“You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Saying that assumes one person’s facts are more factual than another person’s facts. As a published opinion writer, I hear that on occasion. Readers will offer their opinion of my work based on what they believe as a fact.
I have a simple question. What are the facts? How do you know what you hear is true? I have come to the realization one’s opinions/facts are solely dependent on one’s source of information. Most people depend on television for their news. Some even go a step further and read a newspaper. Some might even read more than one newspaper. Still others go to the Internet for their news and information. True news junkies might use all of these sources to make their decisions.
On its face this would appear to be a good strategy. But there are problems with this approach too. I had a friend who was an avowed, unapologetic liberal. The only news and information he consumed was from sources that further reinforced his existing point of view. He read only the New York Times. He visited only ultra-liberal websites for news. His television choices were MSNBC and the major networks. He would never have tuned into FOX News or AM talk radio. He never got to hear any view which was in opposition to his prejudged thought. In his mind he thought he had the facts and would argue those “facts.”
Of course I have many friends on the other side of this issue as well. People who only watch FOX News and listen to only talk radio with such stars as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. They cannot find a newspaper to read because most of the major papers are staffed by liberals and left-thinking individuals. This is a dilemma. The mindset of these friends is of course to the right side of the political spectrum.
I’m quite sure both sides believe they have truth on their side and are prepared to defend their point of view at any time. All of this contributes to the ever-increasing schism in our country. We seem to be two countries under one roof. Liberals decry the Republicans as obstructionists. Conservatives see Democrats as big government taxers and spenders. Both sides seem entrenched in their views with no possibility of concession or compromise possible.
Who is served by these entrenched positions? Does the country benefit? I think not.
Regular readers will doubtless recognize me as a conservative fellow. Some might be surprised, however, to learn I also hold some liberal positions as well. In fact I try to fine-tune my positions on a regular basis. All I need is to hear a better argument for one position than for the other. The problem is trying to find an advocate who is willing to present a cogent argument that will alter my view. I can tell you clearly that name-calling and fire-spitting blather doesn’t do anything but turn my receptors off.
For the good of the country, I would recommend a softer approach to our problems and to their solutions. I recommend compromise and in some cases concessions. It starts with us. Our political “leaders” take their cues from us – their constituents.
We form our positions and our philosophies based on our source of information. That’s good but at the same time we should always be alert to a better mousetrap. Who knows, maybe there is a better way.