Saturday, January 29, 2011

On Confusing Our Citizens

Some acquaintances have recently been discussing the Health Care Reform Bill. One commented that the pending lawsuits in several states would most likely gut the prohibition against denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions. He then stated (hopefully) that,"once the voters become educated about that issue they may not be so opposed to mandatory coverage." 

Another, leaning more to the Right, continually used the word "Obamacare" in discussing this Bill.

Their discussion prompted me to make two points, not so much about the specific issue of health care reform, but rather about the broader issue of today's political discourse.

Regarding the issue of voters becoming educated:  it's hard to imagine how this will happen when so much of the media doesn't present the actual details in any clear fashion and also enables "both" points of view to every issue, even when one viewpoint is completely fallacious.  FOX News is the biggest offender.  But it gets even worse once we consider how many millions of people get all or most of their information from bloviators like Limbaugh and Beck, for whom actual facts are annoyances to be ignored at all costs.

Regarding Obamacare:  Almost everyone today uses this term.  But I think that we owe it to ourselves as well as our Country to call it by its real name, the Health Care Reform Bill.  "Obamacare" is a right wing invention, endorsed by the Republicans, who have convinced themselves that Obama must fail [even if that means the Country must fail as well].  To Republicans, the word "Obama" is anathema, and so, "Obamacare," their word for the Bill, connotes anathema, even though all the main elements of this Bill are things that they endorsed and even proposed just a very few years ago.

I suspect that Karl Rove, ca. 15 years ago, made every Republican read Orwell's 1984 and take to heart its description of manipulating and changing the meaning of words. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that, even today, Rove sends them speaking points of the week and the word or adjective of the day.  Let's pay attention to the words they use, whether "Obamacare," "Government spending spree," or all those modifiers like "job-killing..."  

These words are all about erasing the gray middle and creating an impression of true good (the Right) and true evil (the Left).  A Democrat or a member of the Left, depending upon the particular voice from the Right, then easily can be termed "Socialist" (a demeaning word resurrected from the days of the Cold War), "Communist" (with the demise of the USSR, do they want to send all Democrats to Cuba or China?), or "Nazi."  These descriptors are historically insane as used today, but they do tap into the fear buttons that the Republicans and the Right manipulate so well...and so we come back to the issue of voters becoming educated.

God help this confused country.

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