Ebola’s arrival has understandably put Americans in a state of fear. Paranoia has become the more acceptable and precautionary strategy to handle our inner psyche, emotions, and behavior, and it seems to be spreading quicker than the actual virus. During any time of crisis, we shine our spotlight and shift attention to our nation’s leaders, as we seek for a resolution to ease our fears. Politicians are capitalizing on this opportunity to manipulate the country’s fear for their own personal gain. It is imperative at this time, we educate the public not only on the virus, but on the psychology behind our own fear that leaves us vulnerable throughout these circumstances that are seemingly out of our control.
The republican and democratic parties are circling in on key talking points that lay the foundation down much like a blueprint when addressing the public as they prepare for upcoming elections. Dr. Bart Rossi. Ph.D., a political psychologist, has been exploring these tactics in an attempt to help Americans not be taken advantage of.
“The Republican Party is clearly exploiting the politics and psychology of fear with the Ebola issue. Ted Cruz blames Obama for not halting all flights from West Africa. But the experts have warned the President that this would be counter-productive. They say we can now track who desires to come to the U.S. and banning certain flights would mean more difficulty in identifying and following who may be a transmitter of this virus. It is my view as a political psychologist that Ted Cruz and many in the GOP would take the exact opposite position if Obama banned flights. These Republicans would blame Obama for not listening to his experts, and as such it is reflective of his poor listening skills, lack of leadership, and limited understanding of the issue.”
This is not however just a republican bashing party as every talking point comes across like a ping pong match of back and forth blame between the two political parties. Ebola’s first appearance in this country has been argued everything from neglect, to budget cuts, terrorism, insurance and even inequality as the contributing cause.
Dr. Bart Rossi scrutinizes these ideas and scapegoats, “What is happening is a psychological phenomenon in which “fear” is actually being projected to the public to demean, dismiss, and marginalize the President. It is reminiscent of the “birth certificate controversy.” By pushing fear to a completely irrational level certain congressmen are making points with a base of people who only want to criticize, and be cynical. Imagine, there is only one death from Ebola in the U.S. and in spite of problems the CDC is making progress with hospitals, those at risk, and travel considerations. But any good that may be going on with regard to the Ebola issue is being overwhelmed with “fear” to the most extreme degree.”
After 9/11, Republicans tried to shame Democrats into supporting President Bush without dissent. Now Democrats want the same fealty for Obama. As Americans neither viewpoint acts as a resolve to the common goal of this virus being the only enemy to beat. The hypocrisy sounds more like a battle of gamesmanship—covered up by an undeniable brand of patriotism projected by each political party.
Dr. Rossi leaves us with this thought to reflect upon as we approach the next election and we invest in our true ideals, educate ourselves as best we can avoiding manipulation, to not be overwhelmed by the fear projected on to us, and to value the reality of the ideas that can lead us to common prosperity and share compassion for one another reaching true patriotism.
“This Ebola crisis in my view personifies what is wrong with the political process at this time. Politicians are only interested in promoting something, “saying anything,” in order to protect themselves. The best interests of the American people is in a distant second place. Spinning, misleading, and negative statements are at an all-time high, and it seems that the Political Psychology of the day is only going more to the extreme.”