Nearly every day I get into political discussions with people. I can’t help it. I guess the political climate right now has everyone’s attentions piqued.
Over the last 26 years that I have been alive, I have been witness to some of the biggest governing blunders our nation has ever experienced. Current polls show that Americans in record numbers are dissatisfied with the way our government is functioning. Today, the average American’s mindset has shifted from optimistic pride and trust in our government to one of unease, distaste and concern.
These attitudes will continue for one reason: a diversion of responsibility that is a direct result of the two-party political process. Our politicians and our media have worked together to create divisive lines specifically for the purpose of shifting blame.
Unfortunately for America, the joke is on you. No matter which political affiliation you associate with, your attentions are actively being diverted from the destructive policies that both major political parties are pursuing. While we argue petty points, the fundamental function of our government as specified in our constitution is being shifted.
If you are one of those die-hard Republicans, or a life-long Democrat, I am talking about you. Issues which are causing you to vote or hold true to your political affiliations are being created specifically to fit you into one of those mindsets. It’s a simple system of marketing that is extremely effective. In reality, since neither of the two major political parties actually presented candidates who follow traditional party lines, there is no reason to vote along party lines; yet people will do it anyway. The system demands that they vote for the lesser of two evils because of the common belief that nobody else has any chance of victory. This defeats the purpose of democratic elections by removing chances for all parties to be heard.
The process goes something like this: someone finds an issue which has divisive properties, such as abortion, immigration or the environment. They are called hot button subjects. Next, a politician takes a stand on one of these issues and uses it to differentiate himself from his opponent. As he does so, the media highlights the politician’s stance while also highlighting the candidate as a member of one of the two major political parties. The media does this because it creates a sense of competition, which is entertaining to watch.
As the campaigns go on, the candidates realize that most people who are interested in voting are interested because of an issue that gets them agitated. So, the hot button topics are repeated over and over. The media adds to the effect by repeating the same news stories concerning the same issues. All the while, Republican and Democrat labels are repeatedly attached to names so people can easily associate the politician with a party, and in turn vote for their choice of party and candidate. As the media continues to highlight the differences in candidates and their political affiliations, more and more people get sucked into whatever issues are being repeated, and thus: more and more people associate themselves with a particular party. Understandably, the media and politicians are interested in creating these associations. But the real danger lies in the repetition itself.
Repetition is an extremely effective tool in getting a message across. Joeseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s extremely successful propaganda minister, spoke extensively about the importance of repetition. “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly?it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” The Nazis also understood the abilities of politicians to control the media. Hitler said “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
What Adolf and Joeseph were getting at is a very special ability: the ability to change your mind without you even being aware of it.
Today, instead of politicians attempting to achieve some evil result, we have the simple drive by individuals to succeed. Unfortunately, this drive for success, within the frames that our media puts on it, has achieved a similar result to Goebbels’ mind manipulation. The difference is that instead of you hating a group of people based on race, today’s propaganda fits you into one of two major categories; Republicans or Democrats.
Considering the way our government is supposed to function, this form of political mindset framing or forming is just as dangerous to our republic. In America, our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people. However, the reality is that the topics that people debate in the first place are fed to them through a political and media system that functions in a very similar way to a propaganda machine.
People believe they are actively participating in our government, while in reality, they are only playing a role within the scope of whatever hot button topic is driving them to vote at that moment.
But real issues do exist; issues that are not getting the proper attentions of the people. Mainly, these issues can be summed up as an impending and significant threat to our constitutionally granted right to self-government. More specifically, our federal government has grown in both size and scope and has developed policies which are actively undermining our civil liberties. This makes no sense; one of the only reasons our federal government exists is to protect our constitutional rights.
As of now, the presidential candidates for both major parties have one thing in common. Currently both candidates can be found arguing the merits of how to best spend your money. That’s about the only thing that separates them. They both want to spend a huge amount of your money. The way they spend it will differ, but the impact they will have on your pocketbook will be about the same.
The U.S. has reached an astonishing $9.5 trillion debt level, but the American people don’t focus on the issue of federal spending in general. Yet we constantly debate a nationally funded health care system, or how many billions of dollars we should allow the military to use.
It is critical to the success of this nation to develop political and media systems that present candidates based on their merits. The day when people must pick a candidate based on what he or she stands for, and not just whoever their party sticks in front of you, is a beautiful day. In addition, if there is media focus on real issues that are actually important to the future of our nation (how our government functions within the frames of the constitution), we will quickly see the amazing American ingenuity that made us a great nation in the first place come into play.
If the two major parties continue to focus on hot button political issues that have no fundamental impact on the way our government functions, while passing legislation which continually increases the size and scope of the federal government, America, as the great shining beacon of freedom, will no longer exist. We will quickly find ourselves socializing and joining the ranks of nations whose governments control the way the people function, rather than the other way around.