“Words are more powerful than swords; with a sword you can kill one at a time but with words you can create a massacre. When words are fueled with emotion they get tremendous power to create or kill. Use words with caution because you are liable for what you say.” Unknown
Effective use of fear and hate “words” on radio and television in political campaigns began in the 1970’s with the Nixon “Southern Strategy.” After school integration and passage of the Civil Rights Voting Act Republican’s use of “words” which created fear, hate and distrust between whites and African-Americans enabled Nixon to become President and what had been the solid Democratic South became and remains the solid Republican South.
Lee Atwater known as the Darth Vader of the Republican Party and his understudy Karl Rove perfected the fear, hate and divide type of campaigning and elected two Bushes to the White House and hundreds of Republicans to Congress and to all levels of state offices.
In November 1996 Newt Gingrich made his contribution to fear, hate and divide type campaigning when he issued a GOPAC memo entitled “Language: a key mechanism of Control.” A memo containing over 60 words Republicans should use in describing their opponents such as “liberal” “radical” “incompetent” “bizarre.”
Rush Limbaugh fills the airwaves with “words” of hate and fear which divide such as “slut” “prostitute” and “femanizi.” Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glen Beck send millions of hate, fear and divide “words” over the airwaves.
In 2008 a winner in a U.S. Senate races collected on average and spent $8.5 million and the winner for a Congressional House seat collected, on average and spent $1.4 million to get out the “word.”
In the 2012 election candidates and their supporters spent an estimated $6 billion to $9.8 billion on “words.” The most expensive and most negative charged election in the history of the United States.
Obama-- positive 6.3%, contrast 20.3%, negative 73.3%
Romney--positive 11.9, contrast 52.1%, negative 36.0%
Democratic groups—positive-0-, contrast 11.3%, negative 88.7%
Republican groups—positive1.2, contrast 3.6%, negative 95.2
(The number of negative television and cable ads in the 2012 Presidential race as found in a Wesley Media study)
Democrat and Republican candidates seldom mention their qualifications. Both parties spend most of their time and money using “words” of fear and hate. The reason negative campaigns are growing: political consultants make millions of dollars designing negative campaigns, the media makes millions of dollars printing and airing them, Rush makes $400 million saying them and politicians who conduct negative campaigns win.
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Do you believe describing those who do not think, vote, look like you or attend your church with “words” such as “stupid” “liberals” “wackos” “ungodly” “traitors” is conduct which meets the “love thy neighbor as thyself” test?
Does spending $6 billion to $9.8 of dollars on negative hate, fear and divide “words” aid voters in selecting the best qualified candidates?
Do you believe politicians who have been demonized by another politician with such “words” as “wackos” “traitors” “Communist” will work with that politician?
In the final analysis “We the people” determine what type of society we have in America: by the leaders we choose, by the manner in which we select them, by what we read, by what we hear on our radios and what we watch on our television sets. If “We the people” choose leaders who use “words” of hate, fear and divide we will remain a bitterly divided society. If we read, watch and listen to people who use “words” of hate and fear it will be impossible to have a civil debate and impossible to work together.
(Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes monthly to the editorial pages of The Sun-Times)