groupthink (grūp’thĭngk’) n. The act or practice of reasoning or decision-making by a group, especially when characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of view.
It is a part of human nature to want to belong. Belonging takes many forms – families, clubs, schools, sports teams and their fans, and even politics. In society, many of us classify themselves by labels that indicate to which group we belong. Conservative. Liberal. Republican. Democrat. But where things get weird is when one group takes hold of the idea that their ideas and beliefs are not only superior to the other groups, but that the other groups are stupid, wrong, and even dangerous.
Welcome to politics in 2008.
Here’s the deal. I’m a big believer in thinking for myself. I learned a long time ago that everybody has an agenda, and if you’re smart, you’ll think not only about what they’re saying, but what’s in it for them. Where things get scary are when people start parroting things back they’ve heard someone else say, without verifying it or thinking it through themselves.
There are a lot of people out there that would have you believe that A) Obama is the only logical choice, B) there’s no reason to vote (if you’re a Republican or Conservative) because Obama’s already one, and C) Resistance is Futile. But before Barack ascends to the office of Supreme Commander of the Borg, it’s worthwhile taking a look at all those that are participating in groupthink, instead of thinking for themselves.
The Media – the mainstream media, the national press, (basically everybody BUT Fox News) have been in the tank for Obama for a couple of years now. Seriously. When it gets so obvious that Saturday Night Live makes fun of the media for being completely biased in favor of the Abominable O-Man, you gotta believe.
Hollywood – While a number of Hollywood heavy-hitters lined up behind La Hillary, almost all of them lined up like dutiful sheeple behind Obama, once he put the nomination on ice. Today I saw where even Little Opie Cunningham, Ron Howard, took the time off from directing earnest and well-meaning films to parody his two signature roles in classic TV – on the Andy Griffith Show, and Happy Days. So by this logic, I’m supposed to take the simplistic platitudes from two fictional characters, and use that as my basis for making a decision on who to vote for in the Presidential race? Puh-lease!
Academia – Sorry, but what I learned in college was that a degree meant you had certified proof you could put up with B.S. for two, four, six, or eight years (depending on your tolerance). The inside joke on PhD’s is that it stands for “Piled Higher and Deeper.” Recently a Harvard professor suggested that Bush and Cheney resign, and invite Obama and Co. to move on into to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue early, so they could “start to work immediately to fix the mess Bush has made of the country.” Hope that idiot’s not teaching Constitutional law. Most professors I know wouldn’t know how to practically apply knowledge in real-world situations if their lives depended on it. Theory they know. It’s hard to figure out how to make real life bend to fit theories, however, when those ivory towers are so far away from reality.
When you hear a constant drumbeat of “Obama’s the Annoited One” over and over, you can’t really help but to wonder if there’s something to it, and if McCain has a prayer. You better believe he does. If Obama was really the shoo-in the Left would have us believe he is, you wouldn’t see all these stories discrediting Joe the Plumber, criticizing Sarah Palin’s suits, or calling anyone who chooses to vote for McCain a closet racist.
So how do you detect and counteract the effects of groupthink? Simple. Ask questions. Probe. Investigate. Think for yourself. For instance, ask some Obama-ite if they realize that Obama’s tax plan is the very definition of socialism. When they freak out and start calling you names, grab a dictionary and show them the definition of socialism. As they try to weasel out of the comparison, press on, and force them to think for themselves. (It will likely be a long and painful process for them, but it’s worth the effort.)
Groupthink is never a good idea, particularly when it comes to political discourse. Thinking like everybody else is uncomfortably close to the vision Aldus Huxley had in his books, Animal Farm and 1984. Without your eternal vigilance, it could happen here.