Sequester: What Obama could have learned from the Hunger Games!

Well here we are and the notorious sequester along with its accompanying government dysfunction and nihilistic behavior has arrived. Just when the country is on the right path, on the road to economic recovery (maybe not as fast as most would like) – our beloved elected officials feel it necessary to take their idiotic behavior to new levels. I suppose if you’re going to do something, you might as well go all the way.

Now I could get into whose fault this mess is, but I won’t. It really doesn’t matter. That’s been done enough. But what I do want to discuss is Obama’s efforts to sway public opinion into putting pressure on the “clowns” to vote for a millionaire tax increase and put an end to the sequester. And we all know that the millionaire tax is his ultimately goal. It would be naive to think otherwise. Our president isn’t used to losing, so his inability to make this happen is interesting.

So let’s look at his “sequester ending” marketing effort.

The underlying theme behind Obama’s campaign was fear.

The-Sequester-Bee

He trotted out his cabinet spokesholes to lead the charge. First was Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation. LaHood’s spiel was founded in air travel discomfort. “You can expect flight delays of up to 90 minutes.” Kind of a weak opening act. To begin with LaHood is really hard to listen to. Sitting through a press conference with him would have to be torture. Second, air travel doesn’t really affect that many people. If you don’t fly or do so infrequently, this attack is a moot point. And third, for those that do travel, it’s hard imagine air travel being any worse experience. Hey, if you’re already getting three teeth pulled, it really doesn’t make any difference if they pull another one.

After LaHood, Obama pulled out his main act, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Secretary. God forbid there would be any cuts to homeland security. The barbarians are at the gates and just salivating at the prospect of Big Sister not getting all the money she wants to put down the iron fist on all that don’t bow down at the sight of her. The threat –  release all these terrible “illegal aliens” she rounded up at our local car washes. Obviously unbeknownst to the administration, outside of the racist white supremacists in Arizona, most Americans aren’t really that scared of Latinos.

And finally, Obama played the always dependable education card. Letting the sequester cuts take place will mean teacher cutbacks as well everything else education related. According to Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, this could mean irreparable damage to your children. But even this fear mongering point fell on deaf ears. It doesn’t help that the American public education is far from stellar to start with, and shows no signs of getting better … more money or not.

Well, Obama’s “sequester ending” marketing strategy was three for three … and not in the good way. The public pressure he anticipated didn’t happen. Maybe it’s because Americans have budget fatigue. There is always some catastrophe that’s going to happen if Washington doesn’t get their act together and do their job. In the classic “boy who cried wolf” fashion, we didn’t believe them or even care. Well, they didn’t do their job and we’ll just have wait and see.

Now let’s look at an alternative strategy.

When asked why he allows one contestant to be the victor and live during the Hunger Games, Donald Sutherland’s character, President Snow, responded: “We have to give the people hope. For if they have hope we can control them. Hope is the one emotion that is more powerful than fear.”

Imagine if the Obama administration had employed the strategy President Snow did in the Hunger Games. Instead of subjecting us to his minions’ weak attempts at fear mongering, Obama himself made the case for hope. He could have described how the economy, while not perfect, is a whole lot better than it was four years, or even two. He could have then planted “the seed of hope” that in the not so distant future it could be even be better than it was before the recession. And then he could have related to us the affects the sequester cuts would have on this “seed,” and how these cuts would starve the “recovery seed” of the water it so needs to grow.

I don’t know if it would have made any difference. But it sure wouldn’t have hurt. As they say, “you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.”

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You can find me on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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One thought on “Sequester: What Obama could have learned from the Hunger Games!

  1. Have you ever read any of the writings (or about) Peter Kropotkin? Bear with me as I make the connections, but first some background. Kropotkin was a Russian anarchist who was also a noted scientist (geography) and proposed a theory known as “mutual aid.” This is a “survival of a species” which comes about via mutual cooperation (which also leads to progression and progress). He believed that at the core, for example in a heavily populated capitol city, there would be little mutual cooperation and instead there would be more individualization and competition because fear of the oppressor (or government) would encourage a survival of the self rather than a survival of the community. The further away one was from the center, for survival purposes you would need to rely on your neighbor (not compete against them), thus creating a more utopianistic community and culture.

    I have had several conversations with friends and family about what sequestration is (and is not) and how it will impact either directly or indirectly their lives. As you point out, if you aren’t a frequent traveler, perhaps a few less TSA agents won’t really impact you in any significant way, and because airline travel is already convoluted enough, what’s the loss of one staff person in the big picture.

    For those at the center, the frequent traveler, that impact is great, therefore you would think they would be the most vocal about this cut. What is interesting in the parallel to the Hunger Games is that the center seems to be the least vocal and the outliers are the most vocal…which is what happens in the novel. Those in the capitol benefit the most from the Games therefore they complain the least and do not mutually support one another. Competition thrives. It is only when you get to the district furthest away that mutual aid is the strongest and where you find the voice of a rebellion. Where has been the voice of the frequent flyer? The voice of the travel and tourism industry?

    Until those in the center see that sequestration will impact them most significantly, those on the edges will continue to point out the injustices, hoping that those in the center will understand and start to speak out as well.

    I’m not an anarchist, just an advocate who may only be slightly impacted by what has happened. But I know many who already on the fringes of our society who will lose the most…but seem resigned to whatever fate sends their way, adding their name to be chosen year after year… It will be interesting to see what happens in the months ahead as the sequester starts to fully roll out, as teachers lose jobs, as children don’t receive immunizations, as the center starts to fall apart…

    You are right, this could have been communicated differently on so many levels, but in the end it isn’t as if it wasn’t communicated at all…but when you aren’t in the center, the message that the center communicates has little meaning. If you are poor, can you actually get any poorer?

    If the odds are never in your favor, what are the odds they ever will be?

    I’m just thinking out loud, and maybe my rambling doesn’t connect as clearly here as it did in my head, but I do know this: no man is an island, what impacts one, impacts all, and if we don’t start acting like we are a country that cares about everyone, we might as well start putting our names in and hope to never be chosen as a tribute…

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