Letter to the Editor: Become a More Objective Voter

The political ads are now airing, and we will all tire of them long before election night. Politicians right and left are masters of taking credit for every positive and laying blame on the other party for every negative. 

As we get closer to Election Day, the ads will get more personal, uglier, accusatory and exaggerated. The purpose of these ads is not to educate or clarify issues, but to find emotional triggers and identify the hot buttons they think will cause the greatest emotional reaction.

Why do they do this? Because it works. Because we have become, largely, single-issue voters. Here are some triggers: 

• If someone is underemployed and believes immigrants are coming for his/her job, immigrants get painted as criminals, drug users or only in search of free health care. 

• If someone feels threatened by the LGBTQIA+ orientation, it’s a short step to blaming LGBTQIA+ people for the collapse of the American family. 

• If someone is struggling to get by, each party blames the opposition for today’s high inflation. 

• If someone is a Bible absolutist, it’s easy to trigger anger at the secularization of their children and create opposition to science curricula. 

Single issues, high fear index. If you hook people on one or two of these issues, it’s easy to get buy-in for the whole spectrum of fear.

Homosexuality, migration and the weight of taxation go back thousands of years. Science was taught to our grandparents, yet families still go to church. These issues are not what threaten America. What threatens us is the triggering of fearful emotions and focusing on them rather than dealing with complex issues such as income and racial inequality, AI-driven job loss, illicit drug dependence at every level of society, climate collapse and the rise of totalitarian regimes. 

Ignore the noise and fearmongering. Get a copy of the Republican and Democratic platforms. How do they address big, long-term existential issues? Think through the long-term consequences of their policies. Weigh your vote carefully. Vote for something rather than against something.

Michael Harper

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin