I found a poll yesterday that said 22 percent of Americans think the health care reform Obama pulled through Congress last year has been repealed.
It hasn’t been repealed, of course, but when people don’t pay attention, they seize on snippets and draw their own conclusions. Even if they’re wrong.
Polticial blogger Jonathan Bernstein makes sense of this phenomenon, (I found his thoughts on the matter via Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish blog.)
As Bernstein says, there’s a lot of things that are culturally and socially prominent that many of us have barely heard about. I, for example, have barely heard of the band Arcade Fire, but apparently they are hot and prominent.
Many Americans are like that concerning politics. It’s in the background, but it’s too difficult, byzantine, boring and time consuming to pay attention to.
The problem is, a lot of polticians know this. You want members of Congress to work for the public good. After all, that’s why the country’s founders set up the system the way it is. Most of the public is too busy dealing with their lives and jobs to run the government, so we sent representatives to Congress to work in our best interests.
But a perennial problem has gotten worse, much worse in recent years. Many members of Congress, and various political groups, work to enrich themselves, and screw us.
So politicians make a lot of noise, much of it false, yelling “communism” over health care reform or yelling “oligarchs!” and “fascists!” about Republicans. We’re distracted by all that noise and disinformation, and only have a vague idea what’s going on.
So stuff gets done that goes against our interests. And they distract us with noise that leads us to vote for politicians that will work against our interests, and for themselves and the corporate cronies that pull all the strings with their millions of dollars in lobbying money and payoffs.
The frustrating thing is I don’t know how to fix it. News junkies like me pay attention and howl when political leaders are evil or stupid. But you can’t expect the entire U.S. population to pay attention. They’re too busy keeping their heads and that of their families above water.
In-depth journalism is weak nowadays because nobody has figured out how to make money off it, so news corporations don’t invest the money needed to tell the public what’s really going on. Besides, some big news and media companies have a vested interest in not telling us what’s really going on. They’re kind of on the take, too.
Plus, members of the public has their own conspiracy theories, biases and slants that blind them to reality. Some people believe what they want to believe, because it keeps them in their comfort zone.
For instance, a lot of people don’t trust the government, and I can see the reasons for that. But some of these same people tend to trust corporations, because they are part of the “free market.” But some of the corporations running the “free market” are out to screw us for their benefit. So why should we trust them?
Notice nobody from the banks who swindled the nation in the 2008 financial crisis went to jail. Why is that?
I’m being a Gloomy Gus, aren’t I?
But if anybody has any realistic suggestions on how to improve this situation before we all turn into serfs ruled by the iron fist of corporate and political powers, please let me know.