Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.
The technique of the Big Lie is straightforward: It is a story so outrageous that nobody of ordinary decency can imagine somebody making it up. The Big Lie is then repeated, loudly, until it becomes something everybody ‘knows.’ Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and the natural whorishness of politicians, the Big Lie is firmly in the saddle this election season.
It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.
We all know the most egregious Big Lies in circulation, and most of us have rejected them: Obama was born in Kenya, Obama is a Muslim, on and on. There are other no less egregious Big Lies afoot, however.
That nigra moozlim in the White House is attacking religious freedom. This falsehood has lingered on the edges of the national conversation for a long while (pious folk love to think themselves persecuted) but gained new force with the requirement that religiously-affiliated organizations not devoted to worship must provide the same health insurance benefits as everybody else. The rule is analogous to the ‘public accommodation’ rule that broke the back of overt racial discrimination, and relies upon the same distinction between public and private spaces; you may believe what you wish in your home, but in public you must conduct yourself according to certain standards.
Whether or not the standard, or default, insurance policy ought to provide contraception — I think it should — is a matter about which there is room for good faith disagreement. To complain that it is, ipso facto, an attack on religious freedom is a Big Lie. It is, in operation, no more than a refusal to privilege any particular set of religious teachings.
Republicans: “We want to improve health care.” If you’ve been listening to Republicans since the Supreme Court issued its ruling last Thursday, you probably are wondering how they’ve forgotten about the 15-some months of debate that preceded passage of the Affordable Care Act, how they’ve forgotten the President’s repeated pleas for cooperation and ideas. You may even believe that the bill is a printer’s error in the Congressional Record, that it appeared there mysteriously and without warning, like some sort of prank committed by Congressional Pages.
You sure wouldn’t get the impression that their objections were publicly discussed, thrashed, and parsed ad nauseum, and that the Republicans were sitting at the table the entire while.
If you want to actually understand what’s going on, you should find a used copy of Andrew Tobias’ The Invisible Bankers and read it. Insurance, y’all need to remember, is a remarkably low-overhead business with huge cash flow, and insurance companies function in the economy as an adjunct banking industry. This dispute is very much about their friends’ money — and not about health care and how to make sure it’s available to everybody, as the Republicans are piously claiming.
The execrable Citizens United decision, which allows unrestricted corporate and union expenditures so long as they are related to public issues and not geared toward support of a particular candidate, abets Big Lies (and purchased candidates) because it permits their unrestricted publication and broadcast.
Which is what we’re seeing, and what we are going to see intensify as election day draws closer.
If Obama is elected to a second term — and I presently expect to vote for him — campaign finance reform ought to be high on the agenda. Garry Wills was right: The Congress has very nearly sold the country to the big companies, as Dwight Eisenhower so presciently foresaw with his urgings against a “military industrial complex,” and this election is the one that could close the deal. That’s why the Big Lies are so important, and relentless; they’re worth the money.
One more thing: Is it just me, or does it seem odd that the party which constantly yammers about American exceptionalism is the one that says America, alone amongst the world’s industrialized nations, can’t provide health care to all its citizens?