Still Making Demands?

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?


3 comments on “Still Making Demands?

  1. I completely agree with you about the quiz not giving a true test to one’s political positioning. Having two clearly opposite choices does not allow for any moderate feelings about the issue at hand. Calling someone a moderate because the distinctly republican and democrat choices we are given evened out to a ten-ten split is poor method of labeling.

  2. You can object to the quiz all you like- the powers that be in both parties slice and dice the population all the time into meaningful chunks. So, even if a particular label doesn’t apply to ALL of you, it is still the best fit.

  3. So, here is the thing. At least since 9/11 both sides have engaged in various forms of political rhetoric designed to draw lines around being a ‘good” American versus a bad one.

    I know I have heard both sides talk about “talking our country back.” Well, from what, exactly?

    So, this sedition thing seems like another variation of it. I can recall quite vividly all the references of those opposed to the Iraq war (including me) or to the mad dash pursuit of the “war on terror” as helping the terrorists, or even “giving aid and comfort” to the enemy. This political science professor has helpfully documented many. Like this one:

    February 2002: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle expresses mild disagreement with US anti-terror policies, saying US success in the war on terror “is still somewhat in doubt.” In response, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) says that Daschle’s “divisive comments have the effect of giving aid and comfort to our enemies by allowing them to exploit divisions in our country.”

    Definition of treason, by law:

    Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or (fines..)

    But I am not dismissing it. Honestly, part of me thinks there is something to the criticism. To deliberately let the government run aground may count as sedition. York is concerned that it will lead to the criminalizing of dissent. Fair point. Still, if sedition has no legal meaning at all, why not get rid of it and simply say politicians can say or do anything?

    A BIG difference is that Byron York goes from an NPR caller to Rachel Maddow to two activist sites. He is either lazy, intellectually, or is deliberately fostering the impression that activists and various media outlets are all part of the same phenomenon. The quote I offer above is an ELECTED official using the language of treason to describe dissent.

    I feel like the right would say that this is moral equivalence: the left has activists calling for sedition, so that is the same as our representative using the language of treason.

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