SFBG Radio: Why voters should think like junkies


Today we talk about a different approach to politics: Why voters should think like junkies. Johnny's got a good argument here -- your typical junkie is a lot more cynical about people trying to sell him something than the typical voter who listens to Glenn Beck. Oh, and why is that preacher in Florida going to burn a stack of Korans? Any junkie could figure out that it's all about making a fast buck. You can hear the discussion after the jump.

sfbgradio9/7/2010 by endorsements2010


I agree that voters should approach politics and politicians as if someone is trying to sell them something. With the Democratic and Republican Religions most of their worshipers are not going to do that. Both religious faiths and their worshipers will continue as they have been in the past. The writer of the article is not objective. The writer says "a typical voter who listens to Glenn Beck." I don't listen to him and don't plan to start but if one were to be objective one could have written "a typical voter who listens to Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann (or Rachel Maddow) or you fill in a name from the other side." It was very partisan the way it was written. In other words, both "sides" are trying to sell something. It's not just one side. I have to agree with others in various posts I've read that we desperately need something other than Democrats and Republicans, but I suspect we will be stuck with what we have for some time to come. I don't vote for either religious sect.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Sep. 07, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

My experience on this earth is that while human beings desperately love snake oil salesmen of all kinds, it is a lot easier to play a so-called "conservative" than a liberal if for no other reason than they tend to react so strongly to emotional appeals.

The left is plenty guilty, having conned themselves into believing a black president would automatically be FDR redux. But for the most part, watching Fox or Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity wind up the rubes with such ease is proof that their flock are way too credulous for their own good--Maddow and Olbermann's audiences are at least a little skeptical now.

Posted by Guest Johnny Wendell on Sep. 07, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

I sure wish others thought like junkies. This show reminded me of Thomas Frank's book "What's the matter with Kansas". He detailed how the average person in those parts were essentially being conned into voting against their economic self interest by having them focus on something percieved as a more parochial interest (for example, same-sex marriage.). It doesn't have to be Kansas or Nebraska or the Midwest or the South, just that the folks fall for the same 3 card monty trick you see on the streets of a big city. You're supposed to look "over there" but in reality the trick is being played on the opposite side you're being told to look. But now the Right has evolved this trick to have a new psychological angle.

You have to look at these people in question. As many have noted, they're white, they're old, mainly protestant, many are frustrated and a lot of them are scared. For the longest time, they were an absolute majority, in their eyes this was Their country. From the local shop to the White House, they figured they weren't part of the right elite, but they were part of the majority, each a shareholding owner of this country. I'm reminded of a scene from the movie "The Good Shepard" which came out in 2006 about the formation of the CIA. In it the lead character, a WASP played by Matt Damon is talking to mob boss Joseph Palmi (played by Joe Pesci).

Joseph Palmi: Let me ask you something... we Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland, Jews their tradition; even the ni$&%rs, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you have?
Edward Wilson: The United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.

How many of the same background of Wilson have you come across that has echoed similar attitudes at say a Fourth of July BBQ? But you see their era is ending. We are entering a period where they are a majority minority. That their economic clout, from the "hard hat" to the retired, is eroding. Their political clout is literally dying away in some places and being replaced by minority groups. Their balance of how things should be is being shaken from all sides.

They look at the long chain of Anglo-Saxon sounding Presidents and scratch their heads wondering how a black man with a "Non American" sounding name could obtain the highest office in the land? For a long time, minorities (of all stripes) who were told when they were kids that this was a land of equal opportunity only to grow up and find out it wasn't and had that "WTF?!?" moment. Now those who used to silently subconciously think in the back of their ever-graying minds that they were part of a great clan who pulled the levers of power are now themselves getting their "WTF?!?" moment.

The bottom line, they are starting to not feel important anymore and they don't like it one bit. They don't understand that the very power structure that their ancestors helped establish has now found their descendants almost obsolete. In an almost ironic but really opportunistic turn of fate, the very machine that has reduced the conservative "hard hat Reagan Democrat" economic outlook, now will take advantage of that fear..that White WTF Moment. For the power structure has spent a long time studying people and manipulating them all over the world. So they play the con game on these old white suckers who believe they've been disenfranchised somehow because a black man is in the White House. The corporatists like the Koch Brothers, sell them the chance of feeling important one more time.

Not the real thing, because the corporatists now have bigger markets and are need to insure if all else fails they can come back here somehow. The last thing they need is for the people to think they can really dictate economic policy. No, you attempt to lead these fools by the nose in the opposite direction you want them to see. The setup are faux episodes of potential destruction of these people's way of life.

*Nevermind the export of jobs, look over there gays are looking to tie the knot! How dare they impose an agenda that will take yet another YOUR privileges!

*Never mind those tax cuts for the wealthy, Barack Obama could secretly be a Islamic-Marxist hybrid. Don't you know he's out to destroy your freedom?!

*Never mind how Wall Street failed, those Democrats who are really this 'new' threat called "Progressives" want to socialize your retirement and give money to everyone while YOUR social security goes broke! We can't let them maintain control of YOUR retirement especially YOUR social security!

*Nevermind how much we are spending on the military, don't you get it? Those people over there, who are NOT LIKE YOU, they don't go to YOUR church, they don't speak YOUR language, they are out to take away YOUR way of life!

