Paul Ryan’s lies and misstatements during his speech at the Republican Convention last night bring up an interesting existential question about the nature of “reality.” Is there more than one reality? Can you claim your own reality in a world where the facts say otherwise? Aren’t people who do that considered mentally ill (or politicians. Take your pick)?
Many of us remember a quote from an anonymous source in the Bush Administration early in W’s tenure who said, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Ryan and Romney and their surrogates seem to have taken this philosophy to heart. Just a few days ago, a pollster for Romney responded to accusations from a variety of sources that the Republican candidate’s campaign ads were factually wrong by saying, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”
So facts be damned, apparently. Ryan’s not a stupid man. He must know that he is spewing lies and misstatements about Obama. Has he convinced himself that they are not lies or, more likely, he, like many Messianic Republicans, believes that the ends justify the means. Lies and distortions in the name of a greater good are acceptable. Sounds kind of cult-like to me.
I just don’t know how we can ever solve the pressing issues we face as a country when we can’t even agree on the very nature of “reality.” It’s one thing to say, “I disagree with your approach to dealing with global warming,” but when one side doesn’t even acknowledge the reality of man-made global warming, finding solutions is nearly impossible.
Yes, there is some truth to the argument that both sides do it, but in my sixty years I’ve never seen anything like the egregious and even contemptuous distortions of reality exhibited by today’s Republicans. When the mainstream press starts calling you out for lying, it must be pretty damned blatant. Is it a sign of desperation? Or do they really believe they can create their own reality? Stay tuned.