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RE: Propaganda- Why You Think What You Think
I would actually say that it has gotten much worse since Carey wrote his seminal work "Taking the Risk out of Democracy". Alex Carey was looking back on a time when the corporate PR industry was working very hard to drive their message home. The oil and gas industry produced slick videos about how CO2 would make crops grow faster. I even remember PR flaks coming to my elementary school in the 1970s to do a program on how chemical waste could be safely stored and disposed. This was after everyone freaked out about Love Canal. But back then, industry was diligently trying to teach people about their own narrative.
Then came Karl Rove and the new political strategists. This was a bipartisan effort with people like James Carville doing essentially the same thing for the Democrats. The new version of propaganda is a political strategy that very intentionally avoids any sort of substantive interaction with the electorate on the issues. Instead, political campaigns are packed with as much nastiness as possible to turn off as much of the electorate as possible. The billions spent on campaign ads are mostly spent to keep people from going to the polls by making the process so disgusting that everyone is turned off. Then, the campaigns use branding and wedge issues to fight over the small segment of the population that can hold their nose and still care enough to vote. The wedge issues are things like abortion, immigration and religion. The legislators have very little intention of doing anything about these issues but they get the dedicated base out to vote. The rest of the campaign is just branding that is exactly the same sort of branding that companies do with soda, pharmaceuticals and cars. "I'm with her", "Hope and Change", "Flip flopper", "Make America Great Again". So, on election day, half the population doesn't care. Most who vote are just following branding. The small percentage of the population that is actually informed about the issues just follow their herd because neither party will ever put out any specific proposals.
Just look at Beto O'Rourke's campaign website. You would think that this great liberal candidate would be heaving with support for raising the minimum wage, taking action on climate change and bringing about medicare for all. Nope. The only discussion about the environment is under a tab for "Energy". Not a word about raising the minimum wage. And very loosey goosey support for medicare for all (basically supports anything that would provide universal coverage, including MFA). That is because Beto ran as a brand. Good looking and fun guy who seems to be liberal enough.
So, when you look at Fox News and CNN, you will see less and less substance and more and more commentary on the branding. They are far more interested in spending all day commenting on Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's dancing video than really taking apart her New Green Deal proposal. For the media, personal scandals and political horse racing is everything. Substantive coverage is all but dead.
Thus, the new propaganda is to very purposefully avoid any sort of substantive engagement on the real issues. Instead, the new propagandist wants people to focus on the branding and personalities. If any issues are actually allowed to be discussed, they are wedge issues that legislators have no real intention of addressing.
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