I have a series on my blog called "Demagogue of the Day," where I point out some of the more blatant examples of demagoguery by political players in the news. It isn't too hard to find material for this, I usually run into a few good examples a week, and I keep subscriptions to the email lists of groups like MoveOn.org partly because they send me material that fits this bill regularly.
Groups like this seem to be much more aggressive in their speech when they think they are preaching to their choir. I really would recommend people sign up for a few of them to see what these people say to each other... it is an education to say the least. Today's email to MoveOn members urged people in my area to go to our local Republican congressman's (Lee Terry) office tomorrow at noon and give him grief for voting for a bill that MoveOn says "eliminates Medicare for anyone born after 1957."
As much as I think Ryan's budget is rubbish, it flatly does not eliminate Medicare. It does, however, drastically weaken it - shifting costs onto seniors. Such clearly false statements are classic demagoguery, which Dictionary.com defines as "to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc" and something MoveOn.org is notorious for.
Politifact waded into the mix on this issue today, handing out their worst rating of "pants on fire" for a nearly identical claim in an ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, that says the GOP wants to "end Medicare." They say it is a "major exaggeration" to say Ryan's proposal ends Medicare.
It's funny really, because they could work together with a wider population if they didn't feel the need lie about an issue to stir supporters to action, and in the process get more results. The GOP did in fact vote for a bill that, had it passed, really would have weakened Medicare. But groups like MoveOn are so out there that they can't even let themselves not grossly inflate something that they have the political high ground on.
It's even more absurd when you consider that doing nothing, as left wingers like these would have us not touch entitlement spending at all, will lead us on a course that is all but sure to force us to make even more drastic cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare than even the GOP is suggesting we do now. Even though the Ryan plan weakens it, it makes Medicare more sustainable.
To avoid major cuts that will effect lower income seniors later on, groups like MoveOn would do well to understand that doing things like accepting trimming of the pace of growth in the program, as well as paying less out to people who can afford it, isn't a political loss. Doing nothing only makes it more likely that something extreme like these drastic cuts might sneak through into law. Recognizing reality and making tough choices now isn't easy, but it can ensure Medicare will continue to be around for all of those who need it.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates. He is currently collaborating with other centrist independent and moderate bloggers on a news aggregation and social networking site, and is always looking for ways to help the independent groundswell as more and more people become disaffected with the two major parties.