Separating Fact from Opinion

cropped-nogop.jpgTo me, the number one thing that should separate the left from the right is the truth; we’re supposed to value it, and they, quite frankly, couldn’t give a shit less about telling the truth. However, sometimes, left wingers suffer from the same delusions as right wingers, and it’s both frightening and saddening.

I have spent just over 21 years online. I remember when I started; I was bored one day between classes in my second, more successful, stint in college, when I happened upon a computer lab in an old building where I had a geology class. Back then, you could just sit down and play, so I did. And almost from the beginning, I found political discussion interesting, so I dove right in. In other words, when they talk about veterans of Internet political arguments, I’m right up there. I’ve been doing it a long time. I’ve seen it all and there is nothing anyone can say to me that hasn’t been said before at least a dozen times. 

But – and this is very, very important – even though I’ve been doing this for 21 years, I can assure you that writing your opinion online does NOT constitute activism. Not in the least.

I like writing this blog, I really do. I wish I could pay for the time I spend writing as much as I do, but I have no plans to quit because I lose a little money. I do believe that I make a small difference, in that a lot of people read what I write and some of them may even think about it and pass it on to others, who may be encouraged to vote for Democrats because of it. And that’s what politics is, really; it’s making your case to people and perhaps persuading a few of them that you’re right.

imageYou will also notice something else. I rarely talk about individual politicians on this blog, or my Facebook and Twitter feeds, or anywhere else. That’s because I do a lot of work for individual candidates on the side, but the way I work is unusual, so I don’t even want to hint as to who they are. I refuse to allow them to pay me; If I do anything for them, it’s because I already believe in what they stand for, so I charge them $1 for every piece that I write, including position statements, fliers and even speeches, or for any counsel that I give them. I don’t do nearly as much political work as I used to because I have a harder time rationalizing doing shit for free these days, but someone calls  me every election year. (I have a specific number dedicated to it, so if you have my cell number, you can’t trick me.)

I know what I’m talking about because I’ve been doing this for a really long time. I sometimes miss things and I sometimes get things wrong, but it’s rare. That’s why the people who read this blog like it so much; for every person who calls me a “whiny” and “self-serving,” at least 20-30 tell me they agree with me. Hell, even the people who hate me, when confronted to point out where I am wrong, can’t do it. That’s because I tell the truth. The fact that you don’t like what I say doesn’t make it wrong. I am well aware that everything in this blog is opinion, but I do back up my opinions with fact. For example, when I write something like “Your vote is not your own,” I realize that’s my opinion, and I realize I can’t tell you what to do or how to believe, but there is a fact backing me up, in that you cannot find a single instance in which white progressives, acting in their own ego-driven interests, have ever been successful, politically. I have the last 40 years to prove me right, too; what do you have to prove me wrong? The only “revolutions” in US history have taken 50 years or more to develop, and white PUBs can’t even give Obama and Democrats more than two years to pull us out of a near-Depression before they start whining about “disappointing” Democrats.

unicorn 1For some reason, though, the burgeoning social media landscape has apparently led a lot of people to believe a few things that are just ridiculous. For one thing, many seem unable to discern opinion from fact. Something doesn’t become fact just because you say it and believe it with all your heart. Facts are facts and opinions are not. The difference is important. Facts don’t change; they are static, but the same fact can support multiple opinions equally. For example, “Bernie is Jewish” is a fact, whereas “Hillary is corrupt” is not. Note the difference. If I say “Bernie is Jewish,” I can support it because Bernie has said he is Jewish many times and who would know better, really? On the other hand, if someone tells me “Hillary is corrupt,” that is pure opinion and they need to support that to make it fact, which is impossible to do. The Clintons have been hounded by a right wing cabal that has been on their asses for 30 years, and they are not only not in jail or under indictment, but they are considered two of the most important statesmen in this country.

The same is true when people say “there’s no enthusiasm for Hillary.” How can they not realize how silly they sound? For Chrissakes, people, on what planet are you living? The Clintons are rock stars when it comes to politics. Besides, how can you complain about Hillary getting $225,000 per speech and then claim there’s no “enthusiasm.” People for whom there is little or no enthusiasm get $5,000 to do a commencement at a small college and a limo ride from the airport. And before you claim that Goldman Sachs was paying her to influence her, you’ll need a lot more than the amount of the honoraria to prove that. Given that she was their Senator for eight years, perhaps you can find a quid pro quo that might support that notion. But you really don’t have to; if there was one, you’d have heard about it by now.

Not that it would matter, from a progressive perspective. She may be running against Donald Trump in the general election, and the last price he commanded for speeches was $1.5 million, which would seem to be six times as much “influence,” if you are silly enough to believe that such relatively small sums of money are enough to buy influence, then her opponent is six times worse on that “issue.” Let me explain why that’s silly, too. To win, she’ll have to spend more than $1 billion. $675,000 is 0.0065% of that amount; how much do you imagine that buys?  Again, that’s reality.

watch your mouthAlso, if you have 5,000 followers on Twitter and 2,000 friends on Facebook, that’s nice, but at any given time, only 5-10% of those people will even see what you post, so don’t assume that your pearls of wisdom are more important than they are. If you’re a poor schmuck with 20,000 Twitter followers because you’re there in your basement 18 hours a day Tweeting away, you might want to consider putting away the Twitter machine awhile and meeting some real people. Knowing and talking to a variety of real people and listening to them about how they really feel about issues and which issues actually matter to them makes you a much greater activist than sitting in front of your computer and spouting talking points and buzzwords. There are a lot of “progressives” out there making money from you by telling you exactly what they want you want to hear and encouraging you to repeat them to a wider audience.

The name of this blog is changing, but it’s mission will not. We will continue to tell the truth. If you’d like to join us with that, by all means, say so. I’m always looking for writers. But you will have to tell the truth. It’s okay to have an opinion, but you have to be more than a regurgitation machine. We need more truth in the world of politics. This blog, and the rest of this soon-to-be network, will always be a beacon.

I promise.

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