An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Leonard Pitts, Jr.
The point here — this cannot be overemphasized — is not ideology. Rather, it is about the fact that we cannot effectively debate ideology if we do not have a body of facts in common.
Under such circumstances, political discourse must devolve into incoherence. We cannot discuss what color to paint the room if we cannot agree on what constitutes red or green — or the room. We literally have no shared language with which to even have the discussion.
This is the legacy of the War on Reality. Some of us live under a new ethos, fueled and abetted by Fox, the Internet and talk radio, which holds that facts are optional and reality, multiple choice — and that anyone who questions this is part of the conspiracy against you. The results have not been pretty. When, in the history of American political discourse, have conservatives — some, not all — seemed more paranoid, put-upon and ready to believe themselves the victims of outlandish plots?
Is there (will there ever be?) a point in time when those who continue to deny and/or delude themselves—and others dependent on their public platforms for information—come to a painful realization that these “strategies” have at some not-too-distant moment created almost insurmountable challenges for all of us?
It’s a free country, and we’re all entitled to our opinions and ideologies. But (paraphrasing Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan), we are not entitled to rely on our own selected, convenient facts as we contend with problems and issues affecting our communities and our nation. If a thirty-year track record proving that tax cuts for the wealthy is not the answer is nonetheless one’s choice, then understand the consequences. Every choice and decision and belief leads to an outcome. Pretending otherwise may work today, but tomorrow is still going to arrive. What then?
This puzzling approach to reality is not limited to the liberal vs. conservative battleground of American politics.
We may want desperately to believe that a bit more ingenuity and technological savvy are all that we need to ensure ourselves a future of unlimited energy abundance and never-ending growth and technological progress. Who wouldn’t want that option?
But facts, evidence, and reality all make it quite obvious that the supply of crude oil which powered us all to an era of awe-inspiring prosperity and advancement is now on the decline. That same combination of truths also tells us that the substitutes (tar sands, tight oil) are simply not up to the task of just stepping in as adequate replacements in such a way that life/business goes on as usual. Every day we heed the voices of those whose self-interest trumps the public good is a day lost to meeting the challenges with a bit less pain and sacrifice.
Shouldn’t we demonstrate our highly-touted and well-deserved “exceptionalism” by dealing with unpleasant and inconvenient truths today so that we give ourselves and our children the best chance for better tomorrows?
[NOTE: I am planning my usual Thursday post, but Hurricane Sandy may have other ideas, so if power is out, I’ll post as soon as I can]
* My Photo: Moonlight at Good Harbor Beach, MA 09.25.07