When I finally moved to the northeast I had fully developed my political ideology. I knew from early on my political leanings did not fit with the Kansas Republican majority. I leaned left before I knew what that really meant; women’s’ rights and specifically abortion were the deciding issues and my opinions just expanded from there. By the time I graduated from college, with a BS in both History and Political Science, I was officially left of center.
The last twenty years have witnessed a remarkable shift in the political spectrum. The New Deal coalition that rocketed FDR to four presidential terms and supported the greatest expansion of the social safety net has been upended with Roosevelt’s Democratic Party now found primarily on the coasts and in large cities. The Party of the People’s regretful history on race split it in two once millions of blacks migrated to northern cities and into labor unions. The civil rights movement and resulting Civil Rights and Voting Rights’ Acts pushed conservative southern Democrats into the Republican Party at the same time that the modern conservative movement was reaching its zenith.
Party realignments have happened several times in American history; in fact, historians debate whether the United States is currently in the Fifth or Sixth Party System. Shifting demographics, population changes, and technology innovations can lead to significant swings in public opinion and policy priorities resulting in significant partisan realignments. What has made this last realignment unique is the rise of conservative media outlets and the politicization of Christianity. The combination of evangelicals waging a cultural war and more recently the emergence of a media empire concerned less with reporting the facts and more with promoting anti – Democratic or anti – centrist policies has helped create our current political culture and partisan divisions.
Entire books have been written about the conservative movement and the rise of the neo-cons. Likewise, tomes have been published detailing how race and Vietnam divided the Democrats in the 1960s and 1970s followed by the Blue Dog Democrats (Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council) who brought the party back but to the center. But what the neo cons did not expect, or perhaps did not take seriously enough was the impact that their messaging and anti government proposals would have on the body politic. As the establishment – elected officials, think tank analysts and conservative intellectuals – talked low taxes, small government, minimal regulation, free trade and globalization, the base heard something else. Whether it be from FOX News, Breitbart.com, InfoWars or the myriad of alt right media outlets preaching conspiracy and anti-Obama rhetoric, the Republican base heard, “Your problems are someone else’s fault, not your own. Washington has sold you out.”
It is within that environment that I started to post political commentary to Facebook. Throughout the Obama years, the rhetoric became more rancid with educated Republican elected elites publically declaring that their primary goal was to obstruct the President and limit him to ‘one term.’ The Democrats passed universal health care reform and paid dearly for it at the polls partly because of a horrible communication plan.
And then enter Donald Trump.
Facebook served my need to explain to whoever might listen why the talking point was wrong or only 10% correct. It also helped alleviate the disgust for the infamous Trump base that so many of us felt on that Wednesday morning after the election. And I suspect that I will continue to leverage it for the quick post or forward – especially when the question is “What the fuck?”
But this site is about something more than anger and disgust (although I suspect that there will be plenty of each). Nor is it about changing your mind or your party affiliation. It is about telling the truth. Because the truth matters. I do not plan to try to change your opinion on any specific issue or ask you to defend a position. If you choose to read real “fake news” in your social media feeds, be it Twitter or Facebook or worse, perpetuate it to others, I will not stop you. But I will call it out. Words matter.
The issues that we face are complex; the solutions are never black and white. We should all understand the facts or at the very least, recognizing the difference between a fact and a supposition. I plan to continue to post commentary on contemporary topics as I have done on Facebook this past year. Obviously, folks can post responses and comments. Just be respectful.
The objective is to edify and learn. I promise to do my homework if you do yours. Our democratic republic has been endangered in the past; during our first century of existence I can point to several key controversies that could have ended in a broken and weakened America and those were before our Civil War. Post war America saw several more conflicts – conflicts between states, regions, classes and eventually nations; each conflict posed its own unique risk to our republic and its ideals.
But our current crisis – and I do believe it is a crisis – is different from all those that preceded it. Certainly, the population has survived division. But never before have we seen the degree of division and income disparity that we see today. The political discourse and rancor are truly unique, and not in a positive way. Both parties are concerned primarily with winning; winning for the party and not for the American people. Conservative radicals (or more appropriately reactionaries) in the House have run so viciously against the government that their voters expect them to obstruct not govern. And for the first time in 228 years, we have a head of state who is not first and foremost a public servant but instead, a servant of himself.
It is up to us to fix this because if we do not, we will not only pass on a warmer earth but an even more dysfunctional and divisive nation that can do nothing but turn inward. No American alive today has experienced the world in which the United States was not the global leader in every metric. We have no idea what our experience will be should we turn our backs on the entire world but we know what it will not. It will not be the economic and political superpower to which we have grown accustomed. It will not be the economic and political superpower in which many of us have thrived.
Truth relies on facts. Facts and words matter. Ergo, the truth matters. At least, it does to me.