By Jessica Roy / current.com / @CurrentJess
Editor's note: Last week, we went over some of the underhanded tactics the GOP uses that the Democrats don't. Over the next few days, we're going to take a closer look at each of these strategies and how the two parties use them differently.
When it comes to Republicans and Democrats, the phrase “ideological differences” doesn’t begin to cover it. Our nation is deeply, bitterly divided between red states and blue states. George Washington openly eschewed the idea of a two-party system and warned that two diametrically opposed groups of people struggling for power would lead to disorder and misery:
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.” —George Washington, September 19, 1796
Cynics argue that in today’s political climate, voting is useless: Both parties are corrupt, both parties use underhanded tactics to get their way, and neither party actually cares about making life better for the American people they represent. After the Supreme Court ruling on health care, NBC’s Luke Russert said that if the GOP wins the presidency and a majority in the Senate and Congress, it would use “every single trick in the book” to repeal health care, “just like the Democrats did to pass it.”
But it’s intellectually dishonest to say the Affordable Care Act was passed with “tricks” by the Democrats. The bill was introduced in Congress, where it passed; was introduced in the Senate, where it passed; and then was signed into law by the president. The law was challenged in the courts, and it went to the Supreme Court, where it was upheld. That’s not using tricks; that’s how the legislative and judicial processes work.
By contrast, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on attack ads and promoting misinformation to the American people is a trick. And it’s just one of many that the GOP utilizes to manipulate voters and cover its own sins. We're looking at a few examples of underhanded tactics that Republicans like to use and Democrats don’t — to their detriment. We’re not saying the Democrats should stoop to this level, but it’d be nice to see Republicans get called out on their unabashed attempts to stall the political process.
Tactic: Lies, damned lies and Fox News statistics
Mark Twain famously said, “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics.” Republicans tend to skip any semblance of evidence and go straight for the unsubstantiated lies when it suits them. The list of examples of this tactic is endless. For the health care bill alone, lies told by Republicans about the bill's dire consequences include:
- Death panels killing senior citizens
- Bureaucrats standing between you and your doctor
- Health care "rationing"
- Poor people going to jail for not buying health care
- Obama mandating the largest tax increase in U.S. history
Not a single one of those things is true, but that hasn’t stopped the Republicans and their PR agency, Fox News, from repeating them ad nauseum. "The Young Turks" looked into the vast fortune spent on misinforming Americans about the ACA:
When they’re not lying ‘til they’re blue in the face about the Affordable Care Act, they’re actively trying to put our planet on life support. Climate change is a hotly contested issue. It’s pretty hard to believe that in this day and age politicians are still fighting about something science has repeatedly proven. Rick Perry even had the audacity to say that “even Galileo was outvoted at one point,” as if Perry denying a proven scientific phenomenon somehow makes him akin to one of the greatest scientists of the Renaissance.
"The War Room with Jennifer Granholm" reported on one particularly egregious effort on misinformation: Documents recovered from the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, stating it was working on a public school curriculum to teach children that climate change was a hoax. Funding for the Heartland Institute comes from companies that have an agenda when it comes to denying human impact on the environment: Exxon Mobil, GM and the Koch Brothers, among others.
Some of the more “progressive” Republicans have taken a different tack: Semantics. They say, “Well, yeah, overall temperatures are increasing, but it’s just part of the natural heating and cooling cycles of the earth.” Which is just as much of a bald-faced lie as denying that climate change is happening at all. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific international organization established by the United Nations to investigate global warming, stated in a 2007 report that “the likelihood was 90 percent to 99 percent that emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, spewed from tailpipes and smokestacks, were the dominant cause of the observed warming of the last 50 years.” According to their parlance, that level of certainty about the issue is labeled “very likely.” In other words: Yeah, it’s our fault.
So why do voters continue to buy the B.S.? Chalk it up to the insidious right-wing media. In addition to telling lies in their reports, they make their viewers feel like they’re getting the “real” truth, the insider knowledge that “the media doesn’t want you to know about.” So they lie, and then they tell the people they’re lying to that anyone who tells them otherwise is a lying liar who can't be trusted. If your viewers think you’re the only ones telling the truth, they’ll keep coming back to get their (mis)information, which means right-wing media outlets propagate lies to keep their audiences coming back for more. Other news networks cover these ridiculous stories to make it look like they’re being fair to both sides, when in reality, Republicans are abusing their power in a way Democrats just aren’t. For instance, Media Matters reported that major news outlets overwhelmingly covered court cases in which the Affordable Care Act was deemed unconstitutional and generally ignored cases in which the law was upheld. Instead of evenly covering both sides of the story, they're bowing to pressure from conservatives to be more critical of Democrats and progressive legislation.
(Photo: Getty Images)