Emotional Jam – Misdirection in the Referendum Debate

It’s a well-known fact that people in an emotional state don’t do well at decision making. Fear, love, anxiety, competitiveness all interfere with our logical processes, and we end up making choices that we never would have thought of if we were in a balanced frame of mind.

“Emotional Jam”  – Manipulating Fear to Unsavory Ends.

Emotions interfere with logic. So if a politician can get our emotions all stirred up, he can make completely illogical connections between ideas and people, and we will accept them.  Take two emotions. Jam them together. Easy to persuade frightened people that the two have a connection.

Fear of Repression, Fear of the Unknown

In politics, these two fears are often jammed together to powerful effect. Everyone is afraid that someone is going to trample on their political rights. They should be. As a great man once said, “Each generation must fight for its own freedoms.” So it’s a legitimate emotion to worry that someone might take advantage of you.

Fear of the unknown is likewise a prudent reaction. If we don’t know about a situation, we have no information upon which to base our choices, and that’s scary.

A politician who stirs up both these emotions at the same time can easily persuade us that there is a causal effect between the two fears, which may not actually be the case. This trick can be used to mask the fact that it is the present situation, not the future one, that may be what is repressing you. The standard magician’s trick of misdirection.

Rural and Urban Voters

For example, in BC there has been a long-standing fear of a disconnect between rural and urban voters. The two groups have many objectives that do not connect and sometimes conflict. However, the provincial Liberal Party has played a neat trick. In their tussle to the death with the proponents of Proportional Representation, the Liberals don’t have to do much stirring to get their rural supporters roused up in fear for their liberties. But they have entwined this with the fear of the new system because it is new. So they reap the benefits of fear of suppression and fear of the new and different, and persuade their supporters (and perhaps a lot of other people) that Pro Rep is going to exacerbate the problem and centralize all the power in the urban south.

What they’re directing us away from, of course, is that the rural-urban split has been going on for decades under the FPTP system, and they have had no success (if they ever tried) in spanning the gap. Perhaps it is no accident that the Safe Seats of the Liberals are all in the Interior, where they can scare people into voting for them.

In actual fact, Pro Rep is designed specifically to spread the vote more evenly over the province. All the evidence points to Pro Rep helping the situation, not making it worse.

Anecdotal evidence from other jurisdictions suggests that Pro Rep results in “a more collaborative, more consultative, more transparent political system with more balanced urban-rural representation.”

So don’t be frightened. Use your logic to analyze what both sides are telling you. And if you need more information, go to FairVote’s website.

PS More Scare Tactics

Try applying this post to some other Liberal arguments:

– Party-controlled nominations

– Backroom Deals

– Unstable Coalition Governments

– Unstable Economy

– and the list goes on…




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *