We’ve been reading about the Democratic reactions to the Paris attacks since Friday. You know the stories:
- The candidate for the Minnesota legislature that says “ISIS is not necessarily evil.”
- Bernie Sanders’ attempt to tie terrorism to climate change.
- The president’s steadfast refusal to alter his course in any fashion.
I have read article and post, as well as heard radio discussion and rants alike that treat these stories as wrong but somehow worthy of consideration. Yet when you combine them with Hillary’s convoluted effort to tie her Wall Street connections with 9-11 in Saturday’s debate you began to wonder if it is not a strategic mistake to grant these contentions a status of “worthy” in any fashion. All of these contentions strike this writer as so far removed from reason or reality as to not warrant refutation.
And yet refute them we must, for despite the absence of reason or connection to real facts they have support from a measurable and significant section of the American public. And thus they have a political reality, even if they are absent reason or evidence. But then a disconnect between political reality and reason or evidence is hardly new in history. But how do you argue when reason and facts do not seem to matter? How do you refute that which is baseless and therefore has no place where a rhetorical weapon might weaken its edifice?
Ridicule is my knee jerk response when political reality disconnects from reason and evidence. But it is my experience that such usually backfires. People who set aside reason and evidence do so for reasons that are deeply personal and generally emotional. Ridicule is therefore not interpreted as a dismissal of their stance, but as a personal slight. I think that phenomena is rather apparent in the behavior of both the president and Hillary.
Fortunately, we do not really need to get Obama or Hillary to abandon their unreal political realities, just enough of those that support them to swing the voter pendulum in a different direction. Absent support unreal political reality becomes simply unreal. But that is no small task either as supporters attachment to figures like Obama or Hillary can be as emotional and non-substantive as are the figures themselves.
In the end, I am not smart enough to know how to solve this conundrum on a short term political level. “Political/media spin” is the short answer that sounds really smart, but how to effectively execute that is something I have to leave to people with far better credentials in that area than I. But what I do know is that while properly executed messaging can carry the day in the next election, it is not going to solve the deep problems that create the conundrum to begin with.
I think back to something I wrote a little less than ten days ago as all the college campus goofiness began to appear and before Paris made the goofiness so transparently goofy. People that respond to things political from such deep emotion are generally people emotionally adrift. They come from family structures that simply do not work on some level. Their emotional needs have not been met at home and therefore they expect their universities or their government to meet them. Of course they need to learn that to some extent none of us get our emotional needs met and get over it – but that lesson takes a refuge of emotional stability that I would bet is missing from their lives.
I know of only one place in our society that can be such a refuge when the family fails and that is the church. And not the church as an institution, but we individuals and families of the church reaching out and providing individual refuge to these deeply hurting individuals. This is a generations long solution to the conundrum in which we find ourselves. As it moves forward we will need to continue to support those that battle the short term battle, but we cannot let the short term battle overwhelm our efforts at this long term strategy.
And more, our focus on the long term strategy can give us hope in the midst of the seeming madness that surrounds us.