Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pavlovian politics

[I]t doesn’t require much analysis to understand why John McCain and Sarah Palin resort to buzzwords such as: Ayers, terrorist, Rev. Wright, Socialist. It’s because the issues that most concern voters are the very issues that have been broken by arguably America’s most unready-to-lead President, George Bush. Consequently, rather than being Plan B, their approach is actually Plan A.

And if McCain and Palin win, this approach will become a template for future electioneering. Why go to the expense and trouble of presenting a plan for the future? Why tell voters what you will do in office to make the US and the world a better place? Much easier to degrade and debase the other by using simple words, akin to “sit,” “heel,” “attack.” And watch the voters salivate.

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Watch the voters salivate. Indeed. Too many Americans have been reduced to (or were never really more than) well-trained attack dogs who bare their teeth at the mention of certain words (e.g., socialism, liberal, Muslim, etc.) without actually understanding what those words mean.

That said, one thing the author does not mention is that the word "socialism" might not be the curse word for folks of my generation that it is for our predecessors. After all, we came of age when the Berlin Wall was falling and with it communism/socialism. So it was "OK" in college and in life to learn about the vanquished monster; what many of us learned is that socialism isn't worse than capitalism, and that for most of us, it might actually provide a more humane mode of existence.

So I'm interested in seeing how the "Obama is a socialist" meme plays out with the under-40 crowd. I think it might bring in voters, rather than dissuade them.

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