If given the choice between sticking a fork in my left eye and discussing politics, you’d need to give me a minute to mull it over.
What I find most distasteful about it is that most of the time there is nothing to discuss. If you can imagine being alive in 400 B.C. and trying to convince people that the earth was round, then you’d get a pretty good idea of what it is like for me—a guy who works in a union shop in New York—to listen to all the pro-Republican propaganda that my co-workers buy into.
In fact, “buy into” is an understatement.
I am a realist. I don’t stand on my self-righteous high horse shaking my head at how silly these people are, because most of them are good guys.
But, I have a profound understanding of advertising and packaging. Say, for example, you had a farm and you didn’t grow anything edible. You grew a noxious weed that smelled really bad, was carcinogenic, proven to give people cancer and generally resulted in a miserable decrease in quality of life and a painful death.
Is it possible to get people to buy this product?
It sure is. As a matter of fact, the average minimum wage earner who smokes a pack and a half of cigarettes a day winds up happily spending about 40 percent of their income on this poison. This is done through incessant advertising and brainwashing. Even today, in 2017, some people still think that cigarette smoking is cool and sexy.
Now, before I go any further, I’d be remiss if I did not admit that in 2009, I was a taxi driver making minimum wage and smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes every day. So, I consider myself an expert on this topic, seeing as how I have experienced this cruel reality first hand. It’s not too far of a stretch to finally realize that if one belonged to a political party whose agenda was to make wealthy people a lot more wealthy and poor people a lot more poverty-stricken, this also could be achieved quite easily by packaging it in a creative way.
I saw it first-hand on election day in November of last year. Cars with exhaust systems hanging on precariously with coat hangers, and windows broken and covered with plastic would pull into the parking lot of the polling place, and get right on the Republican line.
There they were, voting to give enormous tax breaks to the wealthy and put health care as far out of their reach as humanly possible. Voting to privatize education and make it virtually impossible for their children to rise out of the socio-economic caste they were born into. Voting to privatize social security and put their modest retirement benefits into the hands of Wall Street investors—which, I’m sure I don’t even need to explain—can only go one way.
So how is this done exactly?
For the most part, if conservative-leaning politicians target a mostly white, high school-educated audience they can typically garner enough votes for a win.
The formula is quite easy.
You promise to make them safer by eradicating Muslim terrorists and Mexican gang leaders; you promise to protect their right to carry guns, to abolish gay marriage, and make abortion illegal. You play into their resentment that we had a great black president for eight years and promise to reverse every good thing the man ever accomplished. You promise to return the country to the “great” state it was in before civil rights, before affirmative action, and before environmental protections were considered.
You trumpet these promises through shoddy blog posts and talk radio and Fox News, and before long, you will have people skipping off to joyously vote for their own executions if you asked them to.
This is “divide and conquer” politics and it seemed to work smartly in this last election cycle.
Let us not despair, however. I have been around for enough administrations to know that we are experiencing such a sh*t show in Washington right now, that the pendulum is going to swing back in our direction with deftness and
momentum. It may actually be the wake-up call we all needed to get serious about real change—right now!
Author: Billy Manas
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Emily Bartran