Sunday, July 18, 2010

Magical Thinking Collides With Reality

Lately I have been thinking a lot about magical thinking. Magical thinking is a psychological term which has many very complicated definitions, but the one I like best I found at Medical Very simply put magical thinking is the irrational belief that one can bring about a circumstance or event by thinking about it or wishing for it. I think we all do it or have done it at some time in our life. It can be both negative and positive. Remember the childhood dare “step on a crack, break your Mother’s back” (negative for most of us), or find a penny and you’ll have good luck.

Medical Lexicon says it’s normal in preschool children. Tragically, millions of adults were lulled into this irrational thinking in the last election. They were bombarded with “Hope” and “Change” and translated this into things like an entitlement to a new washing machine, getting higher salaries at McDonalds, a new kitchen, or just plain cash from “Obama’s Stash.” Who can forget the ecstatic supporter who said now she was not going to have to worry about putting gas in her car or paying her mortgage? They were cleverly encouraged in these irrational beliefs by a campaign that never defined what they meant by their slogans. The public was left to fill in the blanks out of their own despair and disillusionment. You don’t like how much money you make, well vote for the candidate of hope and that will change. Then there was the famous “this is the moment” speech when we were told we would look back and remember that this was the time we began “to get jobs for the jobless” and “when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

Flash forward to the summer of 2010. Perhaps there was some truth in the woman’s belief she wouldn’t have to worry about gas or her mortgage. Quite possible she is one of the millions of Americans who are out of work, therefore she won’t have to put gas in her car as she doesn’t have to go to work and without a job she might also be one of the millions of Americans who are in foreclosure so she doesn’t have to worry about paying her mortgage. Not quite what the magical thinking group had in mind, I’m guessing.

As for getting jobs for the jobless, I believe we were promised that if the stimulus bill passed unemployment would not go above 8%. The Administration claims the current rate of unemployment is 9.5%, which I think if I remember my math correctly is slightly higher than 8. But the 9.5 number is smoke and mirrors and even the Huffington Post (not exactly a conservative source) reported: “All told, 14.6 million people were unemployed in June. An additional 11.2 million have given up their job searches or are working part-time but would prefer full-time work. That adds up to nearly 26 million Americans, and an “underemployment” rate of 16.5%.” As for the planet healing thing, I think the BP oil spill says it all.

What does it say when so many Americans hearing the “this is the moment” speech got all tingly and had chills running up their legs rather than saying “whoa, who is this guy who thinks he can control the oceans and heal the earth?” Why were we so willing to suspend disbelief and go back to magical thinking?

It’s time to face reality. This is the man who promised to bring the country together. Well, that isn’t done by treating the American people like a laboratory to test Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. When the tea party began, the Administration very pointedly refused to acknowledge it existed. When that became impossible, the President used Alinsky Rule No. 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” He brought the movement up by speaking in an amused voice and with a sardonic smile on his face talking about people waving tea bags around. He then actually told a group he was amused by people having rallies over taxes, going on to say in a good natured way “you would think they would be saying “thank you.” Then in an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper, he actually called us tea baggers. This is a vile and sexually explicit epithet, and is viewed by me and many others as the equivalent of the N word.
Using this word was the beginning of the move to Alinsky Rule #12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Since we have refused to quietly pick up our signs and disappear after being ignored, and we have refused to slink away when made fun of, more serious measures were needed. And a new word emerged and was repeated and repeated. That word was “racist.”

Community Organizers look for problems and then agitate. They do not solve problems, and it is counterproductive to their goals to encourage harmony. Our President continues to be a Community Organizer. Unfortunately, his community is not all Americans. We tea party people aren’t part of his community. In pursuit of his goal of fundamentally changing this country, and using the Alinsky model, this Administration is actively pitting American against American.

Well, folks, we better not fall into the magical thinking trap. We can’t just wish that people would see that we are not one monolithical group of people but a cross-section of Americans of all races, ethnic backgrounds, religions (or lack thereof), and socioeconomic classes. We must do more than wishing and hoping. We must stand up for our beliefs. We must refuse to be labeled and dismissed. We must hold to our beliefs and values. And we must do so peacefully. We must refuse to be agitated into acting out in an angry manner. To do so would only give credence to the lies about us and our movement and give approval to those who would like to stop us in any way they can.

We are a country that was founded by people of moral and physical courage. Who saw tyranny and refused to give in. Who did not back down when facing an opponent which was the most formidable empire on earth. Many of the founders lost their fortunes, their families, their friends and even their lives in pursuit of this miracle which is America. We must believe we can make a difference. We must keep our faith.

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