Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Will the Democrats Listen to the People or Prove Their Elitism

Scott Brown’s victory last night in Massachusetts has naturally set the political world abuzz. It’s not just that the republican win breaks the filibuster proof majority that the democrats held, but that it happened in a state where a republican senator hasn’t won an election since 1972. To add to the significance of this election is the well known fact that the seat Brown won was the same seat formerly occupied by the late Ted Kennedy. While Kennedy spent the majority of his career pushing for public healthcare, Brown made it a point in his campaign to say that he would be the 41st vote against this current healthcare bill. Had the republicans gained a senate seat in almost any other state, while being just as numerically important, it would not have sent the same overwhelming message that the Massachusetts victory did. The vast majority of the people in this country do not want the current healthcare bill to become law. The big question now is how will the democrats respond.

There is a great deal of speculation that the democrats will try to delay the swearing in of Brown in order to buy just enough time to mesh the senate and house healthcare bills together and get it to Obama before Brown’s vote can derail the bill. Another possibility is that the house would just accept the senate version of the bill, in which case the bill would never have to be sent back to the senate and would go straight to the president. Both of these strategies ignore the overwhelming will of the people and would prove the “elitist” mindset of the democratic party. This is a mindset comprised of the belief that those in power know what is better for the nation and its citizens than do the citizens themselves. This “elitist” mindset is a slap in the face of what the founders of this nation had in mind when this representative form of government was formed. The premise behind our political system is for members of congress to vote as their constituency would vote if such an issue went to a popular vote in said district or state. Brown’s victory wasn’t just a whisper but a shout from the people that they do not like the way the democratically controlled congress is currently doing their jobs, specifically when it comes to the issue of healthcare reform.

With many incumbent congressman up for re-election in November it is unlikely that the house will just pass the senate version of the bill, if only in the interest of self preservation. The two versions differ greatly with provisions in the senate bill that if had been included in the house bill would have guaranteed its defeat. The democrats have shown time and time again that they are willing to pay off or cater to certain individuals or groups (i.e. unions) just to get the votes they need for passage. So to expect a change from the left’s standard operating procedure might be too much to expect even in the face of almost certain political defeat in November. Many in the democratic party still see the healthcare bill as must pass whereas a few have come out and said that if the democratic party doesn’t pay attention then it is in real trouble. This is a real chance for the left to change their tone and begin to listen to the will of the people, but if they choose to ignore and dismiss what this election meant, then they are proving their “elitist” mindset.

Either way the next few weeks will be very telling as to the true nature of the democratic party.

Calvin Parker

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oliver Stone to Breed New “Historians”

Seemingly, academic research or interpretation must be verified by the panels of Hollywood before it becomes valid, or “truth” for the public at large. Take, for example, the topic of anthropogenic global warming. The Hollywood elite largely propagandized the theory, and it was Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth that catapulted awareness of the topic, and validated the theory of global warming in American minds. Millions of climatologists were born overnight, ready to convince the deniers that Al Gore is right and any information to the contrary is propaganda by the oil companies and George Bush.

And now Oliver Stone, the unconventional mind that promoted the esoteric conspiracy that became film in JFK, is offering a “10-hour crash course in the history of the twentieth century,” (1) intended to wipe away conventional viewpoints of polarizing characters such as Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. And despite a focus largely comprised of non-Americans, he is to call it, “Oliver Stone’s Secret History of America.”

Among his assertions, he is to include the purposefully incendiary belief that Hitler is a fall-guy, too often used as a “scapegoat.” He challenges the widely kept opinion that Hitler was “evil,” though logic suggests that the stigma may be justified. After all, he was the figurehead of an aggressive regime that spearheaded a global conflict causing millions of deaths, and he was the architect of the most heinous and effective genocide in history.

But according to Stone, the average American’s choice to refer to Hitler as “bad or good” reflects a lack of sophistication, because Hitler was neither. He was simply the product of a series of events that occurred between World War I and World War II. And apparently, “people in America don’t know the connection.”(1) Either Oliver Stone feels that Americans are too uneducated to know about the events that shaped Hitler’s rise to power, or, more likely, he is taking the conspiracy theorist's approach, arguing that "the powers that be" have successfully covered up what they don't want you to know. And only Stone knows the “truth.”

It takes extraordinary egotism for Oliver Stone to claim that, seasoned only by a career of directing fictional films and attending Hollywood galas, he has achieved what lifelong historians and scholars have been entirely unable to do. Stone claims he has “been able to walk in Stalin’s shoes and Hitler's shoes,” (1) and apparently has unraveled the truth from the seamless web of historical lies that we have been universally duped to believe.

But rather than taking offense to Stone’s arrogance, or questioning why such revelations are coming from a filmmaker rather than a former CIA operative or something, many will likely just watch his “Secret History” and assimilate the selective disclosure and corruption of historical facts. And then they will lecture all of their friends about how the history books are wrong, and Oliver Stone is right.

Just as a viewing of An Inconvenient Truth conferred immediate and imaginary climatology degrees in the minds of its viewers, the “Secret History” will likely breed an entire mass of liberal “historians” ready to argue their cause, complete with outlandish conspiratorial perspectives about how conventional history has been fabricated by an enemy of the “truth.”

And frustratingly, they will think themselves well-versed scholars. But their understanding will probably have a hollow foundation, save only the viewing of a politically slanted film made by an egomaniac.

It will be familiar. But this time, not about “global warming.”

William Sullivan