We all have heard the old joke, “How do you know when a politician is lying? Their lips are moving and words are coming out.” Well, I’ve noticed a few specific indicators that someone in a political forum is trying to pawn off some new law or policy change that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This is a short list of the main ‘cynical’ triggers that cause me to ponder what a politician’s ‘real’ agenda is while they are ‘spinning’ their latest government “solution”.
Alleging a “Crisis”
The biggest bull-trigger lately has been any of a relentless stream of ‘crisis’ situations. This is an especially relevant alarm phrase when the situation itself is not anything new. Ongoing problems are sometimes just that, simple realities of society that will never be completely eradicated. Sometimes these also show up as a ‘War on’ something. The war on crime, war on drugs, war on poverty, war on violence, etc.
Yes, many of these issues may be things that society should discuss and in some cases even call on government for legislation to help to reduce or limit as much as possible, but crisis? In any society there will always be inequities, always be problems and always be abuses. The goal of good governance is to address ways to discourage them or limit them as much as possible without limiting personal freedoms.
Alleging a crisis situation pre-supposes a drastic solution, generally requiring an increase – temporary or more permanent – in governmental power and control. As a result, especially when applying to simple realities that will always exist, it is something to be wary of whenever it is alleged!
Evoking the ‘helpless’
Appeals to help the ‘helpless’ should also be a red flag. This one sometimes crosses over with the ‘demonization’ concept listed below when one group accuses another of threatening such a group of ‘helpless’ peoples.
This one is most often used in reference to the ‘children’ but can also relate to other groups such as the aged, the poor or minorities. In the latter cases it is even somewhat condescending to imply helplessness to someone simply because of their financial or ethnic status.
“Do it for the children,” or “we should help our seniors” come to mind. You even see this a lot in relation to the environment and animal “rights”. Sure, we should always look out for those who may not be able to do so as readily for themselves. But when the condition of a helpless party is used as a means to push forward government action that effects more than just those who are helpless, it is good cause for caution.
Obfuscation and Euphemization
This one can be a little harder to detect, but sometimes, for that very reason, it is actually easy to spot if you know what to look for. Basically this would apply to anyone who is telling you one thing about the steps they wish to take, but is either changing the language or clouding the issue as to hide the true result.
Euphemistic language is often used in conjunction with obfuscation of such a cause. Referring to tax increases as ‘revenue enhancements’ or taking money from one person and giving it to another as ‘socio-economic justice’.
It’s a pretty good bet that if someone is not telling you the whole story, is using confusing rhetoric while telling you the story or is otherwise spinning the story so as to make it difficult to see the ‘real’ truth – it’s something to question at length and scrutinize VERY carefully!
A Position of Hypocrisy
This one really burns my butt and I find the left far more guilty of it than the right – though again, both are guilty of it. This is when a person in political power is pushing an agenda that they in no way applies to them or for which they have no intention of applying to themselves.
Some examples include: Al Gore on energy with his ‘compound’ using more in a month than most families use in a year, Senators condemning GM execs for flying around in private jets when their companies are hurting – while meanwhile they fly around in similar jets when our country is hurting. Rich elitists congressmen preaching about the ‘evil rich’, problems with capitalism and helping the poor. Politicians in general telling us we should ‘pay more’ or ‘do more’ or ‘accept this plan’ when they more often than not exempt themselves from the very plans they are pushing on us.
Pure and simple… Bull$#!+
Demonization of the opposition
This one is rampant as it’s usually referred to simply as ‘partisan politics’. But different from simple disagreements, it relates to casting aspersions on the opposition that are either less than accurate, full of loaded words and phrases and more often than not, overburdened with double standards and hypocrisies.
This shows up all across the political spectrum and is not specific to either party – though depending on the issue, one can be more guilty than the other.
You can see a lot of this recently with the right using words like ‘death panels’ to refer to health care rationing and the left calling people against health care ‘unruly mobs carrying shwastikas’.
Attacking People based on the ‘Virtues’
This is part of the demonization but has become a more common version as of late that not only marks a BS line, but is frankly bothersome when you consider what it actually entails. In essence it is a process of demonizing the opposition but not by attacking them based on the flaws in their logic or problems with their theories and proposals. It instead entails actually trying to mis-color, misrepresent and thereby negatively connotate the ‘virtuous’ basis for their cause or the reasons, beliefs and motivations that inspired it.
What makes this so disturbing is that the ‘reason’ behind the virtue may be sound, and therefore the demonization isn’t simply directed at the individual standing for it, but anyone who shares that reasoning and therefore it attacks the ideals themselves. And simply put, if the ‘reason’ behind the virtue is sound, such attacks are therefore an assault on reason itself!
In general when sniffing out the crap between bickering parties, the real truth is somewhere in between the real arguments and the rhetoric. But alas sensationalism sells. The reality however, is that both sides are generally pushing some combination of Bull$#!+