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Without getting into the specifics of the "Grand Bargain" debate, it's worthwhile to address some of the profound misconceptions about the nature of negotiation that seem to be widespread, that often undermine people's ability to make rational assessments of how well or how poorly they're being represented in Washington.  Generally speaking, most people don't have even the most basic understanding of what a political negotiation is at its root: It is not an attempt to reach mutually agreeable ends, nor an attempt to trick someone into granting you more than they're willing.  

If common ground was there to be had, not much negotiating would be necessary anyway - it would be a formality.  And if the other side were foolish enough to be tricked, they would never have become powerful enough that you would have to deal with them in the first place.  Political negotiation, like free market transactions, is simply the abstraction of war, with the greater power setting the agenda and receiving the lion's share of benefit while the weaker power merely tries to limit how much they lose in the transaction.  

No amount of "strategery" is going to make the stronger power concede more than they absolutely have to, and no amount of passion for their cause is going to give the weaker power the ability to gain the upper hand in a transaction.  In other words, negotiations merely reflect power status, they do not change it.  If you want a different result from negotiations, you have to change the power dynamic between the participants - not demand that they ignore reality.

The point I am making with respect to political negotiation is similar to what I discussed in my diary about economic bargaining parity, The Myth of the "Consensual" Marketplace.  The idea that market transactions are "free" is an illusion based on ignorance of how markets function under the vast majority of circumstances, and no amount of cunning bargaining tactics can make a poor man into a millionaire unless they use them to prey on other poor people: In bargaining with people who have a greater advantage than you, you either lose more than you gain or you abandon what you're seeking altogether and probably lose even more from the lack of it.  The best you can do in such a transaction is minimize what you lose while maximizing what you gain, in the full knowledge that loss will very likely exceed gain.

While the other side of the bargain wields more power, there is virtually nothing you can do about the fact that you're going to lose: The only way to get ahead is to change the power dynamic before you even start negotiating - to come into it as the dominant party, and not in some delusional, "Jedi mind trick" way of just acting powerful, but in the real sense of having the advantage yourself.  You can't trick people who are used to being in control into thinking you are if you're not: They will challenge your power by default, and any pretense will simply fall apart.  Only the true ability to flex muscle in a way that demonstrates your superiority forces them into the subordinate negotiating role.

I would suggest a very simple standard for people who have suggestions for how the President or Democrats in general should negotiate with Republicans: Try it.  The next time you buy a car, try the strategies you propose out on the sales-sharks.  Go into it with a firm idea of what kind of car you want, and a price and payments you absolutely will not go above that would put you in the advantage.  See if you end up with the car you want, and hold firm to your pricing and payment standards.  

The fact is, in the vast majority of cases, you won't: You will either end up walking out of every single dealership you visit empty-handed, or buy less of a car than the one you wanted in order to meet your price and payment standards, or else break your standards in order to get the car you wanted.  And the reason is simple: You don't have the power in that transaction under those circumstances.  The dealers have the bargaining advantage, and no amount of effrontery or slickness is going to change that dynamic.  If it did, then used car salesmen would be the richest people on Earth, but they're not - they're at best middle-class, and they make most of their money preying on other members of the middle-class, not negotiating with their employers.

So, when you see a Democrat negotiating in a way that you don't like, there are two possibilities for what is the driving force behind their actions:

1.  That Democrat is a corrupt, nihilistic Betrayer with no morals and/or an idiot who doesn't know what they're doing.  Or...

2.  The power dynamic is badly out of whack against the agenda you support, and they're doing their best to limit the damage.

Since being Republican is a lot more lucrative and secure for selfish morons, our reliance on the first interpretation should be carefully limited, infrequent, and depend on overwhelming and in-depth analysis of behavior rather than just gauging how dissatisfied we are with the outcome of a process.  Meanwhile, since it is painfully obvious that the power dynamic is indeed badly out of whack against us - and as I said earlier, negotiations merely reflect power rather than changing it - the latter interpretation must be treated as the Occam's Razor explanation in the vast majority of cases, and inform how we go about producing better results.

Just as no amount of cunning or effrontery will give you the magical power to buy a well-functioning car from a dealership below cost, no amount of it from a President or Governor is going to force the 200-some ultra-wealthy oligarchs who own the Republican Party to let up their stranglehold on government or moderate their demands.  They can wait patiently forever without further progress on their goals without losing anything, while the rest of us need a funded government now; we need judges and regulators to be approved by the Senate, now; we are presently at a disadvantage regardless of what our negotiating position looks like on paper.  And the only way negotiations are going to produce better outcomes is to change the balance of power, not demand that our leaders play the same weak hand in a louder voice.

