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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Notes From A Family Christmas Gathering

Went to visit some family in Tennessee on Christmas Eve and the conversation quickly turned to complaints regarding Democrats in Congress and Barack Obama.

To put it bluntly, I have more than a handful of people in my family that know just enough about the political process to be dangerous in a conversation. By that, I mean that they are more than willing to be spoon fed talking points from Fox"News" and take here say as fact.

My father-in-law instigated the bitch-fest by proclaiming that I was "an Obama fan" and then proceeded to launch into some odd anecdote about the Black Eyed Peas having a video on their website that made Obama out to be Jesus, or something. He's a rather peculiar individual - who happens to be a "birther" - but when it comes to the family, his heart is generally in the right place.

From there, it was like the spirit of Glenn Beck descended on the living room, as my brother-in-law began lobbing specious generalities about how there was "this guy" that proclaimed Obama was God and that his taxes had been raised to pay for all Obama's "stuff".

I sat quietly on the couch and attempted to entertain the children while their parents and grandparents ignored them in favor of doing the "good work" that Boss Limbaugh would have them do. But all the while, I was paying close attention to what they were claiming.

Here's some of the highlights:

- There will be no Child Tax Credit available when you file next year
- Congress ( read: Democrats ) voted themselves a pay increase for 2011
- Obama gets a pay raise
- You won't be able to deduct interest payments on your mortgage

Needless to say, all of these are patently false.

What was stunning was the ease with which the specious, the vague, and the general lack of context or fact threaded itself through the roughly 30 minute tirade. These 5 adults had absolutely no problem with giving in completely and unblushingly to propaganda and apparently felt more educated as they made their way to the dinner table. It was a "focus group" moment that Frank Luntz would have creamed his pants over.

I wasn't chastised, to my face anyway, for my socio-political ideology but also didn't feel like wading into the ever murky swamp of a modern conservative complaint session. Honestly, I've done my best to not discuss politics this Christmas season in favor of making sure that everyone in the family had a good time with one another. There is a small part of me that wonders how those 5 that were so eagerly lapping up falsehoods, misstatements, and hyperbolic rhetoric would have reacted had I simply asked for "proof" of their claims. I think I already know the answer though.

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