An emotional guide to the midterm elections
I have been paying close attention to the emotional vitriol of the election news and the social media. It's a huge sales job that deflects from a systemic problem with American politics. The problem is that we are being pressed into voting with our emotions instead of logic.
It seems to me that the people in power at the top believe that the rest of us are not capable of making the big decisions, and that some small group of powerful men and women can make those decisions for us. But they need buy in, so they manufacture consent. Whoever "they" are, doesn't want us voting on the merits, they want us voting with our feelings.
Every good salesman knows how to get people to use their feelings instead of their brains, to part with their money. From solar panels to vacuum cleaners, salesmen play on our emotions to inspire action. Donald J. Trump is a salesman, probably one of the best in the world, and he is just one of the tactics being used to play on our emotions.
Voter suppression is rampant, particularly in the south. Voter suppression includes misinformation about polling places, to keep people confused about where to vote. Voter suppression includes voter purges, like what is happening to the Native Americans in our country who are being purged for using a post office box. Voter intimidation is where you find people waiting for you near the polling place, ready to tell you how to vote or not to vote at all.
"Fake News" is something that I've never seen clearly defined and that definition seems to morph with the wind. From what I can gather, people are planting stories in ways to make them look true. The people who create and publish fake news assume that their audience is not capable of making an objective assessment of the value of the "fake news". Further, it is assumed that people will just read the headlines, or read the article and not check for corroboration from other sources.
I like to take a story that interests me and check it for corroborating information between two polarized sources. I'll check for the same facts between say, Mother Jones and The Drudge Report. If there are similar facts between two completing opposing sources, there is a pretty good chance of finding the truth.
And then there is Trump. Trump is a salesman. He's an actor. He's an artist. I see all the memes talking about how stupid or immature or arrogant Trump is, and I let out a deep sigh. Never, ever underestimate Donald Trump. This is a man who figured out how to become President without ever hold public office before. Trump is not Gump. He didn't just luck his way into the White House.
If you're spending any time at all making memes that mock Trump, you're doing his work for him. You're taking time away from leading and using that time to follow. Trump thrives on negative attention. Trump understands how to use distraction to get other work done. He played host on The Apprentice for 14 seasons so he knows how to use the media for his own purposes.
In looking at the political landscape, it is a fair question to ask: Why use all those tactics, the deceit, the misdirection, and the fear, to get yourself or your party elected? Because we haven't learned how to vote on the merits.
Big money in politics is useful in deflecting attention from the merits of any political campaign. Big money in politics pays for advertising, which uses emotions to guide us in our decision making process. We are being led to believe that we can make a decision about our collective fate based on a feeling, when we need to be making our decisions based on research and experience.
Long before the day of the election is upon us, we must research the ballot, the candidates and the measures before us. We can even get sample ballots from our state government more than a month before the election for study. This is why l like absentee ballots. I can take my time and read up on the amendments to the constitution, the bond measures, the judges, all the smaller races that never make the news. Those local offices feed the statewide and national parties and i get to decide who gets in.
Voting should be a process of contemplation and meditation. Voting should be a process of research and reflection. Voting out of rage or hostility only plays us into the hands of the people who want to decide our future for us. For it is when we take a calm, objective, almost stoic approach to voting that we can vote according to our conscience.