Might makes Right

History is written by the winners.  This is a well know phrase, but let us examine what that truly means.  Historically, whether it be ancient times or more modern times, there is always more documentation from the winning side than from the losing side.  If you read any modern history textbook you will see a great deal about the Romans, but very little about the Eutrucsans whom they defeated to take control of the Italian peninsula.  Is this because the Eutruscans were inconsequential or because we really don't have much in the way of historical documentation around their culture.

The history of the United States is no different.  Those who succeed are documented and preserved.  Those who lost are barely given a mention in history.  Here is an example.  Everyone knows the name Rosa Parks.  She defied the law of the land and refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  She was the icon of a generation for the Civil Rights Movement.  Can anyone name the bus driver who asked her to move?  Does anyone know the name of the white man who wanted her seat?  Of course we don't, because they lost.  Miss Parks defied the social stigma of the area and took a stand.

As this post is being written, the US government is in a state of shutdown (or slim down if you prefer).  If we believe our government officials, we are about to default on our debt repayments thereby plunging our economy into a deep recession (or deeper recession if you choose not to believe the "facts" being put forth by our government of recovery).  Since we are not economists it would be unfair of us to make any judgement about the validity of this assertion.

What we do know is that we have a president publicly calling out our congress on getting a budget passed and raising the debt ceiling to pay our debts.  The president is using his bully pulpit to hammer out his thoughts.  He is convinced that if he lays out the argument in just the right way, he will be able to put public pressure on congress to do as he wants.  If you believe the polls, he may be right. Unfortunately for the president we here at Political Dogma don't believe in polls.  There is too much chance for error and ambiguity passing itself off as scientific thought.

Let us refer to the recent poll conducted by a TV talk show host.  The host asked a group of college students if they preferred Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.  Overwhelmingly, the students preferred the Affordable Care Act to Obamacare.  Not surprisingly, the students in question were reacting to the limited information they had, and the negative stigma of the term Obamacare.  Also, the name Affordable must mean good.  We believe this lack of an informed electorate is part of the problem.

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything - Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton (source: Wikicommons Public Domain)

As the American Public, we have to question our leaders.  We have to check that what we are being told is really the whole truth.  Our president claims that he has sent 19 budgets to congress since 2009 and that congress has refused to pass any of them.  That is true as far as it goes.  What the president fails to mention is that each of these budgets included legislation that would have dramatically increased spending on programs and services of questionable merit.  In fact, the Republican House has passed a budget each of the last 3 years, but the Democratic Senate has not found a way to do so.  Therefore, there has not been a budget passed in many years.  Can you imagine this in your house?  To listen to the president, it is obviously the Republicans who have not found a way to do the people's business.  He is keenly aware that this is a misleading statement, yet he stands in front a bank of reporters and makes this and other misleading remarks.  Does he know the statements are misleading? Sure he knows, but he assumes (rightly it would appear) that as long as he says it enough times and gets the media to repeat it some more, then it must be true.

Might makes right.  When you are in charge and saying something it must be true (or so the president would have you believe).  Truth is universal.  Truth doesn't need to be proclaimed by someone in a position of authority.  Truth stands on its own and allows close scrutiny to determine is validity.  Just because the president or congress says something or cites some statistic doesn't make it true in the way they intended.  Our government officials love to throw around statistics because "the facts don't lie".  What they fail to understand or care about is that facts can be manipulated to suite the needs of the individuals using them.  Facts taken alone don't tell a story, but they have to be woven together to tell a story.  Sometimes this story is correct and sometimes it isn't.  It is up to each individual to make that determination for themselves and look at every situation with a skeptical eye.  Only through close scrutiny and accountability will our elected officials know that they have to tell the truth to the American public if they expect to gain the support of the American public.