Several years ago when my husband entered elected politics, I was naturally fragile to the attacks that would come our way. These attacks would not only come from our opponents, but also from those on our side of the fence who were jockeying for position. He warned me of something about human psychology that was wiser than any professor has professed in my decade plus of psychology studies.
He said, “Gina, the longer I live, the more I realize people act on their basest emotions. Expect it, and learn to rise above it.” It was great advice, because since then I have stood by him as he endured three terms in the Missouri house, and two in the Senate. Then, I entered the political playground and became a target myself.
Politicians and their consultants are like amateur sociologists and psychologists. Politicians spend each election season trying to figure out what constituencies want and get into the mind of the voter. The 2014 midterms will be no different.
The political bullies hit the playground every two years and do the same thing they did in elementary school (which is exactly why I homeschool my children). Dr. Dathan Paterno and I called this “Playground Politics” in our book, “Ladies and Gentlemen,” and I believe we could lose our country based upon our gut reaction to political games and our childish reaction to the head games they play on the political playground.
My husband was wise to warn me of the base emotions that drive people, but what are those emotions? Experts disagree over which emotions should make the list. Some say only love and fear. Others name seven or more. No matter what the “experts” say, politicians have figured out how to push your buttons.
My list of base emotions includes fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, shock and jealousy. The favorites of the leftists are fear and jealousy.
Fear the rich kid
The left predicates each attack upon these base emotions. In the last presidential election, we watched leftists attack Mitt Romney using the playground tactic of jealousy. Romney was turned into a villain as the left defined him as the rich kid on the playground. No matter how good he was, how hardworking or honorable and even charitable, he was evil for being the rich kid on the playground.
The left has been successful at defining the Republican Party for being the clique of the evil rich and their puppets, and it will do it again in this election cycle.
It is easy to stir up anger in the direction of the rich kid since their riches were obviously stolen from the less fortunate on the playground.
Fear the new kid (he is extreme)
It doesn’t take much to cause everyone on the playground to ostracize the new kid.
“You know, if you are seen with that tea-party kid, none of the hometown Washington, D.C., kids will hang out with you anymore. He didn’t attend an Ivy League school, ya know.”
Fear the unknown
The leftists sold voters to accept the worst economy in 70 years as preferable to the unknown proposition of what the rich guys and new kids might bring. Low-information voters in swing states were pounded with ads warning of the dire consequences of electing someone who might push for a reduction in the mere increase in government spending.
The leftist agitators stir up hope in the hearts of way too many Americans in the false dream of the big-government utopia, where everyone gets an equal handout and everyone is equally happy. There are also the meaningless, yet joy-inducing sound bites like “hope and change” that voters latch onto as they head to the polls.
The “October Surprise” is a favorite tactic of the left. It will shock you into voting for its candidate (or against the other guy) when it tells everyone on the playground about the dirty little secret it has uncovered about its opponent.
Both sadness and fear are conjured up by flashing images of school shootings across the television. Who on the playground wants another shooting?
Since the day my husband warned me about the sophomoric psychological behavior of grown adults, I have been able to flip it on like a Joe six pack with my remote in my recliner, and enjoy the view of the spectator sport of juvenile games played by adults who act like children and expect us to react to their childlike elicitations.
Fear the fear
Our founders, who fought and died to found and then save our America, acted like adults. It is in that tradition that we must react to the tawdry political games of the left.
Let’s embrace riches and success, as both are fulfillment of the American dream. Highlight the charity of the rich and show the success of the small business owner who is able to live very comfortably and also give good-paying jobs to his or her employees.
Compare yourself to the most vacationing, golfing, tyrannical president in the history of the republic who has never even held a job in the private sector, met a payroll or successfully built an empire based on his own merit. Let’s call out the playground bully who sits in our White House of free, jet sets around the world while demonizing the excesses of “the rich.”
Shouldn’t wealth and success be the goal for all Americans under any president? Let the American public see what hard work, dedication and tenacity produce by rolling out your own successes in the private sector, and do it proudly!
Challenge the American voter to rise up and look beyond the playground politics like the way my husband challenged me to mature politically on my maiden political voyage.
Authenticity is not a base emotion, and neither is guts, but the American people are hungry for it, and will respond.