Monday, January 10, 2011

The Goebbels effect. . . . .

A dishonest politician is one that consistently fails to do the things that he or she said they would do and often does the very opposite. This is obviously graded on a curve because it is in the nature of being a public legislator that decisions have to be made 'on the fly' so to speak. Things will change and a good elected official will react to the changes so it is inevitable that some promises will not be kept and occasionally a politician will have to do something that appears to contradict their basic political outlook. However, you will know a dishonest and conniving politician by this sign; they consistently do the opposite of what they said they would do or of their stated principles.

But on this curve of dishonest public legislators there is a class above the rest; these are the politicians are the ones who not only consistently do things that they claimed they wouldn't do but consistently and publicly claim that they are doing things that they are not or are not doing things that they are. I call this the Goebbels factor; politicians who simply say things over and over that are blatantly untrue in an effort to simply misrepresent the facts and create a counterfactual image of what is really going on. This Goebbels factor transforms a dishonest and conniving politician into a dangerous one. And this is precisely the class of politician that the present leaders of the Conservative Party of Canada falls into.

A good example of this Goebbels factor in action by our government concerns the issue of so-called accountability. If you have paid even the vaguest attention to events over the past four years you know that despite running on claim that they would increase openness and accountability in government, Harper has done the exact opposite. There has never been a less accountably and more secretive government in this country than this one. And people are taking notice of this globally where Canada's freedom of information process has become something of a joke. So the Harper Government has done the opposite of what they claimed they would do; pretty standard stuff really. But Harper and his cronies go the extra mile; they continue to blatantly ignore the facts and speak in public as though they have increased accountability and openness. Even diehard Tories have to know that the power of the PMO has increased, that the Government Ministers are less accessible, less powerful, and less open than they were, and that freedom of information has become a joke. But all that dosen't matter, Baird, Poilievre, and other just say in public (when they are allow to speak at all) that their government has increased openness and accountability. And the Goebbels strategy is, to a degree, effective because when you hear a message over and over - the facts begin not to matter and perception becomes reality.

The Harper Government has increased taxes in many areas and for many people - but they consistently say that they have been a tax-cutting force. They consistently claim to be fiscally responsible yet they spent like drunken sailors before the recession came, squandering the surplus and being thus totally unprepared for a recession that everyone knew was coming. Then they sent the country into the red like no other government with money targeted for Tory ridings. The Harper government claims that crime rates are getting worse when all indicators are that they are improving -- but that doesn't stop them from planning to spend billions on prisons while reducing rehabilitation programs and consequently increasing recidivism rates. The Harper government claims that they are in favor of the 'market' and for responsible government spending, yet they are planning to make an untendered purchase of unnecessary war planes worth billions. The Goebbels effect in action. Watch it and be afraid.

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