Skip to main content

In the current political environment in the U.S. facts do not matter.  Politics, to a certain extent, is irrational.   Therein lies the main disadvantage of the progressive movement, such as it is.  That and the lack of a clear, focused and disciplined approach to politics.

When I analyze political communication styles between the Right and the Left, I can see a very clear demarcation that explains the differences in outcomes--which mainly benefits the Right.

And I'm a little surprised about it since I instinctively think that leaders on the Left would be "smart" enough to know this, and adapt accordingly.

The main challenge I see is that people on the Left are not able to decouple the two very different realms of POWER and RATIONALITY.  The Left thinks that the way to achieve political power is by reaching the electorate with messages based on facts, and reason.  It seems incapable of understanding that the two things are very different entities.

In very advanced, modern, highly educated, and secular societies it is possible to have these two conceptual entities--Power and Rationality--mesh, to a certain degree.  But no matter how advanced a society is, they will never be one and the same.  They will always be two different things, and should be approached accordingly.

Conversely, the higher the level of ignorance, injustice and inequality in a society, the bigger the chasm between the concepts of Power and Rationality.

Because of a very focused decades-long campaign to dismantle (and defund) the public education system in the U.S., along with the proper functions of government (by gutting the regulatory framework), the level of ignorance has increased significantly.

So much so that it can be said that as of today, on average, the populace of the U.S. can't be said to represent that of a very advanced, highly educated, and secular society.

There are very effective ways of communicating and influencing people in this type of environment (low intellect, low information), and appeal to objectivity, reason, data, research, abstract concepts of equality, and justice, is not one of them.

In a way, you have to go back to primal instincts in this type of environment.  At this level people are extremely influenced by things that reach their senses (i.e., hearing, vision), regardless of the veracity or whether those things are based on empirical evidence, research, scientific consensus, or intellect.

Other high impact things at this level include first impressions, and perception.  So for example, somebody that projects a high level of conviction about what they are saying is going to have a much more powerful influence on people (at the lower intellect level--which is the majority of people), regardless of the accuracy or veracity of what they are saying.

And here is the interesting thing I've noticed: Demagogues and people who are unprincipled and base their arguments on complete fallacies, fabrications, and lies, tend to be the loudest, exhibit the more brashness in-your-face argumentative style.  And they "seem" to exhibit the most conviction.

And people who are principled, intellectual, and base their arguments on objective analysis and rational thinking tend to be the more timid.

Failing to understand these dynamics, during these times, could prove fatal for whatever is left of the American democracy.

What is the key to confront this situation?  So let's say we have two competing ideologies.  One is based on utter bullshit, religious fanaticism, exploitation, and enslavement of the populace.  That's the Right.

The other is based on the concept of justice and equality under the law, a market that operates in a level playing field (properly regulated to avert abuses), on secularism, and constitutional protections.  That's the Left.

These two ideologies are in competition, and the outcome is clear: We either come out of this historical period as a secular constitutional republic, or as a banana republic.

So in essence this is an existential struggle: Whether you are going to let others enslave you, or not.

So you come up with very poignant messaging and a laser-focused, and disciplined approach to engage in that battle.

But you have to be as true a believer, and as wild-eyed, rocking back-and-forth end-of-days zealot as the other side.  (I know, I know... That's very unpalatable for progressives).

So in your strategy you have to be brutal, ruthless, brash, in-your-face, relentless, Machiavellian, amoral, end-justify-the-means, whatever it takes to save the democracy.

So you use very powerful messaging (propaganda), media manipulation, appeals to highly emotional "buttons" on the population.  In other words, you have to be a populist.

Finally, at the brainy level, you have to have a cartel-like organizational focus bringing all major progressive organizations together.  You have to have a short-, mid-, and long-term strategy.  You have to have think tanks, public relations firms, funding, your own media outlets, researchers, economists, lawyers, journalists--all working under a very (extremely) focused, and disciplined approach.

