My question was directed to the newly minted campaign manager that I knew very well had never worked in a campaign beyond passing out emery boards and pens on election day. It was a low-budget campaign, and wouldn’t make or break this kid – well, it might have broken him from thinking of staying in the game.
His reply was less than encouraging. “Uh, why do we need two phone lines?”
The race was in a district where the voters were fed up with the incumbent, and the primary complaint was that their representative no longer cared about their concerns. That would lead to a pile of phone calls to the election office of the candidate, and a lot of pro-bono “constituent affairs” work for the staff. While many of those calls would be legitimate, there would also be a fair number of calls from the local “less-than-sane” folks. Without two lines – one for real campaign business, and one for the “crazies” – it would be difficult to deal with the day-to-day business of the campaign itself.
I explained this to the new campaign manager, and after looking at me confused for a few moments, it dawned on him. The campaign materials needed to have a phone number, and everyone connected with the inner-workings of the campaign needed their own line of communication. This was before the age of email, so the phones were essential, and cellphones weren’t common either. He did take my advice, and eventually the phones that were connected to the number printed on the campaign materials were labeled with masking tape – “L-Line” – which stood for “Lunatic-Line.”
When large groups of people are dealing with poor leadership on any level in government, people who aren’t mentally stable often suffer more than most people. They don’t tend to have the coping skills necessary to deal with little problems in life that are often managed by government officials in one capacity or another. Veteran campaign workers may or may not admit to that oddity, and honestly, many probably haven’t even really thought about it. It’s background noise for many in the business of political campaigns, but some use the level of insanity on the call-in phone lines, and now on email forms, to gauge just how bad an area is. If I were still in the business, I would be using it as a primary barometer for any given district, to determine exactly how desperate the voters were becoming.
I didn’t really think about the affect of poor leadership on the mentally ill until Matt K. Lewis brought it up on The Daily Caller. (http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/17/did-the-shutdown-drive-mentally-ill-people-over-the-edge/) His observation was regarding the rash of mass shootings and other insane acts in the DC metro area during the government shutdown. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it before as a systemic issue, that could theoretically affect behavior of the U.S. population at large, because it had always been in the context of specific political campaigns for me – always localized. But, Lewis stopped me in my tracks, and I didn’t set it aside completely. It stayed in the back of my mind, and remains there now. There have been a couple more incidents involving mentally ill individuals using weapons in public places, and several stand-offs across the nation over the past month or so. Perhaps the contention that it was the shutdown that brought out the craziness was just the tip of the iceberg.
Now that we’re facing the slow-motion train wreck also known as the Affordable Care Act, I don’t expect that the situation with mentally ill people acting out violently is going to stop. If anything, I fully expect to see a radical increase in incidents. Additionally, I don’t expect to see the rabid cries for gun control like we did in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings last year, at least not if it involves anyone with a medical record showing mental instability. I think we’ve finally reached a point of critical mass on the gun control issue, when it involves people that are mentally ill. Depending on your worldview, this may or may not be a good thing.
If you’re a liberal for gun control that is still a true believer in Obama, this is probably a very bad development. While a mass shooting previously was a good thing for liberals wanting to grab guns from law-abiding citizens, now they are getting too commonplace. Additionally, they tend to involve people who either needed mental health assistance, or needed some other form of governmental assistance. These shooters are becoming poster children for what is wrong with liberal policies and programs regarding mentally ill people, and in the case of the shooting on the Naval Base in the DC metro area, liberal policies on the military. It could be argued that after Fort Hood – the “workplace violence” that should be called terrorism – the president should have repealed Bill Clinton’s directive that military personnel not be armed on U.S. bases. That wasn’t mentioned nearly enough by conservatives.
And that brings the conservative point of view here. It’s becoming far easier under this administration to offer concrete proof of the failure of liberal policies on gun control. It’s also very easy to point out the failings of the system as it stands now, when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill in this country. There is nothing wrong with lumping people with mental problems in with criminals, in the context of pointing out yet another group of people that will illegally acquire weapons to carry out mass shootings – they won’t abide by any new laws that are made, so why bother making them? Yes, perhaps the argument could be made that mental health professionals would be legally responsible to report people who would be a danger to themselves or others. However, there are civil implications to those kinds of laws. We already know that many mental health professionals hesitate before reporting cases of abuse to the authorities, out of fear of defamation and other lawsuits. There’s no reason to think that they would act any differently if legally required to report people that are dangerous. Honestly, they’d probably be far less likely to report those cases.
But that is fodder for another time. The present concern is whether or not instability in government makes the mentally ill more likely to act out. Dr. Gina Loudon points out:
The economy first makes people vulnerable, but then a sense that the world is going in a negative direction, and there seems to be little hope for change– that can be the catalyst for real despair.
Obamacare has overhauled the best medical system in exchange for a very expensive, social experiment. In so doing, it has exchanged hope and stability for fear and instability, and it has traded emotional and mental health for emotional despair, and in some cases, true insanity.
Now that the NSA, TSA, SEC and others are spying and targeting, people don’t know where to go. If they talk to their therapist, is it confidential? If they talk to their own friend, is that going to be used against them?
Human beings, created in God’s image, were made for relationship. The most sinister element of this administration is the fact that people feel like their trust has been betrayed, and don’t know where to go. That will certainly lead to more despair and sadly, more tragedy.
When someone puts it that way, not only is it easy to see where the more mentally frail among us would have trouble dealing with life, but also just about everyone might have good reason to have some sort of mental breakdown. Couple that with what is becoming a hopeless outlook for our nation as a whole, and sadly Loudon is probably right. And Lewis was onto something, but he probably was a little too optimistic, suggesting that it was only the shutdown causing the uptick in violent behavior. The only take away is that beyond calling this administration on its poor dealings, conservatives should probably start keeping an eye on their neighbors. When there is a tragedy like a mass shooting perpetrated by a mentally ill person, there is often talk about that person “falling through the cracks.” Well, those cracks are made by the people who notice problems, but don’t report them. While it might seem like that’s helping the liberals keep up with their lies and deception, no one deserves to die to prove that. We can look at it this way: another legacy of the Obama administration might turn out to be a radical increase in the number of people that are considered mentally ill – and he drove them to it.