The campaign season has begun earlier than ever! Pageantry, excitement, democracy in action — it’s like a dumbed-down version of “The Biggest Loser” without any weight loss.
Before you get sucked in by the rhetoric, I want to remind you of the following:
“Tough On Crime” means that the candidate is in favor of harsher sentences and less control by judges, though scholarship in the area is almost uniformly opposite. Jails are overcrowded; one percent of Americans are imprisoned; detention doesn’t deter crime. As policy it’s nonsensical, but it’s so evocative that anyone who utters those words gains votes.
“Common-Sense Gun Control Laws” is a set of words that is actually meaningless in the present state of the discourse. Effective gun control in a manner that would drastically reduce crime would involve mass seizures or surrenders, and probably a great deal of violence. Likewise, however, it gets votes without requiring any action.
People have discovered that the “War On Drugs” is a sham, and they’re coming close to realizing that it’s an excuse for quasi-Fascist repression — and so we’ve invented the “Opioid Epidemic”, rebranding old laws and failed tactics based on a statistical anomaly.
These tricks are transparent, but they still work: Voters are really quite stupid; by “Voters” I mean you and me. The way to avoid being taken in by rhetoric is to become familiar with the facts, not just some politician’s talking points or, worse, getting your news by skimming the headlines.
Read and learn, and participate in reasonable discussions outside your personal echo chamber.
Or you’ll elect the leaders you deserve, and God help you.