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Why Republicans Lie
October 29, 2003
By Memekiller

Am I honestly about to claim that one party is more "moral" than the other? (Never mind that pundits on the right have been making precisely this claim for years.)

No, not even I would feel comfortable playing the liberal Ann Coulter and proclaiming conservatives lie more than Democrats because they're lesser people. That would be silly. The reason Republicans lie so much more than Democrats is primarily out of necessity.

Let me explain. There are two strategies for winning an election: crafting policy that attracts more money, or crafting policy that attracts more votes. Democrats tend to do the latter by supporting the people's right to organize, to sue a company that has wronged them or by funding programs that go to middle- and low-income folks.

Republicans try to fill seats at $1,000 a plate fundraisers. They do this by abolishing estate taxes for trust fund babies and putting in place a pay-per-reg system that creates legal loopholes for contributors - paid for with money that would have gone to enforcing the few remaining laws not yet skewed in their favor.

Democrats are betting people will vote in their best interests. Republicans know that once they carpet bomb their opponent with a last minute multi-million dollar marketing blitz, voters won't know which way is up anymore and vote for the only person left standing. No matter how disastrous Republican policies may be for all but the richest few, they can afford the focus groups to craft their message and the airtime to promote it.

You can see the result. We now live in a bizarro world where fighting for the working class is elitist, cutting down trees protects forests, and preventing industry from upgrading their plants makes "clean skies." Didn't find the Weapons of Mass Destruction? No problem. They'll just claim that was never why we went to war in the first place - and who could afford to argue with them?

The sad truth about truth in today's media-dominated politics is that it can be bought, but only if you have the ability to look someone in the eye and tell them red is blue without blinking. And they do. God help us, they do.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the people still want Democratic policies. Time and again they say voters say they want tougher environment laws, an international effort in Iraq and to debt reduction before tax cuts, even if they did go to them. To keep them from voting for the politicians who would give that to them, Republicans have to keep them uninformed.

That won't work if we don't let them get away with it. That means calling a lie a lie, something reporters aren't comfortable doing. But letting Bush announce that he's "found the Weapons of Mass Destruction" is not being objective, it's being complicit. If the media is unwilling to take our President to task, then we have to. We have to force the debate to where it should be fought: over the issues. We can argue about whether or not taxes stimulate the economy, but you can't say 2 + 1 = 4.

That's not being partisan - that's being responsible. Once that happens, people will be better informed and able to see which policies are best for them - and that would be good news for everybody.

Memekiller is founder and president of

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