Everything you do has to have an angle.  Every move; every action.  Also, as part of the strategy there should be a highly focused and disciplined national resistance movement.  If there are protests, they should be consider just one (small) part of the overall strategy--not an end of themselves.

In order to break the corporate media blackout on such protests, there should be a very sophisticated media manipulation campaign; you have to know which buttons to push to get attention, etc.

And then you have the leaders, the lieutenants, the intellectuals, the street-level organizers and agitators.

In other words, you have to mirror what the Right is doing, so you won't be at a disadvantage.

The Right has been organized in similar fashion for decades, including the creation of the Teabaggers with funding from astro-turf corporate money and public relations firms.

I'm very well aware that many self-described progressive will find many of these ideas anathema, but I'm just sharing them to let you know what I think is necessary to take on an adversary that's about to destroy what is left of the American democracy.

I'm just the messenger...


Are progressives as highly organized and disciplined as right wing conservatives?

6%1 votes
93%14 votes

| 15 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  politics have always been irrational (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, TomP

    this was reinforced yesterday when a former GOP congressman described how he faced a vote on an issue that the leadership wanted voted one way and his constituency wanted another.  In the end he voted like a good soldier with the leadership and was bounced for re-election.
    Newt Gingrich destroyed the seniority system in the Congress, upsetting a century old system of favoring the old bulls over the young turks.  Newt was in a hurry and  in no mood to serve the years necessary to access power.
    The GOP is paying the price now with freshmen who present the president with lists of demands weekly and ignore the GOP leadership.  These people do not only vote against their own interests, their own survival but even the survival of their party.

    Politics are no longer irrational; they are insane


  •  Orwell. Obama 2008 vs. Obama 2009-11. (5+ / 0-)
    The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions — racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war — which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action. . . . He [H.G. Wells] was, and still is, quite incapable of understanding that nationalism, religious bigotry and feudal loyalty are far more powerful forces than what he himself would describe as sanity.

    --George Orwell

    The genius of Obama 2008 was that he hit all 3 of the classic elements of persuasion: logos (reason), ethos (justice or morality), and pathos (emotion). The failure of Obama and the Dems 2009-11 has been that they've been all logos, and no pathos or ethos. The latest example: we argue about debt numbers in trillions of dollars, and not about whether people are suffering and deserve jobs.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:51:35 AM PDT

  •  It is a class war. (3+ / 0-)

    Interesting diary, Ray.  Certainly those who are oppressed must fight with every tool at their means.

    CitizenX: "If the republicans were in charge GM & Chrysler would be dead and Osama bin Laden would be alive."

    by TomP on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:53:21 AM PDT

  •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador

    If the Left has such a great appeal to the "educated" versus the Right appealing to low-information voters, then why does the demographic breakdown for the 2010 Election look like this:

    Not a high school graduate: 61% (Dem) vs. 39% (Rep)
    College graduate:               42% (Dem) vs. 58% (Rep)
    •  The problem is that even when the Right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geenius at Wrok

      loses, they remain very focus and on attack mode, and somehow are able to come back again and again, and create havoc.

      The pillars of their arguments are so preposterous that they should be immediately laughed out of existence, and yet they are presented as just opposing views--like dinosaurs walking among men 6,000 years ago.

      They fight with everything they have, by hook or by crook; whatever it takes.  They are zealots and true believers.  And that works for them.

      Also, as I've written before, I think the political system is broken, so there is no much difference between the parties--they both cater to their cororatist overlords.

      What you have to measure are these things: What is the state of the progressive movement in the U.S.?  What is the state of the middle class?  What has happened to income inequality?  Has there been a concentration of power by a small ruling elite?  Do you feel that the rich and powerful are treated equally under the law, or have been able to act with impunity.

      •  I'm not sure how this responds to my comment (0+ / 0-)

        You allege that the Right Wing thrives on ignorance, whereas the Left Wing does better based on "rationality". Well, it would seem logical based on that theory that college educated people would vote for Dem's, and high school drop-outs for Repub's. But exactly the oppose is the case.

