Saturday, November 06, 2004

How they did it simplified: magic and inspiration

I'm convinced it's really a class thing. But the key is in how the Repubs were able to gain the amazing loyalties of the 51% or so of the American people: they did this by providing something so important to these Americans that they refused to even consider that what BushCo was doing to all of us were betrayals and lies.

Here's the magic: the opposition made people feel good about themselves. However, this was done by putting down others, the other half of the American public, us. For instance, I hear these ideas in speeches, in comments, in conversations: "we have better values; they have no moral values." "We're the winners; they are the losers because they have no values to speak of." "We won; you lost". Needless to say, a lot of this revolved around a religious frame.

I don't believe it's the specific moral values that matter because these values are not consistent. I'm fingering the process, the meta view of what's going on. Which is why we saw this reaction: Iraq? It's for the best. Abu Ghraib? Who cares. WMD? Doesn't matter.

Focusing on the problems Dubya have dropped on us didn't seem to faze the many, not one whit.

There's a name for this technique in families: it's called 'splitting'. You will see it happening naturally in family systems, work systems that people describe as so-called 'unhealthy': meaning lots of unresolved angst, little or no communication, rigidity in behaviors and beliefs, abuse, inequities. But I think this process applies to even larger groups of people such as nations.

Splitting simplifies the world into bad (them) and good (you). You are good and the world is bad. Or you are better than the other.

The problem for us is that this feeds into itself.

Evidence keeps popping up that the world is much more complex than this black-and-white type of thinking.

So you have to keep feeding the beast.

The right-wing corporate conservative think tanks have developed a coherent ideology that feeds the beast in multiple ways, at multiple levels. Boatloads of money have been spent into developing this paradigm.

One more thing about splitting: it multiplies in its own image. Once you create it, it'll keep going in the next generation unless you get some kind of conscious intervention.

The longer these cultural schisms, we're calling them based on 'moral values', I say 'whatever', exist in our culture, the harder it will be for our two sides to come around. I hear people saying: the right-wing heartland little people will get it once it gets bad enough. I disagree, unfortunately.

The Repubs policies will make life harder for the little people, making it even more important for them to grab onto what makes them feel better, even a little bit.

Solution? Couple of thoughts.

Meaning: we need to take a step back and reassess our basic assumptions of what happened. This is not easy. Where were we not proactive enough? I'm afraid we need to be more vigilant and less naive about our competition.

Second: policy development, policy development, policy development. We haven't invested nearly as much money, time, thought into policy development as the conservative side. Included in this is the work needed to reframe our way of thinking, a la Lakoff.

Third: put lots of thought into this: how do we inspire our other 51% or so of Americans to come around, to want to be with us, to work with us, that it is vital and for their benefit that we are better for them? The opposition is fear-based; do we need to be fear-based as well?

Lots of other ways to view this whole election debacle but these are my thoughts for now, for today.

So what are yours?

Update: Note the us vs. them sentiments in this dkos dairy written by a former Christian conservative.