NVDAILY.COM | Opinion
Posted December 12, 2013 | Leave a comment
Andy Schmookler: Would you want to know?
By Andy Schmookler
I want to speak to the conservatives in this area.
I know from experience that you are good neighbors, and that you make an admirable local society. But I am concerned about what's happened with you in the larger political world.
It's not about your conservative values, which I regard as mostly valuable to America. It's about what's happened in recent years regarding the things you think to be factually true. Let me ask you: if a lot of what you believe to be true were actually false, would you want to know?
At this point, many of you may angrily dismiss my question. After all, aren't I the guy who ran for Congress as a Democrat, and aren't Democrats the enemy?
Setting aside this demonization of the "other side," I hope you will recognize that I speak to you not as a Democrat but as a person with a lifelong passion for truth.
That's how I was brought up. My dad, a man of exceptional intellectual integrity, taught me the great importance of the honest pursuit of truth. We should resist the temptation to believe something because believing it makes us feel good. Or because it helps us fit in with "our group." Instead, we should do the work to find the truth. following the evidence wherever it may lead.
In the 1990s, I introduced my Harrisonburg radio show with the suggestion that we - liberals and conservatives - talk to each other as if we might actually learn from each other. I thought we'd all become wiser if we worked to integrate the insights of both sides. But such conversation becomes impossible when we don't even share the same facts.
I ran for Congress last year under the slogan "Truth. For a change.." I ran as a Democrat not because the Democrats are wedded to the truth -- they're a normal American party in that respect -- but because on the Republican side I saw such a disturbing level of dishonesty.
If you were to make a list of, say, the 50 main propositions that have been propagated to the Republican base over the past decade-plus, it would be hard to find more than a few that are even mostly true. For example, how many of these have your Republican leaders told you?
• The basic idea behind Obamacare is extreme, outside the American mainstream.
Some of those are outright false. Others are mostly false. Not one of them could be shown to be mostly true.
It's not just liberals who would reject these propositions. Only in what has been called the "bubble" on the right are these things believed.
It's hard to exaggerate how dangerous this is. Getting millions of people to believe these sorts of falsehoods has allowed very destructive forces to gain power in America, and that in turn has already done great damage to our nation and threatens to do much more.
That's why the question I asked you is important: If it were true that your picture of the political world was seriously misaligned with reality, would you want to know?
Coming to such a realization would certainly be uncomfortable. But that discomfort should be weighed against the profound costs being paid by our nation because of such
Andy Schmookler, whose books include "Debating the Good Society: A Quest to Bridge America's Moral Divide," lives in Shenandoah County.
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