psychpol

November 9, 2012

ELECTION REFLECTIONS

The election of 2012 is now over. A number of important issues emerged. Those who voted have expressed support for their positions.

How do interested citizens understand what happened, and what the implications are for America?

Liberals are happy with the outcome of the presidential election. Barack Obama won another four-year term. Conservatives are unhappy to see Mitt Romney lose the election.

An independent conservative looks at some of the  factors that drove the Obama victory and the Romney defeat. Which may represent current trends in our society?

MONEY TALKS

The total amount spent on the presidential  campaign was $2.2 billion.

The Obama campaign raised more money than the Romney campaign.

In one case, Romney raised $52 million from a Las Vegas businessman, Sheldon Addelson.

The President, who in 2008 said he would only use public funding and then flip-flopped, was able to raise  huge sums from core supporters such as public labor unions, liberal activist groups and Hollywood celebrities.

The latter included such a noted misogynist as “comedian” Bill Maher who donated one million dollars. This money was welcomed by the proclaimed defender of women, Obama. Liberals did not comment on this contribution.

Although liberals have decried the presence of money in politics, the fact that Obama raised so much money was not an impediment to voting for him.

Somehow, it was righteous money, correctly given.

Although Obama had bashed “the rich” for four years, he had no problem taking their money, being seen with them, charging $40,000 per plate at fund-raisers, etc. These were “the good rich, ” the anointed 1%. The enlightened.

One is left to wonder how many schools could have been built or people given help with so much money raised by both candidates.

CLASS WARFARE IS A WINNER

This strategy, a central theme in the first Obama administration,  demonized “millionaires and billionaires” and “greedy Wall Street bankers” as the source of America’s problems.

In fact, a “millionaire” was someone making over $250,00 per year, a unique mathematical concept, but one which did not trouble Obama voters.

The people were not getting their “fair share” or a “fair shot” or a “level playing field” because of the wealthy and their heartless Republican allies.

Of course, “fair share” was never defined.  To be specific was never Obama’s purpose. The strategy was to enrage the people against “the haves.”

For many, it worked.

While Democrats typically emphasize class warfare, portraying themselves as champions of the middle class and the poor (with many riding in their private jets), the Obama campaign took it to a new level. 

In fact, “rich” has become a four letter word in America. If one is a rich Democrat or contributor to Obama’s campaign, that is good and that person is not the enemy.

But the general strategy is to stereotype successful citizens as “having no heart, cold and indifferent” to the plight of suffering Americans.

By contrast, the Democrats sell themselves as the party of  “the people” and “really do care”.

Consider the meager reduction in America’s poverty rate in the last 50 years (3.3%), in spite of the Democrats public positioning as the  grand advocates for the poor.

Or the rate in the increase of people in poverty and on food stamps (31 million in 2009 to 47 million now) during the first Obama term.

Inconvenient facts that undermine the class warfare strategy..

How many Democratic millionaires are in the US Senate and House, and how much has their wealth increased since they were elected to office?

DEMONIZING ROMNEY

In the “Kill Romney” strategy, he was correctly portrayed as a rich guy, but he was painted as a heartless person who doesn’t care about the less fortunate.

It was repeatedly said that he couldn’t “relate” or “connect” with voters. It is as if voters were looking for a new parent or a therapist.

Obama was seen as “caring” and “connected” to the people.

Oddly, many of those who meet Obama describe him as aloof and professorial.

He has no international leaders as close friends, as have other presidents.

The father of the Navy Seal murdered in Libya described Obama’s handshake as “like a cold fish,” and his eyes “as looking distant over my shoulder.”

During the campaign Obama or his surrogates, such as David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter, angrily described Romney as “a murderer, a felon, a calloused exporter of jobs to China, a heartless capitalist, a liar, a flip-flopper,” and even someone who put his dog on the roof of his car!

One TV ad even used an African-American waste worker who collected Romney’s trash in a San Diego suburb. His trash!

His wife was mocked by yet another angry feminist for not working outside the home, or for owning horses used as therapy for Multiple Sclerosis, or for wearing an expensive piece of clothing.

On several occasions, Michelle Obama wore the more expensive clothing, but this did not merit a mention for most media.

And what business is it of anyone what someone chooses to wear, or how many houses they have, or whether they own horses?

