The Attack of the Hacks

In the American political system, there is an extreme shortage of honest brokers—i.e., those people who approach politics fairly and objectively. A truly honest broker will decide to support an idea or candidate based on the idea or candidate’s merit and consistency with the honest broker’s core beliefs. Further, an honest broker holds all politicians to the same standard, and places little importance on party label.

The above description of an honest broker is so obviously not the norm in our current political system. Instead, we have become overrun by hacks—the opposite of an honest broker. Hacks are people who cannot support or oppose an action or idea until they know whether the person promulgating those actions or ideas have a “D” or “R” after their name.

The most obvious example of the proliferation of hacks is with regard to the national deficit. When George W. Bush took office in 2001, it is well known that he inherited the largest surplus in U.S. History (projected by CBO to be $5.6 trillion from 2001 to 2011) and turned it into the largest deficit in U.S. History (increasing national debt from $5.9 trillion in 2001 to $10.7 trillion in 2009). During Bush’s eight years in office, there was virtually no discussion from conservatives or Republicans of the deficit or debt, or any type of opposition to Bush’s spending ways. However, the moment Obama took office in January 2009, the eight-year silence from Republicans on the issue of deficits ended. Why do the same people who idly watched one of their own double our nation’s debt suddenly care if someone else does the exact same thing?

The deficit is the most obvious example of this, but a more recent example is the Benghazi issue. To most Americans (virtually all who are not Fox News watchers), this issue is about as important as who Honey Boo Boo endorsed for president (Obama). I will occasionally overhear a conservative commentator compare this to Watergate or see a Facebook friend comment on it three times in a two-hour period, and I catch myself wondering if I was just missing a really big scandal. Well, I’m not. What I am missing is Republican’s attempt du-jour to discredit our president. This chart helps explain how I arrived at this conclusion: 

This post came from the Facebook page“Being Liberal” and when I saw it I was so struck by its message that I assumed it was not true and just misleading liberal propaganda. So I googled each of these incidents and confirmed each of them had happened, and the death/injured numbers were accurate (in some cases a little low). To rephrase the content of the image, during Bush’s eight years in office, at least seven American embassies or consulates were attacked, resulting in dozens of deaths, and over 100 injuries. Republicans couldn’t be bothered to bat an eye. Now, an American embassy is attacked under Obama (a much less bloody attack than the 2008 attack in Yemen) and they want to equate it to Watergate.

When you see such disparate treatment of similar events depending on who is in office, it is easy to see why so many Democrats are quick to call Republicans racist. I do not subscribe to the belief that most Republicans are racist, but I cannot fault those who do. It does leave the question of what is going through the minds of these Republicans who so obviously work under a double-standard. One of two frightening options must be true; either (1) These Republicans knowingly and dishonestly apply different sets of rules to Republicans and Democrats, or (2) they are so blindingly loyal to their party that their minds have unknowingly created two separate realities without their knowing it?

While this piece fairly focuses on Republicans, I would be remiss to ignore that Democrats do the same thing—albeit to a lesser extent. For example, if a Republican president had extended the Bush tax cuts, continued the Afghanistan war for another six years, increased the use of drone attacks, and gave a free pass to the war criminals in the Bush administration, would Democrats have remained as largely silent as they have been over the past four years? Of course not.

Obama should be called out for these things by Democrats and Republicans, and he is not the only Democrat too easily let off the hook by rank-and-file Democrats. For example, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Al Gore and his crusade against global warming, but Fox News is correct when it points out Gore’s hypocrisy of living in a mansion quadruple the size of the average American home (and yes, I know he works from home). I love Bill Maher, but his views on vaccinations is embarrassingly irrational. And while I have tremendous admiration for Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, I recognize both were incredibly flawed presidents who presented virtuous ideals, but whose long term impact on the country was minimal in some places and downright devastating in others.

Hacks are dangerous. They stoke the worst fires in each of us: laziness, intolerance, and partisanship over all else. But how do we bring about a revival of honest brokers in an age dominated by such hacktitude? I suggest all major media outlets put in place a moratorium on any interviews of any person on a campaign payroll or labeled a “campaign spokesperson.” It may do a lot…or nothing at all. But even if it does nothing to help the targeted problem, I think we can all agree that reducing the number of canned pieces of meaningless spin certainly wouldn’t do any harm.

– Dylan

Advertisements

5 Responses to “The Attack of the Hacks”

  1. I agree with all but the Al Gore jab. He has done significant green retrofits of his house: http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/gorehome.asp

    By the way, the white text on black is a bit hard on the eyes when reading. Love the Kennedy photo though.

    • Ryan – Thanks for the feedback. The Snopes article does mention that Gore has done a lot of green retrofits, but it does not undermine my claim (i.e., that Gore’s home is a mansion four times the size of the average American home). The article also does not say that the critics of Gore’s energy consumption are wrong, just that they are exaggerating.

      Sorry about the text. We have heard that from one more person. Odd how different people can read the same texts and have such different experiences. We’ll look into the possibility of modifying it.

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  2. Yes, but I think it is unrealistic to expect a former VP and Presidential candidate who is also extremely rich not to live in a mansion. He certainly isn’t going to live in a standard 2k sq ft house. The fact that it is probably one of the most environmentally friendly mansions in the country suggests to me that he is not a hypocrite.

  3. “In the American political system, there is an extreme shortage of honest brokers—i.e., those people who approach politics fairly and objectively. A truly honest broker will decide to support an idea or candidate based on the idea or candidate’s merit and consistency with the honest broker’s core beliefs. Further, an honest broker holds all politicians to the same standard, and places little importance on party label.

    The above description of an honest broker is so obviously not the norm in our current political system. Instead, we have become overrun by hacks—the opposite of an honest broker. Hacks are people who cannot support or oppose an action or idea until they know whether the person promulgating those actions or ideas have a “D” or “R” after their name.”

    Very interesting. I’ll refer you to this other piece I read a while back:

    https://thebluebros.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/thinking-about-voting-third-party-grow-up/

    • Ely – Glad you find the piece interesting. I’m not sure though that I see a clear connection between the ending of hacktitude and third parties. Also, the need for honest evaluation in politics does not change the political realities that underpinned the article you cite. – Dylan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: