Americans need to realize that every politician stretches the truth. It’s happened for years and will no doubt keep happening.
The 2012 National Conventions were filled with fun invisible presidents, riveting stories and a hopeful audience. The Conventions were also filled with an overwhelming amount of factual issues in many of the speeches.
Nick Lopez, a junior studying political science, paid close attention to the Conventions to ensure he was well informed.
“I wanted to see what each political party brought to the table, as well as to see what each side promised to do to help their nation, and why their candidate was better fit for the Oval Office,” said Lopez. “Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed frequently and for the same reason.”
Although many speakers had factual issues, the two most important were Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan and President Barack Obama.
“It’s clear from fact checking that both Convention sets of speakers had trouble with the facts,” said CLU Communications professor Ryan Medders. “We are seeing more misrepresentations of facts from both sides this year than we have before.”
The most controversial statement Ryan made had to do with the Janesville, Wis., General Motors plant closure. According to Ryan, Obama failed to keep his promise that “this plant will be here for another hundred years.”
“Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day,” said Ryan at the Republican National Convention.
Something important to remember about politicians is that they love to spin the facts.
“The facts presented in political speeches are selected in a way so as to be possibly true. It’s all about framing,” said Medders.
To review Ryan’s misrepresentation, we have to search for the truth. Politifact, a popular fact-checking source, has stated that Ryan’s statements were misleading as the closure happened before Obama was even elected.
However, GM has reported that the factory was “idle” in 2008, meaning that although most production had ceased, it was technically still going finishing up some last projects. So although Ryan’s statements were mostly false, there was a hint of truth that he could rely on. This is how he was able to frame his statement to support his argument.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Democratic National Convention also had factual oversights. One of the worst may have been President Obama’s blunt attack on Ryan’s Medicare plan, trying to depict him as a man who won’t protect senior citizens.
“So here’s the bottom line: Their voucher plan for Medicare would bankrupt Medicare,” Obama said. “I want you to know I will never turn Medicare into a voucher.”
President Obama, as well as many other democratic leaders, are using Ryan’s old Medicare voucher plan to support their weak argument.
In response to these misleading claims, Factcheck.org responded by saying: “The Medicare claim, too, pertains to a less generous plan Ryan released last year, not his most recent budget.”
The fact-checking site, Politifact, also stated that the claim that Republicans will end Medicare as we know it is the “Lie of the Year” for 2011.
This is the important fact: Ryan’s current 2012 budget plan offers a choice for seniors between a government-run health plan like existing traditional Medicare or a private insurance plan. The two plans would have to hold the same value, but benefits could vary. Interesting to note, as of Sep. 9, a Gallup poll revealed that seniors over 65 gave Obama a low approval rating of just 42 percent.
The notion that politicians can outwardly deceive us as Americans is frustrating, especially to young students who are putting their future in the next administration’s hands.
“People that don’t know the facts or bother to look them up believe them and vote for them,” said CLU Communications major, Serena McLean.
It is necessary as students to stay on top of the candidates and the issues so we can become aware of what is true and/or exaggerated.
I don’t want to point fingers at one particular political party or one particular speaker. This election is so important that we need to become informed citizens and realize that BOTH sides have issues. It is unfair for Democrats to blame Republicans and vice versa.
All’s fair in love and war…and politics.
Published Sept. 19, 2012