Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ALL Our Brands are Crisis...


...If you're a US President with any popularity. In the movie I'm alluding to in the title (Our Brand is Crisis), we watch as the campaign team for Pedro Castillo, a fictional contender for the presidency of Bolivia, realizes that their candidate will only be perceived as electable if the public perceives the country to be in crisis: so they set out to sell that fiction, and shortly after the election, it becomes a reality. A more chilling example of the same plot is the closing episodes of the fourth season of House of Cards as the Underwoods become aware of the same reality: their only path to re-election is if the US believes itself to be in crisis, and so they refrain from intervening in an ISIS-style hostage beheading--and choose not to prevent the event from being broadcast live--in order to ensure the country falls in line behind them as the strongest power to provide protection in chaos.

What is more chilling is Russ Robert's recent interview with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, in which de Mesquita discusses his book, The Spoils of War, which demonstrates how US presidents who have chosen to take the country to war--even when better alternatives were available--consistently win re-election, while presidents who preside over peace and economic prosperity tend to be discounted, disliked, and not re-elected (for example, Warren Harding, widely regarded as one of the worst Presidents in United States history, saw 0 war deaths under his presidency and also saw the average income rise by 8%, contra Abraham Lincoln who presided over 750,000 war deaths, and saw average income rise by only 2%).
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