In the age of super PAC, politics and news organizations are more interested in the sound of their own voices than answers. We’ve crossed out of the light and into the dark shadows of social bubbles. Political lies have long been spit by politicians but today lies can be espoused for national consumption without authentication or correction. Jon Kyl saying 90% of Planned Parenthood services are abortion, Mitt Romney claiming Obama doubled the deficit, Santorum reporting that California Universities don’t offer American history, and Alan West declaring that 78 Democratic members of congress are card-carrying communists: these are lies.
The dogma of political evangelism has superseded that of skeptical reason. We believe things because they sound like what we want to be true; masses praying to prophets at the podium, and apostles on TV panels. What good is political transparency if you can make up your own facts and sell them to the highest bidding corporation?
There has been much talk about “the bubble” and that there are equal opposing bubbles on the media left and media right. But, the assertion that there are equal bubbles on either side is inaccurate. Bill Maher pointed out this difference on his show Real Time, sending a camera to expose the stereotypical realities that both sides use as ammunition against the other: rednecks espousing racism and blacks in welfare lines and refusing to work. But he goes on to point out that in only one of these two situations are these archetypes voting against their own interests. This is what reveals the deeper difference.
But this isn’t as simple as mere ignorance. At work is a far more insidious means of political power; political piousness. Even when faced with truth, those in the Right’s bubble have an unwavering devotion to a belief that they stand on a side of good versus evil. This is beyond having an opinion that one party is superior to another, this is a rejection of the idea that consideration should even be given to the positions of the party. If your position cannot be changed, you don’t have an opinion- you have a religion. If your stance remains intact in the face of evidence, you don’t have an opinion- you have a theology. If you have a claim that isn’t supported by any verifiable facts, you don’t have an opinion- you have a mythology.
Recovering from religious abuse is difficult. It requires more than just admitting you were wrong, but accepting it. It forces us to acknowledge not just that we were deceived, but that we are deceivable, that we can be manipulated. It is easier to slow down and watch radicals like Rick Santorum run off ahead of you and claim you were never headed towards the same place at all. But, during the chase, there comes a point when those who have divergent paths become so far away, they’re no longer part of our lives.
Gay men too can easily fall into this trap; can easily be surrounded by only other gay. We can call out haters for oppressing us while simultaneously making jokes about straights. We can scream discrimination at straights skeeved out by gay sex while simultaneously recoiling with squeamishness at the thought of straight sex. We can become abusive to the majority while complaining about their intolerance of us. We do this without thinking what it means. We do this because an enemy is a powerfully uniting force. And change; change is hard. Once we are used to standing on one side of things, it is easier to continue the bliss of believing we are doing good than to look at ourselves and wonder what we believe, if we have an opinion, or if we have a church.