Through history politicians have used shiny objects to distract followers away from the root causes of their own misery. Sometimes the technique is innocuous such as when a local politician proposes a new bridge or a gym in an area that is desperately in need of drainage or police protection. Sometimes it can be deadly, as when a national politician literally starts a war to bolster his flagging support.
In all cases it is the same thing. As one definition states “Shiny objects are things that look good and exciting but are really distractions at the end of the day.” So, to build or to expand support for themselves politicians dangle shiny objects that distract from their own failures. Pretty cynical, you say? Absolutely, but it is one of the most important political tricks that has stood the test of time. In almost all cases it works – until it doesn’t.
Perhaps because I am more sensitive to such techniques than most people, I sense that we are being subjected to just such a shiny object distraction. Our governor has been front and center about the COVID epidemic for months on end. I have not criticized him because the epidemic is the real deal, people need to be concerned. But as time has gone by, it is becoming obvious that his actions are just another shiny object designed to distract us away from some really bad issues that he has been unable, or unwilling to address.
Has anyone noticed that the governor has been all but invisible during the two legislative sessions? Just as Joe Biden, he seems to have taken the posture that by hiding in a bunker and not engaging the legislature on extreme but controversial issues, he can maintain his favorable ratings.
The other indication that we are having a shiny object dangled in front of us is that he has not done anything, said anything about the truly devastating economic side effects of the epidemic and shutdown. I suspect that this is the danger to his governorship and his legacy that he is desperately trying to distract us from.
It goes without saying that the collapse of the state’s economy and the associated loss of jobs will, when the history is written, be the most significant outcome of this decade. We have no leadership from him on how we address the economic downward spiral or on how we support the hundreds of thousands of Louisianans that have lost their jobs, many permanently.
But like any skilled politician the governor understands how to distract us. So, he is constantly on social media, TV, and radio droning on and on about the same statistics and strategies that we have heard for months. As long as his loyal media doesn’t press him on the economic catastrophe or on how we will address the coming fiscal cliff that it has triggered, he will just keep droning on, offering nothing but the once shiny object of his concern about COVID
In the meantime, as the Federal support money runs out, businesses will fail, and poverty will soar. Sure, COVID is a bad situation, but a governor must be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Instead we are offered a shiny object in the hope that no one asks about our future.
Remember what I said, shiny objects work, until they don’t!