Dieting & Ideology: Delusional Duality?
I suspect most of us have seen the NutriSystem commercial on TV many times. This is a “weight loss” system said to “Transform Your Body”. It is touted to be a “healthy, balanced weight loss system that’s easy and convenient”.
The TV commercial displays beautiful bodies eating delicious meals while simultaneously and rapidly loosing weight and having great fun in the process. The TV commercial displays steaming plates of delicious food that will be sent to your house so that you can eat wonderful meals with little kitchen effort—and lose weight.
“Your Men’s Basic Plan Includes: No-brainer meal plan—no counting, weighing or measuring [of] 120 delicious, hearty “man foods” to choose from.”
Looking at this ad I think of the American political system that ideologically informs the population that they can have their “cake and eat it” while putting the whole thing on the Credit Card.
The NutriSystem ad is designed to excite the delusions of the dieter; the political ideology is designed to excite the delusions of the citizen into passively accepting the possibility of living without critical self-consciousness and discipline.
NutriSystem advertising and ideology are useful means to bamboozle unsophisticated citizens into believing that they “can have their cake and eat it”.
My thoughts turned to this duality of delusion while reading in Sunday’s Washington Post the article “Fixing the Budget In the Worst (But Only) Way” by Fred Hiatt.
In 1988 Congress passed a law establishing the BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission). The BRAC was established because congress was unable to close any defense bases because no politician would support such base closures in his or her district because the politician would be thrown out of office by the voters. No sensible effort to close bases was possible because the voters wouldn’t allow it to happen in their backyard.
The BRAC commission was set up to decide which bases must be closed and this list of closings had to be voted on, all or nothing at all. No individual could vote no to close the base in their district, it was only a vote for or against the complete package.
A method similar to the BRAC commission was presented by the Baker-Hamilton Commission on Iraq.
“The idea, in other words, is to take the very questions at the heart of politics -- what should government do and who should pay for it -- out of politics. This has to be abhorrent to anyone who believes in representative democracy.”
We see here that sensible representative government was not possible because the ordinary voter was not sophisticated enough to see or accept that the interest in the whole depended upon their acceptance of some sacrifice in their local district.
Political ideologies support the voter’s delusions that they can have their cake and eat it. Political parties engage in propaganda techniques similar to the NutriSystem ad programs which lead the voters into delusional attitudes, which make cogent political decisions impossible. Only when the voters become more sophisticated can we expect to see democratic government capable of establishing long range programs that will deal with real problems before they become catastrophes like that of our financial system that we are dealing with now.