I don’t know about you but when I scroll down my Facebook feed I often come across posts from my right-wing digital acquaintances that force me to stop what I’m doing and respond. There is one person in particular that routinely posts memes and links to articles that decry the corruption, ineptitude, and downright anti-Americanism of Democrats and liberals in general. Sometimes I stop and read what they post and then hit google to verify or disprove the veracity of the post. I enjoy starting discussions (arguments) this way. I have seen someone claim that Texas was not part of the Civil War; only the south. I have seen a post that claimed a prominent Democrat stated she did not want Americans to retaliate if North Korea were to launch a nuclear missile. And then there are the endless claims that liberals are a bunch of crybabies that want to steal everyone else’s freedom. Yada, yada, yada. When I’ve responded to these Trump era conservatives about their posts I get either a vitriolic attack embedded with profanity or a circular misleading argument.
This is all well and good during normal times, but we don’t live in normal times. The United States has been hit by three major hurricanes in the past few weeks. There are serious tensions between our nation and North Korea that threaten to erupt in nuclear war. There was terrorist in Las Vegas who murdered fifty-nine Americans in cold blood and injured hundreds. When there are serious problems and one side responds with either dismissals it’s not the proper time to talk about this- do-nothing attitudes, or absolute nonsense, we are left in a political limbo where nothing gets done but every problem festers and worsens.
If we could only talk to each other again. Right? If only liberals and conservatives would sit down and have a reasonable conversation with one another than our differences would be assuaged and this era of hyper-partisanship would die down. Sure. If only things were so easy. I hate to start finger-pointing but, at least in my experience, there is a pretty significant difference between the style of argument displayed by this era’s conservatives and their liberal counterparts and I believe it stems from the significant difference in the style of the most popular news sources used by today’s liberals and conservatives. Fox News, which calls itself “fair and balanced” constantly and openly bashes liberals. There have been Sean Hannity pieces which called Obama elitist because he likes Dijon mustard meanwhile Trump and his cronies can do no wrong. Secondly, on Fox News, Breitbart, Truth Revolt and other such conservative “news” outlets there is a steady supply of crackpot conspiracy theories that again bash liberals. “Liberals are coming for your guns!” “Obama was born in Kenya!” “Climate change is a liberal conspiracy!”
I’m not trying to point fingers necessarily but I do not see the same coverage in prestigious liberal sources of media. The “liberal” New York Times would not publish ridiculous conspiracy theories that the “government is using juice boxes to make children gay to slow and eventually reverse the growth of the population.” Looking at you, Alex Jones.
Why is there such a start difference between the two groups? Most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, are decent people. The divide comes from the drastically different sources of information each are receiving. In my opinion, sources such as the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, and other mainstream sources are simply news organizations. There is not much more of an ideological mission beyond reporting the news and making a profit. You don’t see these sites reporting unverifiable stories about conspiracies that cannot be counter-referenced elsewhere. You cannot say the same about sites like Brietbart or Fox News who routinely report stories that exist only within the online right-wing echo chamber. Why do these sites report these types of stories? I have a theory and it starts with the editorial staff and the founders of these organizations. Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos from Brietbart have an ideological agenda that is not compatible with most mainstream American ideals. Most Americans have a commitment to decency, compassion, and equality but bring up anything that was reported by the right wing media and suddenly you are inundated by a flood of ideological talking points.
Now as I decry right-wing news sites for spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation I am providing my own conspiracy theory. Maybe the right-wing knows they are spreading lies. Maybe they do so willingly and knowingly because they have their own secret agenda: distract the majority of Americans with stupid talking points and circular arguments while they dismantle the Roosevelt era big government institutions that have improved the lives of millions at the cost of higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Notice every time Republicans gain control of Congress all they want to talk about are cutting taxes and slashing Social Security and Medicare?
Maybe I’m right and all of our talk about kneeling football players during the national anthem is just a distraction from the real agenda. Maybe I’m not but can we at least talk about it without regurgitating talking points?
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