"Keith, you're so foolish to believe that you can convince people to give up their reactive 'thinking'. Some might feel alienated about it; some may even attack you for it, engaging in all the tactics of hostility and repression, and only a few will welcome the discussion, but they're not the ones the message is meant for. Many won't appreciate what is to be gained and will still use the "politics of destruction", all the while blaming the other side for doing it."
My hope is that I will not offend anyone by attempting to address this sensitive topic. It is not meant to persuade anyone to a political conclusion, only to address the psychological part of it all, which I find very fascinating. I accept the very humanness of all of this - AND I am a promoter of putting the emotional aside and having people work together for fact-based, reasoned solutions to things that affect the happiness of human beings.
"I am a DemRep or a RepDem or an independent. I want all partisans to win and get the good that they seek.
I appreciate the tradeoffs that are needed - and I want us to work together for the greater good. I am a social liberal (forgive me, please) and a fiscal responsibility realist (forgive me, please) where I see the limits of what we can do in a practical sense. I want the equality and peace of mind of Denmark, AND I see that there is some other workable path that will lead our citizens to continued progress - and that Americans have a different mix that they uniquely need. I still wish, at times, that my idealistic visions could all be achieved, but alas I must be practical, though not limited in my thinking."
Maria Nemeth, paraphrased: In our minds, in what we call the "metaphyical [not physical] world", there is free and easy movement and anything can be achieved. But in implementing what we want, we inevitably encounter "trouble at the border", where we often "metafizzle". The secret lies in being able to pass into the real world to get real results.
An old bumper sticker: "If you are not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
DOING UNTO OTHERS WHAT YOU DON'T WANT DONE UNTO YOU
In the days of the hippies, they would protest that the "adults" were really bad for being so judgmental - but they failed to see that they were doing that which they were against (being judgmental!).
"Those stupid kids! Bunch of irresponsible victims who feel entitled and want something for nothing."
"Those power mongers! Wall Street is bad, CEOs are bad, the 1% are robbing us [not actually true]."
In the Lord of The Flies, the two opposing kid groups became alienated from each other, making the others into being evil and stupid - making them "the enemy" and dehumanizing them. The solution came when there was a flash of insight about the others being human. Great story!
This is primitive, reactionary (almost animalistic) behavior.
And it would be amusing and comical, if it weren't so serious.
NON-REASONING, THE DEMISE OF THE HUMAN BRAIN...
With that primitive, reactive mode we are operating at the level "non-reasoning". We reject any facts that do not support our position and we enhance those 'facts' that support our position; this is called "selective evidence", used solely to prove our case. (Read The Believing Brain, Shermer.)
We surely can clearly see how foolish and primitive it is for the various sects in the Middle East to actually killeach other for their different beliefs and/or to grab power - all the while destroying so much that progress is not and cannot be made. They live in the world of the zero-sum game, where the size of the pie is fixed and nonchangeable, so they have to take away something from the others - and, of course, the others lose what is taken away.
Essentially, if we add what was obtained and subtract what the others lose, we end up with a sum of zero - no gain. In fact, we actually end up with less and less, because of the net destruction - and the pie that we are trying to split in order to get a bigger piece gets smaller and smaller - and the fight over the scraps gets more and more desperate, as they descend into a self-created hell.
But we fail to see ourselves doing the same thing (just with different means of doing it).
Politically, although more subtle, many people are engaging in the same "I win, you lose" zero-sum game playing.
And we end up with lots of absurdities and much less progress.
THE "OTHER GUYS" ARE AT FAULT
"It's those Republicans that are being stubborn and the cause of the failures." "It's those Democrats that are leading us into financial armagedon." Incredibly, quite a few people actually believe one or the other. But if we back away and look at it overall, we simply see two groups who want to accomplish pretty much the same good results, but simply disagree on how to do that.
For example, the Republicans and Democrats all want to be compassionate and take care of those who are unable to do so for themselves. The Repubs want to be sure that there are no "game players" and "entitlement junkies" and that people are responsible. Dems pretty much agree with this, yet the Repubs are accused of being heartless because they are so businesslike and "cheap" about it [actually trying to be practical and prudent]. And the Dems get accused of being too easy and fiscally imprudent, although they seem, to me, to just want to be really very sure that all those people are taken care of.
And we see how ridiculous it is to go into negotiations that didn't work and then to blame the other side for not agreeing - failing to see that our side was guilty of the very same thing. Negotiations are about meeting in the middle, compromising but making some progress, maybe not all of what we want but definitely more than zero. And we cannot do well if we blame the other side for not coming far enough to have us get more of what we want. (I am disappointed that President Obama seems to put politics above his promise to work with the other side and not to engage in "politics as usual". Yes, he can engage in having a reason why he can't, but I expect the promise to be kept, even when the tide is against oneself.)
Do you see how silly that is? It is no better than cutting off your nose to spite your face.
