A Matter of Perception
Well it seems that the Orwellian future is upon us. Or maybe it always has been and I am just now noticing. One of the benefits of aging. I would like to draw attention to this article on Salon where Sasha Abramsky notes how the right is manipulating the perception of Government and the idea of “good Governace”.
Frame the issues as being about human dignity, fairness, and the like, and Americans still respond in progressive ways. A little-noticed poll released last month by the Public Religion Research Institute found that two-thirds of Americans wanted to raise the minimum wage to somewhere in the ten dollar per hour range. Amazingly, half of all Tea Party supporters voiced their approval of such a move. Huge majorities approve of the existence of workplace safety regulations, family leave laws, and paid sick days.
Yet frame it as being about “Big Government” and the axis tilts rightward.
As the author notes, this is a political battle that is playing out as a language battle. Languge shapes perception and nowhere is this more apparent than in the American electorate (whatever that is). Corporations and pro business forces want to roll back the clock to the 1920’s when this country was basically an oligarchy. They want to go back to the good old days before the New Deal. They are doing this by basically undermining faith in good government. They are creating the perception, and very well I might add judging from what happened on November 2, that government cannot be a positive force in the lives of ordinary citizens:
…hostility to the language of good governance means, among other things, opposition to workplace safety regulations, (the codes intended to, say, prevent mining disasters or oil rig explosions) or at least their rigorous enforcement; opposition to laws making it easier for workers to organize into trade unions; opposition to any and all attempts to raise the minimum wage; opposition to enforcement of existing labor laws that stop employers from arbitrarily withholding earnings from employees or forcing them to work extra hours off the books, in restaurants and other service sector industries in particular, so as to skirt overtime rules; even opposition to equal pay for equal work done by men and women.
We are being manipulated by the Oligarchs. They are trying to undermine our faith in the institution that can make life easier for the little guy. There are many examples where government as an entity has been a force for positive change, Civil Rights legislaltions, GI Bill, Environmental Protection laws, Voting Rights Act…. on and on the list can go. But note how all these positive changes make it just a little tougher for the corporations to take advantage of the workers, make it harder for them to rape the land, to strip us of our rights as citizens, all in the name of bigger profits. From what I see of the newly elected Representativess and Senators, they will do their best to advance the interest of Big Business at the cost of everyday Americans.