The first time I heard this phrase it was used by Rush Limbaugh on his nationally syndicated radio show. I can’t remember the specific context of his use, but it probably occurred during the first Clinton presidential term in the 90’s. It intrigued me because until hearing it I had struggled with grasping the reasoning for the rollout of much of the Clinton policy — most did not make sense to me. (Apparently I was not the only one) And since that day with Limbaugh’s explanation for this phrase I have been able to understand the purpose of many liberal policies: “Symbolism over Substance.”
Through both Obama terms it was common to hear allegations made as fact, explanations given as certainties rather than possibilities, promises made never intended to be kept (which ultimately were not), lies spoken many of which were blatantly false even as they were uttered. If it had not been for Limbaugh’s clarifying statement from the 90’s I would have continued to grapple with understanding what these things meant and why they were said, committed, and promised. They were put out by the liberal White House to tickle the ears of liberals everywhere while actually meaning nothing. They were symbolic at best.
Even though we now have a conservative in the White House, the Liberal Left continues to make the same type of allegations against conservatives and this practice has become their “new” normal. (as compared to their “old” normal) Misquoting conservative politicians in news, editorial comments, statements made on talk shows and at public meetings, and making “factual” statements that are anything but factual have all become normal and therefore passe. And as ridiculous as this may seem to conservatives, it seems that for liberals to make false statements in public along with allegations against the President and other conservatives is quite all right. Why? I can only surmise that they have very little if any regard for their own integrity or they have total contempt for the liberal followers they wish to affect with their claims. In other words they feel their liberal followers are so stupid they cannot determine which statements are lies and which are not.
Examples? There are several in my blog post titled “Fake news….(or is it?)” Read there where Dan Rather — former CBS News anchor — purposely misquoted Trump’s charge that fake news media are not his enemies, but the enemies of the American people. Rather failed to include the word “fake” in Trump’s statement about the media. The media seem to make it mandatory to state anything they can find (or make up) about President Trump. Reports of Trump’s alleged misconduct long before becoming a presidential candidate are still being bandied about:
There was a report by one news agency that Ru Paul stated Donald Trump made unwanted advances to him years ago. But it had “good” liberal intent — “Symbolism over Substance,” the alleged substance being that Donald Trump is a misogynist.
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, CNN claimed Nancy Sinatra was “not happy” with the fact that the president and first lady’s inaugural dance would be to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The problem? Nancy Sinatra had never said any such thing. CNN later updated the article without explaining the mistake they had made. The alleged substance of the story was that the new President was so audacious as to dance to one of her father’s biggest hits and was going to do so knowing how much music stars disapproved of him.
But the most outlandish, most unbelievable, most absurd acts and statements that illustrate “Symbolism over Substance” are reserved for politicians. And there are many. Where do we begin? Hmm……….. We could not illustrate any of these uttered by politicians without first quoting former POTUS Barack Obama — and his are many! Let’s begin with these declarations about his “legacy” legislation, Obamacare:
“After implementation of the Affordable Care Act, 129 million people who could have otherwise been denied or faced discrimination now have access to coverage.” That was his Symbolic statement. The Substance? there is no proof that 1/3 of America’s population with the ACA now have access to health insurance that did NOT before the ACA.
“Under the Affordable Care Act if you want to keep your health plan, you can keep it.” That was his Symbolic Statement. The Substance? Millions of Americans have had their health plans cancelled, some more than once. And the Obama administration knew this would happen.
“If you want to keep your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” That was his Symbolic Statement. The Substance? As a result of Obamacare’s narrow provider networks, millions of Americans are unable to see their own doctor.
“The Affordable Care Act will reduce premiums $2500 a year for the average family.” That was his Symbolic claim. The Substance? Millions of families have seen their premiums increase by double-digits every year since the law passed.
In his two presidential campaigns, Obama made quite a few outlandish and symbolic statements.
Regarding Mitt Romney: “Mitt Romney would deny the right for gay people to adopt children.” That was his Symbolic Statement. The Substance? Romney in his own words stated he thought everything regarding gay rights should be relegated to the States INCLUDING adoption laws governing adoption and also gay marriage.
These actions are not politically exclusive to Obama. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined the fray. Baldwin declared: “It’s the constitutional duty of the president to select a Supreme Court nominee, and the Senate has a responsibility to give that nominee a fair consideration with a timely hearing and a timely vote.” Those were her words after Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. Those were her words of Symbolism. President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Court. Two days later, Baldwin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she would support a filibuster to block the Gorsuch nomination, would vote against the Senate action required to block a filibuster and would vote against Gorsuch if he made it to a final vote. That retort was her statement of Substance.
While not liberal, President Trump has participated in this travesty as well. Remember then Candidate Trump stated he watched thousands of Muslims partying in the streets after the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11? That was Symbolism. The Substance of his statement? There was worldwide joy among some Muslims and others who considered the U.S. their enemy and were glad to see the horror in lower Manhattan. And there WAS a news report released that stated partying did occur by some Muslims in the U.S. But….President Trump did not see them as he stated.
Here’s the bottom line: we all have experienced “Symbolism over Substance” in our lives many times in many different ways. No matter “we” have experienced it, most Americans are uncomfortable at seeing the practice becoming almost commonplace among elected officials. It is becoming more and more difficult to separate “Symbolic” statements from pure lies.
And isn’t it ironic that our elected officials are actually comfortable forcing Americans to pull out our b___s___t meters to check every statement every politician makes? That question was NOT Symbolic — pure Substance!