AND BOTH SIDES DO IT
And, yet, both "sides" do it.
A perfect, and very dramatic, example of non-workability: Maxine Waters calls the Republicans "those demons".
Can you not see the process that is happening here? The Lord Of The Flies all over again, in its primitive reactivity and non-thinkingness.
The Republicans (some of them, not all of them) complain of those wild-eyed spenders on the other side, who are so impractical and are leading us to debt doomsday and creating a society of entitlement.
And what good does that do? (Yes, there could be some political gain, but there is net harm!)
Can't they learn about using "win-win" in their dealings? (Stephen Cover, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, does a good presentation on this. See also, on the internet: Win-Win Negotiating.)
I do not want a President who does not engage in win-win. I expect more.
HOW TO BE MANIPULATED
To manipulate the masses
Identify what is an emotional issue for those you want to vote for you.
Then make it the other guy's fault.
Evilize and/or blame the other, making them unfeeling and/or stupid - and "the enemy"
How to be the victim of manipulation
Buy into the blaming, excuse-making, evilizing of the other. (Take the ads at face value!)
Don't think and differentiate
Don't use facts and reasoning
Wall Street caused the financial collapse (versus Americans overleveraged and speculated, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lowered standards too much and had the biggest bailout in history, the housing bubble, the insistence by two administrations (Repub and Dem) that poor people get to buy more houses, the resistance of the initiatives to better control Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve and others thinking that there is no cause for worry as real estate will always go up...)
The 1% are not paying their fair share (Obvious manipulation in the campaign to achieve what is a reasonable objective of paying for more benefits.)
The Republicans are stonewalling us, holding us hostage, being unreasonable, want to dump grandma over the cliff, want bad air and water
Here are some gifts, ignore "down the road" and the consequences - Here are some goodies, ignoring that someone has to pay for them. All good items but considering "out of context", ignoring trade-offs, thinking we can add just one more small thing and it won't matter or snowball: student loan forgiveness; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac drop interest rates on mortgages [= financial loss and more taxpayer bailout cost]; payroll tax holiday (ignoring further lack of funding for Social Security and Medicare and the current dramatic unfunded liabilities and financial problems); taking $500 billion out of Medicare, ignoring its ultimate costs to replace, so that we can use it to "fund" health insurance plan [a total "fooling" of the public, saying the bill was "paid for"]
Yes, we each want something that is good for a particular dear cause and/or value. But adults look not
only at the immediate gratification but also at the long term consequences and decide what is feasible
and what isn't. "Children" (figuratively used expression) only think of getting what they want NOW!
WHAT IS THE PRESIDENT DOING? YOU LOOK, YOU DECIDE
(I consider myself an independent, with social liberal desires but financial responsibility actions. I voted for Obama and I think I am operating in a pretty balanced, analytical, thinking mode on this. And, of course, it is up to you to look at the facts and apply your own reasoning, but I risk, here, saying something that others might reject...)
I look at the generalizing and assertions about the "other" (whether it is a party or a person) and think "well, what facts are those based on" - anybody can make assertions and we will never get anywhere if we stop there.
Although people on both sides engage in this to some degree, I do not want my President to be manipulative and misleading. I want him/her to be in integrity, to stand tall for principles of value.
I see, though I voted for him and appreciate his general good-guy-ness, Obama as so clearly engaging in politics above the benefit of the people. I don't make him "bad" for his lack of knowledge and its effects on our results - but I do expect to get a President who has experience, wisdom, and knowledge enough to do the job right. I WANT Obama to do well, but if we look at his results (not the generalities, but the specifics) it is rather clear what he is doing.
In Tucson, the President calls for civility and working together, then he talks of "fat cats", penalizing Wall Street, the evil oil companies plundering the people, the 1% causing the people to be less well off [actually not true, but a standard ploy; see Inequality.] He talks of the rich not "paying their fair share" ["fair" is, supposedly, something only God can judge...], and he knows what that is. He ignores that 47% of the people are not paying any income taxes and that the richest 10% are paying 68% of the taxes - and the effect of taking money out of investments, and losing jobs. Rich. He "postpones", until after the elections, the Keystone Pipeline decision in order not to offend the environmentalists nor favor the unions, who want the jobs - and people of both parties acknowledge that this is a political move. He takes credit for oil production going up, while his policies are actually diminishing production to a relatively high degree. (See Undeserved Credit For Oil, note the facts not just the assertion.)
THE IRONY OF RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ENGAGING IN ALL OF THIS
I am a devout _______. I believe in the ______.
However, not-so-few people say the above and then they engage in treating others the opposite way of how they want to be treated.
They say "love our fellowman" and then go out and make them wrong, blame them, evilize them, fail to understand them or to have compassion for them - and to believe they are "different" and therefore to be feared (or not loved) or to be prejudiced about.
And this even exists in a number of preachers. Jeremiah Wright damning the US, etc., with a Presidential candidate sitting in his congregration for 20 years and not noticing anything wrong.
