We are so easily deceived

Published 2:33 pm Friday, October 22, 2010

Back in my news reporting days in the mid 1960s, there was a fellow in Daytona Beach of whom we all referred to as our “community gadfly.”

It was a time before the Florida Republican Party became a power, when Democratic politics governed.

Our community gadfly was a retired Army colonel, and probably the lone Republican in town. Back then, Republicans were mostly gathered in St. Petersburg. The congressman, Bill Cramer, obtained his political base from Republicans who had relocated from northern climes, planting their retired bodies by the bay.

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Col. Kearney considered it his “self-appointed civic duty” to throw a monkey wrench into anything the city government had on its agenda. It didn’t matter to him if the project would promote the public welfare or not. If it had anything to do with spending taxpayer’s money, he opposed it.

He had a small cadre of supporters, a taxpayer’s organization, which funded his “civic work” as he called it. Plus, it kept him out of the house.

It brings to mind the current state of politics where we have this huge groundswell against the national health laws and other “progressive” issues of the past two years, where the mood seems to be that anyone in political office, regardless of their position on the issues, must become political toast.

Reading some history of President Roosevelt’s efforts to shove Social Security down the throats of Americans, where he was branded a social dictator, the vicious debate in the ’30s was similar to the vicious debate today. Few saw then its great national contribution to the welfare of the people.

If you want your side to have its way, the agendas haven’t changed. The propaganda machines crank it out, to be against just to be against what could or should be a dynamic public good.

Surely today, aside from adding more dollars to the monthly check, anyone even slightly thinking of tinkering with Social Security is prime candidate for the toaster.

Did you know that the current laws of Freedom of Speech allow any political candidate to promote anything he wants to promote, say anything he wants to say on the airwaves without fear of recrimination. A candidate or political action committee on radio or TV can legally lie, cheat, steal and dredge up dirty falsehoods about their opponent or an issue, without fear of reprisal.

Not so in print journalism. If you call somebody a scoundrel in print, you better be prepared to back it up. It’s right there in black and white.

The propaganda of those opposed to national health care has been an extremely effective campaign of disinformation. This one issue has explosively divided the country, and nurtured a groundswell of taxpayer revolt, demanding that the current crop of lawmakers in Washington should be burnt bread.

While the health care bill was grinding through Congress, the propaganda machine manufactured some of the most outlandish charges. We bought into them wholesale, and now we have a November election coming with voters going to the polls with their heads filled with lies from several issues that they insist are truths.

Things are true because we say they are true, even though they are not true, as the saying goes, and so we believe it.

What we have to remember is when we absorb these TV ads with their revelations of skullduggery, the person making the charges doesn’t have to prove it. If you are against an issue or a candidate, it’s fair game to say anything you want.

The public is beginning to catch on to the ruse, scoffing at these so-called messages. But not enough of us are scoffing. Those who compose these ads do so with one thing in mind—to get an emotional reaction from you—forbid that you would receive any useful information.

To get that emotion, we see political campaigns composed of deceit, lies and innuendo based solely on the idea to get an emotional reaction from the voter, translating it at the polls.

We have allowed the propaganda to fester without serious challenge, to invade our minds and take over our reason, to squash our sanity.

So how do you fight it?

It doesn’t matter if you are for an issue or against it, as long as you have made the effort to uncover the truth.

Where do you get the truth?

Print journalism is your primary source. The Internet too can be a source, but you have to be careful here so as not to be taken in by the amateur bloggers. Find journalists and writers even bloggers you can trust, those without any specific point of view, those whose job it is to communicate. The communicator gathers the facts and comes to a conclusion. The propagandist states a conclusion, then finds facts to back up his pre-conceived conclusion.

Remember, print journalism is held to a higher standard than TV or radio, which can say anything against any thing or any body without fear of challenge or lawsuit.

As we are now absorbed in the political season, the propaganda is huge. The politicians are bombarding our minds with all kinds of garbage, of lies, of deceit, of campaigns without substance, of candidates without brains, those stooges who are not funny.

The Col. Kearneys of the country are out there in full force, spreading their politics of disinformation, effective propaganda, dispensing fear among a populace that absorbs “the truth” as presented nightly by gasbag TV commentators.

Where are the statesmen? Where are the politicians who attempt to pass legislation for the public benefit rather than personal benefit? Where is the civility, the courtesy? Where are those who follow leaders of good intent, of good moral sense, those leaders and candidates who are not concerned with following a political party’s agenda or a personal agenda? Where are those who work for the good of the country, for the good of the people? Where are those who believe public service is a personal sacrifice?

If we are going to be against something this political season, let’s be against the loudmouths, the stooges, the hacks and jerks of either political party, those involved in the constant flow of disinformation, those who appeal to our emotions rather than our brains.

We have more tools today to be an informed citizenry, yet we have foolishly allowed ourselves to be deceived, to be lied to, to be brainwashed bigtime.

You want to take back the country? Then put on your thinking cap.