Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ted Cruz, Dissoi Logoi, and Politics.

Ted Cruz deserves a standing ovation for protecting our right to freedom of speech.  Without him, the Senate Democrats would have gutted the first amendment; they would have allowed the government to place “reasonable” limits on free speech.  I’m glad he had the common sense to realize “reasonable” is a slippery slope. What would stop Congress from banning books, movies, or even different political groups from speaking?  This resolution, S.J. Res. 19, is clearly misinformed or malicious, and I can’t believe that the Senate Democrats want to do this.  To show you just how bad this resolution is, I’ll copy what it does, from here: .

  ``Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.
    ``Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.
    ``Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.''.

Wait a minute, that sounds nothing like the malicious, free-speech hating resolution that the article was talking about.  Shockingly enough, the article from the Tea Party News Network had a conservative slant.  They conflated money with the idea of free speech, and from them on, ran with the idea that the Democrats were trying to limit all forms of free speech such as books or movies.  Regardless of your views on whether or not money equals free speech, I believe we can all agree that the resolution does not have any provisions for banning books, movies, or anything else in the future besides political expenditures. This article is just one example of a growing problem in our nation.
The problem in this day and age is that people get their news media from a few websites and television shows that are slanted heavily in favor of one side or the other. If one only gets their media from one side, then they only see one side of the picture, and are sometimes even mislead, like with the article I showed.  Someone reading only that article (such as my Republican father) would believe that the Democrats were trying to ban all forms of free speech, even though that can be objectively disproven by just reading the text of the resolution.  That would be okay, if people were exposed to more points of views, but in the internet age, they aren’t.   For example, my dad only reads things from Fox News, The Conservative Tribune, The Blaze (Glenn Beck), The Tea Party News Network, and other conservative websites and blogs.  Because people like this never see the contrasting arguments or experience dissoi logoi, they believe that they are correct, and that the other side and their politicians are ignorant, malicious, or both. This only serves to further polarize each side as their opinions become more and more like the articles that they are reading, because they never see the articles rebutted.  They also tend  to see the other side as either ignorant or malicious, making it so that they can never see the other side’s point of view.
This polarization is a serious issue and a huge flaw that is hurting our democracy.  It’s creating a situation where these “news” websites only attack the other side in a horribly biased way.  They take minor gaffes, such as the Latte Salute, and blow them up to a ridiculous conclusion, i.e. “Obama doesn't respect the military”.  Beyond the little things, this polarization is deeply affecting Congress and creating the “do-nothing-Congress”.  Instead of focusing on the merits of the bill, the news networks and parties (who are influenced by the news networks) focus on which side the bill came from.  From there on, they decide to vote it down based solely on whether it’s a Republican or Democratic bill.
A recent example of this comes from the Heritage Action Foundation, a conservative policy advocacy group. A huge source of their strength comes from conservatives who are very strong in their beliefs (presumably stronger in their beliefs because of their one-sided media) and willing to call their congressmen and have their friends call their congressman. Heritage Action tells congressmen how they want them to vote on bills, and then rates the congressmen  based on how often they went with Heritage Action; this helps demonstrate if a congressman is a bonafide Republican or just a “Republican In Name Only”.  Because Heritage Action ended up being very big, their “vote” ends up being a very influential factor that controls a lot of Republican votes.  During the debt ceiling debate, they issued a “No” vote to all of the Republicans, despite having not seen the text of the bill or even knowing any details.  They just decided that anything coming from the Democrats couldn't be good enough and decided to kill it. This is a great example of polarization blocking any sort of productive political activity.  When groups like this, with support from people fed on only one-sided articles act in this way, it further polarizes the nation.

Simply enough, articles are getting more and more slanted.  This is creating a situation where people are becoming more and more convicted in their beliefs, which creates situations where there is no common ground, because the opposing side appears to be clearly wrong according to all of the articles that an individual is reading. This lack of dissoi logoi creates polarization which is one of the huge reasons why there is a do-nothing congress, and groups like Heritage Action can succeed at killing all productivity. 

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