If you don't want Social Security being on the table, take back the table.  Power is not how loudly you speak, or how passionately you rail.  It is will multiplied by resources.  Together, our resources still exceed those of the oligarchy, and our will as human beings struggling for basic survival and dignity should far exceed their petty greed.  But that mere potential has to be manifested in fact for it to have any effect on negotiations.  Until we start regularly and effectively punishing Republicans for what they do rather than writing off their corruption and criminality as an ordinary fact of nature, they will hold the advantage.  And as long as we waste our outrage on honorable leaders for playing the hands they're dealt rather than trying to shield us from reality like children, we will forever be distracted and impotent.

7:50 PM PT: I guess some people really don't want to hear this, but it's true and important.  There's no shortcut to change.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well I'll Try Negotiating for That Car By Telling (10+ / 0-)

    the salesman up front that he can marry my daughter, because that has nothing to do with the issue of the cost of the car.

    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 Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:07:39 PM PDT

    •  That was the norm in most of history. (2+ / 0-)

      What changed was the power dynamic, not people's bargaining acumen.

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:13:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, I read the diary along with all the comments (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        and objections and your answers to them. You've done what, by analogy, a second year medical student could do and have diagnosed the disease.
        What's the cure? How do we stop the cacophony and gather the power? I have real/FB friends that completely buy into the whole 2A -guns argument. How do I win them over?

        -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

        Why must we struggle to protect the accomplishments of Democrats of the past from Democrats of the present? -- cal2010

        by 84thProblem on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:16:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We all already know what the cure is. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Urizen, 84thProblem, jm214, gramofsam1, guyeda

          It's the very things we constantly advocate, only finally taken seriously on our own part in our own lives and politics: Refusing to be ignorant, stupid, shallow, cheap, selfish, cowardly, fickle, or willfully delusional, no matter how comfortable it may be or how uncomfortable the alternative.  Rejecting conservative ideology and assumptions from our own way of thinking and seeing the world.  Doing things in our own lives, with the authorities at our own disposal - no matter how modest - in the same way we want greater authorities to function.  

          Working together, persistently, and intelligently for a more democratic country, and staying laser-focused on the sources of our national problems, not just scatterbrainedly whack-a-moling their puppets or trying to manufacture scapegoat conspiracy theories about our own people to excuse an attitude of slavish fatalism.

          I'm sure that wasn't what you were hoping to hear, but that's what it is - there's no shortcut to change.  No policy paper that can outline healthy democracy.  It begins with citizenship by the people, and ends when the people forget what that means or how to do it and start thinking it's some sort of gift that benevolent leaders hand to them and malevolent leaders take away.  You want less corruption, don't be corrupt.  You want less selfishness, don't be selfish.  You want more intelligent leaders, be an intelligent citizen.  You want democracy, pursue it democratically.  There's no secret.  You get what you create, and nothing more.

          Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

          by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:39:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  the Republicans.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III, jm214

    are petulant children who are not going to compromise. You don't give them anything at all. You give them absolutely nothing, you take away whatever you can take away from them and then you leave them to cry and cry and cry until they are all cried out and they're hungry and thirsty and then you have them. Obama failed because he thought his opponents were honorable, he was a fool.

    We don't need your long winded excuses.

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:07:44 PM PDT

    •  You must be very privileged (5+ / 0-)

      if you can do without the things Republicans hold hostage.

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:10:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  they are destroying things we need... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Horace Boothroyd III

        and care about right now. THe reason we have lost 600,000 educators because the Republicans are getting the best of the President, we are losing government jobs every month because Obama lost to the Republicans, we have lost plenty because the President is either too nice, or too whatever to deal with the Republicans like they should be dealt with. Obama should have taken the hit early in his first term. He should have handcuffed himself to the Republicans and jumped off the cliff. He'd have a lot more power now if he had done that.

        I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

        by jbou on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:16:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your comment has nothing to do with reality (5+ / 0-)

          and everything to do with mistaking your emotional reactions for facts about other people's performance.  If we had lost 600,000 educators because Republicans shut down the government, causing a ripple-effect all the way down to the state and local level, you would be making identical criticisms.  Betrayal ideology is the religion of the deliberately impotent.

          Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

          by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:27:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  you're making some pretty pathetic excuses (0+ / 0-)

            I have watched you be a complete dick to Hillary supporters over her Iraq war vote, but you excuse away all of the sins of the President. Your hypocrisy is sad and you have some nerve bringing up reality.  

