Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Last night was not a good night to be alone (or "utterly alone" ... for those who remember your Betelgeuse). I had a hard time working, what with a terrible headache coupled with sheer physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. That latter was exacerbated by watching the TV coverage of this country stabbing itself repeatedly in the liver, and also by how extremely isolated I've been lately due to all this work.

I'm not too optimistic about those few remaining votes in Ohio. Happy to see Democrats finally coming out of the woodwork, but it's still not enough. It's a lot easier to work the system when you're already in charge of it. And also have loads of money.

It seems a bit ironic to me that parties can pour incredible amounts of money into campaigning and ads in certain states, but can't be bothered to spend that same money on improving the lives of underprivileged people in those states. Why? Because pouring money into ads is about remaining in power, which is about increasing wealth and privilege.

Helping others won't accomplish that; in fact, it will undermine it. Can you imagine what it would be like if corporate America and rich donors were willing to pour that same kind of money into improving lives of people in their own locales?
As I teach my students, the purpose of any system or organization is what that system or organization actually does, rather than what its stated goal is. And for most systems, that means ensuring its own survival at any cost. (For others, it means generating endless paperwork!)

Knowing how few people are actually benefiting from this administration, I can't believe how many others are willing to support it. Are we really that dumb? It's the have-nots vs. the haves-and-wish-they-could-haves. And all this crap about "moral values" being the reason to vote that way. Give me a freaking break. If your gay neighbors are just living together rather than married, how the hell is that making your life better?

I don't think we're dumb; I think we've been led to be afraid.

In the course of all this work I've been doing, one thing I've had to do is thoroughly scan [not skim!] the history of research in the area of prejudice and discrimination. A very prominent thread is that of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA). One study I read investigated how personality traits are related to voter propaganda response.

In a very small nutshell, people who were high in RWA were likely to respond to threat-based advertising (Your kids will become perverted! Communists will take over your neighborhood! Bombs will fall on your local Dairy Queen!), while people who were low in RWA were likely to respond to improvement-based ads (Improve health care for grandma! Increase your state's attractiveness to employers!). Voting out of fear leads to Republicans in power!

I had a guest speaker in my class yesterday: one of our professors who has done a lot of research about gay rights issues. She described ways that anti-gay campaigns are likely to affect the day-to-day functioning of one's gay clients (or non-clients for that matter). Respondents in her study frequently used "Nazi" references in their descriptions of how they felt ("When the amendment passed, I felt like I had woken up in Nazi Germany.")

When research on prejudice first began, it was essentially because researchers wanted to figure out how people in Germany could have allowed things to go so far, and one of the things they came up with was this Authoritarianism business. It certainly played a big part in that system degenerating into such wickedness. So these references to Nazism are not at all out of place in the current political atmosphere. We are high in RWA and we are responding to threat-based political propaganda--fear!

I can't help but remember the seemingly far-fatched conclusion reached by Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine: that an undercurrent of fear in the U.S. is creating all kinds of social ills.

In light of what I've seen lately, I think I'm beginning to agree with that.

11 comments:

Andrew said...

I was thinking along the same lines this morning, but in a different way. I've read many times that U.S. voters have never unseated a war-time president. What's different about this "war" is that we started it...Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and Bush & Co. went ahead with a PREEMPTIVE invasion, thus creating the war themselves.

So does that mean that any president who thinks he will be voted out just needs to start a war? What a nasty precedent that is. And also one right out of the Nazi playbook. (Josef Goebbels said something to that effect: Create an enemy and denounce anyone who disagrees with attacking that enemy as unpatriotic).

How handy that W had a war going on. He could appeal to fear and take everyone's mind of his abysmal record.

Big Al said...

Can't help wondering who Dubya will declare war on next.

liz said...

I'm afraid that at this point, the enemy is becoming each other. Gays, women, racial minorities, libruls --they're all enemies of the state! For a country that values "freedom" so much, we're certainly starving ourselves for it at this point.

It's like the abusive family phenomenon on a national scale: if you make sure the kids are fighting amongst each other instead of trying to end the abuse, you can stay in power over them indefinitely. Divide and conquer.

Can you believe how many Americans still believe that a) Iraq started the war and b) did it by Hussein having ties to Al Qaeda and supporting their terrorism?

Un-frikkin-believable.

argotnaut said...

I have but one thing to say:

F U C K.

liz said...

So I wasn't the only one who spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning weeping, huh?

argotnaut said...

. Nope. Still all sandy and puffy!

Hindu said...

You are not alone and this might put a smile on your face. Here’s what North America will look like soon: http://idisk.mac.com/glwebb-public/new_map.jpg

Andrew said...

You know what's sad? I'd be happy with that. We'll give Canada the world's most powerful economy and they can tell us how to offer health care to everyone!

Anonymous said...

I figured you needed to hear from at least one canadian regarding your election results.
Shit Shit Shit !
Unfortunately we canadians are headed in much the same direction ie moral consertavism under the banner of jesus and big money.

librarysquirrel spouse

Gwen said...

I think Spouse Boy meant to say 'conservativism'. (He's a nice fella but he cain't spell.) He was giving me his take on the U.S. election results the other night (e.g. give it a few years, and homosexuality will be illegal in the States), and man, was it bleak. We agreed on that bleak night that any decision to have more children in a world gone this crazy would have to be an act of extreme optimism.

Eric said...

Ass pumpkin? It's best not to give me ideas ;o)