the citizen has become a pawn in a high-stakes game of political maneuvering that has morphed from the competitiveness and rhetorical give-and-take of 40-plus years ago, to something more closely resembling combat, with countless new and old deceptive strategies continually being auditioned and evaluated for their mass appeal. Elections 1952 and 2012 are rather like the difference between the classic 1980s video game, “Pac-Man,” and later concoctions such as “Grand Theft Auto.” The old classic was challenging entertainment; the new renditions incorporate intimidation and are wholly calculated to make the players (as well as any onlookers) uncomfortable.
Pick any issue of political significance—education, for example—and you will find yourself awash in a high-stress, depersonalized battle. But it will be one that you, the ordinary “player,” have virtually no chance of influencing one way or the other.
Meanwhile, the ever-expanding civil-service “machine” churns out a familiar hodgepodge of rules, regulations and controls, zealously guarding old turf, while greedily appending new offices, bureaus and directorates.
Consequently, today’s political contests bear no resemblance to the post World Wars I and II eras. Rather, there exists a calculated effort, by all sorts of demagogues, to sow dissention—to alienate, demoralize and, if possible, neutralize entire potential pools of voters, with all the negative energy such a scheme entails: coercion, ostracism, intimidation, loss of status or job, and outright censorship. In this scenario, the agenda becomes all-important; the individual recedes into expendability.
This book was initially conceived as a response to readers’ requests for help in communicating effectively with local, state and federal representatives on complex issues. Concerns like national health care, the budget, energy policy, educational standards, foreign wars and job creation all have many aspects. Unfortunately, they are awash in the nuanced language of attorneys, politicians and special interests. This makes it not only difficult for the layperson to comprehend the subject at hand, but to link it to other, tangential topics that necessarily affect discussion.
Efforts to contact representatives for a one-on-one conversation are roundly discouraged, save for exceptionally wealthy individuals—and then only because such persons might be cajoled into donating tens of thousands of dollars. Anyone not belonging to that category can expect to encounter a phalanx of screening mechanisms—receptionists, “executive” assistants, aides, and “contact me” forms on websites that require some 30-minutes’ worth of menu options and mandatory inputs aimed more at identifying new campaign contributors than ascertaining constituent viewpoints. The “comments” box is calculated to discourage the addition of explanatory remarks and, in any case, the message is reviewed by someone other than the intended recipient, and only rarely is it passed along.
Today’s political leaders are quite satisfied with this process. They are not keen on engaging in a logic-laden exchange of ideas with those they pretend to serve—that is to say, average voters. While their minions tweet, dig up dirt on opponents for ad campaigns and help political marketing firms set up irritating robo-calls, legislators themselves are busy consulting with their speechwriters and practicing brief position statements that will sound good on the stump and in televised pseudo-debates. Such debates are typically moderated by TV commentators or newscasters—most of whom are more concerned with their own celebrity than eliciting the views of office-seekers.
Recognition of this sad state of affairs led to a re-examination of this book’s purpose. In struggling to simplify concerns such as health care options, foreign policy, environmentalism and education, so that typical taxpayers could communicate knowledgeably with elected representatives and local authorities, it became increasingly apparent that the voting public is being “played.”
From Agenda Games, expected release: August 2012
- For the first time in American history, average citizens are worrying about being targeted by their own government—not from police looking down the barrel of a gun, but from bureaucrats sharing intelligence from a computer or illicit wiretap.
- Thanks to satellites and an Interpol-on-steroids mindset, personalized data collected on every conceivable subject can be transmitted worldwide in seconds. The only data we can’t seem to transmit is that on illegal immigration, which passes through a Swiss-cheese “fence,” protecting less than half the Southern border. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s leaders consider illegal immigration an asset to their careers, if not necessarily the inhabitants of their respective states.
- The presumption is made that people who have nothing to hide won’t mind a bit of bureaucratic overkill in the name of security. The nothing-to-hide argument implies the freedom to opt out. In practice, of course, there are repercussions for refusing. The 2007 $9.75 million lawsuit brought by law student Stephen Dunne against the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court dramatically highlighted the nature of these repercussions, just as the lawsuit against the TSA by former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura demonstrated that refusal is not an option.
- The trouble with curriculums like “conflict resolution,” which dates back to the late 1970s, is that young students failed to understand that some people don’t want their grievances resolved. When educators mentioned this at all, they labeled such people “mentally ill.” But, as the various terrorist organizations have shown us, their “sickness” is one of spirit. They have not lost their mind, they have lost their conscience. Unfortunately, the same students whose attitudes were shaped by those conflict-resolution courses in high school sit as national security and foreign policy decision-makers.
- Read more in the upcoming book: Agenda Games
As Election 2012 moves ever closer, hundreds of fans have written to request either a follow-up to my popular seminar manual, How To Counter Group Manipulation Tactics (updated last summer), or have asked me to explain how the various media, as well as professional "perception managers" -- yes, that is a real term, just do a word search, including one on the Dept. of Defense's own website -- are working to "throw" the election, hoping to ensure an outcome in which nothing changes, save for a few new faces and a bit of rhetoric. A series I wrote for the American Daily Herald last year gave me an idea for merging both of the above requests, and the events of the past four months did the rest.
My new book, AGENDA GAMES, still in the editing stage, will soon be out, in plenty of time for a thorough study prior to the election. Each chapter of the book will identify and discuss one of the "games" currently being played on the public in the service of one, overriding agenda, thereby rigging the political process, with all its tangential issues, ahead of voting time.
Coupled to my updated Tactics manual, the reader will be able to recognize, and hopefully shut down, the games, replacing them each time with arguments and ideals that will help bolster candidates who share the sense of urgency most Americans feel today toward taking back the reins of this country -- meaning, its local, county, state, regional and federal governments. These governing bodies, in turn, control the agencies and bureaucrats that currently are overpowering and harassing American citizens.
Both this new book, AGENDA GAMES, and the updated How To Counter Group Manipulation Tactics, cover the latest efforts that have been used to undermine and intimidate good citizens -- using educational institutions, environmental regulations, "security threats" health care, cultural icons, a crumbling infrastructure, energy "scarcity," entertainment mediums, and more. Meanwhile, I continue to receive plenty of feedback from leaders of committees, focus groups and task forces detailing their successes with the Tactics manual.