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Candidate Selection - Policy or Personality?

By       Message Jeffrey Rock       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Average Americans witnessing the unfolding of the ritualistic Presidential election spectacle are bombarded with images, speeches, advertisements, news coverage and the usual coterie of hired pundits and carefully selected experts to lay down cover fire for the entire operation. “Is anyone really fooled anymore?” I ask myself. Apparently many still are. Played out countless times before, the corporate media employs a comprehensive misinformation program devised to inveigle the general population and convince them to vote against their best interests based on fundamentally flawed logic that is packaged and marketed in a sort of force feed, jam-it down-your-gullible-throat style. The program includes techniques I refer to as psycho manipulators. A psycho manipulator is a presentation of ideas in speech and conversation that are based on falsehoods or untested presumptions that appear to make sense but, in fact, are based on flawed logic. Psycho manipulators misinform or mislead the public by altering their perception of the truth. This is often achieved without lying or at least without lying in a manner that can be easily refuted. One such psycho manipulator that undermines almost all reasonable discussion about candidates’ qualifications is the notion that personality should be the basis for candidate qualifications versus the policies she or he espouses and implements.  

The right wing opinion generating machine has totally seduced most of the nation into focusing on candidates’ personalities instead of their political policies. This flawed thinking occurs on both wings of the political spectrum and in both political parties. Ever since this disturbed logic became the generally accepted opinion the media has been free to tee off on virtually any aspect of the human personality. Focusing on personality instead of policies removes any form of measuring stick or accountability from the electoral process. How can we measure results when a person is elected based on personality? Is a President successful when she or he consistently goes to the same hairdresser during their four years in office? Because human nature and logic are bound to interact in a certain fashion, the implications that result from the personality cult of the US electoral debacle are also bound to follow certain patterns. Suddenly the color of a candidate’s wife’s dress becomes the most talked about non-topic for 24 hours. When the media focuses the nation’s attention on such trivial information, and by omission ignores a host of other much more important facts, it misleads us. While most people would deny their vote is swayed by this type of political propaganda, by merely participating in the conversation about a candidate’s personality versus her or his political policies, one has already fallen victim to the perverse illogic. One has already bought into the psycho manipulation. 

One specific application of this type of personality based psycho manipulator is ‘Swift-boating’ the opposition, cultivated to a fine art by the election rigging machine of those who sponsor the Republican and Democratic Parties, the underwriter’s of our elected officials and their very expensive election campaigns. This technique is possible only when the idea that personality takes precedence over political policies is presupposed and immune from examination or challenge. In US politics the ‘personality as qualifier’ idea has taken hold like an invasive weed. The backers of the so-called neo-conservatives and neo-liberals have perpetrated a gross crime of thought, manipulating our emotions with images and words that falsify reality, distort reason and favor politicians who do their bidding. We participate in relative oblivion, unaware our reasoning is distorted, our perceptions of political reality corrupted by powerful audio visual images. The impact of psycho manipulation cannot be overstated. The power of multi-media images and sounds is dangerously underestimated by the general populace and of course, is not even recognized in the regulations imposed by our elected officials. An uninformed electorate is incapable of properly executing its responsibility to vote. Influencing the outcome of elections affects the balance of power in the world, the fate of trillions of dollars and billions of human beings. Is that sufficiently important to warrant examination and discussion? Defining a candidate through her or his personality traits opens a vast array of possible psycho manipulators from which the TV news shills can select. This explains the use, on mainstream prime time ‘news shows’ of such childish verbal tactics as name-calling, partial truths, character distortion, critical omissions, selective reporting, negative image association, innuendo, implied guilt, guilt by association, attacks on such issues such as personal appearance, speech patterns, family issues, personal history, affiliations, and a host of other standard distortions of logic, conversation and speech. It is nothing less than the mother of all Jerry Springer Shows. To see grown adults utter phrases strewn with childish illogic over the public airwaves should be an affront to every US citizen. It promotes and caters to the lowest common denominator within each of us. It inhibits reason and common sense. It is the language of division, hate, fear and confusion. No wonder we are divided, hateful, fearful and confused. It matters not that polls indicate Americans hate these so-called ‘negative attacks’.  

The fact is that Americans still allow themselves to be swayed by such negative political psycho manipulators. This phenomenon remains a major factor in the election and re-election of highly un-qualified candidates who only promote the interests of their corporate sponsor constituents who pay the cost of their election campaigns. Voters swayed by the personality approach to candidate selection, are also surrendering reason to emotion. Personalities are, by nature, complex and nebulous. They are not something one can weigh, measure, or otherwise quantify. As a result, Americans usually make a ‘gut’ decision for whom to cast their vote. Americans are famous for taking pride in this type of decision making process. However, the only criteria used in the ‘gut’ approach is emotion. In effect, ‘gut’ is emotion and the fact we rely on it to make political choices reflects our lack of education on the issues and policies of the candidates. Therefore, while we may think our election choices are not affected by political propaganda, our emotions are affected by TV and we make political decision based on emotion not education. Therefore we are influenced by political propaganda to a much greater degree than we want to realize or admit.  

Few people indeed understand the complex issues facing our citizens, government and nation. If it cannot fit in a one-liner-sound-bite, many US citizens do not know it exists. The energy spent on thinking and gossiping about candidates’ personalities diverts our attention from the far more important questions. What will politicians do when they are in office? What policies will they implement? How will they help the largest number of citizens? Will they address citizen’s concerns? In today’s circumstances this would include the Iraq War, health care, inflation, poverty, elderly care, education, infrastructure, environment, energy independence, civil rights, the severely damage results of corporate deregulation, free-trade agreements, corporate tax relief and government paid corporate subsidies, to name a few. But these topics are missing from the media charade. They are glossed over with one-liner-sound-bites engineered to elicit a certain response in the audience’s mind. Even though the government, under virtual oligarchic corporate control, has tilted the entire economic and political system on end to serve the selfish and greedy interests of the largest corporate oligarchs, these topics are dutifully avoided by the lap dog press. I suppose the reporters cannot be blamed. Any who tried to stand up against this media tyranny have been perfunctorily destroyed, their voice silenced or reduced to a mouse whisper in the alternative media. For example, Robert Scheer, after thirty years with the Los Angeles Times providing provocative and thoughtful commentary from the left, was summarily dismissed in what later became the first of a long wave of lay-offs from that organization. So ask yourself before you enter the voting station, “Am I selecting a candidate based on their personality or based on what policies they will implement once in office?” 

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An economist for 34 years I have remained committed to social justice and economic equality for as long. As long as we keep voting in Tweedly-Demos and Tweedly-Repugs nothing will change. The only way we can affect the political structure is to (more...)

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