We the people must protect ourselves, not with guns but with intelligence. Don’t let others manipulate you with emotional speech that hides their true intent. We are too smart for that.
While candidates hurl insults and accusations at one another, we must look deeper to see their motivations. These “remarks” they make are not really meant to hurt the other’s feelings, they are meant to manipulate our emotions and lead us to ignoring our own intelligence while acting in the heat of passion – love them or hate them, it’s all the same form of manipulation.
We need facts, and we need to use our good sense.
We the people must take a good look at each person, their words, their behavior, and all that it implies about their character, their personality, and their values. This goes for candidates and anyone else who wants to influence you.
Some things a candidate supports might be good in your opinion, others not so good. Each and every one of those who would claim to lead or represent us all have agendas of their own. Having an agenda is not bad in and of itself. What you must determine is whether their agenda is in conflict with what you believe is best and/or right.
This goes for people we admire as well as those we detest. These people come to us with personality traits that we might like or dislike, traits are part of a person’s psychology. From one extreme to the other – from Mother Teresa to Hitler – desires to be selflessly kind or to kill are influenced by early life experiences. A person can be passionate about saving the world and doing what they believed to be best, but that doesn’t mean that they are reasonable. Whether for better or worse, passion can cloud judgement. “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” (Attributed to Benjamin Franklin.)l
Now negative campaigning is nothing new – candidates did it back in the 1800s. What IS new is today’s media, and we have to look closely at their motivations as well. First, the traditional media such as network news programs are no longer as dedicated to truth in journalism because they don’t have time to fact-check and verify. Today’s news is immediate. If they take the extra time to verify, they risk being scooped by a competitor – never mind that the competitor’s facts are also not verified. Second, there are a multitude of competing sources, some professional, some not, but all immediate and many visibly biased toward one side or another due to pressure from advertisers and the company’s executives.
So what are we to do? First, stop and take a breath. I’m not kidding. Try to calm your emotional response and then evaluate what you are being told. Next, think for yourself! Whether you are hearing the words from the candidate him/herself, or from a supposed “person in the know,” or from the media, or from your social circle, or even best friend, do not fall into crowd mentality without thinking first for yourself.
Think about what is most important to YOU, and question the truth of what you are hearing and whether it truly makes a difference to your goals. If you think Clinton has lied about some things, does that mean she lies about everything? Does it make her unfit to be President? If Trump makes rude comments about women, does that make him a chauvinist pig and, if so, therefore unfit to be president?
I cannot answer for you and you should not allow anyone to control your thoughts and actions whether through persuasion, manipulation, or outright lies. Think for yourself. Do not believe everything you hear or read. Look at multiple sources and evaluate for yourself. I urge you to be true to your own values and beliefs and not be swayed by the crowd.
NOTE: this essay was inspired by my mother, a psychoanalyst who, along with her colleagues, is concerned about the effects of bombastic rhetoric on the population at large. She contributed thoughts and words to this piece, for which I thank her.