The amazing right-wing spin machine continues its insidiously dishonest but effective ways spinning and deceiving the American people on just what is happening on all levels of political and social debate. As a student of politics and as a recovering lawyer, I have always respected and valued the power of the word and its ability to persuade and activate. The Right has certainly understood this, but I must confess that I’m a little worried about our side’s understanding of the importance of the message and its delivery.
Unfortunately for our side of the issues, the Right seems to be trumping us again. They’re in sync on their talking points as they try to discredit the anti-war movement, now calling our patriotic opposition “the slow bleed” opposition, assuming that this will rally the American people against our vocal dissent whereas the prior effort to demean opposition using the label “cut and run” didn’t cut it at all. They’re in full swing attacking our Presidential candidates, giving a pass to the lunatic antics of Rudolph Guliani and the “flip-flopping” (all over themselves) by McCain and Romney (who supported reproductive choice before he was against it). At the same time, they’re trying to smear Hillary and Barack, make a religious issue out of two bloggers affiliated with John Edwards campaign and otherwise trying to create controversy and misdirection when the issues are clearly who has the better vision of America and who can make it happen.
It is quite amazing how effectively the right-wing has been able to co-opt so much of our message, persuade good and decent people that their message of corporate exploitation and incompetent militarism is the American Way.
It is clearly just the opposite, yet the sound-bites and talking points continue to “bleed” out from all corners of the media–Fox (Dis)News, CNN, radio talk shows, newspaper columns (sadly)from the New York Times and Washington Post to right-wing blogs. They shout louder and longer than we can or do and as such, have far too many average, under-informed people believing the lies and the spin. After all, we try to talk truth to power. The Right doesn’t care about truth, they only care about power–and have been very effective at using their political infrastructure to control the debate and suppress the truth.
I was reminded about this again this weekend after watching Robert Greenwald’s masterful expose
“Out-foxed” with some friends who had never seen the video. They could only shake their heads and ask the inevitable and obvious question, “so where is the progressive infrastructure to combat this?”
And as they say, “herein lies the rub.” With the major networks under the ownership of multi-national corporations swimming gleefully in Bush-directed tax breaks and non-enforcement of consumer and environmental protections, media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and General Electric which control mainstream TV and other media, are not interested in bringing the truth to the American people, but in keeping the policies and profits generated by Bush’s corporate- driven- agenda in place.
While many fine websites here in California are trying to break that monopoly by moving the internet into prominence (such as the California Progress Report, Calitics and Speak Out California) it is still quite remarkable that progressive activists and funders aren’t responding with the same kind of commitment and vigor that the Right has put in to develop their “Think Tanks” and media infrastructure.
Here in California we see this quite dramatically. With various right-wing blogs extravagantly funded by corporate and fat-cat dollars, the progressive side is struggling simply to stay afloat. The Right understands that it takes money to keep their investment in disinformation going; but we on the progressive side aren’t viewed as requiring much financial backing because we have a just and righteous cause and that money doesn’t matter—at least not for our political infra-structure needs which include messaging,programming, effective blogging and grass-roots organizing.
If this reliance primarily on volunteering and volunteers continues to be the trend, we’re going to continue to be out-matched and our voice will continue to be drowned out by the RIght. Of course, we’ve got wonderful groups like MoveOn, Center for American Progress and True Majority out there fighting the fight on the national stage (primarily with small donor contributions, non-profit dollars and grants) but when you look at the competition now from mainstream media and bloggers moving into the internet, along with well-funded right-wing websites, we’re going to need to step up to the plate and commit to progressive infra-structure as part of both the short as well as the long-term, particularly here in California.
We’ve got to get the attention of the American people away from right-wing spin and deception. Bush and his cronies would never have been “elected” without it—and particularly the second time around. Although many of us are feeling quite hopeful that the American people will not be duped next time around, we need to be there to educate and inform on the issues so long as we have a relatively democratic political process. If it boils down to who can shout louder and longer, we may be finding ourselves again left holding-the-bag.
When you look at California, home to 13% of America’s population, holding 55 electoral votes and providing the federal coffers with $50Billion more than we receive back in services and funding, we have a long way to go in meeting our state’s own progressive infrastructure needs. Although we have the issues and the vision on our side, we must remember that in today’s world, we’ve got to invest in our own progressive voice if we want to prevail in the changing technological world in which we find ourselves. Our message cannot be silenced or trivialized if we are going to create a future that we all hope and dream for our state and nation.