Bells and Whistles

Guest Post by Michael Chambers
Party affiliations are like cow bells, factory whistles, and Pavlov’s dog bell. All of these things are designed to elicit a desired response. The cow bell is used to make the herd follow the bell worn by the lead cow to the barn. A factory whistle is used to signal workers to start and stop work. The dog bell used by Ivan Pavlov started salivation in dogs at the mere sound of a bell. All these items are used as behavior modifiers. Political parties, although not created expressly to change behavior, have the same effect as the bell and whistle.

Having served in the U.S. Army, I know what it is like to live in a situation where independent thinking is discouraged for the good of the greater community. In the political arena, independent thinking is discouraged also. Anyone who has seen a political convention can picture the cow bell, factory whistle, and dog bell analogies quite clearly. I am not saying it is a mob mentality, because mobs are uncontrolled, but the behavior modifiers in political parties know how to control the mentality of their subjects. At the local level, behavior modification historically has not succeeded; this may be the reason why independent candidates have increased over the past twenty years.

The election this month will challenge how well each political party succeeded in modifying the mentality of the individual voter and their resulting behavior in the voting booth. At the National and State levels, party affiliations will probably reflect behavior modification more than at the local level, where party affiliations weaken when personal issues are debated. People are more willing to express their individuality and independence when the issues are local and personal. For example, the National election will be based on employment, women’s rights, the economy, the deficit, foreign affairs and issues in the global context. The Charlestown election will hinge on unregulated housing, quality of life, clean and adequate water supplies, and property taxes. We can think globally, but we have to act locally. This is a big difference that National party affiliations cannot effectively address. Charlestown voters should demonstrate independent thinking in the town election, but can still remain affiliated to the National Party in the global context.

Oh yes; one more behavioral stimulus I overlooked, the party lever or master lever. I imagine the lever is referred to as master because it allows the party to act as masters of the individual voter.