The current presidential election cycle has made Facebook insufferable these days. As the various screeds flow across my feed from people who would normally be reasonable friends, I am noticing what I am calling, “political word trends.” Out-of-the-blue people start using the exact same words to describe something with which they have a political beef. I know this is essentially the same thing as talking points (like when every Democratic operative on the planet described Hillary “powering through” her illness), but what I am seeing is just a little more subtle.
I first noticed this when, over the course of a few unrelated discussion threads, libertarianism came up and, in addition to the usual “they hate firemen” arguments, someone would refer to libertarians as “children.” Maybe there was a huge write up in The Nation that used this term? I don’t know. It just seemed odd that it suddenly appeared 3 or 4 times without any prompting. Next, I began to hear the term “ghouls” used over and over to describe pro-gun advocates. Again, maybe John Oliver had a witty diatribe about these “ghouls” but this seemed weirdly coincidental to me. Or maybe I’m just jealous that I am not being invited to all the hip parties. Instead I sulk at home with like a ghoulish child. I will keep my eyes open for more. Stay tuned.
Ok, so this is my response to this thing that’s been passed around Facebook for the past few months. The original says, “Remember When Teachers, Public Employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS Crashed The Stock Market, Wiped Out Half Of Our 401Ks, Took Trillions In Taxpayer Funded Bail Outs, Spilled Oil In The Gulf Of Mexico, Gave Themselves Billions In Bonuses, And Paid No Taxes? Yeah, Me Neither… Pass It On.”
My first response was, “Well yes, as a matter of fact, I do remember when Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS didn’t pay taxes.” But that sorta misses the point. I suppose the message here is that those nasty teabaggers and other fiscally conservative-types are demonizing these wonderful institutions while corporations are running rampant and ruining the country (nevermind that it was the corporate bailouts and crony capitalism that sparked the whole tea party movement in the first place).
My real issue with the meme is that it is a textbook example of a straw man argument. Nobody on the other side is accusing teachers, etc. of these sorts of awful things. All that is being called for is a little budgetary restraint. Is asking public employees to tighten their belts (like everyone else in the private sector already has) that horrible? Aren’t PBS, NPR and Planned Parenthood valuable enough institutions that they can survive without the small percentage of federal dollars they take in? Geesh. Lighten up lefties.