I could go on, but you see here that fear is one of the major components. They know these people already feel threatened, so they amp up that fear just enough. It's actually an old secret police trick used on people who they want to either falsely confess to something or agree to do something. You torture someone long enough, and they will break and say or do whatever you wish. The corporatists have taken this to a macro level of psychological warfare.

They sell this false sense of entitlement, they make them think they are part of something important once again. You see, once you go past that scare phase I've mentioned above, the subject becomes clay that can be molded. He or she now believes, either consciously or subconsciously, that they are under attack and that their birthright is now in peril. All perceived rationality is altered in their minds. It's at this point that new agents enter into this long con, sculptures you could say. These sculptures come from two avenues, either those who are aware of the con (like Beck and Limbaugh and Fox News) or those who also feel threatened and have been compelled to do the job (like your local pastor who thinks HIS religion is now under threat). So long as the targeted audience is A) felt to be part of some new important tribe and B) threatened, the power structure will have it's willing patsies to do things like form supposed middle class groups like the Tea Party.

They don't think like junkies, because they're made to think they're the dealer.

Posted by Johnny Venom on Sep. 07, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

Franks book reminded me of some of Lipsett and Hofstadter's book's. Probably as good or as close as we are going to get these days.

But I think you overlook one point, the people who left the democrats left because the democrats pushed NAFTA and other such shit. So they were not voting against their own economic interests, as both parties are the same on things like NAFTA. The republicans just beat them at social issues while being the same on economic ones.

The democrats are trying to play catch up on values issues, likely driving the middle American even farther away.

This chronic complaining that people are too stupid to agree with you, and that they are manipulated by the other extreme are so interesting. Out in the real world most people have varied beliefs and don't adhere to one of these dozens of extremes and true beliefs.

The extremes have to find a reason for the rest of us not to agree with their world view, as that world view is such common sense according to them. The reason we don't agree with them is that we are stupid and easily manipulated.

The attacks by the goofy left and the AM radio shouter types show how much of a thinking pathology they share, and a loathing they have for the rest of us.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 07, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

I will make a crazy comment. I would rather see Obama do what he really believes is best (because he is way smart) and NOT think of being elected in 2012. And that seems like what he IS doing. I want this. He has nothing to lose. He is a young man. He can do anything with the rest of his life. Why not take these four years to make a real difference and avoid this total bullshit. He would have my respect forever.

As for Terry Jones the insane, don't even tell me about this fool. I didn't know about the IRS angle. Thanks for enlightening me. I do know that freedom of religion and freedom of speech are the hallmarks of our democracy. You can preach anything you want, but to trample on other people's religion is unwise at best, and certainly not Christian. We need to ignore people like this.

Posted by Guest Deb Wood on Sep. 07, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

Many people make the assertion that Obama is smart and I remember after his election some of his worshipers dismissing his critics by saying that Obama knew more than his critics because he is a smart man. Looking at Obama's record since he became president and comparing it to Bush's record in office, would you also say that Bush was smart? The records are the same. Smart people don't continue illegal occupations based on untrues about wmd's in Iraq. Iraq was found innocent of all charges so if Obama is so smart why isn't George Bush and Dick Cheney behind bars? Why do we still have the Patriot Act and spying and rendition if Obama is so smart? Why did this government give billions to Wall Street and the health care industry if Obama is so smart? Why is outsourcing of jobs continuing at record levels if Obama is so smart? Why has Obama escalated mountain top removal and the Afghanistan occupation if Obama is so smart? If Obama is so smart, why is this country not working on alternative energy? If Obama is so smart why doesn't he give the citizens $50 billion (stimulus) instead of giving it to big business and bankers and Wall Street? I really question this premise that Obama is "way smart." Would someone who is "way smart" kill people in Pakistan with drones on many occasions? There is so much more to this list that I could add, but hopefully you get the point. Obama is really not "way smart." It's just that you want him to be "way smart." Some people are so worried about this November and 2012 as if it goes back to the Republican Religion it would make some difference. I don't think so.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Sep. 07, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

For the; AM radio listener, born againer, neo-con, revealed knowledge progressive, "no wrong answer but not agreeing with me" college communist, randroid, Larouchite, and various other true believers

It always comes down to "everyone but me and my in-group is stupid"

Posted by matlock on Sep. 07, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

What a crap analogy. An addict who is jonseing will find anything that looks like a white powder behind the toilet or in a crack in the walk and get it into their body before they know what it is.

The more apt analogy is one of an abused spouse who finally learns that she cannot change him and that it is better to just cut and run, exchanging economic security for physical safety and well being.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 08, 2010 @ 8:48 am

There is no analogy. Please listen to the cast before making comment--if voters approached politicians the way hypes approach everyone else, they'd not make such stupid decisions.

Posted by Guest Johnny Wendell on Sep. 08, 2010 @ 10:17 am

What a great analogy and another interesting discussion! I must say, I think voters ARE skeptical of the motives of most politicians, but perhaps not to the degree that a junkie sizes up a "friendly" advance. Not a bad idea. I do believe many of us question if there is a truly passionate belief in most politicians' stances on an issue or if they are simply trying to beat the other side, advance their own political position, or garner the financial and political support of a major corporation or power. Most likely all of the above. However, there are some true "soldiers" who are in it for the welfare of the people; the advancement of their town, county, state or country; the betterment of society as a whole. And, as a junkie would (as Johnny eluded to), we need to be wary and cynical, unfortunately, in order to figure out what is really in the heart of any candidate or politician.

Great show, guys.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 08, 2010 @ 6:00 pm