With the 2010 midterm elections right around the corner it is important to understand two things. First, politicians will lie. Second, governing is much more difficult than opposing.
Let me explain!
As November 2 gets closer and closer we will be bombarded with TV ads, radio spots, e-mail blasts, robo-calls and mail pieces. We will be told multiple times - in multiple ways - why one candidate is better than the other. Each side will cite sources. This thank-tank will say that. That think-tank will say this. Long-forgotten quotes and interviews will be resurrected.
The average voter will have absolutely no idea who to believe. The average voter will have absolutely no idea what is true.
For example, here in Missouri, right-wing Republican Roy Blunt is in a hotly contested U.S. Senate race with Democrat Robin Carnahan. They are currently neck-to-neck in the polls. Blunt is a career politician who has already served 14 years in Congress.
In Blunt's numerous commercials, he claims to be a "change" agent. He claims to stand up to Wall Street and the big banks. He claims to be for the little guy - protecting us from "big government" and burdensome "job-killing regulations." He claims that he wants to do nothing short of saving our country!
Sounds good, right? The problem is that there is absolutely nothing true about his commercials, radio spots, mail pieces or e-mail blasts. The problem is that there is absolutely no oversight or regulation governing ethical-information practices when it comes to political commercials, radio spots, mail pieces or e-mail blasts, and the information (or misinformation) they create and perpetuate.
The fact is: politicians like Roy Blunt are able to make the most outlandish, most ridiculous claims - claims that contradict the actual, documented, publicly verifiable record - simply because they paid for the commercial time, time that snuggles warmly right up against our favorite TV shows.
In other words, they paid for the time, and as far as the TV station is concerned, they can say whatever the hell they want! Never mind that it is all lies.
The fact is: Roy Blunt has taken more money from lobbyists - and the big banks, corporations and CEOs they represent - than any other member of Congress.
The fact is: Roy Blunt can't be a "change" agent, as he is an embedded, career politician who has had 14 years in Congress to show Missouri voters what he actually stands for.
The fact is: Roy Blunt wants to save our country - for the rich and wealthy!
The fact is: the "job-killing regulations" he mentions actually protect ordinary Americans from unscrupulous corporations.
Additionally, while Republican politicians will use every opportunity to lie from the right, some from the left feel like it is their job to perpetually criticize any and every move of the Democratic Party - no matter the political balance of forces, no matter what can actually be won, no matter the actual power of the people's movement at any given time and its ability to win change.
Sadly, these folks have confused rhetorical opposition with actually getting stuff done, with actually making things better, with actually holding together a governing coalition of forces that makes change possible.
Those on the left who have nothing better to do than criticize shouldn't be so naïve as to believe that the Obama administration - or the Democratic Party for that matter - is one giant hegemonic whole.
In fact, it is at its base a loosely held together coalition consisting primarily of the labor movement, the African American community, youth and students, and the women's movement, among other forces. And within this coalition there is a wide spectrum of political identities, beliefs and priorities. Within this coalition there are many different spheres of influence and power; and this dynamic is constantly changing.
However, holding this coalition together is of the utmost importance - if we are to win more changes in the years ahead, if we are to move forward as a country. Holding this coalition together may enable us to maintain control of the House and Senate. Consequently, holding this governing coalition together should be the single most important goal of the people's movement.
If this coalition fractures, the right wing may regain decisive power and take our country back to the dark ages. If this coalition fractures we may have another 30 years of right-wing domination.
So as we inch closer and closer to November 2 remember that the politicians will lie to you. However, we have to see past their lies and continue to build, consolidate and expand the coalition of forces that will ultimately enable us to make change.