The new question in politics is not what do voters want but how they want it. Every election Republicans and Democrats poll and call to discover the unsatisfied values that elevates a specific issue to a universal cause. Do you believe people should be free of undo burdens? Tax cuts become tax relief. Do you believe in deciding for yourself? Pro-abortion becomes pro-choice.
The term for this is “framing.” The point of framing is to mobilize undecided voters by linking the choice to a deeper desire for innocence. One can vote with a clear conscience because as a metaphor the issue is described by comparing it with another. An example is taxes are not about social services but government theft of your wages. Since taxes are supposed to redistribute wealth from rich to poor, to say government steals wages is to say the poor who vote use the state to mug honest workers.
In Freudian theory this is how the unconscious works. Repressed desires are disguised and slip into reality. If “framing” manufactures the metaphors of innocence needed to bypass political censorship what is the desire it distorts?
Beneath their frames is the unseen unconscious of each party. A few clues can be found in overheard humor, such as when President Bush said on CNN, “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier – just so long I’m the dictator.”
A closer inspection reveals repeated themes, undeclared goals and more importantly the basic structure of how political parties see the world. The following is a list of what history tells us are the fetish scenes that exist in their collective unconscious. It is a tour of red-light district of the mind.
The fundamental fantasy for Republicans is the figure of the Fallen Father who risked his life to create the world we inherited. If we want to preserve it we must be faithful to his tradition and keep his legacy safe from foreigners. His law is erotized and gives his descendants the pleasure of moral certainty as they clean society.
A fetish scene would be washing the workers mouths out with soap if they ask for a raise but it would be soap made out of the bodies of workers who kept asking.
Democrats revolve around the figure of the Victim who is punished by a bankrupt law and they seek to free the sufferer from it. A fetish scene would be a liberal who found his lover tied with ropes and chains and unable to have sex. They untie the knots but can’t loosen one without tightening another.
The feeling of guilt at failing to free their lover leads the liberal to tie them both together in an act of solidarity. The Greens have the figure of the Raped Mother, of the earth as a maternal source of life that is exploited for profit. Sensual hedonism is fine but wasting material is a crime. So a fetish scene would be using the knots in trees as glory-holes.
The Libertarian figure of fantasy is the Blind Father. No authority is watching over us and in that sightlessness we perform our own freedom. A fetish scene would be telling a cop to close his eyes and hold up a long mirror so the libertarian can watch himself masturbate.
The figure for Communism is the Tyrant Father who inspires Oedipal Rage. He forces us to work for him and steals the wealth we create. Communists share with liberals a fetish for victims but instead of the solidarity of suffering want victims to wage a war. A fetish scene would for the white and formerly middleclass commies to wear black-face and lead the poor into protest pens.
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