I Call It Denial
Psychologists call it “confirmation bias,” which is the tendency to search for, or otherwise interpret information in a way that confirms what you already believe, regardless of the facts. You may call it “rationalizing.” Others may call it “missing the forest for the trees.” I call it “denial,” and as the saying goes, denial is not just a river in Egypt.
But do we really prefer illusion to the truth? Many do. The truth hurts, after all, and even when we hear the truth, our defenses seemingly kick in to keep the illusion alive – and the pain away.
So, is this why as many as one million women showed up in marches across the country with not just one grievance but many? Was the truth of the past eight years exposed with the inauguration of President Trump and the protests an attempt to keep the illusion alive – and the pain away?
Some marched for equal rights for women and against sexism. For minority groups and against racism. For better jobs and higher pay. For environmental responsibility and against global warming. For peace and to end all wars.
Yes, the conventional wisdom is that these millions of women were expressing their discontent over the election of president Trump. But discontent over what, exactly? He had only been sworn in as president for less than 24 hours before the protests began. And after all, tens of millions of women had voted for him in November. In fact, many say it was women voters in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan that gave President Trump the votes he needed to win the White House.
So, what’s really going on here? I’ll tell you: We prefer illusion to truth, and the bottom line is that these women have been lied to, especially about the consequences of voting for politicians who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas. Or so-called “leaders” who are more interested in their own well-being than in ours.
Instead of promised good jobs for the jobless over the past eight years, these women see 94 million Americans not even working now – the highest ever in our country’s history. In fact, by the end of 2016, the number of those filing for unemployment benefits was at its highest in more than a year.
Instead of improving access to health care over the past eight years and making it more affordable, these women see that there are just 3 percent more Americans with health insurance today, and that the number is dropping every day. They see how many Americans simply can’t afford paying their premiums because insurance companies are raising premiums on everyone by as much as 60 percent to keep from collapsing under the Affordable Care Act.
Instead of “healing our planet” over the past eight years, they see that taxpayers are now shouldering more than $2.2 billion in expected loan guarantee defaults from companies like the bankrupt renewable energy company, Solyndra, and at least 36 other taxpayer-funded green energy projects that have vanished like the wind.
And although we “ended a war” by withdrawing our combat troops from Iraq in 2011, these women see how this single decision to withdraw left the door wide open for ISIS to expand their terror around the world, killing thousands of innocent people, and terrorizing millions more.
And instead of diversity, these woman saw Obama choose a cabinet overwhelmingly male and white, and racial tensions are higher than ever.
In 2008, the illusion of “hope and change” sounded like the truth to these women. We were all promised, back then, that health-care negotiations would be on C-SPAN (they weren’t) and that the budget deficit would be reduced by 50 percent (but it grew).
They were promised there would be no earmarks in the $787 billion stimulus bill (but there were). We were promised the “Recovery Act” would save or create jobs (yet unemployment continued to rise to record levels). We were told, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” (we couldn’t). We were assured Obamacare would pay for itself (but it doesn’t). President Obama said, “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future” (but he did, and deficit spending rose to over $5.1 trillion).
Maybe we could all agree now, at least, that when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But I get it about the protestors, and I’d be mad, too, if I were in their shoes, waiting on “hope and change” all these years.
Just one question, for those who marched on January 21: What took you so long?
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.