I enjoyed taking the political quiz to begin this exercise, however I felt that the polarity of the choices undermined the real potential of asking tough questions and may not offer the most complete political profile. Of course, the face value of a twenty-question quiz is not equal to rational, informed decision-making when choosing a political stance. Forming insightful, rational opinions is the theme of this week’s blog, and a crucial skill for forming an individual opinion. While it may seem trivial, many of us (myself included) often take headlines and statistics as fact, and base our reaction and response off of that information alone. Just as a political quiz may present “obvious” options for many questions, they may not truly be the best answers.
Presenting information in black-and-white terms this way can have a widespread influence; when large-scale media promotes a specific message, a large portion of their audience is likely to take what they see or hear as fact. In relation to the government shutdown, I was intrigued reading an article by Byron York, a political correspondent from The Washington Examiner, in response to a call for Senator Ted Cruz to be charged with sedition; acting in an overt manner that leads to insurrection.
York introduces the topic with a call he received appearing on NPR, bringing up the issue that had been reported by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC the previous week. He is careful to point out that while Maddow never actually said the word, “LATEST SEDITION” appeared as the news title, providing a “headline” for the discussion, and ensuring viewers were constantly reminded of what to think of the matter. York explores the idea, and traces this sensationalist, reactionary viewpoint, that NPR callers are strongly opined about, back to traditionally far-left sources. He finds other unfounded claims against suspected insurrectionists, from the Koch brothers, to some stranger claims, such as Craig Shirley, the public relations man and author of books on Ronald Reagan. York not only defines the law that the long list of ‘suspects’ supposedly broke, and why it doesn’t apply, but goes on to show the rational reality of the situation. Clear-headed thinking is a refreshing thing, and while we must sometimes be reminded, staying away from sensational claims and reactionary opinions is the key to understanding the political landscape clearer going forward. After seeing the gridlock that led to the shutdown, is it really time to be making extreme demands again?