Tell Me Lies

In grade school I was told the (possibly apocryphal) story that the Founding Fathers thought the common man was too ignorant to vote, and that was why suffrage was originally restricted to property owners. The older and more cynical I become, the more I agree with them.  Lately, I’m starting to think that people deliberately stay ignorant.

Usually I restrict my cynicism to suggesting that U.S. citizens should be made to take classes in economics, accounting, business and political science and demonstrate understanding of the material before being allowed to vote — kind of like getting a driver’s license, but for something far more important. This election, however, my cynicism knows no bounds.

In my last post, I quoted Salon writer Camille Paglia accusing Democrats of turning politics into a “Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil.” I’ve seen a lot of that on both sides.  Take, for example, “Lipstickgate.” Yes, it’s entirely possible (perhaps even probable) that Palin’s pitbull vs. hockey mom with lipstick joke prompted Obama to use the “lipstick on a pig” line.  That said, it’s an old line, one I’ve heard at least a few times before — and I live on the West Coast, a place not known for its down-home sayings — and Obama used the phrase correctly.

On the other side, you have the numerous attacks on Sarah Palin.  The latest Palin rumors are consistent WordPress “Hawt Posts,” despite the fact that the rumors are debunked long before making “Hawt Post” status, or can be by spending 10-15 minutes on Google or Wikipedia.

For example, take the “scandal” of Governor Palin reimbursing herself for staying at her own residence while on work-related trips.  As Allahpundit noted, a simple look at the Washington Post article that first made the claim shows that the reimbursement doesn’t exist.  There’s a line item, for “Lodging — own residence,” but the dollar amount claimed is $0.  In this case, a reader wouldn’t even have to search Google to debunk the rumor — the debunking is in the article itself.

Which brings me back to Manichaean battles and deliberate ignorance. People are trying so hard to demonize the “other side” that they’re willing to buy into any little tawdry insinuation, no matter how stretched the logic or easily debunked. They want to be lied to in order to advance an agenda.  In essence, they’re deliberately keeping themselves ignorant.

Update: Original title of this post “Fooling Some of the People All of the Time” changed to give me an excuse to embed the following:

Update 2: Not only is the lipstick phrase old, but the picture that’s circulating is too, as demonstrated by this blog post dated 2006.

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