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Sticks & stones

Posted: November 15, 2013 5:31 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2013 5:31 p.m.

It would appear that there is some confusion as to the purpose of the essays that appear under my name on the op-ed page of the Mighty Signal.

Recently, I was accused by a right-leaning relative of practicing poor journalism, not researching subject matter and writing lies about the Republican Party.

Allow me to address these issues.

Let’s be clear, I am not a journalist. I am just a guy with opinions and very lucky to have a newspaper willing to publish them. What I write are my thoughts and mine alone.

They are shaped by both past and present politics, filtered through the lens of my lifelong fascination with the electoral process and the often brutal, but always entertaining back-and-forth political debate a two-party system engenders.  

Political research is extremely subjective. Spin, distortion, manipulation, fear-mongering, emotional and patriotic gambols are part of the arsenal of any politician or political movement.

Research often means nothing more than fact-checking the claims of one side or the other. Websites galore and an entire cottage industry has grown just to fact-check politicians and the media who enable them.

Yet despite all the efforts, the bottom line is that each person’s reality is unique to himself or herself and any alternative presentation of the facts will quickly result in accusations of lying and distortion.

I must admit the charges of lying, lack of research and intentional misrepresentation of facts would be a lot more distressing if it came from anybody but the far-right conservatives, the powerful faction currently leading the Republican Party.

When the same people who created the birther nonsense questioning the president’s citizenship accuse you of exaggeration, it is fairly easy to ignore.

Many Republicans still believe and promote the thoroughly debunked Kenyan birth myth, including former and future Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The irony being that current tea party heartthrob and de facto Speaker of the House Senator Raphael “Ted” Cruz is a Canadian citizen by birth in Calgary, Alberta, and an American citizen thanks to his mother.

Interestingly, he still has not renounced his Canadian citizenship and today still retains his status as a dual citizen of both great North American countries.

The list of conspiracies, baseless accusations and heinous crimes attributed to President Obama since 2008 are reminiscent of the relentless scandal-mongering the Republicans pursued against President Clinton and his administration.

If you cannot win on policy, malicious muckraking and personal attacks will suffice for a political strategy.
Remember how the president was going to take away all our guns? So far, not a single piece of legislation has been proposed or passed regarding the confiscation of guns.

That issue is long settled and now exists solely for the fundraising and votes it generates. The same goes for Obama is a Muslim, a socialist, a fascist, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, death panels, FEMA reeducation camps, take your pick, if it is odious and most foul, the right has a conspiracy linking it to the president.

All of which speaks to how many grains of salt must be considered when absorbing any conservative political diatribe, whether it is in the national media, Clint Eastwood talking to a chair or comments on my humble opinions in the local paper.

I would never knowingly lie about an issue, as credibility is the only ally I have in influencing anybody with my opinion; I fact check to the best of the Internet’s capability, and if I am wrong I will gladly admit it and try to learn a lesson.

However, if something I write conflicts with the alternate reality the Right Wing Echo Chamber has created, it is not a lie, just a reminder that politics is always in the head of the beholder.

Remember the skewed polls and Mitt Romney’s sure win in 2012? The reality is that President Obama won a landslide victory, Democrats kept their majority in the Senate and got a million more votes than Republicans in the House races.

Most conservatives have yet to accept the reasons why they lost so resoundingly. Fear and loathing appear to trump introspection on the right, but the majority still rules in America — at least it does in the reality-based world.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” runs Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.


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