Hyperbolic Politics by Sound Byte; not Facts or Logic: Why are Conservatives So Successful With This Strategy? [91*13]
What Sound Bites Have Done To America
Sound Bites = Dumbing Down of America
I USE CONSERVATIVES in the title only because they have become the unchallenged masters of this strategy; the Liberals try to use it as well but with much less effect. What is a sound bite, it is simply a catchy, short, easy to comprehend sentence or phrase that summarizes a complex issue in a single idea. Probably 99.9% of all sound bites are designed to be misleading and are used to convince the unthinking, one whose mind is disengaged from critical thought, American listener to accept, without question, one sides position over the others.
For example, the statement Conservatives successfully make many times a day, "raising taxes in a recession is a bad idea."; it sounds so right, but it is not; not by a long shot. Why does it work so well? Because it is mostly true, but, not entirelytrue and this difference between "mostly" and "entirely" makes all of the difference in the world. Why is only mostly true? If you think through the issue you should observe that Conservative's reasoning is that taxing people takes money out of the economy and thereby slowing it down. It is this "takes money out of the economy" part where Conservatives run into problems. Taxes may or may not "take money out of the economy" and virtually every economist will tell you that adding a surcharge or increasing the marginal tax rate on Americans such that they must pay 5.6 cents on each dollar they earn after they have earned their first $1,000,000 will not negatively impact the economy more than the positive benefit such a tax will bring from bringing down the debt.
Sound bites clearly dumb down America because it turns off their brains and believing one will invariably lead to the wrong decision. For example, what if you were given the sound bite that "America is a Christian, Caucasian nation" and then asked to make a decision from that knowledge; it is patently stupid to even try because America is neither 100% Christian nor is it 100% Caucasian. So, why would you try to use the sound bite "raising taxes in a recession is a bad idea" to make a decision from?
Whenever you hear a sound bite, if you don't want to take the time to ask the questions "Why?" and "What if we have this case?", then you ought to believe the opposite of what the sound bite is trying to convince you.
Hyperbole At Work
The Apple Hyperbole = Also Dumbing Down America
JUST LIKE SOUND BITES, hyperbole, exaggerations to create emphasis or effect, when used in political debate, also effectively dumbs down America. Hyperbole, when used in literature or poetry or ad campaigns (although these are coming under court scrutiny), generally have a positive effect of creating an image the writer wishes to impart for his or her story. Hyperbole, when used by politicians, usually has a different synonym ... lying.
This section is going to be a little different than most and I hope you will participate. I am going to present a short discussion on what I call an "apple" hyperbole, give an illustration, offer a poll to take, then continue the discussion with real world examples; please play along.
Generally, a hyperbole exaggerates on the positive side, as the cartoon illustrates, 6 bars instead of 5 for a cell phone. Hyperbole can be negative as well, most often when used by politicians. In other words, you use the failure of one thing to "prove" the whole thing is bad; a pretty ridiculous concept when presented like that but VERY effective when used by politicians.
Here is my hypothetical. Assume for the moment that you have a large, private charitable organization who likes helping people in need. Suppose further they decide to procure hundreds of barrels of apples which they distribute to starving people who will die without the apples. Now consider the fact that each of these barrels has a bad apple or two in it which must be thrown away when it is discovered after opening. Now also assume there are politicians out there for some unbelievable reason think it is a bad idea for large, private charities to help starving people, so they say
"... private charity programs, which spent $100 million to end hunger and improve the lot of the poor. IT DIDN’T WORK. Millions of dollars were spent on apples that were distributed in barrels which were then given to the starving in order to keep them alive and in some cases a few of the apples were found to be bad and had to be thrown away which is very WASTEFUL. Maybe someone will investigate how these bad apples came to be and who let it happen!"
OK, now to my poll, please answer this.
Considering the situation presented above and the political statement made about it ...
Thank you for voting! (If you didn't vote, please go back and do so, it makes the hub that much more interesting.
OK, I suspect the results will show, whether you are Conservative or not, there will be overwhelming support to continue the charitable apple program. Now, let us look at a real life example, President Obama's stimulus program. In a hub I wrote listing Obama's accomplishments, I received this comment, it should look familiar:
" ... stimulus one, which spent $1 trillion to end the recession and bring down unemployment. IT DIDN’T WORK
Billions were given to states to keep union public sector jobs and in some cases the funds were used to beef up union pension funds. Maybe someone will investigate where did the money go and to whom."
I have seen this comment, this negative hyperbole, repeated many times in many forums; the only difference is the boogeyman* "union pension funds" was replaced with an equally horrific and nefarious enterprise. Even though it should be very obvious to most of you, I will draw the parallels to those of you who don't see it.
The stimulus money that went to the States to keep ALL public sector employees working, not just union ones as the hyperbole implies, is equivalent to the apples in my hypothetical; the
"union pension funds" would then be the same as the "bad apples". The "large, private charity organization" is now the U.S. government and the "starving people" are what the State employees might be if they lose their jobs.
This is just one example out of hundreds both Conservatives and Liberals flood the print, Internet, and air media with; all bear the hallmark characteristic, you take one failure (Solyndra) to PROVE the whole program (funding alternative energy initiatives with stimulus dollars) is also a failure. Just like with Sound Bites, the listener ought to be asking WHY does this prove "such and such" and WHERE is your other examples to show the program is a waste of money.
For this example, to me, at least, what this tells me is pretty clear, if people feel that the charity should keep giving out the apples, then you ought to feel that giving "millions" to the States in stimulus money is also a good idea as well.
I wonder if I offer another poll, this assumption will be borne out ... we will see.
* "Boogeyman - an indigenous people in Borneo, I think, who use to raid up and down what are now the Indonesian islands kidnapping unlucky villagers, stealing food, and generally causing havoc. Dutch traders learned of this and brought back the tales of Boogeymen parent use to frighten their children with to get them to behave.
Now consider the real life scenario just presented above, whould you
- What has President Obama Done Right in Almost Three ...
President Obama has now had plenty of time since he was elected to get some of his agenda put in place; how successful has he been? With the 2012 Presidential election around the corner, Obama's record becomes more important; and, well his policies h