Rich people aren't rich people - they're "job creators".... saviors and protectors of the American economy. Capitalism isn't a system where money trumps ethics, morals, and values - rather, it is the application of "economic freedom" and the embodiment of "free markets". Compromise isn't a genuine engagement with an opposing ideology or position for the betterment of society in general, it is "selling out". These are some of the word smith masterpieces of one Frank Lutz - a Republican strategist who's made himself famous for inventing friendly sounding names for Republican ideals. And if you'll notice in the link just provided, Lutz's explanation for each of these phrasologies doesn't have anything to do with whether or not the concept itself is actually true - just how the public will react to various wording of said concept.
How did we get here? How did we reach a point where virtually ALL of the focus was on what to call the idea in order to curry public favor, versus the focus being on objectively and analytically determining if the idea has any merit to begin with?
Decades ago, before the television came along, aspiring politicians truly had to "hit the streets" if they wanted to gain notoriety and recognition amongst their constituency. While print media was a helpful tool, especially in highly urbanized areas, it simply wasn't impactful enough to do the job of 'marketing' a politician to a wide enough base. Thus, politicians went town to town, person to person, meeting with hundreds of thousands of people - having face-to-face conversations and engaging in genuine back-and-forth dialogue.
With technological advancements though came mass exposure with relative ease. The necessity of getting out and meeting as many people as possible was diminished to some extent, as choreographed soundbites could be blasted to millions upon millions of people with next to no time dedicated to the process comparatively. And not only that, the 'flavor' of the face-to-face "town hall" style meetings changed too, as those also became very controlled and choreographed - Politicians now have 24 hour news media that follow them everywhere, so every public speaking engagement is essentially treated as a free campaign commerical. Throw in an explosion of corporate dollars into the campaign process, and now not only does it not take much time investment to blast messages to the entire country, but it can also been done with next to no expense to the actual campaign.
These technological developments, while innocence enough in conception, have had a debilitating impact on American politics. While marketing has always been important to effective politics, it has now become the only thing that matters. A candidate's actual positions matter very little; all that matters is the saturation of what the candidate wants the public to think his or her positions are. Pound the message into the brains of the general public; refuse to acknowledge any shortcomings of the message - it is a very simple and generally effective stategy.
Fast forward to the current discussion regarding gun control. In the wake of yet another mass homicide, this one involving elementary age children, the debate about guns has once again hit a fever pitch. and once again, we're being inundated with seemingly high strung individuals appearing on television and loudly and vociferously screaming at America, pounding their message into the minds of the American public. Within all of the ranting, there is one particular argument that seems to have become an article of faith for gun enthusiasts - much in the same way that the whole "tax cuts for rich people creates jobs" meme has become an article of faith for the Republican Party.
The argument being referred to is the notion that "more guns makes people safer". This argument has become the lynchpin argument for gun advocates such as the National Rifle Association (NRA). Case in point: in the NRA's first public statement after the horrific Newtown shooting, President Wayne LaPierre repeatedly implied that the country needed more guns in circulation in order to be 'safer'. His answer to addressing gun violence was more guns - plain and simple.
With the fervent delivery that such a message is often espoused with (see gun 'enthusiast' Alex Jones), it is easy to lend immediate credence to the notion itself - if for nothing else as a recognition of someone's intensity toward the issue. But, it seems a very, very simplistic question has yet to be asked of those who espouse the "more guns equals more safety" notion. That question is:
If that notion is true, why isn't the United States ALREADY one of the safest countries in the world?
The United States has, by far, more guns per capita than any other industrialized nation in the world; it has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. Yet, the country sits a long way down the list of the safest countries in the world. How can this be, if "more guns equals more safety?"
Quite honestly, the notion that more guns makes people safer shouldn't even get to look in the window of rational discussion - yet alone get a foot in the door - until this question is answered. But, because the message is often delivered in a visceral, ferocious manner - and is repeated without question ad nauseum - it gains merit through sheer saturation and intensity.
Skipping backward to the initial discussion, this argument is structurally the same as the "tax cuts for rich people creates jobs" argument. The "trickle down" approach to economics is predicated upon flooding rich people (aka - "job creators") with capital and resources so that they can then use that capital to create job opportunities for the average joe American. This notion was the fulcrum of economic policy in America for decades, and culminated from 2001-2009 with (a) the lowest effective federal taxes the country had seen in 60+ years, (b) multiple instances of record corporate profit, and (c) the largest gap between socioeconomic classes in nearly 100 years. And yet, that same stretch saw the worst job creation record ever. Quite simply, if top-heavy economic saturation was the key to economic prosperity, 2001-2009 would have been the most prosperous stretch in modern American economic history.. not the exact opposite of that.
And yet, we're hearing the same thing in regard to guns. *If* more guns equal a safer society, then it would stand to reason that the United States would be among the safest places in the world already. Or, is there some mythical saturation point whereby the presence of more guns goes from directly correlating to more deaths (of the "unjustifiable nature") to making everyone "safer"?
The argument is quite literally the inverse of logical - it defies very simple and basic principles of rationality. But, going back to Frank Lutz's approach to word smithing political positions, acknowledging the obvious - compromising based on facts - would be "selling out" one's 'principles'. So, we see an extremely obtuse and wholly desperate clinging to of an otherwise absurd notion.
In my estimation, this is the key difference between political parties in the United States right now. While all political parties will have members rooted in ideology, only one political party has such a saturation of members who refuse to even consider any other possibility than their ideology. The answer - regardless of the actual current state of affairs - is always more of their ideology. That type of dogmatic adherence to a linear and arbitrary set of rules is extremely dangerous, regardless of who's doing it. America will be better for having beat this type of an approach from such a large contingent of its populous, but the outlook is bleak regarding that possibility.
Please adhere to the Vine CoH~