I feel like political discourse in this country has degenerated to such a level that statements of veracity are not valued anymore. Everything is subscribed to one’s partisan leanings, and therefore, is only true from a certain point of view. I like Obi Wan Kenobi as much as the next guy, but in matters of public policy I think such Jedi mind tricks do more harm than good.
A wise man once said, “we are entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts.” However, it seems like many people in the media and political world have categorized all statements on policy as mere opinions. This kind of rhetoric does the public a disservice. It teaches us it is okay to disregard proven facts of life if they are not in line with our personal political leanings.
Take global climate change for example. An obvious scientific reality that most credible experts in the field will confirm. However, we have allowed it to be characterized as a partisan issue. When in reality, it is a matter of preserving our planet for future generations and should not be treated so lightly. Meanwhile, we put off dealing with the important challenges that come with this phenomenon in favor of short term economic concerns.
Inversely, giving credence to things that have not been proven to be anything more than rhetoric is equally detrimental to society. Take the idea of trickle down economics. There is no credible evidence supporting it, or at least none than any proponent I’ve talked to can provide. Yet the politicians of a certain inclination continue to trumpet this idea. No amount of tax cuts on the rich have lead to concrete evidence that job growth increases as a result. Sadly something that is most likely failed policy is still allowed to be passed off as a legitimate economic strategy.
So what’s the solution? Do we simply allow people the right to their own facts, and rally behind our individual partisan ideologies hoping they win out in the end? Or is it possible we can put aside these ideologies when the facts say otherwise? If we can return to a dialogue where we test the statements and claims made by the evidence supporting them and not by who is making them, perhaps we can finally make the rational policy decision to move this country forward. Or maybe we’ll continue to believe those out there who want us to believe these aren’t the droids we’re looking for.