‘Voters are basically lazy. Reason requires a high degree of discipline, of concentration; impression is easier…. The emotions are more easily roused, closer to the surface, more malleable….’
Should that decades-old assessment surprise anyone at all today? That approach has been among the most basic of Republican Party tactics long before this current election cycle took place. Ratcheting up the anxieties by whatever means necessary is simply doing what needs to be done.
What right-wing leader wants to risk supporters pausing to contemplate what’s been said and why?
As Ms. Richardson’s stellar article [cited above] goes on to state:
As Movement Conservatives consolidated their power in the Republican Party their appeal became more and more emotional and less and less rational. By the time of the George W. Bush administration, it no longer reflected, as one of Bush’s advisers put it, the ‘reality based community.’ But, like any other myth, its lack of reality made it more emotionally powerful than ever. The good guys are pure and virtuous, and they are under attack: Christianity is under siege in a country that is 70 percent Christian, for example, and those who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are fighting to kill the big government that gives ‘subsidies’ to lazy black people despite the fact that they themselves have received subsides — and one of the occupiers an outright loan. And the bad guys are really bad. Donald Trump has famously asserted that Mexican immigrants are rapists, and his attacks on black Americans are so inflammatory that the Ku Klux Klan uses them as a recruiting tool. Indeed, all Democrats are demons: Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiorina has asserted—all evidence to the contrary—that Democrats support Planned Parenthood because they want to kill babies and sell their body parts. The emotional punch of these allegations stays with supporters despite the fact they are false.
American exceptionalism on full display?
If that’s so, the red, white, and blue patriots gobbling up the hypocrisy and nonsense might want to ask themselves where their support is taking them, along with the rest of us. It’s nice to carve out an imaginary world where all is well and where one is a champion of the great American virtues. Reality, however, is not all that impressed, and sooner or later that vivid and misleading scenario is going to crash head-first into real world conflicts and challenges.
When those Americans who are not ordinarily considered ‘authoritarian’ experience unusually high levels of threat, they will tend to adopt attitudes that mirror those of more authoritarian citizens. Statistically, we expect a negative interaction between threat and authoritarianism. [*]
Every day wasted on eager support to and for those leaders whose agendas aren’t at all what supporters assume is one day less we collectively have available to actually solve some of the problems confronting us now and in the days ahead. Waking up to that reality will not be a pleasant experience, but by then even more power will have been secured by those unconcerned about those same issues.
Another good time to ask What Happens Then?
~ My Photo: winter surf at Long Beach, MA – 01.24.16
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein
* Hetherington, M. and Suhay, E. (2011), Authoritarianism, Threat, and Americans’ Support for the War on Terror. American Journal of Political Science, 55: 546–560. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00514.x
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As I state in the “About Me” section, I’m driven by an intense commitment to learn why those on the conservative side of the fence view so many matters of great importance to us all so differently than do those of us on the progressive side. Those contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.
If we don’t recognize and accept that bitter partisanship is not always the wisest or most beneficial strategy, the goal of a better future will forever be as far away tomorrow as it is today.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone’s observation continues to hold far more truth and power than we give it credit:
We all do better when we all do better
Why make setting up inevitable and enduring conflict the primary objective of policy and planning?
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Life Will Answer – Thought-provoking inquiries & observations about how (and why) Life does … and does not, work for everyone. [Inspired by my book of the same name].
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The Middle Age Follies – An occasional column offering a slightly skewed look at life for those of us on the north side of 50 … far north.