COVERT POLITICAL TOOLS
Using covert tools has and probably always will be used in politics. It’s unfortunate, because the fact that they’re covert implies deception of one sort or another. Sometimes they involve misinformation, sometimes outright lies, and other times they’re more subtle. This is about one of the more subtle ones which I refer to as the Wrong Question Distraction. My premise is that political debates are often shaped to get the public to argue about the wrong things, all for the purpose of distracting the public from the real problems surrounded by the topics at hand.
Is it a conspiracy? Most of the time it is not, but the effect is the same as if it were. Consider the following hot button issues that we’ve all seen dominate our conversation recently.
- Should a state employee be able to refuse a marriage permit to same sex applicants?
- Should we allow school choice?
- Should transgender people be allowed to use bathrooms designated for the opposite of their biological gender?
- Should we make police murders a hate crime?
- Should the corporate tax rate be lowered to 15% or 20%?
- Should possession of drugs be a felony or a misdemeanor?
- Should we defund Planned Parenthood?
- Should we protest the appointment of a cabinet secretary?
Think of the thousands of memes we’ve seen on social media for each of these. Think of the nightly news reports and the panel discussions with talking heads. Think of the discussions around the dinner tables and water coolers arguing incessantly about one position or another for each of these. When I look at these I see a common thread. Do you see it?
All of them begin with the premise that our government should play a role in the issue at hand. We’re only asking to what degree government should be involved. We rarely ask the more fundamental question: Should the government have any role at all? Unfortunately, we’ve become so conditioned to government intervention into our lives that asking that question is considered heresy, something that should only be discussed in dark rooms among other revolutionaries.
DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE MANIPULATED
I suggest we all take a step back and look at the larger, more important questions. Ask yourself why you need to seek permission from the government to get married in the first place. Ask yourself why the government should decide where can send your children for education. Ask yourself if the government should really be involved in deciding which bathroom you use? Ask yourself why a motive for murder should be considered when doling out punishment for it. Instead of an endless debate about the rate of taxation on income, ask yourself why taxation should be based on income in the first place. There are better alternatives. After decades of declared war on drugs and clearly having lost that war, ask yourself why we continue to ruin people’s lives forever for consuming something that doesn’t hurt anyone else. Also, rather than asking if the cause is just, should you not ask if the government should be funding any private organization at all? When arguing about the experience and qualifications of a president’s choice for a cabinet appointment, ask yourself if the agency or department for which he is nominated is even constitutional. And as you ask yourself these questions, dive a little deeper and ask something even more fundamental. Realizing that government is not spending its money, it’s spending your money does it have the authority to spend your money on these things at all.
From my perspective, we let these questions distract us from the underlying problems. We’re embroiled so deeply in the status quo that we don’t even realize that the questions are the wrong ones. We allow our politicians, activists, and pundits to shape our discussion based on a flawed premise. Don’t you know they’re all smiling, knowing they have you arguing about how much they should be involved in your lives rather than if they should? Maybe it’s just me, but I’m feeling manipulated like a puppet. Each time I get sucked into one of those debates, I must admonish myself that I’m doing exactly what some want me to do. And it’s not just those who worship at the altar of government doing that manipulation, it’s also the professional government class, politicians and bureaucrats of every stripe who thrive on the entertainment provided by us dancing marionettes.