            I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

            by jbou on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:59:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The Iraq War was the most heinous act of treason (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Urizen, Jeff Simpson

              since the Civil War, and the deception behind it was as flimsy and transparent as a wet Kleenex.  That you could even conceive of equating that with your opinion that the President "prematurely compromises" is just sick.  I've listened to too many utterly deranged people around rant and rave that the most accomplished progressive President in generations is some kind of teabagger and then fawn at the idea of DLC neoconservative Hillary Clinton becoming President.  You're commenting from an alternate universe of your own invention.

              Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

              by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:10:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it's pretty obvious that ... (7+ / 0-)

        ... jbou could never buy a used car.   ; )

        "Tak[ing] back the table" is simple: Win the House of Representatives in 2014. Calling President Obama names is the definition of childishness. Get to work on winning back the House. That's the key. And thank goodness the President knows that:

        To secure landmark objectives and assure his final two years aren’t a token, the president must in effect run all out for a third term in 2014, using the bully pulpit and the firepower of his political organization, and keeping the heat—and blame—on obstructionist Republicans.

        I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

        by Tortmaster on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:05:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Indeed, with both more and better Democrats. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Urizen, kurt, Jeff Simpson, gramofsam1

          We learned in 2009 and 2010 what was possible with just more Democrats (in Congress) - and that was impressive enough - but now we have a chance to learn what is possible with better Democrats as well.  We don't have any excuses anymore: We're aware of everything the GOP is doing to sabotage democracy and keep their illegal, treasonous power, and there are no more excuses for us to fall victim to them.

          Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

          by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:44:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Too late now? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, dfarrah

          How about he stop making the same fucking mistakes he has been making all along. The man is not learning from his mistake and it is fucking galling. Seriously, we are supposed to rely on electing Democrats? We elected a Democratic congress and President in 2008 and the Republicans still ended up beating the President and the Democrats. President Obama and the Democrats are pathetic excuses for politicians. They do not know how to fight and they, for some unfathomable reason, think the Republicans are going to act in good faith.

          The Democrats should have been worrying about the house in 2010 before the gerrymandering destroyed what little hope we have for taking back the House. Again, a pathetic display of political ability.

          I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

          by jbou on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:55:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  what do you want? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour, golem, Jeff Simpson

            Is the point of all the complaining to absolve yourself of taking responsibility for how the world around you is doing?

            This is our world, our country.  We (all of us) have let it fall into the hands of people who do us little good and much harm.  We (all of us) need to take it away from them if we want a different situation.  

            So. . .

            Do something!  Make it better.  Blaming everybody (except of course yourself) is just masturbation.  So is crying over spilt milk.  

            Make a difference (even a tiny one).  Go get your own hands dirty instead of telling us how others are doing it all wrong.  You want better, make it better.  Do something instead of sitting around saying how badly those who actually do things should have done them.

            Complainers are always just spectators.  The world is crying out for participants.

          •  You're still talking like you have nothing to do (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Urizen, Jeff Simpson

            with what happens in Washington - it's all someone else's problem, someone else's fault.  "The Democrats" this, "The Democrats" that - and you just sitting on a cloud from your immaculate perch commentating on the immorality and incompetence of us puny mortals and our silly, useless, corrupt leaders.  

            Our country is not your goddamn sports telecast to sit on your barcalounger bitching at the teevee, and you are not being conscientious and contributive endlessly expounding on how shitty and unworthy everyone else is.  Take a civics class and learn how to articulate real criticisms instead of acting like Donald Trump berating a butler.  Your whole attitude is delusional and useless.

            Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

            by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:34:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  do I need to run down my... (0+ / 0-)

              resume. I have raised a lot of money for liberal non profits and Democrats. I have been involved in my local party for 12 years. I had a semi personal relationship with my congressman, and I drive people to the polls every election day. I get to complain about the politically inept politicians I worked to elect. All your long winded excuse laden diaries are just arm chair quarterbacking, right?

              I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

              by jbou on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:42:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You have the right to complain (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jeff Simpson

                and the responsibility to make sure that both the content and form of your complaints are (a)subordinate to reality, and (b)intelligently focused on addressing the source of your complaints rather than just expressing emotion to make yourself feel better while making everyone else smell your shit.

                Obviously your petulant approach to political criticism must not work very well or it would rapidly run out of motivation, but somehow by your logic the fact that it doesn't work is the perfect justification to continue behaving like that.  Screaming not doing it?  Well, scream some more, louder.  Bang pots if your voice runs out.  Stamp your feet.  That oughtta show those bastards in Washington.

                Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

                by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 11:13:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  So, your response to "Taking back ... (4+ / 0-)

            ... the table" by winning the House of Representatives is that it is a lost cause, and you have already surrendered to the GOP?