        The pillars of their argument are not "preposperous". The pillars are Free Market Capitalism, Strong Defense, and Traditional Morality. Capitalism has been shown over and over again to do a much better job of providing for human needs than any available, proven alternative. Yes, it performs worse than certain as yet defined utopian ideals, but that's irrelevant. Aggressive foreign policy has at gotten us into trouble (so has appeasement), but in the big picture we defeated Colonialism, Fascism and Communism, all of which are near-universally derided as per se evils today, and there's no reason to think that Islamism won't eventually be looked at in history any differently. And Traditional Morality didn't develop over thousands of years by accident; over time, it seems to bring about more happiness than the alternatives.

        •  The argument that we are operating under the (0+ / 0-)

          best system known to man is of course self-serving.  It has been framed so by the people who benefit from it.

          There is nothing wrong with a free market economy, and with a strong self defense, and even with traditional morality.

          The problem is that on all three counts reality is actually contrary to the claim.

          So instead of a free market where people (and businesses) are able to trade products and services freely, under a properly regulated framework that addresses fraud and abuse, you have a tiny parasitic class that manipulates and exploits the system motivated by extreme greed.  

          Instead of strong defense, you have a small group of people with vested interests who do not necessarily align with the population at large, in charge of what's known as the military industrial complex--a mechanism to transfer wealth and power to war profiteers.

          Again, a perverted state of affairs that has little to do with actually defending the country.  To the contrary, it creates more security problems.

          Finally, and again, the argument that everything that needed to be discussed about the different possible socioeconomic and political systems has already been discussed, and proven, and Capitalism came on top, is again a self-serving "mental framework" put forth and perpetuated by the very same people who benefit from having the citizenry accept that precept.

          A very important point I try to make to progressives is that we have to break free of those constrains.

          We need to look the world, think, make moral judgments, and then postulate our own frames of reference, and then do what it takes so those "understandings" are presented and defended.

          •  I'm not saying that it's conclusive (0+ / 0-)

            that there's nothing better. I'm just saying that the alternatives that have been tried so far have fallen short.

            I do agree that what we have is far from a perfected ideal on any those counts, but it's all relative. Relatively, considered over the course of the decades and centuries of our existence as a nation, ours is amongst the ten most free, and least corrupt economies in the world. Yes, there's lots of corruption in defense contracting, but we did in fact relegate Colonialism, Fascism and Communism to the dustbin of history. And Traditional Morality has always been an aspiration, not a reality.

        •  Whoa there (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ray Pensador, volleyboy1
          Capitalism has been shown over and over again to do a much better job of providing for human needs than any available, proven alternative.
          There's more than one kind of capitalism, and for that matter, more than one alternative, and while maybe -- maybe -- you can say that at least some forms of capitalism have done a much better job of providing for human needs than the most widely attempted alternatives, you can't use that premise to then conclude that the kind of capitalism we're using at this moment is the best system imaginable.

          By quite a few measures, the social-democratic capitalism at work in Germany does a far better job of providing for human needs than the laissez-faire capitalism we've historically practiced here. Which, in turn, does a far better job of providing for human needs than the exploitative shock-doctrine capitalism we practice in our client states around the world, which the Republican Party is trying to ram through in Congress and state legislatures across the country.

          "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

          by Geenius at Wrok on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 12:16:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  True (0+ / 0-)

            Germany seems to at present have things figured out in a way that we have not. There are caveats though: (1) they benefit for fifty years or so from us essentially providing for their defense; (2) they don't have near the immigration or birthrates that we do, so they can do OK with a relatively stable economy. They have a much more homogeneous population, and immigrants do not experience the same kind of integration and upward mobility that many do here.

            Of course things can always be improved. I'm just pointing out that it's not "preposperous" to make that argument that freer markets, stronger defense and an emphasis on traditional morality results in happier, more prosperous people. There's good evidence in support of that proposition.

