It is likely that the political stalemate between Republicans and Democrats will be resolved in some manner sooner rather than later. It could have been much sooner than later. The reality is it need not have occurred in the first place.
Why did it occur? A media and the political system allowed false equivalencies to rule the day. False equivalencies give plausibility to each side even if one side is provably wrong. False equivalencies encourage the one that misleads to maintain the status quo in their narrative.
Anthony was creepy for showing his private parts on Twitter. David Vitter using the services of prostitutes broke the law. The media treated these two events as equivalent.
Over the years the GOP has been successfully using a trick that works almost all of the times. They accuse the media of having a Liberal bias. They tell their base that the media and institutions of learning are Liberal biased. In doing so attacks on them by the media is perceived by their base as a false liberal attack.
More importantly, however, is what the accusation of a Liberal biased media does to the traditional media. It forces them to overcompensate in their attempt to seem balanced. Throughout the current government shutdown and budget crisis, the traditional media have been attempting to make it look as if it was a simple dispute between two parties that bore the same responsibility. They reminded America that Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling. While true, President Obama’s political vote never placed the country in danger.
During the health care debate, the traditional media made it seem like death panels, government takeover of health care, and throwing grandma over the cliff was an equivalent argument to the Democrats arguments for the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. Inasmuch as these were patently false, giving them equivalent weight in discussions gave the less informed American a ‘traditional media made’ plausible reason to accept a fallacy.
During the President’s second attempt at infrastructure-based stimulus, Republicans balked. Even while the country was in crisis, the traditional media did not point out that Republicans have always supported this type of spending. They made it look like a simple disagreement.
Wolff Blitzer went out of character and praised President Obama by saying he has a ‘Golda Meir Instincts’. A few days later fearing a lack of false balance he jumped into policy and stated Obamacare should have been delayed.
Both parties use the traditional media in an attempt to get some advantage. When issues or a matter of ideology it is the traditional media’s role to allow each side to make their point in winning over citizens. The problem is when politicians or their operatives blatantly lie to attempt to get their point across. In that case, the media’s role is not to be balanced; it is to inform the citizens of the lies and misinformation. Promotion of false equivalencies should have no role.
It is fair to give balance to the big government or small government debate. Democrats prefer big government (a strong safety net) while Republicans prefer small government. This is a choice Americans must make. Neither is wrong or right. Americans must, however, be allowed to make that decision based on truths.
False Equivalencies stops the debate.
What does big government mean for social security, Medicare, healthcare, parks etc.? What does a system where services are doled out mostly by the private sector mean? These are profound questions that Americans must know. Cloaking the debate in false equivalencies hurts all sides.
If a Republican says reducing taxes and reducing the deficit will have no negative impacts on the social safety net and a Democrat says it will, it is the media’s role to give context. They should, especially if there is a history that can be used to evaluate the veracity of claims.
There is no equivalence in most of the political arguments today. The Republican Party has provably lied to the American population, not on their ideology but what their ideology would do to the standard of living of the working middle class. Making their arguments equivalent to those of the Democrats confused Americans just like snake oil salesmen of the past did. This allowed Republicans to get away with a level of lies and misinformation that emboldened them.
It took a government shutdown in a poor economy to show Americans that Republicans were full of it. They realized that they wanted the government much more than they thought. It took the opening of the healthcare exchanges for Americans to start seeing that Republicans were lying all along about Obamacare pricing, affordability, benefits. Republican poll numbers have crashed as Obamacare numbers rebound.
It was not necessary for Americans to have had to take the pain of a shutdown. This was a problem created to extort. If the traditional media had held politicians accountable, Americans would have made the right decisions. No party would believe they could take a country hostage and not pay a political price.
The polls reflect that Americans are paying attention. It reflects that they are holding those that extort, accountable. Even as the traditional media continues to attempt to promote false equivalencies, Americans have gone beyond being led by the media.