Cynicism may now represent one of the greatest threats to democracy, according to a research project at the London School of Economics.
Findings indicate that people are more cynical about politics than anything else, and that cynicism is a more important factor than distrust when it comes to whether people vote. Those who think politicians are liars will probably continue to vote, whereas those who are contemptuous of them are less likely to do so.
But what if politicians could measure the impact that their buzz words were having on the cynicism levels of different groups? The Syntony Research Team at the LSE is trying to develop a ‘Cyndex’ – a cynicism index. It would measure the emotional responses of cynics according to their age, race, religion, gender and socio-economic backgrounds – from mild frustration to violent anger.
All the evidence shows people are getting more cynical with the messages we get from government, from businesses, from the media,’ said Charles Liasides of Syntony…
The team is planning a nationwide sample to create the Cyndex, which it intends to develop commercially. ‘We believe it will be valuable for all communicators to help them be more credible with the public,’ said Liasides.
More likely, it will teach our politicians and corporate leaders how to be more effective liars.
Is that cynical enough?
I make no apology for my cynicism. It’s born from the reality of American politics.
Fifty years ago – before my first civil rights demonstration, before the first time I spoke out against America’s imperial might being used to support dictators and reaction around the world – I was a founding member of a chapter of Young Republicans in the small New England town where I lived.
As soon as I stood up against racism and imperialism, my role in that group changed from being a creative leader – to dissident. My support for the return of the elected Mossadegh government in Iran was called unAmerican. Willingness to travel to and participate in sit-ins against racist laws discriminating against Black American was – somehow – unAmerican.
Reading and learning about cultures and politics, love and death – around the world – had already convinced me to become a citizen of more than this evermore isolated nation, anyway.
Opposition to racism and bigotry, imperial war, reactionary ignorance has continued as a thread in my daily life. Yes, the cynicism – witnessing five decades of Democrats and Republicans equally willing to sell out any standards of justice and courage – has become “normal”. But, after listening to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, last night, I’m encouraged to support his effort to turn around the criminal juggernaut that is American government.
I will vote for Barack Obama.