    •  Short answer: identity politics. (4+ / 0-)

      Just because a person went to college doesn't mean he's educated, and just because a person is a dropout doesn't mean he's a small-minded bigot. Generally speaking, people know what they see every day. What a white high school dropout sees every day is uppity minorities getting what he thinks is rightfully his. What a black high school dropout sees every day is Jim Crow v2.0. They don't analyze -- they affiliate. And so the former votes Republican (unless he's a unionized trade worker), and the latter votes Democratic. Similarly, your average MFA is going to see the world much differently from your average MBA. They both have graduate degrees, but one is keyed in to the abstract, the other to the concrete. One is, in all likelihood, economically struggling, while the other is doing just fine and is of a mind to protect what he's got from any perceived attempt to take it away.

      We live in a time of artificial scarcity, involuntary austerity and gross inequality, and this makes people less trusting. So what do they do? They form up into tribes. The vast majority of our voting behavior, even if we fancy ourselves rational, is essentially tribal.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:14:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't really argue with any of that (0+ / 0-)

        Although I'm not sure about "artificial" scarcity and "involuntary" austerity. We have been avoiding pain for the last decade at least with unsustainable debt, first consumer/mortgage, now public. Eventually, all debts do come due, and the longer we wait, the more painful it will be.

        •  The scarcity is artificial (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ray Pensador, volleyboy1

          in that the wealth of the nation has increased, yet the increases have gone only to a select few.

          "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

          by Geenius at Wrok on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 12:09:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The wealth of our nation hasn't really (0+ / 0-)

            increased that much as of late. GDP is a relatively good measure of that, and it's been meager for a number of years. a big part of the growth that we have had is actually debt-driven, so even GDP probably overestimates that actual new, incremental wealth that has come into the economy in the last few years.

      •  Well said.... although (0+ / 0-)

        I am an M.B.A. who definitely more identifies with "Social Democratic" / "Liberal Capitalist" ideas than many of the people I went to school with. I think that comes from my background of a Poli. Sci. (lived overseas for a year) degree than my cohorts who were Econ. majors and were force fed, supply side bullshit in their formative years.

        But I am def. in the minority. I think however, that your perspective makes sense.

        DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

        by volleyboy1 on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 12:38:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Information Environment Alone Explains Most (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador

    of this.

    It simply doesn't have the bandwidth available to deliver arguments and explanations that would motivate most mainstream Americans to vote differently.

    What the environment will distribute is slogans, images and brief emotional statements. The right understands this and that's why this is the nature of their messaging. The fact that they're lying is not the fault of the style of messaging.

    FDR used emotion, JFK used emotion, King used emotion. Emotion is ok, it doesn't mean we're lying or deceptive.

    --But keep in mind "Democrat" does not equal "progressive" except in a minority of instances. Many Democrats communicate as they do because the intend the results it's been getting these many years.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:21:19 AM PDT

  •  Good Diary... This is the malaise I have been (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geenius at Wrok, Ray Pensador


    No one wants to sit down and really understand what is happening, people want to live their lives by sound bites.
    The Right has this concept down and they are not afraid to basically say anything to win.

    On the other hand the Left sounds whiny and defensive whenever we say anything... Why? First of all, because the left talks in intellectual, and idealist terms that are completely irrelevant to peoples everyday existence. If it takes more than a paragraph to explain, people begin to tune it out. Also, if it only appeals to an ideal then people will blow it off to a lack of reality.

    Second of all, because the Right sets the agenda, we are whiny and defensive. We let them do that, so all we do is respond. I remember watching the Presidential Primary debates in 2008 and watching Denis Kuchinich. There was little that I could disagree with what he said, but, one thing struck me... He had no solutions. He only had understanding of an issue and complaints. But nothing to move the ball forward.

    Anyway, good diary.. I may not agree with every word but really it is a good discussion topic. Tipped and Rec.'d

    DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

    by volleyboy1 on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:24:03 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site