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STORY BY JAMES R. TEMPLER

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Published on March 16, 2021 2:27 AM

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GOP using political gaslighting to attack democracy
In Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," Antony declared Brutus' stabbing of Caesar the "most unkindest cut of all" because Brutus had been a trusted friend and one-time supporter of Caesar.

Political gaslighting is one of the most unkindest cuts of all because most of the victims of its insidious lies and misrepresentations are constituents who trust and support those gaslighting politicians.

Interpersonal gaslighting differs from political gaslighting in a very profound manner. Interpersonal gaslighting is usually between two individuals or perhaps a small group wherein a dominate character is trying to make a weaker character doubt his own sanity or perception of reality.

Political gaslighting, on the other hand, involves a cultural and historical scale of importance, authority and dependability bestowed upon elected officials by traditional thought.

Simply stated, elected officials seem to have inherited credibility. Political gaslighting is often repeated by partisan colleagues doubling down on its deleterious effect — the raping of truth.

Relentless repetition, hyperbole, euphemisms, fear-mongering, anger-mongering and altered imagery are some of the well-worn tools of gaslighting that, for example, have convinced numerous people that Democratic leaders are pedophiliac cannibals.

Orson Wells' 1938 publicity stunt broadcast, "War of the Worlds," convinced scores of Americans that Martians were attacking Earth, creating mass panic and demonstrating how efficacious trusted media and well known personalities can be controlling the beliefs of the public. That lesson hasn't been wasted on politicians who choose to gaslight.

In the 1950s and '60s, Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan promoted the concept that "the medium is the message," meaning that the medium greatly influences the acceptability of the message. For example, are we going to put more credibility in a message spray-painted on a brick wall or in the same message broadcast on the evening news with known politicians?