Global Waming: The Public’s “Issue Attention Cycle”

The things you should know, that politicians like Obama know, and use against you … The ‘Issue Attention Cycle’ is a theory of the period of time that Americans discover and then move on with an issue. Briefly described as the natural dynamic of the Issue Attention Cycle, in which certain issues follow a predictable five stage process. More than 30 years ago, Anthony Downs wrote about a cycle that affects many domestic public policy problems. Downs argued that certain issues follow a predictable five stage process:

  • pre-problem defined,
  • alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm,
  • awareness of the costs of making significant progress,
  • gradual decline of intense public interest,
  • post-problem stage

The ‘Issue Attention Process’ does not follow a set time frame, but is often influenced by other factors, it is as event driven as most things are, events like more pressing problems intervening. For instance the War On Terror suffered a severe downturn, and support for same, when the Iraq War appeared lost to most people — The famous Bush Surge in Iraq time frame. However, events can change the dynamics, as was found in December 2005 when the ‘Christmas Day’ bomber did. The changes may be long term, or short term, in this case the government policy people had an intent, it can quickly go away as just a blip. — As did the Christmas Day bomber.

From the March 15 issue of the Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes writes about global warming, but it could just as easily describe government run health care:

The unraveling of the climate campaign was entirely predictable, though not the dramatic swiftness with which it arrived. The long trajectory of the climate change controversy conforms exactly to the “issue-attention cycle” that political scientist Anthony Downs explained in the Public Interest almost 40 years ago. Downs laid out a five-stage cycle through which political issues of all kinds typically pass.

  • The first stage — A group of experts and interest groups begin promoting a problem or crisis, which is soon followed by the alarmed discovery of the problem by the news media and broader political class.
  • This second stage — Typically includes a large amount of euphoric enthusiasm—you might call this the dopamine stage—as activists conceive the issue in terms of global salvation and redemption. One of the largest debilities of the climate campaign from the beginning was their having conceived the issue not as a practical problem, like traditional air pollution, but as an expression, in Gore’s view, of deeper spiritual and even metaphysical problems arising from our “dysfunctional civilization.” Gore is still thinking about the issue in these terms, grasping for another dopamine rush. In his February 28 New York Times article, he claimed that an international climate treaty would be “an instrument of human redemption.”
  • The third stage is the hinge — As Downs explains, there comes “a gradually spreading realization that the cost of ‘solving’ the problem is very high indeed.” This is where we have been since the Kyoto process proposed completely implausible near-term reductions in fossil fuel energy—a fanatical monomania the climate campaign has been unable to shake. In retrospect it is now possible to grasp the irony that President George W. Bush’s open refusal to embrace the Kyoto framework kept the climate campaign alive by providing an all-purpose excuse for the lack of “progress” toward a binding treaty. With Bush gone, the intrinsic weakness of the carbon-cutting charade is impossible to hide, though Gore and the climate campaigners are now trying to blame the U.S. Senate for the lack of international agreement.
  • The fourth stage — “The previous stage,” Downs continued, “becomes almost imperceptibly transformed into the fourth stage: a gradual decline in the intensity of public interest in the problem.” Despite the relentless media drumbeat, Gore’s Academy Award and Nobel Prize twofer, and millions of dollars in paid advertising, public concern for climate change has been steadily waning for several years. In the latest Pew survey of public priorities released in January, climate change came in dead last, ranked 21st out of 21 issues of concern, with just 28 percent saying the issue should be a top priority for Congress and President Obama. That’s down 10 points over the last three years.
  • In the final [post-problem] stage, — Downs concluded, “an issue that has been replaced at the center of public concern moves into a prolonged limbo—a twilight realm of lesser attention or spasmodic recurrences of interest.” The death rattle of the climate campaign will be deafening. It has too much political momentum and fanatical devotion to go quietly. The climate campaigners have been fond of warning of catastrophic “tipping points” for years. Well, a tipping point has indeed arrived​—just not the one the climate campaigners expected.

And now you know why the Government Rationed Health Care debate draws on and on, as Obama attempts to wear you into submission … Which isn’t happening. The major news outlets are trying their best to get you to move on, but, the blogs just won’t let it die, so it can then be enacted. In fact, you could say the fight has intensified to levels higher than ever. Americans understand what it means, loss of rights and enslaving them to the government through health care.

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