Friday, April 15, 2016

What Do All These Mean Spirited Republican Bills/Proposals Have In Common?

  • Guns on Campus
  • Keeping Transgender Folks Out of Public Restrooms
  • Rules that Make Abortion Inaccessible
  • A Border Wall With Mexico

These are all made up issues that distract from the important, consequential issues.  They're what used to be called wedge issues designed to stoke fear by tickling the amygdala.   Emotions take charge, reason doesn't come to play here.  So the target audience gets aroused and angry.  No debate here, no discussion, no analysis.  Just fear based anger.

If you notice these are all tangible, concrete concepts we can visualize and easily understand.  They create all too easily imaginable images of someone shooting someone on campus.  Or of a six foot something, former NFL football player like John Irving's Roberta Muldoon, leeringly entering the women's restroom in a dress.  Visions of tortured fetuses and hordes of Mexicans streaming across the Rio Grande to take away American jobs.  

And they don't have to think about how to balance the budget, how to curb global warming, the tens of thousands of civilians who have died because of the United States' attempts to avenge the World Trade Center deaths and destruction.  They won't have time to think about how 1% of Americans came to hold 40% of our wealth and how to change that.

In Penn & Teller's seven basic principles of magic, this is called Misdirection."
Draw attention away from a secret move.
The main issues - guns, sexuality, abortion, and immigrants - aren't made up.  But the legislation being debated and passed these days is so outrageous and mean-spirited I'm convinced it's a form of political sleight of hand to keep us from seeing and dealing with the truly important issues.

It's the only theory that explains for me all the nasty and divisive legislation that Republicans have been introducing and even passing in many states in the last year or so.  It's to keep us distracted over guns, abortion, bathrooms, and walls, so we don't focus on inequality, voting rights, and how the law is rigged in favor of the 1%.


  1. ...what each of those legislative proposals all have in common is that each of them are failed policies copied whole from wrongheaded legislation which arose in other states.

  2. Those mean-spirited bills have probably also been argued using fallacious arguments: Here is a wonderful list, all in one place, of the arguments we have come to expect from the Republicans and ones which Hillary or Bernie would be well to be able to parry as they go into debates.

    These are also arguments (in the Comments sections) on progressive sites which make it well-nigh impossible to have a reasonable discussion.

    Humans seem hard-wired to be right, to never compromise so as not to lose face, or be seen to back down. School yard taunts now comprise public discourse. (Another fruit of a poorly educated populace.)

    1. Barbara, I have no more claim to knowing people's motives than anyone else, but the point I was trying to make was that it doesn't matter if the arguments are fallacious or outrageous or rude because the purpose of it all is to distract from the real issues that ought to be debated, to use up people's energy on this nonsense.

    2. Noted, but I thought the list of fallacious arguments -- all in one place -- must be like Cole's notes for politicians who want to misdirect. :D

    3. Yes, that list is always worth reviewing. I don't think these guys really care though. But maybe some of the people who listen to them will start to catch the fallacies.

  3. Misdirection is certainly the effect, but I'm not certain that it's an intentional motivation. If it were intentional, the misdirection would imply a very far-ranging and deep conspiracy. Although that kind of planning is certainly a possibility, it may be more likely that this is simply a way to generate support in the simplest way possible. One can easily generate emotional support and votes for simple, binary, "with me or against me" issues (as both Cruz and Trump have demonstrated). It is much more difficult to argue the bigger issues. They usually require complex solutions, nuanced explanations and a great deal of education in order to get your point across to the electorate. So as Steve as already said, the motivation is beside the point. The effect is to distract from more important, difficult and substantive issues.


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