Cambridge Analytica: Slogging through Submerged Rivers of Emotionalism

CORRUPTION WATCH-The townfolk are up in arms, gathering with their self-righteousness and torches of indignation because Cambridge Analytica (C.A.) asked them questions that they answered. 

People do not know what really upsets them about this, but everyone is certain that a terrible threat has been created. Harkening back to when Dr. Frankenstein created his monster, the mob is setting off to attack the castle of Zuckerberg. 

As the story presently stands, millions of people placed information on their Facebook pages and then C.A. read this information. As it turns out, C.A. did something even more sinister. It let people take an online psychological test and then used that psychological information for business purposes. Hmm…sounds like walking down Hollywood Boulevard and having a Scientologist offer to give you the American Personality Analysis.  

Then, C.A. like the Scientologists and a gazillion other psychologists on Madison Avenue, used that information to make money. How did they use the answers from this online psych test? The same way other psychologists use data – they put together psychological profiles. What’s the next news flash, “Used car dealers sell used cars?” 

Cambridge Analytica, however, was acting more like Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels than like L. Ron Hubbard because it was looking for submerged rivers of emotionalism that could be exploited to sway American voters. 

Hatred, Envy, and Jealousy are Strong Motivators 

Anyone who has been alive at any time during the last 10,000 years should have noticed that hate, envy, and jealousy strongly motivate human behavior. Thus, it should be no surprise that, like Joseph Goebbels, Cambridge Analyticaand most politicians search for submerged rivers of emotionalism to buoy the boats that will carry them to electoral victory. According to C.A.’s CEO Alexander Nix, its data revealed that the meme of “Crooked Hillary” was one such submerged river of resentment. 

Cambridge Analyticadid Nothing New 

The Obama campaign bragged how it used sophisticated software to target small segments of the voting public for tailored messages. Duh! This is not a new technique. When a politician visits an Irish district, he doesn’t greet the crowd in Italian. All C.A. did was analyze people and figure out which themes they would most likely respond to. The fact that economic deprivation and racism emerged as the dominant areas of focus for American voters should surprise no one. 

It’s the Economy Stupid 

Is there any person on the planet who should have been more aware than Hillary Clintonthat the major campaign theme was, “It’s the Economy, Stupid”? Rather than address the fact that 90% of productivity gains made during the Obama Administration went to the top 1% or that Obama gave trillions of dollars to Wall Street while sending Main Street off to bankruptcy court, Hillary decided that racism was a good theme to use. (For some reason, people think that racism in favor of minorities is a good thing.)The message of “Identity Politics” is simple: “You are the victim of White racism. Give us your vote and we’ll protect you.” 

American factory workers in the Rust Belt knew that something was wrong, and that the economy was not too wonderful for them. The Dems repeatedly declared that the non-whites would soon be the majority and could take whatever they wanted from the hard-working Whites. This stimulated the worst fears among those working-class Whites. One did not need C.A. to advise Clinton not to call white voters “Deplorables” nor to denigrate them in their suffering. Oops, I guess she did need someone to tell her that, or maybe they did advise her, and she was not listening. 

Trump’s Campaign Never Rose Above the Cheerleading Level 

As Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix remarked, emotions and not facts win elections.  Trump’s campaign remained at the emotionally primitive cheerleader level. He’d yell out some buzz word and the crowd would cheer. “Crooked Hillary,” “Lock Her Up,” “Build that Wall,” “MAGA” were examples of pure emotionalism. This campaign style was ideal for a person like Trump who suffers from a Histrionic Personality Disorder. Histrionics lack the intellectual capacity to evaluate ideas; instead, their minds operate on the level of simplistic drama where they are the center of attention.  Trump is all drama and revels in proclaiming dramatic solutions like, “Death Penalty for Drug Dealers.” 

The Time to Heed Pogo Is Past Due 

While we are incensed at Facebook and Cambridge Analyticabecause millions of us voluntarily placed personal information online and then voluntarily took online personality tests, we ignore the basic truth. All the problems we are experiencing are of our own making: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” 

Neither Alexander Nix nor Donald Trump tanked the U.S. economy; neither invented racist Identity Politics, and neither created the Alt-Right, the neo-Nazis, or the KKK – although Trump’s worldview is simplistic enough to fall for such racist tripe. The memes, the hostilities and the grievances which led to Trump’s election are growing stronger because we, the American people, are feeding them each day. We refuse to take responsibility for our shortcomings. 

We do not know whether Alexander Nix’s data mining swayed the election. Trump’s triumph could be just as easily explained by the movie Network’s Howard Beale screaming, "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!" 

Let’s Take Advantage of the Good Part of our Culture 

One thing we Americans can do is set aside the various racist claims of privilege and/or grievances.Instead, let’s all rally around the core value of the Declaration of Independence --that each individual has the inalienable right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, and no one’s inalienable rights may be limited or augmented by assigning them to a racial, religious, ethnic, sexual identity, or other group.


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.