We are witnessing the competition between two different types of campaign. The first, with Hillary Clinton as its champion, is the type that has been successful, with one exception, for the last 60 years. In this type of campaign, the ruling elite decides what they want to do. They start propaganda campaigns to popularize what they want to do. Most of the projects are long term, such as disarming the population, eliminating borders, or changing sexual norms. They belittle opposition and do not allow the opposition to get their message out. The technique is called “manufacturing consent.” The election is part of the process, where the elite have manufactured consent, with their propaganda, that results in electing a candidate that will do what the elites want done.
The other type of campaign is best epitomized by Ronald Reagan. Reagan traveled around the country, figuring out what people wanted, what the goals of the majority were. He summarized and collated what they wanted into a campaign that promised to do what they wanted. He won overwhelmingly. He acted as a focus for what the public wanted rather than as a tool for what the elite wanted.
Donald Trump is pushing a campaign of the Ronald Reagan sort. The elite see it as a rollback of their plans, and oppose it with every tool at their disposal, including nearly all of the media. They have turned it into a campaign where they are attempting to manufacture opposition to Trump. It is what they have to do to stop him. It did not succeed against Reagan, in large part because the elite believed their own propaganda. A large part of their propaganda was that the media part of the elite were objective and truthful. They were blinded to their own bias. Most believed their agenda was objectively correct. Most believed that the public wanted what they wanted.
The elite are the equivalent of “the party” George Orwell wrote about in the novel 1984. Their primary concern is to stay in power in order to exercise power. In Orwell's 1984, part of doing that was for members of the party (the elite) to be able to believe two opposite things at once, and to always believe and speak the party line, even if it contradicted itself, to accomplish staying in power. In Orwell's 1984, the party had near absolute control over information and the flow of information.
If you look at Donald Trump's positions, they are widely and wildly popular. Virtually all of them are supported by strong majorities of voters. It is why the elite are not willing to engage on the issues. On the issues, Trump wins overwhelmingly. It is similar to the position of Ronald Reagan. Trump has figured out what the public wants, and is working to give it to them.
In Reagan's 1980 election, the media did not want what the public wanted, but they were so good at lying to themselves, they thought the public wanted what the elite did. They thought the public wanted to disarm itself, as an example. So they allowed Reagan's message to get out. Reagan won in a landslide.
Since Reagan, the elites have become better at realizing that what they want is not wanted by the public. They know that the public does not want to be disarmed. The media knows they have to lie, obfuscate, and discourage Trump voters if they are to preserve the goals of the elites in power. They are doing so with all the power at their disposal. It is hard for them to do, because their ability to control the flow of information has been eroded by technology and Reagan's removal of the FCC's Orwellian named “fairness doctrine”.
The two campaign strategies are not 100 percent distinct. Popular goals will always need elites to refine them and put them into practise. That is why our republic is a representative democracy with checks and balances.
Elite schemes to manufacture consent will always have some element of popular goals, or they become lemons that no one is willing to consider. For example, consider Universal Background Checks (UBC). People want to keep violent criminals and violent mentally ill people disarmed. UBC does not do that. UBC creates precursors for universal gun registration, to set up the ability to disarm the public. The public does not want that, so elite media lie and obfuscate to “manufacture consent”. Donald Trump does not support UBC. Hillary Clinton does.
The biggest single difference is in philosophy. In the United States the predominant philosophy, for 100 years, with perhaps the exception of Reagan, has been “progressivism”. At its core, “progressivism” is the rule of elites and manufacturing consent. In this philosophy, the elites know best and the people must be lied to for their own good. The limits on government enshrined in the Constitution are seen as impediments to doing what the elites want.
For the previous 125 years, marred by Slavery, the Civil War, and its aftermath, the dominant philosophy was to refine and implement what the majority wanted. In that system, the elite work hard at determining what the people actually want, and the best way to get there. The limitations on government enshrined in the Constitution are seen as protections from excesses desired by the majority.
This election will determine if the people have recovered enough control over their own information flow to elect a champion for them, instead of one for the elites.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.