Saturday, August 01, 2009

When policies fail, demonize

The health care 'reform' that Democrats and President Barack Obama are pushing is failing to gain support among the American public.

Citizens, outraged over the issue, are angrily confronting their representatives in town halls and forums within their districts. As a result, representatives are calling out the police and acting indignant over the outrage and opposition they're getting from their bosses - but that's another subject for another day.

So what's a politician to do?

Create an enemy.

Start talking about how some entity is "taking advantage" of you, or is "evil, immoral and villainous" in how they deal with you. Demonize a particular industry so you can rally the masses in an emotional appeal 'for' you and 'against' someone else.

It's a tried and true tactic from a political perspective, though usually it's used on prior officeholders. Democratic Party strategist Liz Chadderdon recently said:

"I think Bush-bashing has been alive and well since '07 and, since it keeps working, why not use it? Voters have short memories..."

So if it works, why not?

And that's the game plan for the health care bill.

Sen. Dick Durbin jumped on the bandwagon attacking insurance companies.

“The health insurance companies are some of the most profitable businesses in America. By fighting change they're protecting their bottom line.”

Yep - there's a profitable business industry employing and providing services for millions. They must be bad.

Now, remember, these are for-profit organizations. You pay them an agreed-upon amount in the hopes that you never have to take advantage of what they are guaranteeing in return. And if you do have to take advantage of their coverage, you're pretty sure the total you've paid them over time is going to be less than what they end up paying on your behalf. That's the way insurance works.

But Durbin wants you to think negatively about these companies - because they want to make a profit on behalf of their shareholders (who probably include many individuals very similar to you). If he's going to get you to support his plan to put them out of business - and that's what the legislation will do - he has to get you to hate these companies, or at least distrust them so you want what he's offering instead.

Hypocritical House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went so far as to call these businesses, 'the villains':

"It is somewhat immoral what they are doing. Of course, they have been immoral all along how they have treated the people that they insure," MSNBC's Luke Russert quoted her as saying. "They are the villains in this."

Of course, taking campaign donations from such villainous, immoral entities is perfectly okay for her - but we shouldn't trust them. Oh no!

I hate the class warfare approach to politics these days. I don't believe that people with money are evil because they have more than me. I don't believe I'm entitled to the fruits of their labor simply because they have more fruit. I believe I should be rewarded for my hard work and my labors. I should not have my fruit taken and given to others who haven't worked as hard or for as long as I have.

I also don't believe that profit is a dirty word, or that for-profit companies are evil because they exist to make money on behalf of their shareholders and owners. I don't believe I need to have an enemy to make me 'feel' positively about a policy that's being promoted.

Most importantly, I believe that the need to create an enemy in order to get people on a particular side of an issue clearly demonstrates the weakness of that position in the first place. And our immediate reaction to such a ploy should be distrust and rejection the tactic, the person using it and the policy.

But with many people, appealing to their emotions and using the politics of envy and greed, works. I just hope we can stop 'feeling' and start 'thinking' before it's too late.

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