There are brilliant and not-so-brilliant political pundits, and it is thrilling when sharp, knowledgeable political experts speak and educate us publicly. That’s not me. I’m a communications analyst; a word girl. What are they really saying? is my gig.
The substance of last night’s State of the Union address glazed me over. I like to think I know a piece of substance when I hear one. I didn’t hear it last night. Optimistically, I leave hard-core political interpretations to true experts, and eagerly await discovering the existing substance I missed.
What I am hearing reminds me of George W. Bush’s unending vocabulary tactic; the use of his favorite word, “patriotic”, to manipulate the American people, post-9/11.
Remember what I am calling the strategic and “social blackmailing” use of the word, “patriotic”? As in, “You are either with us or against us”, and “If you question the tactics and military activities in Iraq”, well, you are simply not “with us”. You are downright “unpatriotic”. This was effective enough to muzzle the entire country from telling their truth in response to post-9/11 administration misdeeds.
Obama’s emphasis, in last night’s speech, on cautioning us from becoming “cynical”, uses this word in an eerily similar and strident context.
Here’s the question: Is it “cynicism” to register the falsehoods in Obama’s words in light of his disconnected actions? Cynisim must not be mistaken for being awake and speaking out. Let us not confuse cynicism with active disagreement and the courage to respond to national events and powerful political choices that are just wrong.
There is a place for balanced “cynicism” if we are to survive. By “balanced cynicism”, I mean nothing more than the acknowledgement, and yes, acceptance, of all potential truth, both “good” and “bad”, without which we are blinded and unprepared to meet and respond to life as it exists.
Let’s not agree that “cynicism” is a dirty word.