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November 08, 2004


Lamp of Reason

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How could Americans reelect the worst president we ever had? I have a couple of ideas.

The first, and most ominious, is the evidence of voting irregularities that is accumulating . Suspicions are mounting. E-voting machines that do not print paper ballots are easily tampered with. Perhaps the Neocons, with help from major contributor Diebold , got to the heart of the matter with their little screwdrivers earlier than we thought they might. I am not expecting that the machines will be "corrected" either. In fact, it was so effective, maybe every precinct will have updated to Diebold by 2008 -- with the added benefit of a tidy profit to the aforementioned. We may have experienced our last semi accurate count. The final results of this election do not reflect the polls, exit and other. Why? Why, especially since we know the polls weighted Republicans more heavily. This might just be sour grapes and poor sportmanship on my part. Maybe the election was fair and square , on the up and up .

In which case, an alternative explanation lies within social psychologist Leon Festinger's concept of cognitive dissonance . "An example used by Festinger (1957) may assist in elucidating the theory. A habitual smoker who learns that smoking is bad for health will experience dissonance, because the knowledge that smoking is bad for health is dissonant with the cognition that he continues to smoke. He can reduce the dissonance by changing his behavior, that is, he could stop smoking, which would be consonant with the cognition that smoking is bad for health. Alternatively, the smoker could reduce dissonance by changing his cognition about the effect of smoking on health and believe that smoking does not have a harmful effect on health (eliminating the dissonant cognition). He might look for positive effects of smoking and believe that smoking reduces tension and keeps him from gaining weight (adding consonant cognitions). Or he might believe that the risk to health from smoking is negligible compared with the danger of automobile accidents (reducing the importance of the dissonant cognition). In addition, he might consider the enjoyment he gets from smoking to be a very important part of his life (increasing the importance of consonant cognitions)."

The same phoenomenon applies to the populace's continued support of George W. Bush, despite his futile, costly, mutilating war and his rigid, moralistic, elitist, fascistic, secretive policies. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, at least 40% of Americans (assuming that rigging Diebald machines can't account for more than a 10% descrepency, am I too optimistic-- now they have four years to do a better job ) chose to stay the course with this arrogant aggressor. In spite of evidence to the contrary, some still believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Saddam was in some way connected to 9/11, that the meager tax cuts that they are getting will amount to significant lifestyle changes when they someday join the privileged, that Bush's aggression has improved their safety in the world and pleased our allies, and that same sex marriage can affect the institution so radically that civil rights should be denied. Oh, and that killing people is okay if they are different scarey, Muslim, criminal, poor and black, and not okay if they are single celled.

Here's a third possible explanation. In "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Childrearing and the Roots of Violence" Alice Miller, a Swiss psychoanalyst, postulates that the German people followed Hitler so enthusiastically because of cruel and humiliating German child rearing practices. Germans, raised in a punitive, fear exploiting, authoritarian environment , found the "familiar" in Hitler, producing an entire population that readily identified with the aggressor . Take a peek at Struwwelpeter , merry moral tales for children, for an insight into the sadistic these techniques.

And the relationship here? Fundamentalists are not known for their empathic childrearing. In a article entitled "God's sWarrior Twins" Kimberly Blaker reminds us that "Abuse of Christian fundamentalist children is well documented. As early as 1974, sociologist H. Erlanger reported in American Sociological Review that conservative religious affiliation is one of the greatest predictors of child abuse, more so than age, gender, social class, or size of residence. Other studies, reported in The Role of Parental Religious Fundamentalism and Right-wing Authoritarianism in Child-Rearing Goals and Practices by social psychologist Henry Danso and others, conclude that child discipline by corporal punishment is typically related to religious conservatism, probably stemming from fundamentalists' authoritarian nature." Raising children under these conditions produces a crop of blind followers , ripe for exploitation by authoritarian/patriarchical demigods. And look who voted for the Bushwacker in droves.

And there you have it folks. I'm out of ideas. How can one intervene in a constructive way? Of course, good ideas abound on the net .

I willl end with some words of comfort from Thomas Jefferson taken from a letter he sent in 1798 after the passage of the Sedition Act

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over,
their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the
meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the
horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt......If
the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck
turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we
have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake."

Photo note: Shedding light. Where is that light anyway?

Posted by Dakota at November 8, 2004 10:47 AM