Saturday, 6 December 2008

Political Rhetoric

Dumb people are adept at making broad sweeping conclusions based on snippets of information. And nowhere is this more true than in politics.

A common occurrence of this is when listening to the news, and paying special attention to key phrases that evoke the most emotional, or accessible response. Those segments of information are then combined together in the mind of the dumb person to reach a "reasonable" conclusion.

For example, "a carbon tax will be introduced. However, it will be revenue neutral because it will simply shift taxes from non-polluters to polluters..."

But what does the dumb person do? He (or she) homes in on the first part of the statement which is "...taxes will be introduced".

Politicians are very aware of this phenomenon. They know they can manipulate a dumb person to their advantage by pressing "hot buttons".

For example, the hot button may be "my opponent will raise taxes", followed by "I'm not going to raise taxes".

It seems that context means little to dumb people. In their black and white world they seem very unable to see shades of gray.

Another example is how Barack Obama was accused by John McCain and Sarah Palin of "palling around" with terrorists. Guilt by association is very juicy bait for dumb people. If he just happened to attend the same event as them he can easily be labelled a terrorist.

Campaign strategists are experts at manipulating context and doctoring interpretations in just the way dumb people respond to.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, simply couldn't resist telling English speaking Canada that the coalition are "separatists" who are "selling out Canada to Quebec", and similarly telling French speaking Canada (Quebec) that the Bloc are "selling out Quebec to Canada".

That's a hot button right there. It evokes feelings of fear and betrayal in the dumb person. That makes it even harder to reason with them.

Another hot button is the spread of the word "treason", knowing it will risk raising the sleeping dragon of separatism which has been at bay in Canada for so many years.

Stephen Harper knows dumb people. And like many politicians he knows the levers to pull to get the desired result.

It's much easier to bolster support with dumb people who don't know or are unwilling to understand simple facts, such as, the government needs the confidence of the house to continue governing.

But not many politicians can resist pressing hot buttons to their advantage when the alternative is well thought out dialogue that even dumb people can understand.

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