“Perception is reality” is a 1980’ phrase created by political consultant, Lee Atwater. It means don’t worry about the facts, if you can get people to believe something it becomes a de facto fact. A few days ago, we saw this play out in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race. Nearly 23-thousand people went to the polls and wrote-in a name rather than stomach a vote for either candidate. Republican Roy S. Moore’s campaign marched on through a scandal ridden landscape falling short. Moore defiantly denied multiple accusations of sexual abuse and child molestation, he was never charged with a crime or even reported for his alleged behavior decades ago, yet just the accusations proved too much to overcome. Undoubtedly, Democrat, Doug Jones benefitted from this new normal. Yet, what are we learning about how to win in politics or life for that matter?
Perhaps Vice President Mike Pence’s rule never to eat alone with a woman or attend events featuring alcohol without your wife at your side is not so silly after all. It is a practice made popular in 1948 by pastor Billy Graham. So far, both men have avoided sex scandals which seems to be a difficult thing to do lately.
I would never diminish real assaults on women and we are talking about life in the state of Alabama where up until 2003 a 14-year-old child could have married with the consent of a parent.
Yet, it is becoming increasing harder to find the truth once we stray from our legal system and just rely on emotionally charged accusations. Unless you have photographic or video evidence such as in the cases of Democratic Senator, Al Franken or television host Matt Lauer you are only left with how you “feel” about the accused.
Making decisions based on feelings rather than facts often ends with less than the best outcomes, at least that has been my observation over a lifetime.
I wonder about the men in my own life and if one day an off-color remark will result in a harassment accusation or worse. Could this new normal limit opportunities for women in the workforce or make workplaces less productive since we will now have to be extra cautious not to say or do anything that might be perceived as threatening? Is perception the new reality?