But the demonization campaign worked. And worked very well.

ROLE OF MEDIA

Many of the above themes were repeated by network news outlets, liberal newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post, pundits on MSNBC and CNN and  talk shows with people such as The View and David Letterman.

If the President was interviewed on such a show, he was rarely challenged.

Interestingly, one of his most challenging interviews was the Miami outlet of Univision. Otherwise, questions were typically softball or feel good in nature.

The print media rarely did its designated job of investigating events like the Libya coverup. It might make Obama look bad, and so was suppressed.

The issue of $16 trillion in debt, up from an unacceptable $9 trillion in 2008, was essentially avoided and not factually addressed in a widespread fashion by the liberal media.

No excessive debt alarm was sounded by most outlets, with a few exceptions.

The troubling part is that biased journalists rarely see their own biases, and those are what determine one’s world view.

What should be happening is objective and fair reporting, but that is primarily dead in America at this point. Opinion rules.

Media are now rated with very low numbers by the American people.  But, for those who seek information about their world, media is very influential in shaping political perception and opinion.

This is particularly true for designated news programming.

FACTS DON’T COUNT

While Romney was portrayed as “a liar” by Obama strategists such as Axelrod and Gibbs,  facts were not presented to support this.

Reputable fact checkers more frequently identified  lying by Obama, both in the debates and in campaign speeches (see Washington Post columns on Pinocchio awards). This was somehow ignored and acceptable to liberals.

If Romney distorted fact or changed positions relative to the past, a torrent of criticism was unleashed. The ” JEEP moving production facilities to China” story was one recent example.

Some said that Obama could not run on his record because it was essentially filled with hollow promises and failure.

He promised much but delivered little. The facts of high unemployment rates, more people on food stamps, more women out work and in poverty, the highest rate of poverty in 50 years, did not matter to Obama voters.

It was as if analyzing the truth took too much effort. Or, in a favorite Obama tactic, it was George W. Bush’s fault!

Voters should recognize the real enemy and feel sorry for poor Barack who inherited such a mess…

The notion that in four years, our leader should have produced real improvement was ignored. Obama presented employment numbers (“5 million jobs created”) that were patently false.

In fact for every “job created,” 75 Americans were on Food Stamps.

These facts, while very real for everyday people, did not matter to his supporters.

When the Libyan Ambassador, two former Seals and a Foreign service officer were murdered by Islamic fanatics, the Obama administration knew in real-time what was happening. Documents confirm this.

However, they concocted a story about an obscure video that allegedly enraged a crowd of demonstrators already at the consulate site.

No matter that there was no demonstration, as the Obama administration knew, as events unfolded.

Or that they immediately knew it as an organized attack. Or that our fellow Americans were abandoned for 9 hours, only to die.

They had requested additional security for months, and were turned down by administration officials.

Obama then went to Las Vegas to campaign.

Or the fact that two Iranian jets attempted to shoot down an American Predator drone, allegedly over international waters. This occurred 6 days before the election and was suppressed by the Obama administration.

Or, after a photo-op in New Jersey following hurricane Sandy, and being praised for his “leadership” by the media, Obama disappeared and went to play basketball with friends in the midst of the crisis.

The victims of Sandy know firsthand how well FEMA and the Obama leadership have been responding to their dire straits.

And so, in a broader trend in today’s America, facts were put aside, remained hidden and often were not challenged.

They conflicted with Obama’s’ desired image as “caring,” and an effective international leader who had squashed terrorism, and the majority of the voters bought it.

Don’t confuse me with the facts!

EMOTION TRUMPS REASON

The Obama campaign utilized tactics designed to stir up emotion. This revision of the “Hope and Change” theme in 2008 tended to emphasize anger at the opponent and the magical qualities of the President.

For those of us who followed the campaign closely, liberal media rarely challenged the President’s record or his misstatements.

The facts were not presented and debated as central to the country’s future.

The differences between the candidates on their economic plans were rarely discussed. They were irrelevant for many liberal voters.

For example, Romney was regularly criticized for not being “specific.” In fact, he had a 59 point plan for America that had been posted for over 460 days at the time of the election. The plan was very specific as to what he would do as president.

Two weeks before the election, Obama presented a 20 point Plan for America, complete with pictures. It recycled old ideas that did not work in his first term. It was vague and lacking specificity.

