Saturday, October 11, 2008

Politics and Emotion, Part II

Previously I wrote about politics and emotion and made this observation:
Now people don't just want their candidate to win. They feel HE HAS TO WIN. He has to win or the country--no the world will be destroyed. This type of thinking and fervor has never held any weight with me.
As the election looms closer, this phenomenon isn't going away; if anything it is getting strong.

As a case in point, consider Johan Goldberg's appearance on Larry King Live. Now I didn't watch the interview but I understand that during it, Goldberg called out ACORN for its fraudulent voter registration tactics. Goldberg posted that he received "some nice notes" about his appearance but he also got some hate mail. Here's an example:
Subject: u r a f****n JEW hick

Saw you on Larry King calling the director of ACORN a liar! you f****n hick!!, who the HELL are you? don't be mad because you and the other "NEOCONS" are gonna LOSE this election, stick a sock in it! u bastard!! you might as well face it
If you can get past the travesty of the English language this email represents, look at the hate. Look at the emotion. The writer is both sure that Obama is going to win and at the same time cannot take any criticism of anything related to him. He has gone far beyond rational thought and into a scary realm of hatred fueled by emotion. Do you suppose the person who wrote the article would be willing to drive around at night a rip down McCain signs? Or help fake voter registrations in his area? A rational person wouldn't agree to do those things--but an emotional person might.

I'm worried about how often I am seeing this mindset. Recently I was talking with politics (I know a dangerous decision) with a few people. The exchange went something like this:
PERSON #1: So what's the basic point behind proposition #xyz?

PERSON #2: It is basically a tax on oil and heating companies and [automotive] gas companies.

PERSON #1: Wait, so it is a tax on big oil companies?

PERSON #2: There are some details we are skipping but yes.

PERSON #1: Well why wouldn't you want to tax big oil companies? Fuck them!

ME: The argument, I think, is that if you tax them heavily they will raise gas prices at the pump and things like your heating bill will go up.

PERSON #1: [I didn't quite follow what said but it was along the lines of:] They wouldn't do that...
They wouldn't do that? Of course they would. When you tax a big corporation they will pass on the costs to their customers. They only way to stop it, really, is to nationalize them so they don't make decisions bast on capitalism.

This person is simply thinking emotionally, not rationally. They are tired of paying huge amounts for gas and they want to stick it to the oil companies. They are mad and they aren't going to take it anymore. They aren't thinking about the consequences.

One or two people thinking this way can be dismissed. But what if a majority think this way? That is a scary, scary thought.

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