One of the things that drive me crazy when it comes to the “base” of both parties is that they tend to be made up of people who have willingly suspended all process of thought. They believe anything that supports their biases, and they accept with no critical thinking whatever any crazy thing said by any politician or political operative from their party.
I’ll never forget that poll after 9/11 reporting that some staggering percentage of Democrats – 40 per cent of so, as I recall – believed that George W. Bush was either behind the Al Qaeda attack on New York City or that he’d known about it in advance and had let it happen just so he could start a war for oil in the Mideast.
That absolute refusal on the part of the base of either party to engage in rational thought is largely what the birther nuttiness is about. It’s what the fiction that Obama is a Muslim is about. It’s what drives the fantasy belief that higher taxes on really rich people will solve all this country’s economic and debt problems. That’s why all these nutty political E-mails that I receive from just about everybody I know are so disturbing. They’re crammed with bizarre distortions and outright lies, and purposefully so, but people in the base gleefully spread them around like the smallpox virus without ever checking their accuracy.
If, like me, you’ve spent most of your life trying to give people the best, fairest version of the truth you would despise this stuff as much as I do. What people in the base refuse to get is that politicians are not in the truth business. They’re in the persuasion business. They don’t care about what you know. They care about what you believe.
If you were ever curious about how so many Germans before World War II came to be Jew-haters, blaming the Jews for every problem Germany had in the 1920s and the 1930s, you should look up a guy named Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels. He was a smart, profoundly evil guy with a doctorate who served as minister of propaganda in Adolf Hitler’s government. His job was to demonize the Jewish people, which he did with great skill that led ultimately to the Holocaust.
Get on line and look up this guy sometime. You might do that right after you read one of those lying political E-mails. Goebbels would have absolutely loved the Internet. He would have thought he’d died and gone to Heaven – which, incidentally, was not where he did end up, I’m sure, after he killed himself in 1945.
The current distortion floating around relates to the country’s job picture over the past three years. It says that the country lost 3.4 million jobs during the first three years of Barack Obama’s presidency and that the drop in the unemployment rate is due largely to people getting out of the work force because they can’t find jobs. The implication is that the recovery is phony and that things got worse under Obama.
Essentially, the numbers are accurate, but that story lacks a thing called context. By that, I mean that you can’t accept it as truth without taking other factors into account. Here are a few of them:
First, the work force, on average, grows by 150,000 people every month as young people reach working age. That means that the work force grows by 1.8 million people a year. Over a three-year period, the work force will grow by 5.4 million people.
Second, the Baby Boomers are the single largest segment of our population. Every day, 10,000 of them become eligible for Social Security. That’s more than 3.6 million people a year who become eligible for a steady income without working. Over three years, that totals nearly 11 million people — many of whom, not surprisingly, decide to retire.
So, what you end up with, because of the age distribution in this country, is more people leaving the work force for retirement every year than you have entering it. The end result is a reduction in the unemployment rate and a reduction in the number of jobs as well.
Goebbels knew all about that context thing. He made a point of always ignoring it. He figured that context would just confuse people and, maybe, keep them from believing what he wanted them to believe.
Guess what? That’s what the base does, too.