Have you ever heard a political statement and wondered why the person making it was so dishonest?
I’ve figured it out. A quick story will help me explain.
The 2012 election night was not very happy for me. As the night drew on and it became clear we were in for four more years of the current administration, I started to look for any ray of hope I could find. I even turned on Fox News to see the best possible spin on the scenario, but eventually, I came to terms with reality.
In short, I couldn’t believe the American public would re-elect President Obama after his first term. And so, faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I grasped at straws to avoid accepting that my view of the world didn’t win the election.
It is a common phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance. All of us become uncomfortable when presented with information that contradicts our existing beliefs. When confronted, we either find a way to rationalize away the offending piece of information or reconcile our views. The former is easier and our most common choice.
So when politicians are confronted with an obvious failure, they often try to maintain their following with what I call a CD line — short for cognitive dissonance. Members of both political parties use CD lines in order to keep true believers in the fold even when common sense and all evidence point the other way.
Between 2003 and 2012, Democrats typically insulted President Bush for their go-to CD line. Sadly, because most journalists are liberals, they tended to buy it. It got Democrats out of challenging follow-up questions that might have exposed some serious problems in the American left. Here are a few paraphrased questions and answers from the past 10 years that kept getting used:
Why were you so wrong about the Iraq surge? Well, if President Bush hadn’t started the war, I wouldn’t have been wrong.
Why isn’t the economy recovering at the pace you projected after the gigantic stimulus package? Well, George Bush got us into this mess.
Speaker Pelosi, CIA records demonstrate you were briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 and didn’t object. Why have you been acting outraged over it? “They (the CIA) misled us all the time,” the Speaker said. According to Politico, Pelosi went on to blame President Bush when more questions were asked.
I highlight this to give context to the latest CD line that Democratic strategists created to help protect the president and his signature bill.
According to Democrats and their media allies, the Obamacare roll-out is going poorly because Republicans are blocking implementation.
It couldn’t be that the law is so unworkable that the administration has had to unilaterally (and probably illegally) decline to implement provisions like the employer mandate on time and revoke another provision, the Class Act, altogether.
Nor could it be that Republicans were correct to say a law that barely saw the light of day before it became law could have serious problems that weren’t ironed out.
No, the problem is that Republicans are following the provisions in the law itself, the ones the Democrats wrote without any substantive review or debate, to do what they think is best for their individual states.
What a sham of an argument.
Yet they make it not to persuade anyone but rather to try and keep true blue Democrats in the fold in spite of mounting evidence that the roll-out will be a train wreck, even according to some Democrats. This cognitive dissonance allows them to accept a really poor argument rather than face reality.
Note to Democrats: When you write a bill in such a partisan manner that you didn’t allow Republicans or the public to see or amend the bill until just before the votes, you can’t blame them for following the law as it is written (or rewritten without legal authority by the administration). You can keep trying to blame your failings on Republicans in order to stay in power, but the truth is you are simply trying to pass the buck. We didn’t want you to overhaul our healthcare system behind closed doors, spend our money to buy votes or further put my generation in insurmountable debt.
Given that you’ve already subjected the rest of us to the law’s failings, the least you could do is own up to them.