The real crisis of public morality in the United States doesn’t lie in the private decisions Americans make in their lives or their bedrooms; it lies at the heart of an ideology — and a set of policies — that the right-wing has used to batter and browbeat their fellow Americans.
They dress these policies up sometimes, give them catchy titles like Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.” But they never cease to imbue them with the kind of moral decisions that ought to make anyone furious. Ryan’s latest budget really is case in point. It’s a plan that says that increases in defense spending are so essential, that massive tax cuts for the wealthy are so necessary, that we must pay for them by ripping a hole in the social safety net. The poor need Medicaid to pay for medicine and treatment for their families? We care, we really do, but the wealthy need tax cuts more. Food stamps the only thing standing between your children and starvation? Listen, we feel your pain. We get it. But we’ve got more important things to spend money on. Like a new yacht for that guy who only has one yacht.
Perception equals truth. Before the 18th century, people knew that everything revolved around the Earth. Galileo couldn’t argue convincingly enough against the Catholic Church and if you stand outside without the benefit of what we consider basic scientific education it really does look like our planet is the center of everything. One viewpoint might be scientifically wrong, but both beliefs are true to the people who believe them. Galileo went down historically as right because he doggedly presented evidence that corroborated his beliefs on heliocentrism until the day he died.
Sometimes people quote things I said at the beginning of my career and I wonder what I could possibly have been thinking. In retrospect I think some of the statements I’ve made were over simplified or just incorrect, based on bad information and faulty logic. Somewhere out there are people who started out disagreeing with me and ended up agreeing. It doesn’t seem like it matters whether I’m right or wrong. What matters is how convincingly I can defend my position.
In politics, there is actually a campaign tactic referred to as the ‘charm offensive.’ It’s not about whether you’re right or wrong, it’s about how charming, personable, and stubborn you can be when someone sticks a microphone in your face.
Which brings me to something resembling a point: Question… vocally. Question the things I say, question your newspapers, television reporters and favorite blog. Question the things you thought and the things you think now. It’s the only way any of us are going to grow…