If you repeat something often enough

… does it become true?

The Big Lie has many variations, one of which is often attributed to Joseph Goebbels, although no real proof exists that he said it. Regardless, we are all familiar with the sentiment: repeat something big_lie_logooften enough and people will believe it – and you may come to believe it yourself.  In the internet world, it’s known as a meme. Politically, I think “driving the narrative” may be the best description.

Regardless of which term you choose, some folks are trying to pin one on the results of the 100th House district race, as I mentioned in my op-ed in Thursday’s Virginian-Pilot. The idea that the election of Bloxom was a vote against Medicaid, as Speaker Bill Howell trumpeted in his email Tuesday night, was what we might call a projection: given that Medicaid expansion is the top issue right now in the General Assembly, voters chose someone who is against it.

Um, no.

As I pointed out – and in my discussions with those involved on both sides – Medicaid expansion was but one issue. Even bigger was Bloxom’s name recognition and the close knit Eastern Shore community. I’ve been told over and over that Democrats supported Bloxom “because they knew him.”

But that isn’t good enough a reason – it’s got to be about Medicaid expansion. And like the good puppets that they can sometimes be, the Times-Dispatch editorial page decided to beat that drum, too. They relied on a single source for this, rather than talking to those down here that know more. (Just guessing here  – they got the Speaker’s email Tuesday and went hunting for someone to go on the record agreeing with it.) So readers of that paper may also think it is true.

Repeating something often enough may very well create a meme and drive the narrative. But it doesn’t make it true.

My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot every week, usually on Thursdays. You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot nor am I paid for my contributions to the paper.


8 thoughts on “If you repeat something often enough

  1. If Democrats can have their “Republicans hate (everyone who is not a WASP)” than I guess its only fair that Republicans get their own alternate reality to play in. Both sides are completely absurd when it comes to this kind of stuff.

      1. There’s definitely more evidence that Republicans hate everyone who isn’t a WASP than Bloxom’s election being about Medicaid expansion. But in terms of how both parties will take literally anything they get their hands on and cram it into their narrative somehow, it definitely fits. Email copywriters live in an alternate reality.

  2. I think my favorite Howell-ism was him pointing out that, okay, sure, Terry Mac may have won his race, but waaay more people voted for Republican House members, so they had more of a political mandate than the Governor.

    It’s the sort of thing that sounds like a devastatingly acute political point during the half a second it takes your brain to remember, well, duh, a bunch of House Republicans ran in uncontested elections, so they got 90%+ the votes in those districts.

    But we’ve made it through February! Only three years and 10 months to go before we’re excused from this suicide pact.

  3. Had the GOP not been so foolish as to nominate as to nominate the former AG the democrats might have only the senate in their control. Nothing can save the GOP football team when it punts on first and goal.

  4. I read only a quick line that VA. GOP wants a federal probe into the Gov. pick on the ABC board. After his predecessors actions GOP should as for psychiatrist for themselves first.

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