I am fascinated by the current U.S. presidential primaries. I can’t stop reading articles by political analysts, scouring Facebook posts and video clips, following tweets, subreddits and headlines. This political battle has some great characters — tenacious female warrior, crotchety spoiler with revolutionary fantasies, billionaire bully with bad hair. It’s truly history in the making.
What really gets me, what astounds me, is how disconnected from reality so many people are in relation to the events. Why can’t people, especially those on the left, be critical observers of the political landscape and their own political views? Why can’t they see when they are being played, misinformed or manipulated?
My mother was a petty con (which is a story for another time). I grew up watching her use charm, good looks, guilt, misrepresentations of the facts and even her own daughters to “work” people. We were poor, so I understand on one level that she was surviving by one of the ways she knew how. I share this because the experience taught me how to spot manipulators at work and what makes a good “mark”. I have a refined “con-o-meter” and a serious drive for getting at the truth. I do not like getting played.
Several weeks ago, my con-o-meter detected a distinct disingenuousness in Bernie Sanders. (I was not alone.) His campaign and his supporters kept insisting that he had a chance to win the nomination even though he was behind in popular votes and pledged delegates. That was an outright flight of fancy. He would have to win the upcoming primaries by many more points than he had ever won in the previous primaries. It was not going to happen. So, there it was. He was playing his supporters to keep contributions coming in, plain and simple. It was a con. When he declared he could win the nomination by tweaking super delegates to his benefit, his con was in full stride. Even today, despite the count, the Democratic National Committee rules and Hillary’s substantial lead, Sanders continues to bamboozle his supporters. And they, filled with burning rage and self-righteousness, continue to troll and bully any statements that contradict what they want to see happen.
Wow. What a dazzling display of deceit, misinformation and irrationality. And it’s inexcusable.
Almost every syllable uttered, every rally, TV appearance and interview by every candidate of this primary season is documented. There are gigabytes of voter analysis and delegate tracking online. It takes seconds to Google any aspect of the campaign. Seconds. Anyone with a smart phone has more than 4.25 billion pages of information at their fingertips. The Library of Congress is a corner bookstore in comparison. There’s the official political party sites, government data, charts, historical comparisons, polls, projections — anything a political junkie could want. Heck, anyone can browse the internet to get their facts straight while sitting on the john in the morning.
Yet, people continue to sprinkle bulldust everywhere about Bernie’s chances of winning the nomination with nary a nod to actual verifiable sources. They’re guarding that sacred cow, utterly impervious to objective facts. That is not “dreaming big”, that is delusional.
I understand wanting one’s candidate to win. I understand a candidate’s desire to campaign until the last primary is held.
I do not respect a politician milking his followers for support and cash by promising them what he cannot deliver. That is a con.
For those who can’t seem to sort this out for themselves, I offer these caveats.
- If you have a simplistic view of how things work you’re going to get played.
- If you have big fears about anything, you’re an easy mark.
- If you don’t regularly examine the stories you tell yourself to explain this crazy life, then you remain vulnerable to authorities or shysters who will tell you their story, usually for a price.
- Never suspend your critical thinking, especially if you think there is a politician, pastor, guru, motivational speaker, or self-proclaimed expert who is going to save you, from anything.
There is a word that describes those who let blind bias blur their vision of reality to the point that they’re left wide open to manipulation.