The Earth Is Flat, Bloodletting Heals and Obama Is A Republican: An Opinion Can Be Wrong.
Yes, indeed it can.
I had this conversation with someone recently. We were disputing the idea that a person could express the opinion that MC Hammer is/was a greater artist than Prince. I pointed out that this was not only incorrect, but ridiculous. My opponent’s argument was that “an opinion can’t be wrong.” Now, setting aside the relatively frivolous argument over the ranking of those two pop culture icons and their place in musical history (although I am completely, totally, and undeniably correct), it got me to thinking about other opinions that are more than a little wrong.
Like the following:
For about 2000 years it was the opinion of physicians that the cure for what ailed the sick was to cut them open and drain the “bad blood.” That would be wrong.
Until nearly 1500, most people held the opinion that the world was flat and if you sailed to the edge you would fall over the side. That would be wrong.
It was Hitler’s considered opinion that the eradication of all Jews from the face of the Earth was the key to the advancement of German society. That would be wrong.
Throughout the south until the late 60′s, white southerners were attached to the opinion that “separate but equal” was, well, equal. That would be wrong.
I suppose I could do this all day, but I would prefer to focus now on a current opinion being forwarded by many liberals and progressives that Barack Obama is no better than his Republican counterparts. This would also be wrong.
It’s not that I consider any of the previous opinions insignificant. Many of them were in the mainstream of their regions and countries, if not the whole planet. However, there is this one important thing that those opinions neglect that proves their fault. It’s called evidence. You see, an opinion is essentially worthless and even dangerous if not backed by facts and proof. You can believe the Martians are coming. you can tell everyone you know that it’s true. Hell, many of them might believe you. That don’t make it so.
Which is exactly my point about Barack Obama. Has he been as progressive as we hoped? Probably not. I do believe that in his heart he believes in truly progressive policies. However, considering the often vile and irresponsible intransigence of Tea Party Republicans and the fact that some Democrats are not really worthy of the name (I’m looking at you Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Joe Manchin, Mary Landrieu), he has accomplished more than I would have expected. Actually, I would argue that he has accomplished more in 2 1/2 years than the last 3 Presidents (Bush I, Clinton, Bush II) did combined.
Oh sure, I disagree with him on Afghanistan, oil leases, gay marriage (although I’m betting he’s coming around on that one), and drug policy, just to name a few. That being said, if we are going to be keeping score, we should do so correctly.
So, please if you will, name me the Republican that would have done all–hell, any–of the following:
1) Passed any sort of stimulus.
2) Signed Lily Ledbetter into law.
3) Passed any sort of Health Care Reform.
4) Passed any sort of Financial Reform.
5) Invested in Green Energy.
6) Expanded environmental protections.
7) Repealed DADT and refused to defend DOMA.
8) Presided over any sort of draw down in Iraq.
9) Extended the START Treaty.
10) Extended unemployment benefits.
11) Signed a Food Safety bill into law.
12) Saved the auto industry.
13) Appointed two liberal justices to the Supreme Court.
14) Increased fuel economy standards.
15) Issued an executive order repealing the Bush Stem Cell Research restrictions.
16) Implemented the largest middle class tax break in the history of this country.
17) Expanded hate crime law.
18) Sued the states of Arizona and Alabama for their horrendous immigration laws.
19) Repaired the reputations of both the CIA and FEMA.
20) Got Bin Laden.
I could do this all day too, but seeing how 20 is a nice round number, I’ll stop there. It’s also worth remembering that he has done all these things at significant political (and perhaps physical–I mean, have you seen his hair lately?) cost. Depending on who you ask, he is an illegal alien, Islamic, Bolshevik anti-Christ, or a dithering, weak kneed, faux Democrat, Republican in sheep’s clothing. How could both thoughts be correct? The truth is they can’t.
Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to your opinion. You may be able to find a way to reconcile all of the above and still claim he is either Bush-lite or the Manchurian Candidate. Hell, maybe you can do both. It’s a free country and you can believe whatever you like. You can shout it from the rooftops, scrawl it all over Facebook, record it on Youtube. In the modern age you can spread your opinion far and wide.
You can do that, but you and your opinion would be wrong.
Originally posted at The Pragmatic Progressive Forum