The recession we’re in was caused by sabotage of safety regulations put in after the Big Depression of the 1930s. If it morphs into a full-blown depression, it will be because Republicans who did the dirty work now have amnesia, live in a fantasy world, and succeed in getting voters to move in with them. It would be a triumph of salesmanship over self- preservation. And don’t underestimate salesmanship. In the late 1980s, I heard a lecture by a sales manager for Compaq computers:
“You have to give your prospect the illusion that he’s in charge, I’ll give you an example. You’re taking your wife to the movies. You ask, ‘Shall we see Rambo or A View to a Kill? She’d pick The Color Purple, but you don’t want to see it so you lead her to choices you want her to make.” I wondered if the guy’s wife was as pleased with him as he was with himself.
Another pearl: “You find a hot button, jam it down and keep it there.” Hot buttons have a healthy component of fantasy. Pre-teens buy Seventeen. A young doctor fresh out of residency tries to project authority. A balding thirty-five year old joins The Hair Club for Men. A fifty-five year old middle manager is always seen with an outdoorsy tan. The minimum wage worker who spends ten dollars a week on lottery tickets will never win, but softens his hard life imagining what he’d do if he did. The poor shlub unable to pay his mortgage, still says to himself, “I damn well don’t want my taxes raised when I make my first million!”
Obama’s appeal to common sense, fairness, and reality is not enough. The sales people jobbed in as Republican strategists know that the grimmer the reality, the more irresistible must be the fantasy. If it worsens the economy, hey!, at least they’ll own the president. There had better be some creative Democrats who can figure out how to give reality the appealing glow of fantasy.. Otherwise, hang on, we’re in for a rough ride.