Fearful, foolish and fed up
Ryan Summerlin October 8, 2013
No matter what your political beliefs, whether you are a Bible-beating, gun-toting, science-denying conservative, or you are a freebies for all, pot-smoking, save-the-planet, socialist liberal, there’s finally one thing we can all agree on: We are fed up with our federal government.
Congress has the lowest approval rating in history – under 10 percent. And I highly suspect all members of Congress and their immediate families were included in this survey. How else could the results be so skewed in their favor?
Of course, how we got fed up, who we blame for our fed-uppedness and our solutions for becoming un-fed up are largely miles apart. But we have to start somewhere. So for now, at least we can commiserate in a common bottom line.
But judging from my recent online experience with Utah’s representatives, it seems to me some of our lawmakers are content keeping us divided.
This weekend I visited the Facebook pages of most of Utah’s congressional members. I noted I was a constituent and left a comment requesting they pass a clean continuing resolution ("CR") and put an end to this shutdown circus. Considering Utah senator Mike Lee is one of the ringleaders, I spent more time on his page. For my own sanity, I wish I hadn’t. But on the plus side, now I know why we’re so divided. Because we’re stupid.
I realize there are few places with non-biased, accurate information where one can go to get the facts anymore. But wouldn’t it be better if we sought those few places out, rather than playing a never-ending Internet game of telephone?
It simply amazes me how many people, whose grammar suggests they never completed the ninth grade, don’t see anything wrong with claiming to be an authority on the constitutionality of the (Patient Protection and) Affordable Care Act. They don’t know the difference between "there," "their" and "they’re," but somehow we’re supposed to believe they have a Ph.D. in constitutional law? It’s like we switched from the wealthiest one percent of the country having all the influence in politics and gave it to the dumbest one percent.
There is so much misinformation online, from both sides, being stated as absolute fact, it’s little wonder we’re not all walking around with 20-foot-long wooden noses. In an effort to educate myself on what’s really included in the Affordable Care Act, I did something most of Congress didn’t – I read the bill. All 906 pages of it. Which is another thing no one can get right.
There’s constant criticism of the document being too long and complicated. Usually by the same people who swear they’ve read the Bible cover to cover and insist they can accurately interpret writings from 3,000 years ago.
While 906 pages isn’t a bedtime story, it’s hardly an impossibility to read it. Although in their talking points, members of Congress often complain it’s 2,700 pages and during a recent interview on Fox News, Sean Hannity insisted the Affordable Care Act was 7,000 pages long. Wow. Perhaps there’s something in those missing either 1,794 or 6,094 pages that’s really bad! Something that states Muslims are exempt from Obamacare or all illegal immigrants will receive free health care. Neither of those ideas is true, but of course, they’re both being presented as fact all over the Internet, including on Mike Lee’s official Facebook page.
While people are entitled to have an opinion on anything, those opinions should be based on facts, not fear or personal agenda. And our lawmakers have a responsibility to inform us, not scare us. Or worse, allow us to use our stupidity to scare others.
For example, this weekend I noticed several of Mr Lee’s followers posted a link to his page of a "news story" claiming their Christian values are under attack. The story they used as proof stated the president is personally funding a Muslim museum in the midst of the shutdown. These posts had nothing to do with Lee’s views on the Affordable Care Act, but there they were, along with a slew of intolerant comments that would make a KKK leader blush. Or, you know, the Jesus these people claimed to worship.
The fact that this story was written on a satire news website was never mentioned. But several vile comments about race, Kenya and Muslims sure were. Also missing was any post from Mr. Lee stating while he disagreed with the president on the Affordable Care Act, this particular story simply wasn’t true. He also never responded with a request to respect other races and religious beliefs. Essentially, he gave permission for his Facebook page to be used as a platform to spread ridiculous lies, racist comments and hatred.
Where did these people get this ludicrous story to begin with? Fox News actually ran it as fact, obviously without fact-checking the source. They completely missed the note that the story was from a satire site that just makes stuff up. Perhaps they should start running a similar disclaimer.
While no one can respond to every comment, I believe our legislators have a responsibility to inform their flock when they are being bigoted idiots. Especially right now, considering the extra downtime they have.
We are divided enough on our own. Our legislators should not be encouraging further division by allowing intolerant racists to hijack a conversation on their social media pages. It won’t solve all of our problems, but it might just make us a little less fed up.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.