I am astounded at the degree to which this is going on in the Republican primaries race. I would hope that they "lovingly" look at the facts and decide not based on hostility and/or "having someone just like me" but on who will produce the greater good, in practical terms (which means they have to be elected and electable). Read: Uniquely Electable.
SUCCEEDING, THROUGH INNUENDO AND REPEATED ASSERTIONG, IN EVILIZING ANOTHER
Untrue accusations often stick. Exploiting people's false beliefs about something works.
Of course, they are "I win, you lose" tactics that destroy rather than build.
Republicans buy into the ridiculous assertion that RomneyCare somehow is responsible for ObamaCare, using guilt by association (and the logical equivalent of lettuce being responsible for an unhealth cheeseburger), attributing the label of "not conservative' (and not to be trusted) and ignoring the fact that conservatives, before, highly praised Romney for using conservative principles to accomplish good in "landmark legislation" that will lead to solving a previously unsolved problem by states.. and then they become "anti-Romney" in classical Lord Of The Flies fashion. This is a matter of a lack of proper knowledge, not their being "bad"; they are just being human, though not operating at the highest level of brain use.
The Republicans are the ones responsible for the gridlock, it is asserted. And many people buy into that, not questioning or thinking about it. Of course, they are a part of the problem, but it takes two to battle - it cannot be "all the fault of the other".
A President submitting proposals that include a known non-negotiable element that will mean it will have to fail cannot, surely, be doing this to get a good result directly - but it can be used to blame the Repubs for once again not cooperating "with what I want". And then he characterizes himself as being a "warrior for the middle class", as if the Repubs were not "for" the middle class, which would be politically impossible!!!! This is continuing "evilizing" and encouraging divisiveness, rather than working with the other side. This, in my view, is unacceptable in a President, despite the fact that it has been done to some degree by past Presidents. But, in my assessment and research, the degree of it in this administration is extreme. Yes, he may be winning the blame game, but I don't call that a win, as it is destructive and it hurts the American people, just to get more votes. In my view, the job of the President is to work hard for the greater good of all the people, not for reelection.
Am I wrong?
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF PRE-CONCEPTIONS, PREJUDICES, AND LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
Those who are not familiar with business are more prone to, naturally, misunderstand what is going on, not spot errors, and to go with pre-conceptions, though they might have no basis.
Business is greed. Capitalism is bad. CEOs are bad. Venture capitalists are vultures. Wall Street created the crash [not true, though they participated in it, often losing billions]
All untrue generalities, representing the extreme and the few. Yes, "power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts" is a sometimes true statement, but not always. And it applies to both sides: corporations (so there are anti-trust laws and other laws) and to unions (sometimes abusing their power, to inhibit efficient operating and to force extreme costliness, such as almost ruined the American auto industry while plants of other automakers operating in the US were resilient - see GM Bailout facts). And both are for good, sound results in most circumstances. No one side is "wrong" or "bad".
The problem is that we are easily fooled and manipulated without the knowledge we need. The appeal and simple logic of somehow getting more from the magic fairy inspires and motivates many who don't understand about this, as they were not educated in it. And, I would suggest, we should learn to spot manipulation, but that the stronger solution is to educate ourselves about the basics - and to know that evilizing of others is a sure sign of our not operating with our thinking brain - and, as with any problem, that awareness must come first, so we can correct what we do and think.
Creating greater good for all is the objective.
Simplistic thinking would suggest that we take from others, to redistribute the wealth and get rid of inequality - and it certainly is appealing to hope for a utopian society where "all receive according to their needs and contribute according to their ability" - but that has never worked, though many still believe in it, so naturally they are classified as "liberals". Not their fault, they just lack knowledge and practical history. Communism (receive-needs, contribute ability) failed dramatically, as it violated human psychology and motivation. It is tremendously appealing to "redistribute" wealth, but without incentives and the proper mix, socialism actually doesn't work. This will upset some people, who believe it does, looking at the few examples where a combination has worked. Yes, I see the benefits of Denmarkism, but somehow we need to work all this out in a balanced way, helping all we can while using practicality.
What is the rational, most workable balance somewhere toward the middle?
An unknowledgeable person cannot possibly contribute to making things better. The solution is to have them seek a basic understanding from a reliable source. I recommend reading this professor's 17 page paper on Capitalism.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
Will you allow yourself to be manipulated? Will you seek facts and make reasoned decisions?
Yes, I know you don't have time to investigate an ad about flip-flopping (Obama, Romney, Santorum, Gingrich) or many of the other issues. But you do have time to read some "rational, objective" writers, who don't slant things (or if they do lean, will still be fair). See
Yes, I will take "the pledge" to make rational decisions and to seek facts, regardless of my predisposition and/or prejudices, so that I am not "part of the problem", but "part of the solution."
Sincerely and hopefully submitted for your consideration,
The Don Quixote of 2012