Monday, April 1, 2013

It Sounds A Bit Bazaar...

...but things the way they are...

Yeah, this has a humorous theme song. If you're not blood related to me, you might not get it. On the other hand, you might. What is it that inspires the strange pun in the title and a musical video about peons thanking a usurer for dying without selling their debts?

This, of course. Now, my husband took the time to repost this on FB, noting with indignation that "instead of giving us equal rights because it's the right thing to do, they might do it just so they stop losing and it might make them money!?" And, from a purely ideal standpoint, he's right. There are, of course, some concerns to address. 

The first thing to take into consideration is that my husband is expressing a valid point of view based on the information available to him, and the information presented is correct in both its conveyance of fact and its particulars. The thought that a political party would change it's point of view on an issue they've obfuscated for close to two decades as a way to "earn back the vote" and increase their revenue is heinous. Especially when one considers that the issue in question could already be settled had this party not only voted against it, but actively introduced and passed legislation to outlaw the rights this issue represents. 


You remember how I've mentioned before that viewer bias is one of the strongest factors in not only what news gets reported, but how it's reported, and the spin offered? You know, advocacy/citizen journalism? This is a fabulous example!

Here's the end source my husband got his story from initially. Article linked is safe, but the blog overall can be NSFW. So you might want to hit that one from mobile or home, ok? 

Here's where it gets fun. The blog article is 136 words. The article it redirects to is 206 words. Both hinge on the following quote:

"Republicans’ intolerance to marriage equality has been detrimental to winning...[b]ig donors understand that they don’t want to invest in campaigns focused on a losing issue," McLear said. "I think certainly the fiscal issues for Republicans are much more marketable."

The problem here? Both stories clearly say that the above quote was given, not to them, but to a different news source, one called Politico. So I looked up the actual piece for which McLear was interviewed. That article is 984 words long. That's nearly five times as much information as the larger of those two articles, and it contains links to other articles that provide the backing information for key points. Further, both of the smaller articles fall into the "soundbite" category. 

Both of the mini-articles were presented by gay news outlets, so the news presented is the news most likely to appeal to gay readers. Again, it's factual news, but it's not the whole news. Each article takes a single juicy tidbit and hands it out to readers who read those sources specifically for the angle they present. In niche opinion outlets, and in many targeted online sources, spin is inherent and context is irrelevant, as the idea is to maintain readership through getting information out in the most palatable and entertaining means possible, rather than the most factual.

Why does any of this matter in the face of "horrendous evulz?" Because of this quote, page two, paragraph four of the original story:

“The Republican Party need not be the keeper of individual values as this is not the role of a political party in the USA,” said Herro, a partner at Harris Associates, a Chicago-based investment company. 

“Politicians should stick to what they are truly able to legislate: taxes, spending, infrastructure, national security, because to some degree these are all public goods, whereas one valueset is quite personal and individual.” (Source.)

That's the other side of the story. The other side is that the people handing out the money, who want various flavors of governmental conservatism, are getting sick of seeing their money spent on politicians blustering over social conservatism and losing because of it. The men and women holding the purse strings want the exact same thing I want in broad strokes: they want the politidiots to stop pushing their personal beliefs as social agendas, and get on with the job they're supposed to be doing (running the country.)

So, on the issue of context and getting the whole story: while money as a motivator for social change and equal rights is really awful (idealistically speaking,) the fact that they're also getting bashed by their sponsors, who are threatening to take their money and go play somewhere else, is a plus. Seeking money for social change, and needing to be threatened economically, is a black mark against the GOP. Making those threats, and making them loud enough that they might stick, is a really refreshing sign of common sense from our nation's various McDuck wannabes. 

Concern the second: do we really care why they butt out of social normativity crusading and go back to running the country? Anyone? Show of hands?

First, let's be clear here: we're a horrible species. We have the Bystander Effect, we've got the highest body count of any species in the history of our planet, and we're the only species that consistently kills our own kind without a direct need for resources or instinctual bias. Hell, we're still trying to agree to dismantle weapons that can wipe out every living thing on this planet in under an hour, and the argument has boiled down to:

"You put yours down first."
"No, you go first."
"Well, I'm not going first."
"Well, neither am I."

So when we say that personal gain as a motivator for social change is a bad thing? Please remember that, historically speaking, it's one of the few things that works.

But the problem here is not that we're having to pay them off to get them to change their minds; the problem is that they believe this is something that needs to be legislated in the first place. There's a mental image of both conservatives and liberals that's been built up by these social issue wars over the last few decades. 

On the one side, we have the cartoonish buffoons working to keep our country in the dark ages; on the other we have the slick talking progressives working to undermine morality in the name of pure secularism. What we've forgotten is that not only are these caricatures largely expressions of the outer fringe of lunacy, they're also nothing to do with government.

Conservatism and Liberalism (in the American context, at any rate) are political umbrella terms that are so broad as to be meaningless. In many cases, the two overlap so tightly that there's no discernible difference. What strongly divides the two in the average American mind is their stands on societal issues and the fact that they're associated with two enormous parties that have platforms to push.

Would we like less debt? Sounds good. Would we like to strike a balance between social services the government extends and strong foreign and military policy? Sure! Better education systems, and a drive back towards becoming an intellectual superpower? Sweet!

As a rule? The how is under debate, but the goal itself is not. Both parties like those goals up there. And by and large, that's a fairly good list of things both conservatives and liberals want. So is "how shall we get what we both want anyway" the hot button topic of our times?

Nope. Those would be abortion, gay rights, women's rights, minority rights, immigration, and finding someone to blame for the economy tanking while hoping it fixes itself.

In short: social issues take precedence over the actual running of the country. Even when the direction the country should be moving in is generally agreed upon. And if a plan comes up that might work, the other party has shown a tendency to torpedo it if they don't agree with parts of it, while the party that comes up with the plan will stand on every point without any give.

Why? Because solving problems instead of talking about them is serious political capital. And both sides are worried that if the other side gains momentum and ground, they'll push through social reforms. So on the fear that one side will force social issues to take on their preferred form, both sides are stonewalling on running of the country.

So if it takes economic sanction to force the GOP to shut up and sit down on this, I really don't care. At the very least, it's one less talking point politicians can use to avoid admitting they suck at the job they're supposed to be doing.

I wonder, though: how much money would we have to threaten both parties with to get them to sit down and work on actual legislative problems rather than bickering over who has better social values? What dollar amount do we have to wave to get politicians that have an interest in running the government, as opposed to dictating the sociocultural mores of our country?

Bottom line here, people. We elected them to operate the vast bureaucracy that our country depends on, and they've decided they'd rather be a pair of churches, trying to make our spiritual, moral, and ethical decisions for us. That's not their job, and if threatening their pocketbooks is what it takes to get them to sit down and do their jobs, I'm all for it.

Now: will someone get control of the other party? 

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