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Dumb and Dumber
Citizen Zed - 6/26/2012

Corollary: The more entities spend trying to buy elections, the dumber they think you are.

It's doubtful Ms. Soltis means to complete the thought this way. She's a "Republican pollster". Rigorous thought and logical progression aren't a part of her rationale for tweeting the proposition in the first place. One can, however, imagine the ostensible point. When we see these ubiquitous polsters and "analysts" as nothing but marketing professionals and Mad Men, all turns on soliciting feeling and outrage, on tweaking the immediacy of prejudice, impulse, and desire.

Politics, that most equivocal pastime, at once conjuring the most noble and the most base, is now mostly marketing. Universities still have philosophy and political science departments, but we know politics is now the province of a vocational school and the vulgar lens of a marketing apparatchik.

"Young voters who start voting today and have bad taste in their mouths about the GOP are likely to look at politics through that lens for years."

Read on and we might as well be talking about toilet paper, toothpaste or vinyl siding. Appearances and perceptions unalloyed by critical faculties, the stuff of stupidity in other words, are the primary terrain. Mapping the "reptilian brain" is job one for navigating both analysis and action in a nation where citizen has condensed into mere consumer.

"Yes, those people who whine about money buying elections think you're dumb," the tweet reads in translation. But, of course, what shows itself here is that Ms. Soltis thinks you're dumb.

She doesn't think you'll have the temerity or the cognitive fortitude to read it as an underpinning to ROI strategies for those who do the actual buying, that is, "in an age of austerity surreally contradicted by the hundreds of millions being poured into campaigns." No, it's the people who complain about this increasingly warped campaign fun-house - they think you're dumb. They don't simply claim you're dumb, which would imply an argument is forthcoming, but rather ensconce the evaluation at the level of a premise.

Let's assume we're all dumb. Let's buy the premise, touch that third rail en masse and agree we are, each and everyone of us, stupid. Ask yourself who's tone betrays wanting you to remain that way. What tone and style is it which sinks itself into sentimentality and satisfaction, into affirming the greatness of America merely on account of what we've already achieved, and (since inquiry is unneeded) into unexamined feelings about freedom? What forces slap on the veneer of logic and argument for the sake of an apology for the status quo, and leave you exactly where you were before?

I'd hazard to guess that even in our stupidity, we'll find an answer in those who are squeezing every ounce out of the Citizens United ruling. We may have forgotten what to call these people, but thanks to Ms. Soltis' jingle.. tweet, we do know a premise they hold dear.

comment & analysis

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