Reading time – 70 seconds . . .
Boyhood pal Frank Levy offered a comment to last Sunday’s blog, Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder, focused on how Republicans work to divide Americans. His question is worthy of consideration and comment. Here is what he wrote:
I don’t have a comment, only a question – what is it about the 158 richest families in America that the Republicans feel they must build their entire economic policy around what they think these people want? I get that they help them win elections every 4 years, but in reality these families provide nothing of substance to individual Republicans, their friends, or their families.
In order to address Frank’s question, let’s separate Americans into two groups: politicians plus very wealthy people; and regular, non-super wealthy Americans.
For politicians and very wealthy people there is a plain and simple, very powerful system in place. Elections are hideously expensive, making the groveling for money from people who have lots of it consume 50% of the time and energy of politicians. The largess of those money baggers makes politicians beholden to them, so politicians do their bidding. The donors get regulations and legislation they want to maximizes their profits, laws like those that: cripple the regulatory power of the EPA, allowing ever greater air, water and land pollution; severely limits the ability of consumers to sue corporations for the harm they cause; and the absence of limitations of who should be able to own firearms, allowing for the continuation of our national massacre. The wealthy people then use a little of their enlarged stash of cash to fund the campaigns of their next hand-picked politicians. It’s a toxic cycle of life thing. But, of course, you knew all that.
The second group of people is composed of ordinary, non-wealthy Americans. The question that puzzles so many is why these folks vote against their own interests – that’s Frank’s question. There are many answers and, interestingly, numerous studies have shown that large numbers of Americans identify with very wealthy people and believe that they will be in their ranks some day. While that clearly is not going to happen for nearly any ordinary American, those aspirations provide powerful blinders and people act irrationally – i.e., against their own interests.
The larger reason, though, for Americans voting for those who, ” . . . provide nothing of substance to individual Republicans, their friends, or their families,” is what I detailed in the preceding blog. Republicans appeal to hate and fear and that drives people to the polls to vote for those who stimulate them with their “scare ’em and save ’em” tactic. That kind of manipulation is used to sell underarm deodorant, security systems, investment services and, yes, politicians.
Listen to the words of consumer commercials (ignore the visuals) and you’ll hear the appeal to fear. Listen to a Republican running for office and you’ll hear the same thing.
So, to answer Frank’s question, there are three powerful responses that lapdog politicians running for office create as they manipulate ordinary Americans with their calls to hate and fear and get them to vote against their own interests.
First, the politicians tell those angry people that they’re right. That’s very gratifying. This has the additional benefit of letting voters feel a bit in control, this in stark contrast to their ongoing sense of powerlessness in their lives.
Second, voters get to vent their frustrations. That feels good.
Third, and most powerful, most persuasive, they imply a promise of freedom from fear. That they never deliver is quite beside the point. That the lapdog politicians stoke fear and hatred in order to get elected – courtesy of the financial muscle of their big donors – is the point.
Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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