The President of the United States has a problem. Real life is swiftly resembling a television episode of Scandal. Or … is that going too far?
Yes, of course that’s going too far. Time and time again I have asked that we earnestly seek to elevate our politics. However, in order to elevate our politics we must elevate ourselves as human beings. We must aspire to be better in our dialogue, and how we go about seeking to achieve our goals.
The noise from the media on the various issues that have reared their heads over the last two weeks is almost deafening. Some of the commentary is truly scathing and as usual, it moves the American mind far and away from what’s important.
Saying things like the President is an enigma, isolated, far removed, controlling, dictating, not engaged, etc may serve well to stir up dialogue both negative and positive, but it does nothing to address the issue of the moment. These media talking points are of the moment, and very political in the sense of politics as a negative, not serving the good of the people, who elected our officials to power.
Thankfully, not all political pundits behave in this fashion, but what we in the commons must consider carefully is who is providing the information we receive, what it is, how it is being delivered, and why; most assuredly critical thinking questions for the critical thinking mind. Let’s break it down.
The Benghazi affair is nothing more than a GOP witch hunt. Four Americans lost their lives and that is an absolute travesty. From this terrible tragedy what we see is the banality of men and women dedicated not to the American people, but to the ideology of team and the need to win.
The Democrats are calling this an attempt to besmirch Hilary Clinton, a possible 2016 Presidential candidate. The Republicans say it is the pursuit of justice for the lives that were lost. Some of them are even talking impeachment, fabricating a scandal where there is none. What is the truth of this entire fiasco?
The truth is, as in all things involving humans, there were decisions made, decisions that had repercussions and in this instance resulted in the loss of life. However, with critical consideration it becomes clear that the hunt for wrongdoing and the attempt to place blame is doing one thing, and one thing only, hurting the American people.
It is a waste of work hours and American tax dollars. The Benghazi issue is about fixing four things, security in volatile regions, effective communication, strong oversight, and appropriate emergency response protocols. That’s it. The critical thinkers demand that our government stop wasting tax dollars on fabricated scandals and get back to doing the work of the people. This is not a game. It is about our very lives.
The AP phone scandal is indeed urgent, but we can’t allow emotion to cloud our judgment. We must discern appropriately. Let’s clarify specifically what happened, and in doing this, apply our critical thinking minds to the core problem.
Associated Press (AP) published a story about a terrorist attack being thwarted. The source of this story was a leak from inside the government. In an era of heightened security, the Obama administration has continued down the path begun under the Bush administration. In an effort to plug the leak, and perhaps prosecute the individual who supplied AP with the information, the Justice Department followed procedure and subpoenaed the phone records of several AP reporters. However, this request was done without AP’s knowledge. In other words, the records were requested in secret. Understandably, the entire media establishment is outraged, they feel attacked.
So, we understand what the issue is. Interestingly enough the Republicans aren’t attacking Attorney General Eric Holder on this issue or the President. They’re saying they want to wait and see how this plays out. However, those of us with longer memories, unlike the majority of Americans, recall that the GOP has strenuously called for this administration to plug leaks and prosecute leakers to the fullest extent of the law. The critical question is … what exactly is this? What is the real concern?
The answer is very clear, and it is not new. In this so-called scandal, we are again discussing the fine line and balance required between security and freedom. Will such actions by the government compromise the freedom of the media? Will leakers shy away from informing on vital issues where they feel the American people must know the truth of what their government is doing? Do we run the threat of becoming a totalitarian state where the arbiters of government and public opinion, the media, become marginalized and punished for keeping the public informed?
There is an answer to this question, but it can only be found in the crucible of critical thinking without the distraction of bombastic emotion and team mentality. The media is the team feeling attacked in this instance, and they must first take a deep breath, second report the truth without the constant noise they keep giving us about being attacked. Lastly, they must come to the table solution oriented.
In my personal opinion, there must always be security for the leakers, for the people who serve at our behest are only human. They make mistakes. They even commit crime. They do things heinous in the service of we the people. Those courageous enough to call out the wrongdoers must be protected.
However, at the same time we cannot marginalize the security of our nation and the American people. When leaked information puts American lives in harm’s way, there must be an appropriate response. Each instance of a leak can be considered different, individual and unique, just like the people involved. With this understanding, it becomes clear that we should tolerate and support the leaking of information where we discover cover-ups by our officials.
However, we clearly must also punish those who put operational security at risk for the sake of telling something juicy to a news outlet. The American people did not need to know the details of how the terrorist threat was stopped. There was no need for that information to be leaked. With each situation, we should have due consideration.
And lastly we must consider the IRS as a weapon against the Tea Party. This too, is a scandal of brewing bloviation, despite the fact that it is indeed a true scandal. Based on the prevailing facts, what can we discern?
We know that some IRS officials sanctioned the targeting of Tea Party non-profits that filed for tax-exempt status yet were truly political organizations that funded ads for Republican campaigns. Is it wrong to target Tea Partiers? Absolutely. However, why is it wrong? Should they have also targeted the liberal equivalent? There are liberal non-profit organizations that are doing the exact same thing as the Tea Party Patriots.
Clearly these IRS officials are over-flowing with ideology and saw an opportunity to strike back. Their actions were incredibly stupid. However, is the President to blame for this? He is our duly elected leader and as such responsible for our entire nation. Still, can we lay the blame for zealots at the IRS taking action against conservatives at his feet? To do so would seem to be an emotional response to what is clearly a broken part of an institution in desperate need of repair. Clearly the President thinks the same. His statements speak to this assertion, that the IRS officials were clearly wrong, must be punished, and must be fired.
However, the punishing of these officials it’s not what’s core. In order to truly embrace critical thinking in our discourse and elevate our politics we must consider what created this situation. What made it possible?
Citizens United rests firmly at the heart of what went wrong. It allowed political organizations rife with ideology and flush with money to participate in our political process and bend minds to a political will. These organizations would claim to be non-profits. This put them squarely in the crosshairs of the IRS as it should. We don’t want companies claiming tax-exempt status when they should not.
In order to address the concern, all the new political non-profit entities should have been examined, not just the conservative ones. And to be clear, they should have been examined appropriately and professionally. Still, this does nothing to address what has been broken. This scandal is a result of the Citizens United ruling, and as such, whether they believe or not, can be laid at the feet of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court.
These are the scandals, the issues of note in recent days. The administration is in its second term and was destined to encounter something of this nature. However, we should consider how we respond to the scandal. Do we truly want our government to spend days and months locked in argument over what is contrived as opposed to what is necessary? This Congress has already been one of the worst in American history. Do we want them to continue down the road of gridlock and inaction? Or, do we truly want them to put down the sword and pick up their political plow sheers? Consider it critically.
The Aspiring Critical Thinker,