Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Palin Defect - I mean, the Palin Defections

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And another one leaves the bus:

Prof. Charles Fried, McCain advisor, defects to Obama - News: "Professor Charles Fried, an advisor to John McCain's presidential campaign, has announced that he can no longer support the McCain/Palin ticket, and has asked for his name to be removed from several campaign committees on which he has served. In a letter to the general counsel to the McCain/Palin campaign, he cited McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate as too dangerous 'at a time of deep national crisis'. Fried also publicly stated that he had voted for Obama via absentee ballot.

Fried later clarified to The New Republic that he had voted for Obama because he no longer supported the McCain ticket, and did not consider abstention 'a proper option'.

Fried has been an influential voice in American conservatism and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as Solicitor General in 1985. During his years serving with the Reagan administration, he represented the White House in over 25 cases before the Supreme Court. Fried was later an associate justice on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. In the last decade, he has vocally supported George W. Bush's appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court."
McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his heir apparent has started a stampede, not so much toward the admittedly liberal Obama's policies as toward the obviously sane alternative to this. (HuffPo)

In The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, famous psychologist and researcher Philip Zimbardo discusses his lifelong research into the psyche of good people who engage in evil acts. He warns first about the dangers of psychological constructions that imbue people with "otherness" and then issues even stronger warnings about the dangers of psychological constructions that transform "others" into "the enemy."
The process begins with creating stereotyped conceptions of the other, dehumanized perceptions of the other, the other as worthless, the other as all-powerful, the other as demonic, the other as an abstract monster, the other as a fundamental threat to our cherished values and beliefs. With public fear notched up and the enemy threat imminent, reasonable people act irrationally, independent people act in mindless conformity, and peaceful people act as warriors.

When Sarah Palin says, in her stump speech, "Obama does not see America the way you see America," she is separating Obama from what social psychologists call the "ingroup." Both Palin and McCain suggest that Obama does not share the goals of ordinary Americans, that he and his associates are somehow anti-American, that he is a socialist, and that he pals around with terrorists.

Through this rhetoric they aim to separate Obama from patriotic Americans --- to make Obama the other, to make him one of them, to characterize him with the property of otherness. Then, Sarah Palin escalates the rhetoric by adding, "He sees America as so imperfect that he pals around with terrorists," effectively transforming the other into the enemy.

Fortunately, it seems that rather than see evil flourish, a good man has done something. No doubt this is a good deed that will be punished. But such men who made such choices made the United States and crafted it's founding documents.

This has become a time of decision for us all, and there is much more at stake - not just for citizens of the US - than who gets into the White House. This is starting to look like a sudden death pop quiz on ethics, citizenship and the proper role of religion. It's a showdown beween an authoritarian mindest of "Might makes Right" and a genuinely, bible-based mindset that says "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The McCain/Palin campaign are casting this election in terms of good versus evil, a cage match between God and Satan. In doing so and publicly stating that they will "do whatever it takes" to win one for gawd - they are making the choice starkly clear. It's between the choice for a good man with good, solid family values and a record that honors the value of human lives, no matter how humble and disregarded - and people who value power over all.

It is, indeed, a choice between good and evil. Charles Fried chose Good. Go forth and vote likewise.

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Original image of racist biker courtesy Afro-Netizen.

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