Politics Is About Clever Manipulation We accept that candidates calibrate political messages according to what people want to hear, not according to what they believe

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WASHINGTON – Presumptive 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is in the news. Various articles report on her artful maneuvers to position herself as the strongest Democrat for 2016, while carefully calibrating her support for the now unpopular Obama administration in which she served for four years as Secretary of State.

Crafting the message according to polls

And so we are told about clever innuendos, about subtle distinctions and other ways in which Clinton distances herself from Obama, without however appearing openly disloyal.

In other words, ladies and gentlemen, here is how you get elected. With the invaluable help of your pollsters and focus groups specialists, you craft the message so that it will match what people want to hear, therefore assuring maximum impact on potential Democratic primary voters.

Welcome to American politics. The open secret is that Mrs. Clinton, and anybody else running for office, for that matter, will say almost anything, as long as she believes that this or that “message” will help her get elected.

Manipulation

But, if this is so, we also admit that most if not all the people running for office are not in the business of proposing political programs. No. They are in the business of clever manipulation. They do their best to cynically exploit the hopes, fears and expectations of the voters constructing messages that respond to them, in order to get more votes.

We all know this. However, nobody says anything about the fact that we have accepted as “normal” a completely perverted political process. No TV talk show host would say to any candidate, in his/her face, that their position on this or that is patently insincere, and therefore not believable.

Politics is about getting elected

Think about it. We openly accept the fact that politics is not about having ideas and crafting them into a political program. No. None of that. Politics is about getting elected. Therefore, in order to get elected, it is perfectly logical that candidates will fine tune their message to what their pollsters say that people want to hear. Which is to say that it is perfectly normal to lie about what you believe, as long as the “message” gains traction with key voters. True, voters are gullible. They can be persuaded and manipulated.

Insincerity is the norm

Still, we do pay a price for having accepted this perversion as the normal way of conducting our politics. Sure enough, at the end of this ghastly process, someone does indeed “win”. However, by accepting that in politics insincerity is the norm, we have debased the integrity and credibility of our system.

Credibility of our institutions?

The strength of the American republic rests entirely on the credibility of its institutions. And this is largely predicated on the moral integrity of the people running for office.

If we think that a vibrant democracy can thrive while we entrust its institutions to cynical manipulators, we are really fooling ourselves.

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