Sunday, September 23, 2012

Will the Real Question Please Stand Up

The subject line: Best email ever!!

Thanks to Google Mail, I could see the first line of the note: "How do YOU counter this?"

It came from someone I like, a lot, so I knew I would open it, understanding the challenge would include conservative propaganda I do not have the stomach for anymore.

Here's a taste:  During the Bush years, the email practically shouts, the US was in (only) two wars! Obama's time, now we're in three! In 2008, gas per gallon: $1.81, now: $3.69, Bush had an annual budget! Obama, no budget! It rants on and on.

For a time, I actually thought about this. Hard. Do folks really believe these statements? Three wars? Seriously, Obama's administration got the US out of Iraq. The US is still in Afghanistan. So...that's down to one. Hmm. We've sent troops to assist in areas around the globe. This is not new policy. I defy the conservatives to argue with the idea of helping, particularly when our policies possibly set those areas of violence into motion. Those aren't wars, though. Nope. One does not equal three.

The gas-per-gallon argument: I thought for a bit about 2008. I was driving way back then. I recall feeling some serious pain at the pump. The BP spill happening. Just to make sure though, I pulled out my iPhone, searched "gas prices 2008." The high that year was around $4.10 in the summer (ouch). Half point to the email authors, prices dipped to around $2.00 after Obama was elected.

The truth about the annual budget? Go here: PolitiFact  or here: FactCheck to get details, and information about how that really works.

Later that day, in the middle of lecturing to my PSYC 110 class, it hit me like when first I saw the rabbit in the Duck-Rabbit Optical Illusion.  The "Best Email Ever" left out some Really Important Questions.

How will Romney make our country any better for the majority of citizens? What is he going to really be able to do to improve our country for the long view for the most people? How will he be able to accomplish this with an achievable plan? How can he gain consensus? We have a balance of power written into our constitution, the President can do little on his own. What can Romney do to help the 100 % of people he would have to govern--not just the 53% he apparently wants to govern?

Nowhere, actually, in this Best Email, was Romney's name mentioned. I wonder sometimes if the conservatives want voters to forget him. It's easier to put the focus on an anti-Obama vote. Try not to confuse it with facts about what or who they're voting to put in office.

These days facts can easily be checked. Some questions, however, are not so easily asked.

Regardless of your views, it is important--essential--to ask questions. Then  question the answers, and make informed decisions.

In terms of the November election, our future depends on smart questions and informed answers. It certainly has to rise above emailed memes.

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