I’m well aware that this post will make some people mad. I’m aware that some people will not like me afterward, but that is none of my business. I have learned that what people think about me, really isn’t about me, it’s about them. Regardless, there is something I must talk about no matter the fallout.
I want to talk about rape and abortion. I happen to know a few things about both, but that isn’t what this post is about. This post is about something even MORE emotionally charged… the politics of rape and abortion.
As someone who spent their professional career learning ways to inspire others into action, I know the most often used strategy with the highest success rate. It’s emotional appeal, in particular, that of fear. If you can make someone adequately afraid of something, anything, you will have their attention.
I surreptitiously inserted anecdotes of unsavory scenarios that befell my customer’s competitors. The solution, of course, was what I was selling. I talked a lot about the difficulties of running a business in this economic climate and how my service could alleviate those worries. I discussed safety issues, injuries, potential injuries, loss and catastrophe topped with a heaping helping of worse case scenarios. In the end, it was always about finding their fear and pushing on it with a deft hand.
I sat in seminar after seminar to learn how to do this. It’s a textbook sales strategy and it is the strategy our politicians uses on us time and again. They do this so that our attention is not focused on complicated, cerebral, tangibly measured problems such as the deficit and fiscal responsibility, but rather on the lowest common denominator in us all, our humanity, specifically, the things we most fear.
They do this by creating what’s called false dilemmas (I know, because I used to create them). A false dilemma is when an issue is presented in terms of black and white, A or B, right or wrong. The goal is to inspire you to pick a side. Either option will press heavily on an emotion or ideal rooted in fear. When you are forced to make your impassioned choice, you will essentially be choosing them, the red elephant or the blue donkey. You will be so afraid of the other choice, that you will also choose to support everything else they stand for, right or wrong. You will then vote for them every time, and that’s all that matters. They count on you not thinking, just being afraid.
Why do they do this? Because it works. We all have fears that drive us into action and they manipulate those things to A. gain your attention, and B. gain our allegiance. Pressing our fears inspires us to secure our flags in their camp. To seek easy answers and safety in numbers. Perhaps we feel less alone and a little more in control by aligning our beliefs? Whatever the case may be, this strategy is effective in creating a “base” of people who will vote one way only, no matter what is said or done.
This base is composed of the “devout” Republicans and “staunch” Liberals. The people who check mark the ‘D’ or ‘R’ at the top of the ballot regardless of whose names are under them. The D’s and R’s, they rely on these people to vote this way. They say these are their constituents, but the only time they care what these people think is when they’re trying to get nominated to candidacy. Otherwise, these are the devotees, the groupies, the panty-throwing 20-something in the front row who knows all the words to their songs. They aren’t the ones that need convincing of anything. Their name is forever in the same column without anymore work to be done. Easier than shooting frightened fish in a leaky barrel. These voters are what I used to call the “low hanging fruit.” My real concerns were not these customers, they were the other customers who demanded tangible information, a measurable ROI, or workable plans for creating jobs and providing affordable healthcare. Those were the ones that made me work harder and be better.
Despite what my decidedly liberal mother and in-laws might think, I am not a Republican. I did not vote for Obama on 2008, but I might in 2012 and yet a Democrat, I am not. Perhaps it’s my identification with being an “outsider” or the inherent issue I have with being told what to think or how to feel–either way, I do not align myself with either party. I don’t feel anything about these affiliations and their politicians and I don’t jerk my knee at stupid statements like “legitimate rape“ or “death panels.” Because that’s all they are; ignorant, irresponsible, emotional firecrackers meant to ignite the base and create a false dilemma.
Everything has context. Most decisions have a grey area, an alternative explanation, another choice that is not being presented. The context for the latest sensational gaffe is a man whose been a politician for 23 years and (like all politicians) dancing around the emotionally charged subject of abortion and women’s rights which, by the way, happens to be the most impassioned false dilemma of them all. It’s black or white, people; better make your choice; stake your flag– because either we’re killing babies or infringing on women’s rights. Choose now America because we need your vote for life!
Horrible, insensitive, unfortunate choice of words by Todd Akin, I’ll give you that, but what is the fallout from this monumentally ignorant phrase? It gives us all a chance to re-up on our allegiances; put our fears in check and react again in a fervent, impassioned way to the issue of abortion and women’s rights. We all get to reaffirm our choice and the politicians get to count how many names are in their columns. FEAR, FEAR, FEAR, BE AFRAID EVERYONE! Don’t ever forget what you believe! It’s either right or it’s wrong!
I gotta say, few other things fire me up more than when people refuse to apply logic, reason and compassion when deciding who should run this country.
I am not against having a moral compass or belief system. I understand that everyone has different barometers of what is right and wrong. I understand that not everyone will come to the same conclusion (if there is just one conclusion). I expect that. In fact, I think that differing view points lead to better ideas.
But that’s not what happens. What happens is name-calling, demonizing, shaming and sycophantic levels of worship all of which have nothing to do with beliefs. Those are reactions to fear-based thinking, not a moral or ethical compass. It’s the antithesis to workable solutions and productivity. The only thing that slinging insults and blind worship will get you, is more hatred and delusions… and lots of partisanship–stark, polarizing, paralyzing, partisanship.
Do you want to know the TRUTH behind politics, politicians and people? We are not all that different. Nobody wants the reality of an unwanted pregnancy to be a choice anyone has to face. Nobody wants women to be raped in any fashion. All of us want to have the freedom to choose our destinies. All of us want a chance at redemption for our sins and poor life choices. And all of us want to live without fear and oppression of any kind.
Problem is, until we can stop the irrational reactions to our own fears, we’ll rarely make the most reasonable decisions about anything. Good decisions are not based on fear, they are based on a compassionate understanding that everyone is equal, deserves respect and the benefit of the doubt. That means everyone from the disheveled, drug-addicted, prostitute who’s claiming rape, to Todd Akin, himself.
Because what you believe about another person says more about you, not them.