Friday, November 9, 2012

Politics 101: American Voter, Who art Thou?

         While human beings are capable of reason, they are rarely ever reasonable.
         But if you tell them that, or worse, if you actually prove it to them, they will not thank you for the valuable undeception.  They will get offended, and they will have proved your point, albeit unwittingly.  They do not know that they are wasting time being offended, time they could have spent thinking.  Their over-weaning sense of grievance and offense has been highly refined; their skill at rational analysis has not.
         Reason is but one of the many things that drive human beings, and it is normally not the strongest.  Human beings are also creatures of habit, of appetite, of prejudice, and of passion.  More importantly, they are creatures of incentive.  If you wish to move human beings, and moving human beings is the fundamental political action, then you must place effective incentives before them.  Because human beings are not primarily mind-driven, more often than not that effective incentive won’t be a rational argument or anything like it.
         The American voter is not capable of sustained rational analysis, and doesn’t care to be.  That’s not the lure that draws them.  That’s not the bait that brings them to the hook.  Only a few get reeled into the electoral boat by rational analysis and a recitation of accumulated historical precedent.
         The rest feed on other things.  They are not convinced so much as they are bought.  To win an election, you must promise them what they want and give them a short slogan in which to wrap it.  That slogan doesn’t have to be true, just superficially plausible.  Any half-true truism will do.
         Deeper than that you must not go.
         I’m not saying you shouldn’t make an argument.  Of course you should.  Some folks live at that level and must be reached.  Most do not.  But they think they do.
         You won’t win postmodern elections with esoteric discussions on degrees of constitutionality or on monetary theory, important as those are.  Reality won’t permit it.  The average presidential sound bite in a news cast is about 6.5 seconds.  What can you say in six seconds except “Vote for me.  I care, and I want to give you something?”
         Politics is not the lofty enterprise some think it is.  It’s dirtier and more crass than that.  America is not a nation of unbiased intellectuals seeking for truth, and it doesn’t want to be.  It’s a nation of self-absorbed sinners who crave little more than personal peace and affluence.  They want what they want when they want it.  Then, after you give it to them, they want to be left alone to do as they wish, not as they ought.
         If you don’t know that about American voters, you won’t win elections.  If you don’t know enough to appeal to human sloth and craven self-regard, you don’t know politics because you don’t know people.
         Do not forget that America voters were educated in American public schools, where the Gospel of John is banned and Heather has Two Mommies is required; where sincerity, not achievement, is the measure of success; and where you get trophies just for trying.  Then, after twelve years of this self-indulgent, brain-numbing, soul destroying, secularist propaganda, they go on to state-funded (and therefore state-controlled) universities, where the government decides the guidelines by which students are enrolled, teachers are hired, and classes are taught, universities from which they get advanced degrees in leftist group think and learn falsely to believe they are intellectuals who follows the evidence wherever it leads rather than lemmings marching resolutely to destruction.
         Those are the voters to whom you must appeal or else you will lose.  Your political fate rests with them.  Most of them don’t want to hear your arguments.  They want a Coke in one hand and a candy bar in the other.  Whoever gives them the goodies first and best wins.
         This is what the political application of the Christian doctrine of human depravity looks like.  Don’t forget it.
         Now, about 2014, what’s your plan?          


Ted McDonald said...

Thanks for the article Dr. Bauman; it paints an accurate picture of the situation we currently face.

As I commented previously, I believe our only path back to sanity starts by asking God for forgiveness, and then focusing our attention on raising up unapologetically Christian children.

This election was decades in the making. While most of us were sleeping, liberals attacked critical thinking and objectivity in our schools. Under the guise of entertainment, they flooded the social sphere with their perverse ideologies and we Christians unfortunately ate it up. This rejection of logic by the American electorate is not surprising, although deeply depressing.

