EDITORIAL: Just the facts? Not anymore - Beloit Daily News: Opinion

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EDITORIAL: Just the facts? Not anymore

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Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 4:00 pm

Partisanship has reached the point where truth can’t penetrate politics.


THE LATE SEN. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously remarked that a person is entitled to his own opinion — but not his own facts.

Apparently, Senator Moynihan was wrong. He failed to anticipate the poisonous partisan atmosphere overwhelming America’s political culture today.

It seems one’s partisan identity may indeed establish the set of “facts” one chooses to accept — or reject.

And that’s alarming because the first step toward solving any given problem is understanding what it is, by application of available data. Reason and flexibility are the first casualties when emotion and ideology rule.


AN ANALYSIS OF polling data by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ought to raise a few eyebrows.

More likely, though, it will just encourage partisans on both sides to point fingers and yell even louder at each other.

For example:

• A Marquette University poll showed that although data indicate Wisconsin ranks 44th of the 50 states for job creation only 26 percent of Republicans believe it. More than 70 percent reject the data and do not believe Wisconsin lags other states by that much. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Democrats do believe Wisconsin has fallen behind.

• Nationally the numbers are reversed. With President Obama in the White House, more than 60 percent of Democrats believe the economy is getting better; meanwhile, nearly 65 percent of Republicans say it’s getting worse.

• In Wisconsin, backers of Gov. Scott Walker say the economy is improving while the governor’s opponents say it’s going the other way. Nationally, whether one sees improvement or not appears to be determined by what one thinks of Obama.


THOSE MUCH-MALIGNED independents — the ones radio motormouth Rush Limbaugh ridicules for “not believing in anything” — appear to be impervious to the partisan coloring of facts. Independents in the polling tended to view economic trends in accord with the data, not with a lean toward talking points of one party or the other.

None of this should surprise those who have been paying attention to the evolution — perhaps devolution is a more appropriate word — of politics as practiced in this era. The hostility the two partisan camps have developed toward each other is increasingly untethered from reality and colored by emotional antipathy for the other side. This is just further proof that facts have been overpowered and can’t penetrate opinion and slick message marketing.

Obviously, one side isn’t always right and the other side always wrong. But don’t try to tell that to a partisan. And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to confuse them with facts they don’t want to hear.

Moral of the story: Say a prayer for more independents.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Elicandy posted at 9:39 am on Thu, May 30, 2013.

    Elicandy Posts: 5

    You don't sound particularly independent on economic issues.

  • Mr Data posted at 4:44 pm on Wed, May 29, 2013.

    Mr Data Posts: 3915

    As an independent it is very frustrating to watch both completely biased liberals and conservatives behave in exactly the manner the BDN writes about: "... one side isn’t always right and the other side always wrong. But don’t try to tell that to a partisan. And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to confuse them with facts they don’t want to hear."

    For years this nation has been marched in a liberal - conservative politically based lockstep manner towards oblivion while the 600 or so 'representatives' we elect to lead this nation forward prosper and prosper and prosper. By creating a class warfare issue in our nation, they now have even quite cleverly convinced half of our nation (the liberals) that MORE taxes are better for us than fewer taxes.

    I have always believed in the some of the principles my parents taught me; ie, never elect people from just one party to control our government - one party rule is dangerous, always buy Made in USA, always buy local, listen and learn before you speak, the closer the taxes are used to the taxpayer - the more control and benefit those taxes will provide for the taxpayer, and BIGGER is rarely ever better - especially in business and in government.

    Leaders aren't leading today .. they are simply lying and their sheeple are sadly believing.

    Our state, nor our nation, is moving FORWARD today as we are expected to believe, both are barely creeping along .... quite aimlessly.

    I have lived a long life and have, with my own eyes and personal experiences, witnessed much better times in both WI and the nation. Unfortunately, generations of youth in this nation (and in WI) haven't experienced much except government deceit, and expansive control over their lives (and for too many, their livelihood).

    I cannot see this nation ever returning to the centrist political practices that once led our nation and our state governments. Their are now too many millions of die-hard biased radical liberals striving with all of their might and every dirty shenanigan they (and their liberal biased media) can use and only enough die- hard biased conservatives striving to resist, but knowing they are under-manned to over-take their political opponents.

    As an independent looking in from the outside at our struggling government, at best what I see in our future is the persistent grid-lock in our nation's / state's politics that will not produce positive accomplishments for any of us. One party rule does not represent the nation's views or their needs. And two party political plurality that will enable the REAL type of change this nation / state needs cannot happen with the politically biased / poisonous atmosphere that exists in our nation and our state today.


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