Monday, November 02, 2009

Rule #147: Grain of Salt

When discussing health care, wars or any other issue, we must consider the source. In recent years, the idea of what constitutes truth has been skewed, largely by the media, to mean two opposing sides - even if the two sides represent apples and oranges. Or, more likely these days, apples and unicorns.

One example of this is the evolution vs. creationism debate. Somewhere along the line, many people began to equate the two as competing theories of our beginnings, both worthy of scientific weight. Never mind that only one has any basis in empirical study at all, and that the other one is as quantifiable as any of the other millions of mythical creation tales out there. Every story has two sides, right? No more, no less.

Same thing with the health care debate. The top two voices of dissent on the issue are John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, whose criticism seems more like campaigning than healthy dissent. They know what their roles are in the GOP, and that role is striking down health care reform for political purposes. As transparent as this should be, many people nevertheless take their words as those of experts on health care as opposed to the rhetoric of partisan PR agents. (I'd include Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in this criticism, if either were nearly as effective as their Republican brethren.) It's precisely because such attacks are given equal weight to those advocating health care reform that our national debate is so ridiculous.

Another currently vaunted source of information is Gen. Stanley McChrystal. He's calling for a tremendous troop boost in Afghanistan. Fair enough. But does that mean we should honor his request, no unpatriotic questions asked? No. Why? Because McChrystal's role in the war as a military leader is to figure out how to win it, if such a thing is possible. It's not his call to ask the broader questions. His job is to ask, "How many troops do we need to secure Kabul," not, "Is this war a good idea?" His input deserves to be heard and considered, but only as part of a comprehensive debate from a variety of diverse sources. Sources whose individual interests are taken into account.

Maybe then we could get somewhere and stop treating thinking people and transparent obstructionists with equal gravitas. And stop perpetuating war because the war machine says it's necessary.

1 comment:

NOLA Progressive said...

Discussion and debate have all but become extinct. It all denigrates into hyper-partisan bickering or worse.

It all boils down to the fact that the have perceive that the have nots are getting everything for free while they break their backs working. This is an easy ember to stoke, and extremely effective. These people are not open to a debate, because their anger/fear takes over. Nevermind the fact that reforms and new ideas would benefit them as well, if they also benefit those that they perceive to be lazy and dependent.

It's a bad place to be.