With the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election I’ve been observing how emotionally charged the atmosphere has become, ever increasing as we move closer to the Election Day. There is a great deal of fear and anger coming from every side of the situation, and I think it’s important to take stock because these heavy emotions have a tendency to override our rational thinking.
It’s clear, to me at least, while remaining fairly calm through all of this, that many of us are not thinking rationally. We aren’t looking deeply into the issues that should concern us the most. We aren’t necessarily choosing a candidate based upon what they are capable of contributing, where they stand on the issues, what their track record reveals, or what is most needed for the benefit of the society as a whole. Rather we are primarily motivated by fear (and anger, which is rooted in fear).
Fear is a very powerful emotion. As I said, it overrides our ability to think clearly and rationally. We become reactive rather than reflective. We act hastily instead of thoughtfully. It doesn’t mean we aren’t intelligent, but when fear takes the wheel intelligence takes the backseat.
Now this is no secret to politicians who know well the power of fear, and have often used it to control and manipulate populations, enlisting the assistance of corporate media and other forms of propaganda. Do you think it was rational thinking on the part of the people that helped Adolph Hitler rise to power and to carry out such atrocities?
Fear is powerful tool for securing political positions. If you can stir the people up, instilling fear in them, along with rage and hostility toward opposing parties, and then offer to save them, they will be eating right out of your hand.
So I think it’s important to take a step back for a moment and ask ourselves, “What is the driving force behind my decision?” Are we calm and collected? Are we relaxed? Are we looking at the entire picture, examining all the bits and pieces carefully, researching every side of every argument, gauging the importance of the issues, fact-checking and so on? Or are we overcome by fear and anger?
It’s important that we observe ourselves very closely and recognize when we are being manipulated, whether by the politicians themselves, the mainstream media or even by close friends and relatives who may be emotionally invested in a particular candidate. Fear is contagious. So we need to develop immunity by keeping it in check, noticing it when it arises and by keeping our intelligence at the forefront. We need to remain calm. Close your eyes and take a deep breath if you need to.
I hear so many people talking about voting against someone. Why not vote for someone? Why not vote for the person who most inspires you, the person who most reflects your principles? If you’re going to vote why not vote on the issues by considering who is best suited to address those issues? And I don’t just mean trusting in campaign promises, but looking at track records as well in order to gauge whether a candidate is capable or likely to keep such promises. I think it’s important to really weigh the candidates fairly, without getting caught up in party affiliation, popularity or any other superficial positions.
I’ve included with this article a link to a quiz which will help you to decide which candidate best represents you. It includes not only the Democratic and Republican candidates, but third party candidates as well. What I like about this quiz is that it doesn’t tell you anything about the candidates upfront. It simply asks you where you stand on the important issues. It’s only after you submit your answers that you will be shown which candidate matches with those issues. And the results may surprise you.
I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for (or whether I’m voting at all). I have no interest in trying to persuade you to choose any particular candidate. I think we’re all intelligent enough to make that decision on our own. But I think we need to use that intelligence to arrive at that decision, and in order to do that we need to take fear out of the driver’s seat.