Nonetheless, this was not challenged and, like many tactics, served to reinforce the idea that Obama had “a plan” and was a competent leader.

Or consider the stereotype that Republicans are heartless and Democrats really care.

VP Biden, and his wife have donated $395 a year to charity for the past 20 years. Romney and his wife donated $7 million in the last two years,

Romney, a modest man,  is known for helping others through selfless giving. Obama has virtually no record of this in his life.

In fact, Obama talked about his mother “having to fight with insurance companies on her deathbed.” Why didn’t he fight for his mother?

So, facts count less and less in America today. Everyone’s opinion is somehow worth considering, no matter its lack of foundation, objective truth or frank ignorance.

It is hatred that must be stoked against the opponent because many voters will not bother with facts or reason. Too much trouble.

More and more, such emotions are exploited and drive elections in our divided country.

FREE STUFF

The fact is that 50% of the people in America pay no Federal income taxes. In the expansion of the entitlement society, the other 50% carry their fellow citizens.

America is now seen by many as the Takers versus Makers.

The Obama campaign and first term emphasized the “unfairness” of the life situation of the bottom 50%, and attributed this to the rich, lack of social and economic “justice,” and other external forces.

They promised that the 50% would be taken care of because this was their “right.”

This was the case for student loans, for example. The first Obama term had eliminated banks from providing loans as part of the Obamacare legislation.

Obama made a moral issue of why students should not have to pay back loans.

The principle of taking responsibility for your decision to secure a loan? It must be the evil bank’s fault. You are a victim.

One of his key constituents in the election was young people. According to news accounts, many could not articulate why they supported the president.

The children of illegals were granted, through Obama fiat and defiance of the law, a path to the job market and citizenship.

The fact that 23 million American citizens are out of work or underemployed was ignored. This feel good tactic, a giveaway of legal status earned by others, may have influenced the Hispanic vote.

The allure of free handouts from the Federal Government, be it cell phones or checks, showed that Obama really “cares.” This tactic drew many voters to his side in the election.

It is a central Democratic theme, but especially prominent with Obama.

Thus, since many have been “unfairly” treated in their lives, they now “deserve” retribution in the form of entitlements. The Obama campaign used this tactic to win the votes of selected voter groups.

RACE AND GENDER POLITICS

This was a central theme in the election and has growing influence in American society. Birth rates are lowest for Whites and Blacks, and highest for Asians and, particularly, Hispanics.

Blacks voted overwhelmingly for Obama, as they did in 2008. Is this because they carefully analyzed the issues? No, it was primarily a race-based vote.

By not naming Marco Rubio as his VP candidate, Romney rejected the idea of race-based politics.

Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Obama. One issue allegedly involved Romney’s stance on illegal aliens.

Obama was perceived as sympathetic to illegals, although he had proposed no legislation, as he promised, during his term.

For historical perspective, when President Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million illegals, he received 37% of the Hispanic vote. When George HW Bush, another Republican, ran next, he received 30% of the Hispanic vote. Romney received 25% in this cycle.

So the argument that Hispanics vote for Democrats in far larger numbers because of the illegal immigration and reform issue appears to be false.

Paradoxically, could it be that legal Hispanics feel a greater allegiance to their illegal brethren than to American law?  Although they are here legally, the laws in America should be bypassed for their racial brethren.

This is a very touchy subject. Through sheer numbers, racial minorities are playing an increasing role in American politics.

A democracy should welcome the participation of every citizen.

Sadly, Blacks and Hispanics how have high rates of unemployment, crime, illegitimate pregnancies and school dropouts, and arguably use a disproportionate share of public resources.

These issues were never addressed by the Democrats, in spite of pleas from such Obama supporters as poverty advocate, Tavis Smiley.

Nonetheless, a key Obama campaign and governing theme is that some groups are “entitled” to the fruits of the labors of others.

Somehow the latter “exploited” them, and this explains their life choices.

Obviously, many minorities are successful, ironically through the path emphasized by Republicans, that is, self-reliance, personal responsibility and achievement striving.

This was a positive Romney theme and was rejected by the majority.

Regarding the manufactured “war on women,” the Democrats stoked this issue,  receiving more votes from single women.

