*A radio host I used to listen to, when discussing how to win an argument, often said on the air: “When you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. When you don’t, pound the table.”
Because the facts rarely support their causes the Republican party has become adept at pounding the table. But this election cycle the Republicans are apparently trying to take a different road to victory: inventing new “facts.”
Many of the statements said by speakers during the Republican National Convention last week have come under fire for their truthfulness. Some of those statements are creative interpretations of the situation – Romney declaring that his company Bain Capital built a steel mill without pointing out that the government investment to the project doubled the money that Bain invested into the project. Such a misstatement of the reality is designed to create the impression that private businesses alone can and does sustain the economy.
It is an article of faith among economic conservatives that government should not be involved in spending money to stimulate the economy. But such a position ignores the fact that the defense industry (that Republicans are so fond of) is supported by government. But more to the point that Romney was making, the company that Bain Capital helped to create (Steel Dynamics) currently employs thousands of people. I do not wish to deny Bain Capital credit for their role in helping to grow the local economy in Fort Wayne Indiana. But the government also deserves recognition as well. Misstatements of the facts in cases like this change the conversation unfairly and give the impression that the conservative article of faith regarding government spending has merit when it does not.
Republicans have repeatedly touted the fact that the national debt is the highest it has been in the history of the country under President Obama. This is certainly true. But saying this without also pointing out that Obama inherited the largest debt in the history of the country intentionally misleads the public. The Republicans would have us all believe that Obama has been spending taxpayer money so recklessly that the country is now in the worst debt ever. The truth is Obama has slowed the rate that the debt grows.
The fact is that Republicans would not convince many people of the terrible job Obama has done in his first term if they correctly pointed out that he while he has slowed the growth of our debt, he still presides over the largest debt ever. That would be giving him too much credit. So instead the tell half the story and create a new “fact”. These facts go in quotation marks because they are blatant mischaracterizations of reality.
Imagine it rained for a half hour on Saturday but was sunny most of the day. When you ask me how was the weather, if I answer “Man the sky was grey!” I am intentionally giving you the wrong idea by hiding the some very relevant information.
Of course when the facts are too slanted toward the liberal argument, Republicans will make things up. Last week Romney said that Obama’s policies have depressed the job market. The fact is that under Obama over 4 million jobs have been added to the economy. Should he get all the credit for that? No. But it’s impossible to fault him for something that isn’t true.
I’ve written a few times recently about how we need to focus on the facts during Presidential election season and not be sidetracked by the circus that is the Presidential election season. But the more I look at things I realize how unlikely it is that we will be able to decide our Presidential vote based on the facts. Republicans need to avoid that situation because they’ll lose.
Cue the carnival.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.