Given all of the precious time that they have invested in talking about the gazillions in debt with which Democrats are saddling future generations, it appears that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have imbibed their party’s conventional wisdom to the last letter.
From the outset of this year’s presidential election, it has been said over and over again by many a Republican commentator that, far from getting “personal,” the Republican challenger(s) simply has to address President Obama’s “failed policies” in order to make their case to the American electorate. Just explain what Obama has done, so goes this reasoning, and the American People — always attentive and eager to do the right thing — will act accordingly at the ballot box.
Plato referred to all socially useful lies as “convenient fictions.” The idea, relentlessly promulgated by Democrats and Republicans alike, that the American voter is a bottomless font of virtue and wisdom is the convenient fiction par excellence or our day: Considering that every partisan who parrots this line disagrees vehemently on virtually all things with about half of their compatriots, no one can possibly believe it.
The average person, whether American or otherwise, is not moved by allusions to bare facts alone. Actually, naked facts move no one.
What moves most people is a good story designed to appeal primarily to their emotions — not their intellect.
Such a story need not be devoid of facts, but — if they are to inspire action — the facts need to be included in the story.
Given that the average American is far more interested in who will be America’s next “Idol” than in who will be its next president, one would think that it should go without saying that talk of remote abstractions like some unfathomable national debt promises to be of little effect.
Of course, it isn’t that the issue of our debt isn’t of importance. But of greater importance, from the standpoint of the average American, is that he has to spend more of his earnings on gasoline for his car than he has ever had to spend in the past. Of greater importance is that he is now spending more on groceries than ever before. Of greater importance is that the average American, or someone who he knows and cares for, can’t find a job.
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Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. (photo)