A guest post by Owen Jennings:
“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. For fear being an apprehension of pain or death, it operates in a manner that resembles actual pain…”- Edmund Burke.
Kiwis are being robbed. Politics and the media are the accomplices. Do not underestimate how effective the weapon of fear is in these hands. In more normal times this Government would be struggling to register in the polls such is the incompetence, lack of delivery and arrogance. By any measure, only the most stubbornly loyal would, in non-Covid times, be willing to support such an utterly dismal performance. But fear “robs the mind…. of reasoning”.
The failure of this Labour Government in almost every area of its administration has no parallel in our history. Despite an 19% drop in support Ms Ardern and her motley crew are hanging on to over 40% in the last poll. Here is why. It’s the female, fear vote. Research in the US by the women’s oriented group, Leanin.org shows that during Covid “women are more than twice as likely as men to be experiencing physical symptoms of severe anxiety, such as a racing heartbeat (25% vs. 11%). More than half (52%) of women are having sleep issues, compared to about a third (32%) of men”.
Labour is supported by 50% more women than it is men. Take away the ‘fear’ factor and Labour would poll at 30% or less. The fear factor is highlighted every day. Ardern and Hipkins talk big numbers, threaten lockdowns, leverage the fear factor. They have their little band of media hungry, publicity seeking, “experts” to supply the bullets(when else would non-descript modellers ever get in the news) and a compliant media with its well-greased palm faithfully headlining fearful numbers every day.
Here is something weird. Fear and love, the dominant emotions are fuelled by the same hormone, oxytocin. They work together well. One leader does the fear, frowny face, scary numbers, “I reject…”, bad news and one leader with the boyish face, the ready smile, the funny one-liners does more positives. Now the oxytocin is flowing. Those feminine instincts are alerted.
Fear comes in many forms. Today a media cartoon appears with Judith Collins pictured on the edge of a knife. It is not funny nor is it subtle unless you want to convey something about knives and hurting people. It is the umpteenth cartoon featuring Collins negatively.
Even longstanding National supporters are becoming convinced that Collins has failed and can no longer lead the party. They fear she could lose an election. Fear is robbing them of their reasoning. Watching Collins deliver National’s Covid recovery plan showed a very capable, strong, focused leader, confident in her own skin, relaxed, unflustered, happy and in control. Those who know her well are convinced she is Prime Ministerial material. Yet somehow that fear of another term with an unbelievably incompetent lot in control driven by young, immature, inexperienced journo’s aided by their artful editors is undermining the reasoning powers.
English was targeted – he had no charisma. Bridges was targeted – he couldn’t speak properly. Muller targeted himself. Collins has a huge target on her back, such is the anxiety her capabilities could outshine Jacinda’s. Swap Collins and the target moves too.
Knowledge conquers fear. Let the light shine in the darkness. Get the message out. Blogs cannot do it on their own. A new medium for reaching beyond TV1 news, Shortland Street and Breakfast is needed. An appeal to reason.
Our electorate is so dumbed down, so poorly equipped to think critically and to reason strategically that National needs to be straddling the centre. It has to package its message to attract middle New Zealand. Fear needs to be turned on its head. Fear that drives positive outcomes. Fear that low, failing education results create a bigger pool for gangs that raid your house, terrorise your street, feed drugs to your kids. But here is a policy that halts that trend.
Fear that your kids and grandkids will never get home to hug you, celebrate a milestone, support you when Pop passes on. But here is a policy that opens our borders.
Fear that covering the land in non-harvested trees kills jobs for your kids and destroys exports. But here is a policy that stops subsidising offshore tree planters.
Fear that hospitals without top quality nurses means suffering and limited service. But here is a policy that reinvigorates the health sector.
Fear that kindness without positive action is actually, cruelty.
Lockdown can be depressing. Depression is fertile ground for fear. Fear when there is no hope of something better emerging drives depression even deeper. It is time for strong, positive, uplifting messages conveyed to the electorate more strategically. Messages that stimulate oxytocin, especially female oxytocin.