WASHINGTON, April 8, 2014 — Public Policy Polling’s Mr. Robo Poll recently asked a series of questions that came right at the end of the call and that really got my attention.
After I had thoughtfully, solemnly, and deliberately pushed those buttons to indicate my informed views, PPP tossed my way about twelve questions concerning abortion and North Carolina’s new legislation which is aimed at regulating abortion health “clinics,” and reducing the increasing outrages and abuse such as we have heard about in recent months (e.g., Gosnell and the infamous Pennsylvania abortion murder case last year).
It seems that here in the Old North State several abortion clinics were closed because of very unsanitary and unhealthy conditions.
The General Assembly enacted legislation to tighten and raise health standards, and you would have thought that for the Planned Parenthood and NARAL folks, and their camp followers, it was the end of the world.
Mr. Robo Poll fired off his questions, and what really caught my attention was the use of double and, yes, triple negatives. If I had not had a mother with advanced English degrees and who taught me how to diagram a sentence and what double negatives were all about, I think I might have simply given up.
At the very least, I probably would have answered the questions in the opposite way from the way I actually think.
As I can remember, here’s how the first question went: “If you were told that the state’s new law limiting women’s abortion rights meant that a poor, black mother of fifteen children, who had been abused, could not get the needed reproductive services she desperately needed, would you not be willing to not support North Carolina’s new restrictive abortion law?”
There were about twelve questions, theme and variations on this idea.
Go back and examine that question, and you tell me how you would answer it. First, you have the image of that poor, angelic creature, a mother of fifteen, a martyr no doubt in our ruthlessly exploitive society, abused by evil and rapacious males. Second, because of the heartless conservatives in our legislature this poor angelic creature may have to suffer through yet another pregnancy.
Now, try to figure out the phraseology. I think I was able to do so, but you have to wonder how many of our fellow citizens, that is, how many of the woefully mis-educated lumpen proletariat who form a majority of our population these days had any idea what button to push, even if they were supportive of the new state law.
Now, what I shall be looking for is the ballyhooed, breathless future announcements on WRAL or WBTV in Charlotte, or in The News & Observer or The Charlotte Observer, that a huge majority of North Carolinians REJECT the state’s new abortion law. And then the various commentaries from the reporterettes at WRAL, or perhaps on the editorial pages of The News & Observer, that the conservatives in the General Assembly went way beyond the “wishes” of Tar Heel voters.
Then, after that template is established as truth, every day or two there will be a reference back to this benchmark. In other words, this “truth” will be cleverly insinuated into the thinking patterns of those casual viewers and readers as uncontested. And at water fountains at work, or after civic meetings, the standard refrain will be: “Well, you know most Tar Heels don’t favor such limitations.”
Over at GOP headquarters political consultants will ring their hands and wonder out loud: “Maybe we need to relent a bit, perhaps try to avoid this issue–the ‘people’ aren’t with us. We could lose the next election if we push abortion restrictions.”
Of course, this kind of thing goes on nationally on a much wider and promiscuous scale. Just listen to my favorite bete noirs of the morning news programs, Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell, to get a flavor of how news and opinion are spun, and, oh!, with such imperious and condescending assuredness. If I were a overpaid GOP consultant I would shudder and run for the tall grass any time I heard the mention of Senator Ted Cruz’s very name!
In the past I’ve offered to sell cheap to anyone an oil well in Lizard Lick, North Carolina, if you believe that we live in a nation that actually resembles the one created by the Founders. The late Dr. Samuel Francis wrote revealingly about the “managerial and therapeutic state” that now dominates almost every aspect of our lives. We are told we live in an epoch of hugely increased “democracy” where everyone has more “rights.”
In reality, we approximate the forlorn citizens so well depicted in George Orwell’s 1984, only much worse. If you don’t have millions of George Washington’s lying around (like Sheldon Adelson) that you can deposit in a candidate’s pocket, I mean with “an independent advocacy group”, you don’t have a voice.
Or, if you’re not a member of some special, privileged minority/pressure group, you don’t get a say (although in most of those cases, you don’t actually realize that you’re being manipulated). Isn’t democracy just swell?
Madison warned us in The Federalist Papers. Alexis de Tocqueville surmised that “democracy” could work well only at a local level, with folks who shared a common core of principles, morality, and an understanding of who they were and who possessed common traditions. I can remember when some of those conditions were present when I was growing up in Garner, North Carolina (it had about 1,100 inhabitants back then). But that was years ago, and in most of America today we have replaced that communitarian traditionalism for a society and culture united only by a porno-drenched media which carefully tells us what to think (and not to think), what to say (and not to say), and continues to plumb the worst aspects of human depravity and calls it the norm.
This is the kind of society we live in today: satisfy the “millenials” and “twenty-somethings” with Twitter, Facebook, iPods, iPads, texting, additional Apps, revealing selfies, and all those electronic goodies. No matter that most college graduates can’t write a good English sentence or that in many grammar schools you can’t fail anyone anymore. The most important thing is that with a smattering of computerese you can produce a citizenry that doesn’t know much of anything about American history or economics or traditional culture, and really doesn’t care. It is not even intelligent enough to know that it is not intelligent. That’s the kind of citizenry that Obama and most high-paid Republican consultants just love. That’s the kind of citizen for whom the managerial state, the “nanny state,” is just dandy.
I couldn’t tell Mr. Robo Poll any this, my buttons weren’t enabled to convey this message. And now that I write these words, if anyone over at PPP should hear of my unease, they might just remove me from their call list.
Of course, that is, if anyone over there can read well enough. I haven’t used any of those confusing double or triple negatives they seem so fond of.