Twisted

Posted on November 18, 2011

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Consider this Facebook post

I’ll re-post the text here, because it bears repeating:

“What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican Party?  I’ll tell you what they did.

  • Liberals got women the right to vote.
  • Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote.
  • Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty
  • Liberals ended segregation.
  • Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act
  • Liberals created Medicare.
  • Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act.

What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things, every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, ‘Liberal,’ as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.”

This is an example of what’s wrong with Americans.  This is what happens when the people are given free reign to say what they think.  Specifically, though, this is what happens when Americans are given the tools needed to publicize their views to an audience of billions.

I wager that most of you will have one of two reactions to this image: 1) “OMG!  This is spot on!  This is exactly what I’ve been thinking for years!  I’m so glad someone finally put it together so I can share it with my friends.  <<LIKE>>”  Or 2) “OMG!  I can’t believe these people!  That’s totally wrong!  What about all the bad Liberals have done for this country?  What about the good Conservatives have done?  What can’t Facebook have a “hate” button?”

To be fair, more than a few of you have other thoughts on this topic, but that’s what this post is all about…

You see, a quick search of Google reveals the following about the above “facts:”

  1. Women’s Suffrage: “The key vote came on June 4 1919, when the Senate approved the amendment by 56 to 25. The Ayes included 36 Republicans and 20 Democrats. The Nays comprised 8 Republicans and 17 Democrats.”
  2. Voting Rights Act: These numbers show that a significant majority voted in favor of the act.  Based on the distribution of Democrats and Republicans in government at the time, the overwhelming majority of Republicans were in favor; as opposed to the Democrats, where (in terms of percentages) more were in opposition.
  3. Clean Air Act: Total in favor–89; Total against–10.  Democrats–50 in favor, 5 against.  Republicans–49 in favor, 5 against.  Yup.  Clear majority there…

In the end, factual data can always be twisted to favor the opinion of the speaker.  For example, item 2 above is twisted.  If you click the link and look at the numbers, you’re likely to draw a different conclusion from the one I present.  I see a greater percentage of Republicans voting for equal voting rights, while another view is that a simple majority of Democrats voted in favor.  Both of these, however, ignore important historical data, such as A) the views of financial contributors, B) the political and social climate of America, or C) the fact that the Democrats had a clear majority, and would likely have passed the act even if all Republicans voted against it.

It’s not that our country is more polarized than before.  It’s not that the major political parties are unjustified or ignorant of reality.  It’s not that any one political view is wrong or evil.  It’s the ability of the individual to take a few statements, throw them together, give them a signature and pass them off as though they have authority.  And that’s the fault of everyone who uses the web, because it’s up to us as consumers of media to double-check facts, especially when they appear controversial or dubious.

Furthermore, I’m pretty sure that Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr., had nothing to do with this image.  Not that he’s speaking against it, but it’s still disingenuous to gather these separate statements into a collective whole as though O’Donnell intended them to be lumped together.

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