Earlier today, I wrote about a fundraising event for REP that occurred in response to an incident that happened earlier in June. In this event, a version of a story was spread that was exaggerated in ways to make people believe an untruth — in this case, they believed this untruth because it fit their conception of what likely happened, not what really happened. As someone who tries to look at things neutrally (although I have progressive leanings), I see this all the time. I especially see it on Facebook, where rabid partisans on both sides of the political spectrum spread their untruths about the other side in order to support their views. Yes, I said both. I see some of my very liberal friends constantly making fun of the conservatives; and I see conservatives spreading untruths about the liberal side.
The latest example of this flew across Facebook a little earlier today: a link to an article titled “This “Top 10 Reasons To Vote Democrat” List From Allen West Is One Of The Best Things On The Internet“, posted at The Federalist Papers.org. But when you look at this list from the perspective of the truth, you discover that each one of these things is actually based on a false belief about Democrats. Let’s look, shall we?
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I can’t wait for college football season to be delayed or cancelled because the student athletes are union employees.” When you think about it, unions are actually a pretty Tea Party concept: individuals deciding to dictate their own future instead of letting the government do it. Individuals collectively bargaining for better conditions, better wages, a better future. They are not depending on the government to achieve this goal: they are doing it themselves. So this builds on the misconception that unions are bad things. It also builds on the misconception that the Democrats specifically made student athletes union employees. This was a specific legal decision by a in a specific case interpreting law; it was based on a number of factors, including the time students devote to football (as many as 50 hours some weeks), the control exerted by coaches and their scholarships, which were equivalent to a contract for compensation.
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I believe oil company’s profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene, but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn’t.” This plays on the conception of evil government taxing. But is this true. Companies are entitled to reasonable levels of profits; the usual assumption is that many of those profits will be returned to shareholders or into research and development. When profits go for other purposes — like insane executive salaries — people get upset. But more significantly, where does that government tax dollar go? It goes to pay for all those roads people drive upon. The gas companies pay nothing for the infrastructure upon which they depend. The 15% tax on fuel is not obscene.
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.” This is a common belief. The problem is that people would not spend money on common good. If you kept more of your tax dollar, would you pay for roads? Would you pay for the lighthouses? Would you pay for the air traffic controllers? Would you pay for the coast guard? Would you pay for the national clocks? Would you pay for the organizations that establish neutral and accurate national standards? In truth, in many areas, the government does do a better job at spending money than you do. One other note: Although you might spend money better, do you believe that is true for everyone?
- “I’ll vote Democrat because Freedom of Speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.” What’s funny here is that it is the Democrats that are usually at the forefront of defending the rights to free speech through the ACLU. On the other hand, who has attempted to limit magazines and subjects that they felt were offensive? Who has attempted to limit the presentation of non-Judeo-Christian religious views and symbols?
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves. I am also thankful that we have a 911 service that get police to your home in order to identify your body after a home invasion.” So many things here. First, it is not *you* owning a gun that is worrisome; it is that depressed psycho neighbor of yours. You’re fine. Second, the statement about the local police creates the implication that people use their personal firearms to protect themselves from murderers and thieves — which in really does not occur. Name 10 recent incidents where a murder or theft was stopped due to a local person using a handgun? As for 911, identification of the body is not done by first responders. The first responders are there to find the person who did the murder, and start collecting evidence. Don’t you watch CSI:?
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I’m not concerned about millions of babies being aborted so long as we keep all death row inmates alive and comfy.” Again, multiple issues here. No one is in favor of abortion; no one believes it should occur willy-nilly. The belief is that a woman should have the right to choose what happens to her body; if the conservative side is so in favor of a small government that doesn’t restrict them, they should be in favor of keeping the government out of telling women what they can or cannot do with their bodies. As for the death row inmates: the concern here is the same as with abortion: loss of innocent life. Mistakes happen, people lie or misinterpret evidence, and innocent people do land on death row. Why is it right to not kill an innocent when they are a baby, but OK when they are an adult. As for alive and comfy, you obviously haven’t been in prison — but there is also this little thing called the constitution that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I think illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education, and Social Security benefits, and we should take away the Social Security from those who paid into it.” Actually, the Democrats don’t believe illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education, and Social Security Benefits. They do believe they have a right to some health care, because if they are infectuous they can infect a citizen just as well as a non-citizen. Some of the rights that have been extended have been done by courts — consisting of both liberal and conservative judges — interpreting the law of the land. As for Social Security, you’ll find that it is the Democrats that have been defending Social Security against attempt to put it in the risky stock market and other investments.
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I believe that businesses should NOT be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the Democrats see fit.” Democrats believe businesses should be able to make profits. They also believe — just like everyone else — that businesses should pay their fair share of taxes.
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.” Except, of course, when it is the conservative judges that rewrite the constitution through decisions such as Bush v. Gore and Citizens United. Fringe Kooks exist on both sides, boys and girls.
- “I’ll vote Democrat because I think that it’s better to pay billions for oil to people who hate us, but not drill our own because it might upset some endangered beetle, gopher, fish or frog.” Oil is a limited resource. It is best to use as little as possible, irrespective of where we get it, because we cannot make more. But in reality, the oil companies go where the profits are. If it was cheaper to sell domestic oil at the same price, they would. Imported oil is cheaper. Environmental protection is only one part of that. As for the endangered species (which were protected by a Republican administration), we never know what we might learn — what new scientific or health discoveries might be made from them. But more importantly, the reality is that endangered species don’t stop most oil drilling — it is people wanting to protect their water, their air, or their community from the pollution that comes with oil drilling — or the risk of an oil spill, which we all know never happens (and when it does, is cleaned up with nary a trace). Sometimes the easiest way to get a legal hook to stop the action is… you guessed it… the endangered species act.
I do this not to pick on the conservative side, but to urge people to look at partisan statements — from either side — neutrally. Find out the facts — don’t believe the sensational lies you read from either side. Get your news from multiple sources, and listen and attempt to understand — even if you don’t agree — from friends of all ilks.