liar liar

A remarkable political event happened in Britain in the past week or so. The Conservatives didn’t lie about their economic plans to lower taxes on the rich. They told the truth, and they were crucified for it. The public saw the naked truth, and they understood the consequences for their nation’s economy.

Today the Cons backtracked on their public admission that they will reduce taxes for the wealthy, but you know that their plans haven’t changed. They will attempt to do it quietly while implementing their schemes.  I hope that the liberal parties will continue to call attention to their plans until the next election.

The Conservative politicians said “we heard the people”, but they really meant that they realized they can’t be honest ever again. That’s something the American Republican Party learned long ago. If you want to reward the rich, you have to lie about it, then confuse the masses with culture-war issues so that you can get elected anyway.

Why do I care about British politics anyway? I guess the country fascinates me. I would love to visit someday, although I suppose I’ll need a shirt that says “I’m not that kind of American” so nobody spits in my ale.


political blues

I have had to back away from following the daily news cycle. School shootings, political maneuvering, and the culture wars have left me disgusted, and it’s difficult to have hope sometimes.

I’m pretty far left on the political spectrum, and it disheartens me to think that the wing-nut conservatives are doing what they set out to do for the last 40 years. They have skewed the system so they are in power in all levels of government, including everything from school boards to state legislatures to the Supreme Court. They have gerrymandered legislative districts so that a popular minority can win elections in purple states. They have run a highly successful propaganda campaign that has fooled people into thinking their needs are important to the people in power. They use the right-wing media to whip their devotees into a frenzy and disrupt the respectful, adult conversations that used to be more common. They use the culture wars as a dividing issue to dupe people into voting against their own best interest for policies that serve the rich and powerful.

I dislike most of the people I work with, including my so-called friends, when they start regurgitating talking points and conspiracy theories that they heard on right-wing media. Instead of thinking for themselves and voting for people that represent their interests, they vote for whoever will “stick it to the Libs.” My work-friend AJ is a nice guy, but is disgustingly conservative; I disagree with almost everything he says. He started talking about the Former President, saying “I’d vote for him again tomorrow; I don’t condone him as a person, but…”, and then I stopped listening. He apparently has no sense of ethics or integrity if he would vote for someone he finds repulsive just to get what he wants.

In short, AJ is an AWPAC – an Angry White Person Afraid of Change. I’ve recently invented this acronym, and I want to make it stick. AWPACs are highly conservative, complaining that “this country is going in the wrong direction” and saying that “things used to be better”. They are against inclusivity, sensitivity, multiculturalism, abortion, gun control, pronouns, immigration, government, public schools, vaccines, environmental regulations, climate change, and electric vehicles. AWPACs are for white Christian rule, discrimination, male-and-female-only gender roles, more military spending, more police spending, private schools, drilling for more oil, and sticking it to the libs. They don’t seem to care about the collateral damage that 40 years of conservatism has caused, such as more school shootings, increases in mental illness, corporations in power over our government, damage to the natural environment, greater economic inequality, and loss of opportunity for young people without affluent parents.

AWPACs see change as a threat to a system of White Christian rule that has lasted for 400 years. They are afraid of minorities having a greater voice in government and society. They hate anything that gives more power to the people without power. They forget that their ancestors probably came to this country through immigration, but they want to shut the door on opportunity for others. They don’t believe that liberals should win elections, and change the rules of government to ensure that is the case moving forward. AWPACs disingenuously cry for freedoms on one hand, but consistently vote to restrict the freedoms of millions of Americans that don’t look the same or agree with their regressive policies. They will use slimy tactics and dishonorable people to get what they want. They don’t care how you feel.

Many of my work friends are AWPACs. I need to reevaluate those relationships and ask myself if I want to be friends with people who think the opposite of my beliefs in so many ways. I would like to find new friends whose values are more aligned with my own. Unfortunately I suck at meeting new people and making friendships. I tried joining a Meetup group a few years ago, but they didn’t make me feel very welcome, and I was too intimidated to meet them again.

At least I have my blog friends … unless you leave because of this post.

conspiracy and truth

If one person has a crackpot theory, it’s harmless. If two or three people agree, it becomes a secret among friends. If a hundred people believe it, it becomes a conspiracy theory. If a million people think it’s true, it becomes a movement that can attempt to overthrow a government.

There has always been the truth of “the establishment” and the alternate realities offered by people outside the establishment, and each path has its own agenda. Each version of the truth asks that you believe without questioning or investigating other possibilities. Sadly, people are often willing to leave the thinking to others and accept whatever opinion is easiest to digest. If you hate immigrants, or distrust vaccines, or question your political leaders, or think your football team was robbed by the referees, someone out there has the set of truths that will reinforce your opinion.

Before the web existed, conspiracy theories were more difficult and expensive to share. People had to write down their thoughts on paper and mail them in an envelope to someone else or print them in a pamphlet or a book to be disseminated. Printing and distribution costs meant that someone had to be bankrolling the effort to sway the opinions of the masses. Important, influential individuals outside the “mainstream” had to build clubs and societies of like-minded people over time. Creating a movement was harder work, and more people had to be involved.

Today, the power of technology makes it feasible for a single person to influence many people very quickly at minimal cost. With the ease of self-publishing tools available on the internet, any crackpot theory can be dressed up as an alternate set of facts. The search engine’s algorithm makes it easier for individuals to find someone who agrees with their interpretation of the facts. The global availability of social media makes it easier than ever for an alternate reality to be shared and distributed to the ends of the earth, gaining followers and adherents along the way.

It is easier than ever to persuade the public with irrational and dangerous conjectures. But at the same time, it is harder than ever to convince them that the conspiracies just aren’t real. If the truth is what you believe to be true, nothing will convince you of the possibility that you might be wrong. People with open and curious minds are able to take in differing sets of information and logically determine what is truth and what is fiction. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of closed-minded people who have already decided they know the truth.

the politics of fakebook

It seems like most of the people I went to high school with have become a raging alt-right conservative. For some people this doesn’t surprise me, but in a few instances I never thought they would swing that way. I grew up in a small town in California where the political climate is more like the southern states than elsewhere in the state. Most everyone I see on Fakebook is all “guns, Jesus, and Trump”, not necessarily in that order. I’m sure some of my former friends supported the mob at the Capitol.

I’ve heard that people naturally grow more conservative as they get older, but it certainly did not work out that way for me. When I was a kid I grew up around and went to church with mostly-conservative older people. During college I started expanding my attitudes a little bit, and studied what conservatism was all about (at that seemingly innocent time). I didn’t like the right-leaning philosophy very much, and started moving away from that way of thinking throughout my late 20s. Since that time, and especially since my diagnosis with bipolar 15 years ago, I have become increasingly liberal while the conservatives have become increasingly radicalized. I have reached the point where I would rather vote for dead people than for a Republican.

As far as my high school friends, they can take their “god, guns, and country” posts and stick ‘em. I don’t go to Fakebook anymore because I got tired of looking at those posts. There aren’t enough cats there to make me go back.