An opinion piece in Newsweek contains the following statement about the health care debate.
As politicians and strategists (at least the successful ones) have finally learned, appeals to emotion leave appeals to reason in the dust. And no emotion moves people more powerfully than fear.
(See: Newsweek, Attack! The Truth about Obamacare by Sharon Begley)
If the Democrats listen to Begley, we are to be bombarded by messages promoting fear on both sides. The combined message would then be that, if we side with the Democrats, our worst fears will come true. And if we side with the Republicans, even worst fears will come true.
This sounds like just the type of world I want to live in.
To her credit, Begley does suggest that Democrats not lie to promote fear the way Republicans do. Democrats can tell the truth and still promote fear. While Republicans make up things like 'death panels' that deny people medical care because they are not able to make a contribution to society that would justify keeping them alive, Democrats can speak honestly about people being drained of every last penny of their savings then left to die when they can no longer pay.
Though I have some reason to question whether the Democratic boogey man in this case is any more real than the Republican boogey man. Many of the current problems with our health care coverage can be traced to government mandates that drive up the cost and limit the ways in which people can obtain health insurance.
But let’s put that debate aside for a moment.
Begley’s article says the following:
At this time last year, if you had askd people whether the federal government would effectively nationalize AIG and Fannie Mae, and whether the Dow would plummet to 6,627 in March 2009 after reaching 14,093 in October 2007, most would have confidently said no, that will never happen in my lifetime. And yet, 'In a world gone crazy, the impossible – even 'death panels' – suddenly seems possible,' says psychologist Drew Western of Emory University, author of the 2007 book The Political Brain.
Come, now. Are we to believe that this culture only came to find nonsense such as 'death panels' plausible as a result of the current economic downturn?
These are people who have embraced lies and absurdities as a central part of their culture and way of life for a very long time. They are dominated by young-earth creationists who have a great deal of practice accepting any lie that might suggest a problem with the idea that life on Earth evolved. They eagerly fed from a plate full of lies about global warming for over 30 years. They swallowed the lies that lead to the invasion of Iraq, called Obama a Muslim, a spread viral emails that he turned his back on the flag whenever the Senate gave the Pledge of Allegiance.
These lies about 'death panels' are nothing more than the most recent manifestation of a culture that has a long and deep tradition of lies from the top and gullibility from the bottom. This is a culture that abandoned the standards of evidence and reason long ago. That fear works on the members of such a culture is no surprise.
This disposition to ignore facts and embrace fiction did not emerge just in the past year. It has been a part of their way of life for a very long time.
The people who live in this culture of fiction and nonsense have, over the course of the last couple of decades, destroyed over 3 trillion in wealth that could have gone into schools, hospitals, scientific research, technology development, and the construction of infrastructure. They have gotten us into a war that killed 4000 Americans and maimed over 20,000 more – and has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands to millions of people in Iraq. They destroyed the city of New Orleans and have put every coastal city at peril from the effects of global warming.
Now this culture of fiction and nonsense are showing up at Presidential rallies with guns and otherwise threatening to do harm against anybody that their culture of fiction and nonsense classifies as needing to be harmed.
Yet, Begley suggests that the answer is to surround people with messages of fear from all sides, that this way of manipulating people into doing what the politicians want is a technique that the Democrats should master.
Perhaps a better way is to attack, head on, this culture of fiction and nonsense.