Saturday, December 03, 2005

Republican Simplicity

Ok, I promised my vast readership a follow-up to the ABC Aids prevention post. I thought maybe I'd do more research and really compare and contrast different prevention techniques. That's not going to happen. Instead, I humbly offer you my opinion.

I think the Bush Admin's approach to AIDS prevention echoes not only their particular strategy for dealing with just about every obstacle, but really reflects the Republican approach to the world. Here's what I mean:

1) the Bush Admin has made a career of simplification and polarization. 9/11 became "Us or Them." Iran, Iraq and North Korea, despite cultural and historical differences, became the "Axis of Evil." Our "War on Terror" was easily reduced to black vs. white, good vs. evil, holy Christians vs. heathen Muslims. This simplicity, while obviously lamentable in that it glosses over nuance, complication, etc., has advantages- people respond to it. It's much easier to think of Muslims (extremist ones, anyway) as simply evil (and more moderate Muslims as... well... misguided). Why try to understand a people so different, and so violent? There's no point in comprehending why a people hate us- if they hate us, they must be on the wrong side of history. Period.

2) As I've said, this approach is appealing. The Republicans in general grasp this and use it to their advantage. Don't try to present the nuances, the complications of an issue to the American people. Just memorize your talking points memo, repeat ad nauseum. People hear you and understand you, and if enough of you say the same things enough times, people will believe you. Repetition works. Dems haven't grasped this (whether they should or not is another issue).

3) My ultimate point- this simplicity applies to AIDS prevention in the same way that Nancy Reagan's "Just say 'NO'" campaign applied to drug use in the '80's. It's easy, it lends itself to repetition. Fighting AIDS is as easy as A-B-C. Of course it is! It's a sound bite, and its facility is easy to get your head around.

4) The problem with this approach is, of course, that ultimately it doesn't work. Nothing is that simple. "Just say 'No'" didn't work because - what do you say no to, exactly? No to peer pressure, no to curiosity- but is it the same "no" for cocaine as it is for, say, marajuana? If you try marajuana once and you don't die, have you fallen into the abyss of "bad kids" because you didn't "Just say 'No'?" The Reagans' "War on Drugs" failed for many of the same reasons, I think, as the "War on Terror" is failing now. Simplicity is all well and good in theory, but a failure to understand the basic psychology and culture surrounding exactly why people do things, is ultimately fatal to the cause.

5) Ditto for AIDS prevention. Read some of the articles I quoted below to understand why preventing the spread of AIDS in Africa is ridiculously far from being "as simple as A-B-C." And complicated, nuanced problems call for complicated, long ranging, and yes, expensive, solutions. It may not fit into a sound-bite, but real progress against AIDS in Africa encompasses the whole alphabet, and then some.

Shame on the Bush Administration for not grasping this. A lot of people will die, in the many "wars" we are fighting, in the name of simplicity.

8 Comments:

At 5:55 PM, Blogger wunelle said...

A brilliant summary of the psychology of W's administration. I feel you are exactly right, though I have often missed the nuances when I attempt to write about these same things.

Though I hesitate to make the comparison, Joseph Goebbels was so brilliantly successful in the '30s for the same reasons.

 
At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 9:36 PM, Blogger Unsane said...

Complexity is of the devil:

http://eatmyheart.blogspot.com

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger St. Dickeybird said...

I'm beginning to think Dubya got elected because "Bush" is easy to spell.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Noisette said...

Seriously. I hate the willfully ignorant. And I hate the Republican Party for pandering to them.

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger Unsane said...

Oh but the willfully ignorant have their "guts" don't they, which they attend to? They consider themselves as replete with intuition. Big fat lumpy, stumpy, chewy guts....

 
At 10:21 PM, Blogger Unsane said...

Here's how "third worlders", as we often like to call them, can do better than the religious west.

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/Tai_Solarin.html

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger Unsane said...

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