By Mike Starry
Promising tax cuts, the Republicans have used the media to manipulate millions of working people to vote against their own long-term economic interests. As a new diversionary tactic, Donald Trump conjures social issues that have little impact on their working-class targets’ lives because many politicians know that politics is like a magic trick. If they distract their voters with diversionary tactics about abortion and immigrants, many voters won’t notice the trap doors and strings of their political conjuring.
Like the “rally round the flag” effect, a diversionary tactic can cause an increase of national fervor in the general public. The targets: mostly the White collective high-anxiety individuals who have great desire to feel special compared to darker skinned workers. In exercising their unequal privileges like consuming and acquiring more stuff, they suspend thinking and emotionally validate their anxieties.
They think that having more stuff replaces the higher security of being part of a shared system, like Medicare and Social Security. Except more stuff does not provide personal fulfillment or suspend the chief cause of our anxieties, that is, distracting ourselves from the contemplation of death, as almost all human activity is driven by the subconscious fear of death.
Merging public relations and politics into a seamless maneuver, marketing authoritarian populism is just another marketing campaign for the clever exploiters. The One Percent needs the working people to literally love the order that dominates them. One way the modern aristocracy gets semi-skilled workers to internalize the brainwashing that the “aristocrats are more deserving people” is by stoking a fear that the American Dream is being threatened by hordes of darker skinned tribes.
Nevertheless, using a wide variety of methods to destroy reason such as the suppression of popular literacy, are incompatible with a modern economy. Once the common people become educated, more sophisticated methods of domination, such as Fox News fear games, are required.
It is no accident that illegal immigration has emerged as a theme at a time of epic corruption among the conservative aristocrats in business and government. Someone must be blamed for the 2008 Recession fallout, and the One Percent does not want to get caught like they did in their 1929 gambling in the stock market.
For example, petroleum corporation propagandists have turned some Christians into climate change deniers by arguing that if you believe climate change is real, you’re not showing enough trust in God. That is, regardless of how much we destroy the atmosphere, praying will save us. It’s a wicked way of manipulating people by preying on their insecurities to get them to set aside their moral considerations.
Religion can be whatever the manipulator wants it to be. It might seem like an aggressive misreading of the Bible to imagine, as the working-class Christian right wing might do, that Jesus was a laissez-faire capitalist who was not bothered by poverty or the rich getting richer. However, to quote Napoleon Bonaparte, “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
As a local library media teacher, I saw that if students can write, they can think, something educated parents want their children to do. Most teachers have years of lessons dependent on testing and grading that deny student-originated research to support writing, thus, students might practice little buy-in-ownership thinking. This requires teachers to stick to top-down, state-approved texts that do not threaten the power structure. After taking most tests, students forget about what they were studying in a few days. Regurgitation testing without thinking equals no learning, but the best universities want good grades.
Fortunately, in the past 40 years a new kind of teaching that downplays lecturing (talking down to the peasants) and test regurgitation, which now favors students’ brainstorming and teamwork that promote creativity, weaving basic subjects into real-world lessons that develop leadership skills. This is unlike the 2012 Republican Party of Texas opposing the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (values clarification), critical thinking skills so they can infuse blind obedience into its top-down doctrine of political domination.
The One Percent really wants to jam authoritarian government down children’s throats. “Don’t think about why you are poor. Ask no questions so we can remain in power because God wants it that way.” They rely on a promise of citizenship through machismo by connecting immigrants’ citizenship to joining the military.
With crony capitalism, corporate welfare and corporate profiteering without better wages for workers are becoming ever more visible in the news, a situation such as a Vietnam War would be just what the One Percent would abracadabra to distract people’s attention from their economic misery. So, regarding North Korea or Iran’s nuclear capabilities, will a phony international crisis magically appear in the near future?
In 1946, six months before his suicide in his Nuremberg cell, Nazi Hermann Goering answered an interviewer’s question about how the Nazis led the other Germans into World War II, “All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Mike Starry is a resident of Fresno and retired librarian.