of its wealth, a share that has crept steadily up since 1986, according to the World Inequality Database. Several studies suggest 40 percent of families are struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck, often working two jobs.

While the statements I take issue with came from the Republicans in the article, the left is not without fault. A glaring example is their knee-jerk reaction to the ouster of Evo Morales in Bolivia, calling it a United States–led coup. Even "The Guardian," a left-leaning UK newspaper, believed it was time for him to go.

It is time we use our intellect rather than our emotions to decide how to vote in what may well be the most important election of our lifetimes.

Alma Lones lives in Taos.

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