Social Policy & Programs Consulting
Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice
Beware the Politics of Distraction
Pay Attention to What the Media Isn’t Telling You.
April 6, 2011
For nearly 40 years, conservatives have focused more on scaring you than informing you. Now they’re blaming their bad economic decisions on labor unions and public employees. They don’t believe any of this stuff. They want you to believe it.
Republicans put more effort into promoting absurd topics than into solving genuine problems. That’s called the politics of distraction. They want to distract your attention away from real issues and onto ridiculous claims, irrelevant matters, and outright lies. Political marketers use television ads for the same reason companies do – TV ads work. If enough people hear something often enough, most of them will believe it.
We’ve been flooded with news stories, commercials, print ads, e-mails, polls, reports, blogs, statements, and rumors about bogus issues. Many of them revolve around President Obama’s background – his birthplace, citizenship, education, relatives, working relationships, children, and his dog. They call him the Messiah, the antichrist, a murderer, a Marxist, and Hitler.
They say he’ll bring terrorists to live next door to you, kill your grandma, indoctrinate school children, subvert the voter registration process, take your guns, imprison dissenters, force us all into slavery, and overthrow the entire free enterprise system. Frankly, I’d like to see the person who can accomplish all of that. They’ve criticized his previous work as a community organizer, for taking his wife to dinner, the cost of her clothing, and for trying to bring the Olympics to Chicago. Obama’s performance to date is certainly not perfect, but frankly, these things are just stupid. And they know it.
Now they’re blaming their bad economic decisions on labor unions and public employees. They’re holding Congressional hearings on Islam and threatening us with “Sharia law”. They’re threatening to shut down the federal government, as if that would solve anything. They whined when President Obama didn’t intervene in Libya, and then they whined when he did.
Despite what the republithugs like to claim, community organizing is not an evil occupation or a plot against you. Tax cuts do not create jobs. Immigrants are not the cause of every problem we face. Someone else's same-sex marriage won't destroy yours. Exercising and eating well will not harm your children.
Despite what the republithugs like to claim, you can read every bill pending before Congress. Yes, every one of them is available from the Library of Congress, including the health care bills. You can read public officials’ statements on the issues in their own words. You can see who’s running for office and their voting records. You can see every action the president takes, including his schedule, agenda, executive orders, and the distribution of stimulus funds. You can get first-hand information about every government agency and program.
This is all a circus act. They don’t believe any of this stuff. They want you to believe it. They designed these stunts to reach people who just won’t think for themselves. They whip people into panic and frenzy with their ludicrous lies of things that will never happen. They do it because they know they can't win without cheating. They can't have an adult debate on the issues because their positions have no merits.
Meanwhile, they’re trying to eliminate Medicare, all corporate taxes, public education, and the middle class. They want to return America to the days of sweatshops and robber barons.
This isn’t New
In many ways, current events are similar to those in the 1960s and 70s. The political right waged a terror campaign then, too. I remember the declarations that “women’s lib” would destroy the American family. Integration would destroy our schools. Rock ‘n’ roll was evil and the length of a man’s hair indicated his character. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, many claimed that it would destroy America. Yes, they really did. The sky didn’t fall then and it won’t fall now.
Unfortunately, the demodupes just keep on rolling over and playing dead. They fall for this stuff every time. Where do we find these people, anyway?
What You Can Do
We all have to keep our eyes on the ball. You know what issues are important to you. You know what matters to your family, and you know what doesn’t. If you don’t care about Teleprompters, “czars”, or basketball brackets, then don’t let them influence you. If you care about your job, your health care, your home, and our country’s education, then learn about those issues and the pending legislation.
Just be careful. Political ads and materials can come from anywhere. There are ads from the candidates, the political parties, private organizations, corporations, and individuals. Congress changed the law since the 2004 election. Now, political advertising must state who paid for it – the candidate, the party, or someone else. So pay attention to that. Read the fine print. See who’s paying for the ads. See who’s behind the websites. Don’t be fooled by titles that sound good.
And yes, they can tell lies, even on TV.
For more information
All Congressional activity
White House website
How the government spends your tax dollars
Politicians – In their own words
Every federal government department, agency, and office
Read the Constitution
Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting ~ Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803 ~ Pittsburgh, PA 15227 ~ 412-310-4886 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Patricia A. O'Malley ~ All rights reserved