Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


October 10, 2012: "I Don't Like Spinach"

By Rob Tenery, MD on October 10, 2012

Frowning at what looked like a mountain of spinach on the dinner plate before my six-year-old eyes, my mother cajoled me to take a bite. She pushed, “But you haven’t even tried it.” I shook my head. “I’ve already made up my mind,” I answered, remembering what my close friend had told me about spinach. I was not going to like it no matter how it might have tasted.

This is an example of the term mindset--- a fixed state of mind. Deciding on something before one has even tried it or listened to the other side.

Being reared in an allopathic, medical family, I thought anybody who had a doctor of Chiropractic medicine after his/her name was a charlatan. A sagely professor of Pathology taught me a valuable lesson during one of his lectures to our sophomore, medical school class. “In every discipline of medicine, there is some truth and some that is not,” he reminded us. What his words of wisdom taught me was to not close my mind to persons or thoughts that were different to my own.

Needing a solution to my chronic back pain of the last several years, I consulted a close friend and orthopedic surgeon who opened my eyes to Chiropractors. “We use them all the time for certain problems like yours.” My friend had found truth in the Chiropractic field and some of his patients were better for it.

Today’s volatile situation in the Middle East is a reflection of the ‘only one way’ mindset of many radical Muslims. The torment suffered by Jesus is probably the most glaring example of the thinking that anything that conflicts with one’s current mindset is wrong or threatening.

Even though the President and both houses of Congress voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (Obamacare) passage, very few of them had actually read the voluminous bill in its entirety. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, charged her fellow legislators, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” So what did most of them do? They let others make up their minds for them.

Days after both political conventions had drawn to a close, pollsters began dividing up the country into blue states, red states and swing states. So had both candidates for President. The red and blues states (thirty-eight at the most recent count) were now only good for one thing--- raising money to support the political campaigns that would be waged in the twelve swing states. A closer look reveals that even in the swing states only about five to ten percent of voters are listed in the ‘undecided’ category. Since our country elects its President by the Electoral College, it only makes sense to concentrate the contributions and energies of the campaigns on that very small group of the ‘undecided’ voters that are most likely to be swayed.

According to the polls, the majority of the voters in the red and blue states have already made up their minds. They are going to vote along party lines or according to their skin color, religion, geography, their pocketbook and in what entity they put their trust (the media, a personal friend or family member). The breakout of a large-scale war in the Middle East, a dramatic drop in the stock market, or possibly, a stellar performance in the Presidential debates could change this dynamic. But barring any of these unlikely events, the outcome of the Presidential election is in the hands of only a small percentage of our population. Because everyone else has already made up their minds!

What does it take to change voters’ minds? A ‘bridging source’ from what or whom they share a commonality. It is similar to my revelation about Chiropractics through a close friend and associate. It was about me. Unfortunately, most of us don’t base our decisions on what is best for the greater good. Our vote boils down to how it affects us, our families and our pocketbooks. The old adage: All politics are local, even with the election for President of the United States.

A large percentage of the electorate base their decision on how to vote by the media from which they get their information. Even then, most support their current position by reading newspapers, listening to radio stations and watching television stations that lean toward their already predetermined point-of-view.

Beginning with the Watergate scandal in 1972, reporting changed. News was no longer just the facts. It was information interpreted and selectively distributed in the viewpoint of whatever particular media outlet was covering the story. The complete story was no longer complete. Throughout the last forty years, the media’s influence on the electorate has grown exponentially. The sophistication of the delivery of their biased message is so shrouded in the facts that only those few who dig deeper will realize that they are being manipulated. (1,2)

Techniques such as where a story is placed in the newspaper or in a broadcast or ignoring the story altogether, using a headline to push the edge of truthfulness and juxtapositioning positive remarks made by one candidate the reporter supports alongside negative comments or images by the opponent are now commonplace. Broadcast media can change voter turnout by announcing national election results in states that close their polls earlier than other states where the polls are still open. Even the pollsters exert their influence by deciding what voting population they will interview and weighting positions that could be taken by any underrepresented segment in their sampling.

The repeating theme: Others making up our minds for us.

This country was founded on the premise of entrepreneurial independence. The entitlement programs encourage others such as the Feds to take over the care of our needs. For many who are not so fortunate, a safety net of subsidies is their only hope. However, for the majority of the population, who could help themselves, the addiction to entitlements only strengthens the government’s ability to make up their minds for them.

Maybe its time we ‘tasted the spinach’ for ourselves!

References:

  1. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/29/mainstream-media-threatening-our-country-future/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  2. http://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2012/10/01/media-coup-detat/2/





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