Uncle Ben Was Right

With the absolute deluge of political ads littering the airwaves during this election season, it is a small miracle that not every voting citizen is an expert on presidential politic and policy. Of course, the information that we are presented with in political adverts is useless. It is accusatory and inflammatory. They talk above each other; across each other.

It should be no surprise, then, when the “electorate” is composed of individuals like this:

I have lots of respect for the folks at NewLeftMedia (the makers of above video). During the last election cycle, they produced a series of well-reasoned shorts like the one above that featured the ignorance of the voting populace. This is not a phenomenon that is restricted to the Republican party, either — all political parties are equally guilty of willful ignorance.

While it could be true that the ignorance displayed in the video is the consequence of selective editing and not an indication of the electorate as a whole, it is nevertheless disturbing that any individual could spout the worthless drivel that spews from the mouths of the aforementioned.

Where has fact-checking gone? Why are politicians not held accountable for the statements that they make in a meaningful manner? I attempt to stay fair in my political analyses for the sake of discussion and argument. At this point, however, I will simply state that Mitt Romney and/or his campaign folks are liars. They lie. Constantly. And what do people do? They listen to it, they believe it, then they regurgitate it.

“Jeeps in China”:

The Romney campaign ad says Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs. The ad leaves the clear impression that Jeeps built in China come at the expense of American workers.

The ad miscasts the government’s role in Fiat’s acquisition of Chrysler, and it misrepresents the outcome. Chrysler’s owners had been trying to sell to Italy-based Fiat before Obama took office. The ad ignores the return of American jobs to Chrysler Jeep plants in the United States, and it presents the manufacture of Jeeps in China as a threat, rather than an opportunity to sell cars made in China to Chinese consumers. It strings together facts in a way that presents an wholly inaccurate picture.

“$4,000 Tax on Middle-Class”:

The Romney campaign ad says Obama’s policies are a $4,000 tax hike on the middle class. But their evidence is a study from the American Enterprise Institute that looks at public debt.

The campaign makes a giant leap when it assumes the debt will be serviced with increased taxes on all income levels and in the time frame it suggests. We actually don’t know how the tax code will spread around the pain of paying for the debt; right now, Obama is proposing tax increases only on higher income households.

Finally, we should point out that debt payments would rise even if Romney wins the presidency. If you accept the ad’s logic, then you’d have to accept that Romney too plans tax increases for the middle class.

The campaign distorts the meaning of the study to score political points.

“Regulations Quadrupled”:

Romney said that regulations and the rate of regulations quadrupled under Obama. He was basing that on the Heritage study, but he did not include important caveats about how the study was conducted.

And more importantly, the actual data on regulations show Obama’s rate of regulations is no different from the past 18 years.

This is a broad claim describing its own evidence inaccurately. False.

“Apology Tour”:

Once again, Romney has accused Obama of beginning his presidency “with an apology tour.”

Our reviews of Obama’s 2009 foreign travels and speeches showed no such thing. While he criticized past U.S. actions, such as torture practices at Guantanamo, he did not offer one  apology.

It’s ridiculous to call Obama’s foreign visits and remarks “an apology tour.

These talking points have been repeated, ad nauseum, since the beginning of this election cycle. They are all entirely false and purposefully misleading. Has the president told lies during the course of this campaign? Of course. He has been misleading with regards to Romney’s immigration policy and stance on the auto bailout, for example. But these lies and mis-quotes on behalf of the president and his campaign are nothing compared to the repeated attempts of the Republican party to mislead the voting populace. (Disagree? Prove me wrong.)

The strange truth of the matter is that the Republicans probably did not have to lie in order for their message to be successfully transmitted to the American public — there are valid criticisms to make of Obama’s economy. Instead, they have focused on a slightly bizarre strategy of painting the current president as “un-American” or “weak.” These are transparent claims. They hold no weight when based against reality. (Of course, Republican strategists are wishing that reality will be conveniently forgotten about on election day.)

Reality shows that economic numbers are improving. Reality shows that Obama’s favor-ability numbers are strong. Reality shows that the world would much rather have the current president in the White House than Romney.

So … what will it be? The malleable Romney? The steady Obama? Polling displays results across the board, although most respected and well-researched statisticians are beginning to report positive election prospects for Obama. 

In the end, the result of the election will be entirely dependent upon the whims of the general population of the United States. Do we deserve such political clout when coupled with our weak grasp of policy? Of course, we should have the power. That power defines representative democracy. However. Just because our constitution gives us this great right of election does not mean that we can afford to be an ill-informed public. Great power does beget great responsibility.

We can do better. Read the issues. Become informed. Participate.

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