It would be folly to dismiss the recent Democratic National Convention as boring. Obviously, millions of citizens would disagree with me. So let me just say I thought it was manipulative.
In my recent book, “The Illusion of Knowledge,” I proposed a theory that our schools and most modern media have been collectively subjecting all of us to unrelenting Gaslighting. That this ubiquitous form of grooming has created millions of citizens accustomed to being controlled and manipulated. I would argue that last week’s Democratic National Convention was a classic “Gaslighting Seminar.”
Gaslighting is most often associated with abusive relationships. The insidious part is how victims caught in abusive relationships reorder their values. How at some point they will embrace notions that would normally be antithetical to their more traditional values. Social scientists call this process of subjugation “Gaslighting.”
It is essentially a brainwashing technique that has been employed for years to deprogram prisoners of war, to reprogram addictive personalities, or to tear down and rebuild young military recruits during boot camp. Jim Jones used the same process to convince 900 members of his Peoples Temple cult to simultaneously commit mass suicide. So we know it can be effective on large groups too.
What are the basic techniques used to Gaslight a person or a group? First, it is imperative to undermine the subjects ability to think on their own. Gaslighters confuse and intimidate their subjects with mixed messages:
Lavish them with praise and affection
Assault them with derision, anger and fear
Characterize other relationships as threatening; isolate them
Demand 100% obedience and offer punishment as love
The object of this kind of emotional manipulation is to warp the victims’ understanding of self-sufficiency. This is a clinical condition called “Perspecticide,” or the murder of rational perspective.
Once we understand how abusive partners control their victims, we can see similar processes and procedures occurring in mass media daily, but especially apparent during major news events like political conventions. Witness the nightly news and talk shows and note how any criticism of Democrat platitudes meets immediate mocking and “cancellation.” Most news headlines were effusive about the Democrats’ universal themes of inclusion, unity, and racial justice. Missing completely was any serious examination of plans or policy initiatives.
Michelle Obama opened the convention by proclaiming, “…Whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy.”
The message? Republicans could care less about you! Don’t talk or listen to them. They hate you! We offer unlimited empathy!
To demonstrate that point they featured the daughter of a COVID-19 victim. “My dad was a healthy 65-year-old,” said Kristin Urquiza. “His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life. I am not alone.”
The message? Anyone who trusts Trump will “pay with their life!”
Despite a nationwide “Be Safe, Stay Home!” media blitz, her at-risk father “couldn’t resist” going out to a karaoke bar for a few beers. In her emotionally terrorized mind, President Trump has “blood on his hands!”
Throughout the 4-day event, Democrats emphasized the “intelligence of conformity”. New York Governor Cuomo said, “Of course we will wear masks, because we’re smart. Of course we’ll socially distance, because staying away shows how close we actually are.”
Now there is a poetic platitude for ya!
Between dozens of ad hominem TrumpHate speeches, the Democrats streamed lurid visions of dystopian global warming disasters, police-state subjugation of “peaceful protesters” and “innocent” illegal immigrants, and boarded-up small businesses across America. And for the Grand Finale of Guilt Trips, they implored Democrats to conduct a war on “White Privilege.”
The message? The Republican Nazis are coming after you. Join Joe and Kamala in the basement where the Democrats can hide you from the Apocalypse!
It was Gaslighting 101.
And it works. Just ask the millions of women who are victimized by abusive partners. Ask them how they were lured into a sense of endearment and security only to later realize they had been effectively imprisoned. They will tell you they allowed their emotions to overcome their reason.
I can only hope most Americans see this manipulation for what it is. Since we are all shopping in the meat-market of electronic messaging, we must remain diligent against not-so-subtle attempts to use Gaslighting to win our affections.
Rick Elkin is an artist, author and columnist. All of his work including his most recent book, The Illusion of Knowledge: Why So Many Educated Americans Embrace Marxism is available at RickElkin.com.