Waging, and Winning the War of Words
The Federal Government has sold its soul to Big Money; a compilation of certain large corporations, special interest groups, and the wealthiest private citizens. The question is; how can we take it back? If we are to have any chance of success in this endeavor, we must first understand who the enemy is and the tactics they employ. The enemy is comprised of those who use their massive resources to rig the game in their favor. Economists speak of these people as caring only about economic outcomes; with social outcomes holding absolutely no value to them whatsoever. To these despots, things like unemployment, poverty, and extreme wealth inequality are simply unavoidable side effects of capitalism. They claim to be sympathetic, but insist that people who fall must be responsible for picking themselves up, and until such a time are to be cared for through the charitable acts of others.
But the real battle lines are drawn when anyone dares to insinuate that the government should intervene on behalf of those less fortunate. The wealthy have successfully tagged any such suggestion with labels redefined or repurposed to their advantage. The new meme describes those who are forced to pay into social programs as “hardworking”, responsible citizens”, while those on the receiving end are “freeloaders who game the system”. They decry such programs as being grounded in the philosophies of socialism – or worse yet, communism. They use euphemisms like “redistribution”, and “theft” to impugn the progressive tax system that was first established by the Revenue Act of 1862, which ironically was signed into law by a prominent Republican named Abraham Lincoln. But perhaps their most horrifying conquest was the successful categorization of programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment as “entitlements”; as if they were unjust rewards heaped upon a spoiled child. In short, the wealthy are waging a War of Words.
To aid in their cause, they have purchased control of virtually every written, spoken, and visual mass media outlet in existence. Most powerful in this arsenal are TV stations which now have them wired directly into most peoples’ brains. As a young man, I naively rejected my father’s characterization of our television as The Boob Tube or The Idiot Box. Sorry Dad. Truer words were never spoken. This single advancement in technology has led to the creation of mindless zombies. People whose brains are so atrophied that they are predisposed to absorbing even the most ridiculous of notions as if they were facts spewed forth from the mouth of God himself (or herself, I’m open on the subject).
Another classic tactic used by those wishing gain and remain in power is divide and conquer. They stir us to fire with vitriolic, divisive rhetoric and cast us into the arena to do battle for their amusement. Then they toss us issues like gun control, a woman’s right to choose, same sex marriage – issues they know will have us at each other’s throats in no time. And for some inexplicable reason, we go along with it. We see the mouse trap, loaded and ready to spring shut but cannot keep our desire for the tasty bait in check. And while we fight to [our] death for their enjoyment, they scheme and conspire to rob us even further of what little we have left, and even more importantly, what little dignity we have left. And still we dance for our puppet masters, like those in Washington and those in the press do. Well pardon me for playing the patriot card, but that doesn’t sound like the America I know and love. Yet if we keep on doing what we have been doing, why should we expect different results? We can’t!
Instead, we need to do whatever it takes to reverse this deadly trend. Here are several suggestions that have worked well for me.
- Reject co-opted and bastardized definitions. Language is only effective when those using it to communicate agree on definitions. If someone uses a word in a manner you disagree with, stop the conversation right then and there and work through it until you gain agreement.
- Cancel your cable or satellite television service today! Broadcast news has not entered my home for two years running and I am so much better off for it.
- Don’t accept quoted opinions of “talking heads”. Readers of news are not experts of news.
- Question everything and demand proof! If someone quotes a statistic, ask for the source. If they can’t give it to you or it comes from either a biased or unreliable source, reject it.
- Develop a set of non-biased internet resources (find that on TV, I dare you). Publishing on the internet is free, so Big Money can’t control it all. Also, it is important not to practice confirmation bias by only visiting sites that support your current viewpoints.
- Talk to your neighbors about local issues — especially those who have different political philosophies. Because most local government action is focused on shared infrastructure, I guarantee you’ll find you have way more in common than you ever thought. You might not agree on how the local high school can raise the money for that new computer lab or arts program, but since you have the same goal (the best possible school), you’ll be much more open to new ideas and compromises than you would if you were, say, discussing how the Navy can fund another aircraft carrier. BTW, it’s called transpartisanship, and it works!
In poker parlance, we’re sitting on a short-stack [of chips] and Big Money has pushed all in (even in poker that’s called bullying). How will we respond? Do we fold like gutless cowards or do we re-raise, knowing that our 98% CRUSHES their 2%? Do we turn the tables starting in 2014 and vote out those who are slave to Big Money, or do we slink away while they steal the rest of our stake? Whatever the case, it’s time to recognize that we cannot afford to wait any longer. Every time we fold we embolden them. And, in time, we will simply not have the wherewithal to continue the fight.