You’ve been brainwashed if…

Select the facts you need for your own purposes, ignore context and avoid responsibility—the modus operandi that has become standard fare for politicians.

Today elections have little to do with policy, vision and inspiration, and everything to do with sustaining or gaining power.

Using contrived wedge issues, political parties create victims, villains, hate, anger, fear and mistrust towards our democratic institutions to win—without any regard for the long term costs associated with incivility.

Americans have accepted incivility as normal behaviour. Without guarding our hearts and minds from American trash seen on television every day, Canada’s civility is also under serious attack.

At the peak of the Roman Empire, it ruled 21 per cent of the world’s population and held the belief that they were a people better, stronger and more powerful than any others on earth. But after 450 years, the great republic rotted from within as the ruling class became arrogant and corrupt.

Autocratic rule, under self-anointed emperors, took over and although they kept the Roman Empire powerful for many more centuries, Roman citizens became powerless, compliant and poorer.

It’s hard not to see the parallel track Americans are on as they follow a corrupted Republican leader in the Senate and a President ruling as Emperor and God.

Pulitzer prize-winning author, Doris Kearne Goodwin, reminds us that the likes of Hitler and Mao had an ability to mobilize and inspire people towards a common cause. Her writing challenges us to think about the ethics behind their respective common causes.

Could anyone argue successfully today that either was for the greater good of their people?

Surely the same can be said about Trump’s America. Trump has riled up normal Americans to chant slogans of hatred towards individual American women, “lock her up”, and “send her home”.

Trump has convinced ordinary citizens to be so fearful of others and government institutions that they support policies that harm them personally.

You’ve been brainwashed when 22 million Americans go to the polls in 2016 and vote for a President who said, and who did, eliminate their affordable health care coverage. In the US, health care debt is the number one reason for personal bankruptcies.

Incivility has a way of catching up with people.

We become someone who even 10 years before we wouldn’t have recognized.

The United States is still the strongest country in the world, but it is a weakening power not because of threats from outside its borders, but because of corruption and incivility from within.

President Teddy Roosevelt said, “The rock of democracy would flounder when people started seeing themselves from different regions or different races or different religions as the ‘other’ rather than common American citizens.”

Politicians in western liberal democracies have lost their way— power and personal gain has trumped ethical campaigning and governance.

More often it’s political parties on the right who are the biggest offenders because of their focus on wealth.

This trend will only change when individual citizens take personal responsibility to reject the slogans and the half-baked truths and tell their chosen candidate to grow up and act like a leader.

Many Canadians watch Trump as a soap opera, but one day if we are not mindful, we too will be sucked into the vortex of not thinking for ourselves, rationalizing away truth and following a guy like Trump.

Brainwashing is to be feared and guarded against. It is powerful and seductive and throughout history has enabled horrible men to do horrible things.

 

B. Schimke

ECA Review

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