The Political Labyrinth

Politics, are you finding your way through all the issues, causes, movements, and personalities? There are many who proclaim they know the best way, who have an enlightened knowledge of the truth, but often we find that they themselves are lost. Have they convinced you to join a cause or movement or to follow a certain personality? Politics puts us into a never-ending labyrinth of twists and turns, lighted pathways and foggy dead ends. Let us take a moment and rise above this political maze in hopes that an ariel view might add some perspective away from the micro complexities of the political debate.

Politics and leadership are not the same, in fact, they are hardly even synonyms, maybe even oxymorons.  The main goal of a politician is to raise enough money to create enough media face time resulting in a strong enough name recognition to be elected and stay elected. They promote themselves much like an infomercial proclaiming that the other products (candidates) are inferior or damaging to you and your family.  Only they, all by themselves (they like to use the word “I” a lot) with their great wisdom and experience can save you from certain calamity.  Only they have the high moral mandate to raise our nation to its true economic and humanitarian potential.  Only their “new and improved” ideals can cure our social diseases. The product (candidate) that offers the biggest cure to the most people through the pizzazziest commercials (speeches) wins. But wait, there’s more, if you vote for them they will send you a free sample, (which you already paid for through your taxes.)

The urgent need for this continuous inflow of money exposes them to individuals and corporations (lobbyists) who have learned how to use their money to buy influence. This motivates a politician to support issues, causes and legislation which promotes and protects these sources of money. And, surprise, surprise, the politician somehow, mysteriously becomes very rich in the process.

Here is another trick used in the political world. If a candidate does not have a very strong track record of accomplishments, they will take the spotlight off of themselves and make sure that every pimple and blemish of their opponent makes its way the broadcast media every night. If the competing product (candidate) is presented as inferior, even dangerous, the buyer (voter) is left with no choice but to vote for the unknown.

But wait, there is still more. Far too often people blindly vote for the herd rather than a candidate. If a candidate belongs to the _________ (fill in the blank) party they must be the best choice for the office.  The same is true if a candidate is a certain race, or gender or belongs to a certain religion. “Their resume be damned, if they are a __________ I’m voting for them.”

In contrast, leadership is the ability to get the right things done at the right time with the least amount of money with the greatest benefit for and broadest support from the citizens. Here is the problem, you can’t lead if you’re not elected. Now, with all that considered we, as intelligent, rational human beings, are asked to vote for candidates who present themselves as great politicians (salesmen/women) but may not have a track record of solid leadership, (getting elected to office is not an example of leadership.)

Here is a bigger problem, how do we even know who these candidates really are? This brings us to the issue of the media. How are you staying informed? What voices do you trust to tell you the truth about the candidates? Many independent studies have reported that all the broadcast and print media outlets have a political agenda and will spin their commentary to highlight the benefits of certain candidates or a party while  disparaging the opposing candidate. (This product is much better than that one)  We all know people who vehemently say they would never watch the _____ channel.  When asked why not, often the response is, “because they lie.”  When asked how they know that other channel lies, they respond, “because the channel I watch said they did.” The reality is that their agendas are not the news at all, it is to sell products. Use critical thinking. If you can’t state what the opposing view is and why you disagree with it you have become a political sheep, blindly following some “shepherd” or herd.

All television, every second of it is an advertising enterprise. They exist to make mega millions selling time slots during their programs. The more people watch, the more valuable those time slots become. A thirty-second ad during the Super Bowl costs $5.6 million.  That is just to buy the slot. The commercials sell products and services.  The news media sells opinions and personalities.

The opinionators, (I’m sorry, commentators) are paid millions of dollars to go on the air and read words off a teleprompter they didn’t even write. They are very articulate and good looking. Men wear blue suits with brightly colored ties, the women wear solid color dresses designed to show off their legs, with long hair past the shoulders.  I challenge you to find a female commentator wearing slacks.  The commentators and the writers are paid by the corporation to create a marketable image in order to sell ad time, to attract viewers who will buy products. The CEOs dictate what goes on the air driven by their own political agenda. If a writer or commentator goes off script with items which are not congruent with the corporate agenda their high paying gig comes to a screeching halt. Yes, all of them will have their token opposing commentator to offer what is designed to look like an honest debate on the issues.

The solution? Be skeptical. Start with the assumption that all of them are telling the truth and all of them lie. Often agendas are revealed by what is not broadcast.  Here is an example: “1. Jason is our very best student and 2. soccer player. 3. He is very well known and 4. popular and should be elected to Student Council President.”  What is not said: 5. “He is secretly a white supremacist and a bully.” Statement 1-4 are true, but would you elect him if you found out about statement 5? Welcome to broadcast and print media.  The flip side is also common when referring to an opposing position or candidate. Statement 1-4 could be very negative statements about the opponent and 5 a positive for your candidate. 

We seem to be very smart people when it comes to buying products. We research, compare, read reviews, talk to friends, in an effort to make a well-informed decision. If we buy a product which is broken, doesn’t do what we were told, or just doesn’t work, we send it back for a refund. Unfortunately, all that research is thrown out the window when it comes to voting.

If you really want to put the best people in office, watch all the channels, read all the headlines, check out all the websites. Keep a keen ear for value statements and interpretations by the commentators.  Real news is what happened or what was said without their opinion or interpretation. It boils down to listening to the adverbs and adjectives.  That is where the agendas are revealed. Vote, but vote smart.

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