Monday, April 12, 2010

Taking Politics out of Political Issues

The crooks in Congress can be replaced only if a majority of the voters vote to replace them. That goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway because too many people seem to have lost sight of that obvious fact.
The Tea Parties, GOOOH (Get out of Our House), and other such groups don’t seem to have that majority—not yet, anyway. From time to time, Tea Party members will point out that there are smatterings of liberals in their movement. Just as many Tea Party members, however, hysterically “warn” anyone who will listen that liberals are “trying to infiltrate” the Tea Parties. It’s almost as if they’re determined to keep the Tea Party movement so small that victory is impossible.
GOOOH, with hundreds of GOOOH groups in over 90 cities, seem unconcerned about the political affiliation of their supporters as long as they help rid the U.S. Congress of all 417 incumbents (That’s 435 minus the 18 who have decided not to return to the scene of their crimes.) GOOOH would probably tell us something like, “It doesn’t matter if the cat is tabby or calico. As long as it catches mice, it’s a good cat.”
Tea Party members, though, are trying to come to grips with the presence of demonstrators who don’t possess the requisite conservative or libertarian credentials.
What will it take to get a majority of voters to sweep the rats out of Congress? What if every conservative, libertarian, moderate, and liberal voter wanted to sweep the rats out of Congress? Would that be enough? No, I don’t think so.
If you’re wondering why not, go to a web site called Google Trends. Google Trends measures Internet interest, especially interest over time. Millions of people do web searches every day. People’s interest can be measured by what key words or names they use when conducting Internet searches.

Let’s key in Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin to see which one generates the most searches in the U.S. over the last 12 months. (Be sure to separate the names with commas.) It’s Sarah Palin by far. Maybe it’s the $150,000 wardrobe; I’m sure it wasn’t the wink. Hillary is practically flat lining. So the cleavage bit isn’t working out very well for her.

Since Sarah Palin has generated the most interest, let’s compare her with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Most of the time, Paris Hilton is about even with Sarah Palin; but Britney Spears is the clear winner most of the time. (In the photo above, I think Sarah is telling her chances of becoming President.)

According to Google Trends, Tea Party Movement gets about three fourths as many hits as Vincent Price, the camp horror actor who died 17 years ago, a seventh as many hits as Nancy Pelosi, and a twelfth as many hits as Elvis Presley.
Do you see where this is leading? Somehow, the Tea Parties, GOOOH, and others will have to gain the votes of people who are more interested in Vincent Price and Britney Spears than in Tea Parties and Congress.
The good news is that everybody is interested in politics; they just don’t know it. To most people, politics is something other people choose to discuss for no apparent reason. It’s something that happens to other people. If it happens to them, it’s not politics; it’s life and death.
People are still more interested in the price of venison than they are in Vincent Price. Britney Spears is someone they watch or hear, but asparagus spears are more important to their health.
According to one survey, 30% of all homeowners are unable to sell their homes because the mortgage is worth more than the home. That may be politics to 70% of the voters, but it’s life and death to the other 30%.
People need long-term solutions to immediate problems. Even if they’re angry enough to remove their congressmen from office, they’re not angry enough to stop looking to Washington for help no matter how angry or distrustful they are. Why? Because Washington is still just about the only game in town. Until people are able to see local solutions to local problems, they’re going to look elsewhere. Like teenagers with hand-held video games, they’ll turn on to them without giving it a thought.
Non-political people—that’s most people—are more influenced by caring people than they are by carefully written speeches; but if they don’t see the deeds they’re likely to fall for words or stay home on election day.
A friend of mine has a people-to-people, grassroots diplomatic initiative to promote peace among nations by by-passing the diplomats. Within the borders of the United States, we need similar initiatives bypass the politicians and bring people together. That’s what non-political people understand; that’s what people of all types understand.
From time to time over the next few months, I’ll make suggestions that are likely to surprise you. I ask y’all to make some suggestions that’ll surprise me. While it’s important to capitalize on voter resentment of congressional malfeasance, it’s even more important to get to the root of the problems. As the four-character proverb goes, “Cut grass; remove root.” On the positive side, there’s another four-character proverb: “Drink water; think source.” Remember that every political issue is a human need.

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