So how does one have a reasonable debate when one side lies and lies, then when called on it, simply lies some more?
That's the situation Obama and the Democrats are facing this campaign season as the Romney campaign and its allies, in totally unprecedented fashion, put forth one lie after another without regard for truth or fact-checking - or any semblance of decency or shame.
Robert Reich addresses this situation in Salon, but he goes even further and makes the case that, if this is allowed to go unchecked, the entire political process could be irrevocably corrupted and it may even lead to the rise of a demagogue willing to exploit the situation for his own self-aggrandizement and grab at power.
Reich focuses primarily on the Romney campaign's lies regarding Obama's supposed ending of the work requirement for Welfare and his supposedly "robbing" Medicare of $716 billion to pay for Obamacare, two lies that have been exposed by virtually every viable fact-checker on the planet.
The campaign's response to being challenged on this is shocking in its brazenness and callous disregard of the truth.
“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” says Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster.In other words, we don't need no stinkin' facts when we can create our own "truth" and get away with it.
Reich posits that the Romney campaign, obviously operating without a moral compass of any kind, continues to spout the lie simply because it is "effective."
So how do they get away with it?
The first [method] is by repeating big lies so often in TV spots – financed by a mountain of campaign money – that the public can no longer recall (if it ever knew) that the mainstream media and its fact-checkers have found them to be lies.The result?
The second is by discrediting the mainstream media – asserting it’s run by “liberal elites” that can’t be trusted to tell the truth. “I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans,” Newt Gingrich charged at a Republican debate last January, in what’s become a standard GOP attack line.
The third is by using its own misinformation outlets – led by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and his yell-radio imitators, book publisher Regnery, and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, along with a right-wing blogosphere – to spread the lies, or at least spread doubt about what’s true.
Together, these three mechanisms are creating a parallel Republican universe of Orwellian dimension – where anything can be asserted, where pollsters and political advisers are free to create whatever concoction of lies will help elect their candidate, and where “fact-checkers” are as irrelevant and intrusive as is the truth.And this is where things get really scary.
Democracy cannot thrive in such a place. To the contrary, history teaches that this is where demagogues take root.In essence, the right is playing a very dangerous game here, and we will all pay the price if they are not somehow stopped in their tracks right now. But the mainstream media seems unable or unwilling to do its job as truth-teller, so it is up to us as individuals and the Obama campaign and its surrogates to call out these liars for who and what they are.
The Romney campaign has decided it won’t be dictated by fact-checkers. But a society without trusted arbiters of what is true and what is false is vulnerable to every lie imaginable.
Nothing less than our future as a democracy depends upon it.