Saturday, May 03, 2008

Hillary's Dilemma

How does she get people who are inclined to vote for this man...

....see this man when they look at their ballots...

ALERT: Racially offensive language ahead!

If I were Macchiavellian, and in a neck and neck race with a black opponent, and I wanted to manipulate racist attitudes, I might ask myself, "How can I get the word "nigger" into the public consciousness without actually calling him that?"

One way to do it indirectly is applying the word to a completely different group of people and creating a firestorm or setting up a straw man. For example, creating a tape where it looks as if someone on my team called Indianans, "white niggers", then release it anonymously into the public arena (on the internet, on and make sure it got reported on TV (CNN, Anderson Cooper's 360/MSNBC/ABC).

The beauty of this tactic is that it doesn't matter if it's accurate and it doesn't matter if anybody believes it. The purpose is to get the word out ("nigger") into the public consciousness. At some level, a certain level percentage of the voters will associate the word with my black opponent and that can create a reluctance to vote for him. Even if it influenced 1% of the voters, it's a significant factor in a race as close as Indiana.

It's very sophisticated, obviously very underhanded, but it can be effective, as any social psychologist can attest. [Think you're for Obama (or Clinton, or McCain)? Want to see if your unconscious mind agrees? Take the Presidential Candidates Implicit Association Test at Harvard University's virtual laboratory, Project Implicit.]

Given the kind of campaign Senator Clinton has chosen to run, I'm having a very hard time believing she isn't behind the last minute Mickey Kantor-YouTube slur video. It certainly dovetails into the whispering "he's unelectable" campaign that superdelegates have been telling journalists they're being subjected to by the Clinton campaign.

The broader implications of what this means for our country and our culture in the 21 century is unconscionable. Unless we evolve, there are always going to be those less high-minded people plotting to exploit unconscious processes for their own selfish advantage.

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