Just as liberals fought the long and slow cultural war, we Christians have be willing to do so as well. As you pointed out Dr. Bauman, there can be no true intellectual discussion with the majority of the electorate, that is why I believe the only way to change our society is by each individual taking responsibility for their family. If two people raise up four Christians, then those four will raise up four Christians of their own. In a couple generations or so, we could take back our country.

I am 21 years old. I have grown up in liberal Seattle public schools my entire life. Your article resonates with me, because it describes my generation - my peers - so perfectly. I have given a lot of thought to what I can do to make a difference; raising a family of Christians that are willing to fight for what's true is the most effective thing I can think of. That is the long term plan. In the short term I will to continue to vote and encourage others to vote for the best candidates. I will present the gospel and Christian virtues as a positive solution - as the only solution to the problems we currently face.

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

As before, thanks for your thoughtful comment, which is insightful and well-aimed. All I can add to it is my prayer that God blesses your purpose, and that it prospers in ways we can't yet even imagine.

Paula said...

Spot-on with your thoughts about our messaging. One of the more insightful articles I read about this election was Narrative Wars: Slap the Honey Boo Boos with Truthaganda. Referring to the TLC show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" he says,

"...[M]illions of people are so tuned out of politics and so uninterested in current affairs that they’d rather watch a family of obese rednecks abusing their young daughter than learn even the most basic facts about the next president of the United States...

He continues:

"Since Honey Boo Boos barely pay any attention to the “news,” they get their information through a sort of unconscious osmosis of the general national zeitgeist. If enough half-read headlines and talking heads droning in the background say the economy is in the dumps, then the Honey Boo Boos eventually internalize that the economy must be in the dumps. If candy canes and wreaths start appearing in store windows and a few notes of muzak “Jingle Bells” remain audible above the screaming toddlers, then the Honey Boo Boos figure Christmas must be coming up soon. And if a sufficient plurality of media outlets scream that some guy named Romney did something stupid, then this Romney guy must be an idiot. Really, that’s about how deep it goes. The media knows that at this stage in the election, the headline is all that matters. And the headline need only be barely supported by some underlying veracity. If you can find some cooperative Democratic staffer to mouth the word “gaffe,” then you’re off to the races with a deceptive headline whose only purpose is to impact the retina of a distracted Honey Boo Boo if only for a second.

Our side needs to figure out how to break through the noise and use both social and mainstream media to our advantage. As you said, unfortunately, it won't be through rational analysis, it will be through sound bites.

David L. Russell said...

Once again Michael, you have waxed eloquent with yet another gem. I hate to kick a dead horse with the phrase, "Bread and Circuses," but what you have articulated in this commentary describes, in my opinion, the motive for why the Romans kept its citizens sidetracked with bread and circuses. Politicians today love for the herds to be sidetracked with distractions. We have more advanced version of this today, including the greatest mind numbing side trackers of all.............. facebook, Twitter, and the great collective of Social networking outlets.

We have everyone allegedly communicating, but no one is really listening. We've learned to stay in touch, but not to understand anything, or each other. When you look at what happened in this last election, you then see what happens to a culture that possesses not the capacity to understand basic philosophy, and the ideas have consequences. I can hear, echoing in my mind the question far too many of my students have asked on the first day of a philosophy class....... "What's the point of studying philosophy, it's so boring to begin with."

You mentioned how students leave mind numbing public schools, only to enter mind numbing institutions of high learning. I am remind of Ayn Rand's outstanding lecture on the "Comprachicos." These were hideous people up until the 17th Century Spain and Europe who purchased children from parents (typically those who could not afford to care for their children anymore) and turned them into freaks for the entertainment of others, especially political officials and the upper crust of society. They would get them young and disfigure them so that the would look grotesque and ugly. Often Stuffing them in barrels and fattening them up into strangely shape monsters, or placing upon their faces iron masks that would distort them in nightmarish looking creatures.

Ayn Rand said that today we have the Comprachicos of the mind to whom we have sold our children in colleges and universities. An absolutely brilliant work. I have attached the link here.