You can’t bullshit a bullshitter
by Gary Huerta
As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney begin the final days of their campaigns, it might be a good time to look back at all the happy memories. But since there are none, let’s talk about rhetoric.
From what I can see, both sides have done an outstanding job of creating slanderous and preposterous posters of rhetorical jibber-jabber using out-of-context verbiage to bash one another senseless.
On the Republican side, we’ve seen Barack Obama’s famous, “You didn’t build that” quote leveraged in every conceivable way and beaten to death. It doesn’t matter that everyone with a pea in their cranium knows precisely where the quote was used and how it was manipulated. All that matters is that it provides a platform from which to fling pooh.
The Democrats have had the great fortune of having Mitt Romney give them plenty of ammo during his campaign stops and trips abroad. In short, both sides have helped themselves to whatever they thought would captivate voters.
Personally, I think the Democrats got the better of the deal thanks to every individual who participated in the Republican primary. Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump and a cavalcade of others stepped up to the podium week after week and served up quips and gaffes that made even the best comedy writers jealous.
For the most part, when using out-of-context comments, accuracy has no significance. Creating a memorable slogan and having something to throw at the face of the other is the only objective.
That’s the real genius behind baseless rhetoric. Especially the kind that goes viral and gets tossed around in social media circles.
It seems one of our newest past times is copying and pasting politically slanted catch-phrases and walking away without accountability much in the same way a 2-year-old might toss his mashed potatoes at his parents and then smile.
So what happens when you toss them my way? I get a certain amount of satisfaction by looking for facts, debunking the myths and making a mockery of those who spread them. I figure if you are going to lead with your chin, I get to throw a left hook.
On the flip side, there are a great many people who don’t care about facts, fervently believe the rhetoric despite any and all substantiated evidence, and are willing to make themselves look silly by advancing meritless arguments.
To me, this is the most frightening aspect of misleading statements. With so much instant access to information, how is it that much of the public can be so easily misled and take unsubstantiated claims as fact?
That’s a rhetorical question, in case you were wondering.
I think it comes down to laziness. Instead of wanting to read or dig below the surface, many people seem more than happy to base their entire political position on the merits of a poster with a slogan towing the party line. These are the type of people who simply vote for their party because it’s their party. They scare me.
In my opinion, nothing could be more misguided. If my party ever truly lost touch with the times, no amount of rhetoric could make me cast a vote in their favor. I have no idea what value there is in claiming a life-long allegiance to a party. Why? Because I am not defined by my party affiliation. I am defined by my own beliefs.
Which brings me, finally, to the nature of the most vitriolic and hateful rhetoric. Deep down, those who spread it must in some way believe it. Otherwise, why would they bother to advance its proliferation?
I must admit that I found some of it so repulsive and racist that I felt obligated to terminate a couple of social media friendships. As I said, baseless rhetoric has its entertainment value. Hate-filled diatribes do not.
If there’s a bright side to all of this, it’s that it will all be over in about six weeks. This election has languished on longer than Homer’s Odyssey. It’s fast approaching a level of tedium not seen since James Cameron spent more than three hours digitally sinking a ship. Perhaps some day after the dust has settled, we may actually miss the unqualified bullshit and rambling invented by people with total disregard for the truth. Or not.
But look at the bright side, we’ll have another opportunity to satiate our appetite for this kind of stupidity beginning in January — when hopefuls on both sides begin positioning themselves for the next death march towards the Oval Office.