When President Woodrow Wilson decided that America should join the war effort in Europe in 1917, he also made another decision: to trick the American public into joining him.
You see, back in April 1917 when President Wilson decided to drag the American public into a war that had nothing to do with them, public opinion polls showed that the majority of the American public was either opposed or indifferent to US involvement in Europe's World War I.
Yes, the President who was re-elected in 1916 on the slogan "He kept us out of war" made a tactical decision to navigate the public's role in deciding their government's actions - once known as democracy - that would forever change American politics.
Woodrow Wilson and his trusty team of public relations entrepreneurs introduced the modern politics of fear - exactly the kind of us-vs-them, black or white, fright night hogwash that the neoconservative Republican culture of today is based in.
Like the empty rhetoric of George W. Bush and his most visible protege of the day, John McCain, Democrat Wilson abused the term democracy to scare Americans into war: America needs to make "the world safe for democracy" he said in 1917. Like Bush and McCain he repeated his claim that a "war to end all wars" was necessary - one last battle to prevent all the rest; or in Bush and McCain's case one pre-emptive strike.
The secret to Wilson's success was his massive public relations campaign against the American public and for the war. From April 2nd, 1917, when Wilson delivered his War Message until the spring of 1918 when American troops first saw action in Europe, public opinion against the war had been reversed from being mostly unfavorable to being overwhelmingly in favor of the war. Americans didn't change their minds, their minds were changed for them.
On April 13, 1917, just under a fortnight after Wilson's war speech, and just one week after Congress declared war on Germany, Wilson signed an executive order to establish the Committee on Public Information: a propaganda organization, also known as the Creel Commission. It was the first of its kind and it was created with the sole intention of swaying American public opinion in favor of joining World War I. The CPI succeeded with flying colors and was shut down after the war it promoted came to an end.
The rest is not history - it is a repeat of history: the Bush-Cheney-neocon tactics which McCain and Palin have choreographed with belligerent shamelessness are just another act in the Woodrow Wilson play on American brainwashing. These are the divisive and dishonest politics of terror that claim that Obama is a dangerous socialist because he cares about the working class or that he's a terrorist because he doesn't pick fights with people he doesn't agree with, or that he's a foreigner out to destroy the American dream because the father he never knew was - like the relatives of every single American, and even John "I was born in Panama" McCain himself - not born on US soil.
These are the un-American traits of division, intolerance, and bigotry that positioned the Bush regime to get away with stealing an election (or by default, 2 elections), to convince the American public to pre-emptively attack Iraq and are in place to convince Americans to attack other countries, such as Iran.
Just as in 1917, the American public is the victim - not merely the victim of propaganda but also of mischaracterization. Americans then and Americans now are not the overwhelmingly divisive, ignorant and fear-mongering public their leaders have made them out to be.
If anything, Americans are more moderate than conservative, more tolerant than intolerant, and less Republican than Democrat on critical issues such as war, social services, healthcare and foreign policy. And they have been for a very long time - though nobody ever bothered to let them know.
So these cries of "liberal" and "left wing" that John McCain and his below-average vice presidential comrade Sarah Palin have thrust at Barack Obama are actually insults against the majority of Americans. As most observers have by now admitted, the McCain-Palin ticket has made no secret of its contempt for the American public: McCain-Palin have made it very clear that they believe most Americans to be unintelligent, uninformed, and downright gullible.
On November 4th, the American public has a massive opportunity to prove McCain, Palin and all of the enemies of American - and by extension, world - progress wrong. If nothing else, Barack Obama has reminded Americans that they aren't as dumb as their detractors - and the conservative base - tell them they are.