A few weeks ago when Governor Romney was leading in many national opinion polls, just after the first Presidential Debate, I boldly made the prediction that America would vote for the right person for the wrong reason and that President Obama would be re-elected. The article, for which I was castigated, can be accessed here: http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=152997
As someone who is fiercely independent, fair-minded and relish my state of judgmental equilibrium I am always going to speak as I see it; not favouring right or left but speaking out as the Spirit leads on matters affecting God's children whether those matters are principally spiritual, which they are the majority of the time or secular as the need arises.
In the article mentioned above I alluded to the fact, characteristic to most Americans, that fear tends to trump everything else because America is a country where fear is very big business and every American Government, every business Federal or Local, every customer, every parent and indeed every citizen of the USA knows precisely that.
In any election in America, fear is a strong determinant of the outcome and politicians routinely hint at and sometimes manufacture scary episodes of their opponents in order to get an advantage. This is even truer when a white is running against a black and the black needs to be exceptional to have a reasonable chance of winning.
There are three indispensible qualities of any black person trying to get elected by white America and if any one of those three are lacking then the chances of being elected are zero.
FIRST he must have an intelligence as great, and more often greater, than his white opponent. This greater intelligence is not so much to do with a higher IQ score but more to do with wisdom, tact and general smartness in a number of different situations. Obama outsmarted Romney in a number of ways right across the board. For example Obama went on talk-shows and showed his human side and never once put a foot wrong whereas Romney refused to go on any fearful that he might not appear presidential. Intelligence here is about answering difficult, tricky questions with tact, charm, warmth and humour and remaining dignified and composed.
Another example should suffice. Obama lost the first presidential debate and did not go around claiming he won it. No, what Obama did was to poke humour at himself for letting Romney wallop him and this showed how very smart he really is. He was telling the world that he lost that first presidential debate and so score one for Romney but his graciousness and lack of rancour defined his intelligence and showed that he was willing to put that defeat behind him and move forward. His team got the message and so concentrated on the next debate and as we know he did very well in that one and the final one.
SECOND he must be enormously calm and free of anger and rage. America is racist, even although strides have been made since the last world war to transcend its lurid past, and its most abiding, frightful image for whites is an angry black man. I wrote in the article afore mentioned that America will never elect an angry black man and I stand by that. White candidates can be angry every day and still be elected but let a black candidate get angry once and he is toast. Why should this be? The answer is simple - indoctrination.
If Obama had reacted angrily to Senator McCain's vituperative jabs then the mass media would have played it over repeatedly until the public got sick of it and until Obama was regarded as the candidate from hell. No matter how aggressive Senator McCain got Obama responded with grace and dignity and so denied the mass media what they were so anxiously waiting for. The mass media talking heads all said that Senator McCain won the debates but polls showed that the people thought Obama won.
Governor Romney in the debates was clearly trying to anger President Obama with a string of untruths, even the moderator had to correct him at one point, but Obama did not retort angrily as expected and often turned the other cheek. Obama was making it mighty clear that he was not going to fall into that anger trap and no matter how hard Romney tried he could not entice Obama to take the bait.
Everyone knows, if they did not know before, that Obama is a mighty cool guy, not tended to emotional outburst and resentment but is thoughtful and sober. This makes him to be an ideal candidate in any election. Where Romney failed was that he stuck to a black stereotype that was inappropriate for President Obama and when in the third debate he moderated his stance to conform more to the image of the Commander in Chief he met an assertive Obama that was forceful yet dignified and respectful.
THIRD he must be media-compatible. The mass media is a mighty big force in elective politics and can be brutal in its portrayal of a candidate. Any black candidate needs a combination of particulars that makes him likable to the camera. He needs to have a combination of looks, charm, mannerisms, speech and aura that makes him instantly acceptable even if you do not agree with his politics. Most voters will never get a chance to meet the candidates face to face and they will take their impressions from the mass media portrayal so it is vital that voters like what they see.
President Obama is an acceptable face to all Americans and there are very few who would resent him representing them at home or abroad. He is particularly good at connecting with the man in the street and he has an ease about him that is shorn of arrogance and elitism. This makes him someone the media can approach and discuss any subject with and not be intimidated that he may rebuff them and put them on his "no contact" list. The mass media, however much they may pretend to the contrary, love this sort of guy.
So why did I boldly predict, rightly, that America would re-elect President Obama?
I did so on the basis of fear. With Americans fear trumps everything and all that was necessary to determine the outcome of the election was to assess the preponderance of fear attached to either candidate. Grave injustices have taken place in America over the centuries because fear was used to twist peoples' reasoning and distort truth and influence them to accept fiction.
The rationale for the war in Iraq was based on fiction yet the vast majority of Americans supported it. When they were told by the government, using something taken out of a student's thesis supplied by the discreditable Tony Blair, that "Saddam Hussein can with 15 minutes preparation send weapons of mass destruction flying towards the West" (or words to that effect) then the fear factor was so high that most Americans suspended their rational reasoning and acted like panic-stricken, mindless automatons.
Whenever an American politician wants to energize his campaign the weapon he reaches for when all else fails is the weapon of fear. Fear works in the American context more than it does other places and so each candidate in this presidential election used fear, as evidenced by the negative ads, to bolster their side and wrong-foot the other side.
The fear that Romney appealed to was that America is doomed because it's on the wrong path and with Obama at the helm there is no end in sight to the hardships facing America. This is strong stuff and if Romney could convince people of this then they would vote for him and many were so convinced. Romney's appeal was essentially "Trust me for what I promise to do".
The stronger fear was Obama's central appeal. He convinced the majority of voters that he had saved America from catastrophe, he painstakingly turned things around and now that America was on the up again and placed to see better days Romney wants to turn the clock back to the bad old days. Obama's appeal was "See what I have done and please let me finish the job".
Two compelling arguments from two capable men.
One had to lose so the other could win.
This election was not about race, it was not about the economy, it was not about who would make the better Commander in Chief, it was not about who was the smartest or the most presidential although all these factors were influential elements. It was all about voters' fear.
All I had to do was use my smarts to weigh the fear factor and because America is glaringly predictable I had very little doubt who would win.
For the Christian community this lesson about fear should be salutary and discursive and should put us on the look-out for peddlers of fear and be not unduly influenced by them. The Bible tells us, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7) Notice the clause "sound mind" because peddlers of fear want you to be rash, irrational and impulsive so that your decision is totally driven by thoughtlessness. The world is full of tricksters who want to capture your mind for if they can do that then subsequently they are able to manipulate you with ease and coerce you into their agenda.
So what do you do when both candidates are peddlers of fear?
If you have to choose then do what the proverb says, "Out of two evils choose the lesser". In truth many honourable people may exercise their heuristic option and choose none.
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