The centerpiece of the argument was a law student who complained that free contraception should be available to all women.

In fact, this has been the case for 30 years in America. But again, emotion trumped fact, and Romney was stereotyped as anti-woman.

Furthermore, the Republicans were widely perceived as in favor of banning abortion, the existential tenet of the feminist movement.

Romney in fact said that he supported abortion in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother.

Nonetheless, Democrats emphasized the fear tactic that Republicans would strive to overturn Roe versus Wade. In fact, there has never a serious charge mounted to do so.

Ignorant statements by Republican Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana were presented as if they represented all Republicans, but particularly Romney and Ryan.

The issue of gay marriage is another example of identity politics. The Republicans opposed this.

Obama had flip-flopped several times on the issue, with this depending on which office he was seeking. His endorsement of gay marriage was seen as a great breakthrough in his “evolving thinking.”

The fact that this and other endorsements came as the campaign developed  was conveniently overlooked by Democratic partisans and liberal media. The obvious opportunism of these actions by Obama was ignored by his voters.

And so, what have we learned about today’s America?

There appears to be a tendency toward emotional, poorly informed decision-making by the electorate.

Emotion, how someone feels, seems to be a desirable basis for choosing a candidate. This would include perceived factors like bring “connected”, how they “relate”, if they are “cool”, and likeability.

Voters today are less informed as to facts and issues than ever before.

Among 18 – 29 year olds in one study, 26% knew there were three branches of government. This would appear to be a further indictment of “self-esteem” based education.

You know, “you are valuable just because you are you. Whether you work and achieve or not. Here, have a trophy.”

Negative campaigns work. Obama’s campaign spent hundreds of millions of dollars portraying Romney as a cold-hearted capitalist who didn’t care about the middle class or the poor.

With an impressionable, poorly informed electorate, demonizing the rich appears to be a winning strategy.

A candidate’s record can be obscured by demonizing his or her opponent. Because the electorate is less and less objective and interested in facts, a record can be blamed on others.

Thus, taking personal responsibility for one’s performance in office can be mitigated by a negative campaign about “obstructionist” Republicans or your predecessor.

The fact that not one single Democrat in the Senate and House voted for Obama’s last three budgets was ignored.

It is the same as blaming others for your personal life choices. A child’s defense mechanism.

We have learned that the “everyone does it” argument is effective. That is, the theme that both campaigns were equally negative and attacking.

Of course, this is not true, as the Romney campaign avoided this type of personal attack, choosing instead to focus on a positive vision and Obama’s negative  record, a  losing strategy.

Look at the research on biased stories in the media.

For example, they could have focused on Obama’s racist “spiritual mentor”, or his association with radicals such as Ayers and Farrakhan. Or the racist policies of Eric Holder and the Justice Department in the New Black Panther party case.

Or the Libyan cover-up. Or the broken campaign promises.

We have learned that one’s primary identification may not be as an American. In spite of the rhetoric regarding “togetherness,” racial and gender identities are the preference of many groups.

Ideas of cultural diversity and political correctness tend to reign.

Such a strategy by whites or heterosexual persons would be decried as racist, elitist and homophobic.

It is a new America, but not a better one. When people are easily manipulated by fear, anger and distortion of the truth, creeping fascism can not be far behind.

Modern history is replete with such examples, Hitler, Mao, Mussolini and more.

Will we learn from this? This author believes this to be unlikely.

Those that resist emotional appeals have already done so.

Those that don’t have shown themselves to be vulnerable to deliberate and destructive psychological tactics.

That is quite different from understanding and debating the facts and issues on logical grounds.

The American dream of hard work and financial success has been repudiated in favor of government entitlements and dependency.

This is what many voters want, and why Obama was so successful in achieving re-election.

His is the dream of, at best, a Western European Social Democracy.

We now see the results of such an approach, including riots in the streets, bankrupt governments and heightened class warfare in Europe.

But if facts and reason don’t matter, when you take the entitlement succulence from a dependent person, as with a young child, rage will inevitably result.

And that is where we are today in America, in this observer’s view.

Without transformative educational, intellectual and social change, the price will be great for us all, both in the character of our society, and in the lives and aspirations of our citizens.

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1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on psychpol.

    Comment by psychpol — November 11, 2012 @ 3:05 pm


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