Are you tired of the acrimony of partisan politics? The United States has become progressively more partisan over time. This is directly related to the increase in negative propaganda broadcast by media outlets that are distinctively on the Right or Left. Thirty years ago there were very few media outlets that directly espoused and supported the candidates and policies of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Today there are many such outlets. The two that reach the most people are MSNBC, which distinctly supports the Democratic view and Fox News, which distinctly supports the Republican view.
Most people have a tendency to be either left or right in their political views. These people will naturally be attracted to media that support their side of the spectrum. As they, watch tv, listen to the radio, or read a magazine, they repeatedly hear how the other side is going to destroy the country with their policies. They are told the other side has no conscience, values, or ethics. Over time the listener becomes brainwashed to fear the other side and to become more and more extreme in their thinking. This leads to demonizing the other side and to believing that one’s side holds the whole truth. This is the first time in our history that so many people are listening to news from networks whose distinct purpose is to influence their opinion toward the left or the right.
At the same time, there has been a major increase in funding for political campaigns. 4.2 billion dollars were spent on the 2004 presidential campaign. This jumped to 5.3 billion in 2008. This money pays for experts to influence you and they don’t care how they do it. Much of this money is used on negative campaigning. Research shows that attack ads do work, even when the person seeing or listening to them is aware that these are negative attempts to influence them.
When you are being swayed by your favorite party, or even being lied to by them, you have very little ability to defend yourself. You may have some resistance to defending yourself from accepting distortions, exaggerations and lies from the party you dislike because you are skeptical of the other side to begin with. If you are on the Left and receive information from the Left you will have a tendency to believe everything they say. You believe your side is right or somehow trustworthy. This is a false perception. Most people, if they can step back, realize that both parties participate in various exaggerations and deceptions to get their candidates elected.
It is very difficult for an individual to consider that they may be gullible in this area. However, the only way not to be subject to propaganda is to be very wary. Political messages are at best a mixture of truths and half-truths. Don’t be taken in. Begin to take the time to see if you are a victim of political propaganda. There is a handy questionnaire on this site that can give you some perspective on this called, “Are You a Victim of Political Propaganda?”
This site in no way is encouraging people to drop their political perspectives or to not be political. Propaganda Free America does want people to understand the pervasive influence of political propaganda, its negative influence in the United States, and to help people free themselves from its effects.
Three Reasons Propaganda is Thriving in the United States
The first reason is due to an increasing proliferation of propaganda in the media. The vast majority of people in the United States are educated about politics and social issues through watching the news. MSNBC and Fox News have propaganda as one of their core functions. Fox and CNN carry news 24 hours per day. It is impossible for them to do enough investigative journalism to fill all that time. A vast majority of the news that they report is canned news. This comes from press releases from the White House and other government agencies, think tanks such as the Enterprise Institute, and staged media events that compete for coverage. All these sources have an axe to grind. They either want to make themselves look good or to present stories in a manner that furthers their agenda. The news media not only reports this as news, but they rarely comment on the reliability of their sources. Major news sources are frightened to appear biased. Substantial stories are “balanced” by the most ridiculous claims from the other side. “The White House stated today that poverty is shrinking over the last year, however, Ben Tuffs of Wyoming stated that aliens from outer space were only making it look that way through their superior technology to make us self-satisfied and easier to conquer.” Of course, this is a silly exaggeration, but you do get the point.
A second reason that propaganda is so rampant is that it takes effort to find the truth. There are very few sources we can trust. Most sources have an agenda. Who can you turn to for truth in politics these days? The number of investigative reporters is shrinking. Who will pay them for their hard work? News outlets may not think that hard hitting investigative stories will be entertaining enough to benefit their ratings. Volumes of disinformation appear every day. Nobody can wade through it all. Most people don’t have the time, the energy, or care enough about the truth to find it. We need responsible, non-partisan people in the media to help us sort through all of this information. Not enough of them are available.
This leads to the third reason that we are so easily propagandized. We are complicit. Many with positions on the Left or Right don’t care what the truth is. They only want their side to win and they don’t care how they do it. Truth is not an important value to them. A person who holds strong “family values” does not care if their Republican candidate tells the truth. They care if the person stands for family values. An environmentalist on the Left will overlook or welcome all kinds of lies about a company if it will lead to an outcry that will potentially stop a polluter from dumping toxic waste.
We have many problems as a country. They become almost impossible to solve unless we know factual information. We need to find reliable sources on which to base our decisions. There is a minority that holds truth as sacred and is willing to search for it. Truth is more important to them than entertainment or the emotional satisfaction of supporting a candidate who lies but agrees with their Right or Left position. The seeking of truth should be a particular priority for religious people. Seeking truth is the core of all the major religions. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life;…” If Jesus is the Truth then in whose camp are all these liars in politics? And why are many religious people much more concerned with mindless belief in “my” candidate or “my” party than they are with Truth? This same argument applies to people who value science and technology. Discovery of truth is supposed to be the most important principle in science and is the basis of the scientific method. If truth is not valued it will be lost in the fog of propaganda.
How do we find information that is non-partisan?
It actually is impossible to find information that is truly non-partisan unless it is raw data. Everybody has a tendency toward the Right or Left on different issues. However, there is information created by news people and internet sites who try to be balanced. Beware of polarizers, however. They will tell you that everything that tries to be non-partisan is really a hidden vehicle of the other side and is biased. Remember many extremists make their living by creating controversy. Extremists want everyone to believe that the only truth lies on the far right or far left. Polarizers and extremists have an agenda of convincing people that they should only listen to their own broadcasters and websites. Their goal is not balance it is extremism. They would like you to shut your mind rather than open it.