Opinion - STAFF ESSAY Posted on Dec 14, 2021

 What is Politics?

Recently, a person asked us whether we think wind turbines are “a good technology.”  The person had seen a video claiming that wind turbines cause massive amounts of wildlife deaths and was adamant that the video was not “political.”  We responded by asking, “Did you check who paid for the video?” After a short silence, the person reasserted that the video was definitely unbiased and not political. 

The definition of “politics” means “the activities of the government, members of law-making organizations, or people who try to influence the way a country is governed;” and, “the relationships within a group or organization that allow particular people to have power over others.” (1)  

When businesses engage in politics it is often not obvious to the public.

The methods of how businesses gain power over people have been studied and refined over thousands of years.  This year, political campaigns used social media techniques to reach wider audiences and influence people in subtle ways.  Market research was used to target emotions, such as fear and anger. 

Since ancient times, fear has served the powerful purpose of protecting us from threats.  The technology capable of targeting fear for gaining political influence has rapidly changed over the last few years.  Now, people are targeted in their homes and during their most vulnerable moments. 

In an effort to control not only elections, but also market power, businesses are using social media campaigns to target people of all ages and at all times.  The ability to so pervasively exert influence over people is a dictator's dream realized.

Seemingly unbiased videos, articles and social media campaigns carefully curated based on market research are catching the public off guard.  Most people are unaware of their underlying political motivations.  People believe they are getting unbiased facts and are being tricked into supporting causes and companies that are against even their own best interests.  A perfect example is with the politics of climate change and renewable energy where public misinformation campaigns are running in a multitude of ways.

Market research is a powerful tool, especially when combined with current social media technology.  

In the higher ranks of politics, chief of staff use spreadsheets to track what motivates political appointees so they can get the support they need from them on key issues.  This same technique is being used on an unknowing public. The use of market research and social media campaigns is in its zenith.  Lists of what motivates groups of people are tracked on complex spreadsheets and plugged into algorithms for political campaigns designed for market power. 

For better or worse, U.S. law treats a corporation as a legal "person" that has standing to sue and be sued. Although stockholders are protected from most liabilities of the corporation, the legal "person" status of corporations gives the business perpetual life.  These perpetual entities fund the political and social media campaigns which determine who makes our laws and how they are implemented. 

Is it possible to separate business from politics?  Not in the U.S., where everyone is tracked for market research and used for market gain. 

(1) See definition of "politics" at  https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/politics