by Marion Marks
Habits become ingrained as the result of repetitive patterns reinforced by positive signals. Students succeed most easily when instructors, mentors or peers provide praise or rewards that psychologists compare to Pavlov’s dog experiments. The public reaction to political actions or “pandering” is often quite the same.
Louisiana’s “Election from Hell” as Charles M. Blow labels it was clearly a Pavlov occasion for Louisiana citizens, because “Voting for the Crook” became the only viable option for people with a conscience. The ease with which Republicans lined up behind an avowed Nazi shocked those who were students of political history in the state. And the divisive camps too closely resembled what later was described in the New York Times, “Duke remains a window into some of the murkier currents in the state’s politics”.
Repeating the word “Encouragement” is a simple way of training voters to understand the ease with which we often drift back and forth when there is no ingrained sense of right and wrong in specific issues. Failing to have that moral compass that becomes necessary when we define ourselves too easily as “Democrat” or “Republican” in a two-party state is made more difficult when both parties and candidates are as flawed as the current crop.
Charles Blow summarized the choice voters have succinctly with his label of Trump as the candidate who “has given his Republican supporters permission to vocalize their anti-otherness rage, and that will not easily be undone.” Louisiana suffered the fate in 2014 of a Duke-type choice and we are paying dearly, though it was not as clear a choice at the time.
Sadly, the ease with which Trump changes positions, often taking diametrically opposed ones in a single day, also makes it easy for supporters to no longer to deeply question their decision to vote against “the Crook.” It takes far more moral courage to chose against apparent self-interests and the momentum of a crowd than standing back and weighing the depths of all that is at stake in the election.
Fortunately we have a longer time to investigate and attempt to uncover more facts before November’s election. But this will require far more anguish and pain for voters who still have the stomach for the journey.
I particularly appreciate Blow’s summation in describing our Louisiana heritage, as it is culturally and socially accurate. “As a Louisiana boy experiencing a confounding sense of déjà vu, let me assure you: There is no way to un-cook the gumbo.”