Monday, August 27, 2012


I'm concerned about the election. As scientists and others who study the mind have made clear, and we all knew anyway, humans think in terms of "story"—i.e. we interpret reality as a story, our lives as stories, problems and the solutions to them as stories, etc.

Any good politician, let alone leader, let alone success at almost anything, knows that the story is paramount. Clinton got that, so did Reagan. Carter did in his campaign for president than seemed to abandon using "story" to get his perspective and goals and policies, most of which were good and would have made our country better had he been able to achieve them all including a second term. But he totally lost control of the story and the result was the idea that he was ineffectual, when actually his achievements made the world a better place and if we had followed where he was trying to lead in terms of energy and the environment we could have avoided all kinds of problems that came up under Reagan's policies, etc.

Obama had a great story, embodied it in the convention speech that got him first noticed and honed it some in his 2008 campaign, but then let the Republicans, the rightwing Republicans (which is sort of redundant now) distort and transform his story and he didn't seem to see the damage it was doing or have the inclination to counter it.

Yes, he's campaigning well with the story of the Republicans wanting to make life even easier for the wealthy but harder for the rest of us, but he needs to bring his single mother and his Kansas grandparents and the WWII service etc. and Michelle's father's illness and the sacrifice of her parents sleeping on the couch to give their kids the bedrooms, etc. to the table in every speech and every talking point.

Otherwise he will continue to be too easily defined by snide birther jokes and not so subtle race-card playing with references to how he wants to give welfare money to people for not working etc. or even more threatening to his campaign, he'll be defined by the distortions and contortions and outright lying in the rightwing Republican propaganda movie OBAMA 2016.

Not to mention the media loves an easy story they think their audience will go for like Paul Ryan is a "big idea" guy who is willing to face the tough choices, yeah sure, if they don't effect him and his fellow wealthy and only harms the rest of us.

Most of "the media" is so corporate controlled and obedient to their corporate masters it's difficult to get any story out that doesn't support corporate agendas. Most of the media also falls for a simple easy to understand story, and the rightwing Republican media experts seem to understand that better than Obama's or most Democratic politicians.

Now that it looks like Romney/Ryan will have much more money to spend on TV advertising, and has been doing that in recent weeks and will do even more in the little more than two months until the election, their story will be seen and heard by more voters more often than Obama's. It's a pretty dicey situation for those of us informed enough to know that a Romney/Ryan victory would be more disastrous than the Bush/Cheney one was. And that's saying something.


AlamedaTom said...

As a kid, I loved a story. But once I heard the story, I was not inclined to hear it again. In my mind there were too many great stories I had not heard and I did not want to waste time hearing one I had already heard. I'm the same way today. I rarely re-watch or re-read things -- there is too much I haven't seen or heard and my time is running out.
So, I'm thinking that there are a lot of other people like me who have heard the President's story and want to hear a new story with him as the star,i.e. kicking butt and finally being tough. Or, it may be that team Obama is waiting a while before unleashing the story again so that it will be more fresh to all of us. Man, I remember when I had to go to Sunday School and hear all those stories about Jesus over, and over and over. Just sayin'....

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Sometimes it's called propaganda. Saying something again and again in such a way that people take it as fact or truth. Such as Romney's current tv ads which make claims of all the jobs he's supposedly created and how Obama's stimulus package failed. Anybody with half a brain can see through these low class, despiciable, outright lies, but unfortunately, many in our country are too lazy or just ocnditioned not to think.
Which is why I believe each of these lie-filled ads have to be specifically countered and why each thinking person on an individual level daily must shine the light of truth into the miasma of lies that surround us. Don't these supposedly God-Fearing people know its a Sin to Lie?

Lally said...

I hear ya boys. Tom, my point wasn't that people like "the story" or want to hear it again, but that it embeds itself in our minds and frames the way we view what follows. Many of us may have outgrown the Bible stories but they certainly have a dominant presence in this country and most others—e.g. the Koran repeats many—even those who have never read the Bible. The same is true for a lot of our history "stories" that may or may not be "true" like how the rightwing has appropriated our "founders" and turned them into men unlike who they were, so that many of our felow citizens actually believe the founders believed in the literalness of the Bible or at least believed in Jesus as their personal savior or that the USA was founded as a "Christian" country with laws based on the Commandments etc. etc. etc. The rightwing Republicans have managed to actually reverse a lot of the gains of our education system, not only by controlling the stories told in our textbooks but by repeating their story of our founding until their followers and unfortunately many others begin to accept that as reality and as the prism through which our politics and government should be viewed etc.

Tim said...

The most memorable stories from both sides this year are about their opponents. I haven't read or heard a single pitch for Romney that wasn't built upon a hatred of Obama. And in the past six months, the Obama campaign has fallen into the same rut. Romney and is the most compelling reason to vote for Obama. I'm a strong Obama supporter, but if you asked me to pitch him without mentioning Romney or the Republicans, I'm not sure what I'd say anymore. It's a sad state of affairs.

JIm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lally said...

I hear you Tim. That is also a story that the media has picked up about the negativity and attacks in this campaign (plus the story they also tell that negative ads are proven to win elections). And your comment reinforces my point (though I may not have made it as clearly as it exists in my mind) that Obama and the Dems are not telling the story of his administration's successes and of his and Michelle's (because she is a compelling part of his story) personal stories that make them much more like the majority of us, in fact 99% of us, than Romney's and Ryan's etc. I haven't seen almost anything in the stories about Ryan that his family was wealthy and basically ran the part of the country he comes from, not a typical story, whereas Obama's mother's struggles as a single mother, his dependence on extended family as a boy, his mother's family's experiences in WWII etc. are much closer to the rest of our stories, etc.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...


(what else is new?)