            You, and anyone else, can start helping now. Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D) is in a May 7 special election in South Carolina facing the infamous Mark Sanford for a Congressional seat. I just donated $15 and will donate more in the future. You can too, right here.

            I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

            by Tortmaster on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:37:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  good for you (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dfarrah

              I raised $250,000 for John Kerry in 04, but you do your thing, Scooter.

              In the real world the gerrymandered districts are a reality and all the optimism in the world ain't changing that.

              I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

              by jbou on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:44:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  And when those Republicans are re-elected? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, Urizen

      Then your short-winded plan fails as well.

      •  Republicans aren't going away... (0+ / 0-)

        so the President needs to stop caving in to them at every turn. The President is terrified of losing so he takes whatever deal he thinks he can get. It's pretty fucking pathetic. Like a loser who keeps taking back a cheating spouse.

         "This time will be different"

        I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

        by jbou on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:49:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are right (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour, Urizen, SoCalSal, gramofsam1

          The Republicans are not going away - for a minimum of just under two years. The only way to get them to go away is to get the voters to fire them. That is the only way. Your emotional response to blame the person named Barack Obama is not going to do it. Now, those words do fall as music upon Republican ears, but they are not going to d remove a single obstructionist Republicans from office.

          •  they aren't going anywhere... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kurt

            because they are in gerrymandered districts so they need to be treated differently by the Democrats and the President. The voters have very little to do with this because the republicans gamed the system. The republicans are like out of control teenagers, we have tried treating them one way and their behavior hasn't changed it's time to try something different because these fuckers aren't going to od in some parking lot.

            I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

            by jbou on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:06:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The fundamental problem with your thesis is (6+ / 0-)

    that you fail to recognize that both, the Democratic party establishment, and the Republican party establishment are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the the same billionaires and business cartels.

    That leaves a big whole in your analysis.

  •  maybe not the best example (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine, phonegery, kurt, JustinBinFL

    car dealers want to sell you a car. It costs them a specific amount. They have a specific low end profit they can make. If you want a $20,000 car and you offer something unrealistic, like $10,000 they'd lose money so they won't take it. But if you offer $18,000 you're likely to get the car. It's not like you offer $18,000 and they say "no, $22,000", like the Republican side of the game.

    In any case, I'd say winning a national election gives power to the President so if your idea is correct then the Republicans would be agreeing to what he wants.

    However, this is phony baloney negotiating. Both sides want nothing to happen, except to get richer.

    •  Car dealers want to make money, not sell cars. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Urizen, gramofsam1

      They don't care what they sell you, or if they sell you anything at all.  They simply want your money.  And they demand exactly as much as they can get away with, no less, regardless of what is "reasonable."  Because they hold the advantage, you pay them more than the car is worth or you don't get a car, period.

      Winning a national election gives the President the authorities of the Presidency and the credibility to wield them.  Power is a much more fluid concept, and not strongly tied to authority.  The Kochs are powerful, but hold no authority whatsoever.  A Nevada boxing commissioner has plenty of authority but no power.

      Both sides want nothing to happen, except to get richer.
      If you really believe that, why are you involved in Democratic politics?

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:49:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Shahryar - you are right (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shahryar, Troubadour, phonegery, nextstep, kurt

      The negotiating for a car is a poor example of competitive advantage in negotiating. The new car market is a very effective market with hundreds of sellers and thousands of buyers in each major US market. There is an actual dealer cost, although it's not that transparent. However, if a dealer sells the car below that price he suffers a loss. So if your best offer does not cover the dealer's cost, and is declined, it has absolutely nothing to do with competitive advantage in the negotiating process. All it means is that the market clearing price is above your best offer and no transaction is consummated.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:33:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Any market situation with an imbalance (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Urizen

        of power between the seller and buyer would work as an alternative analogy.  The 99.9% need a government now, at all times; the 0.01% merely want a government, and can wait as long as needed to have it do what they want; so the latter can hold the government hostage without losing much in the process.

        Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

        by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:48:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The dealership has costs, the cost of the building (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, nextstep, kurt

        the cost of the office help, the cost of flooring the cars.  
        These costs need to be covered, or the dealer will be out of business. So there is pressure to on the seller.

        Time is a long river.

        by phonegery on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:58:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wal-Mart vendor pricing a better example (6+ / 0-)

        We've all heard the stories of Wal-Mart buyers calling their vendors and demanding an X% cut in the purchase cost. That is an example of negotiation from a position of pure power. Vendors feel compelled to sat least try to comply, even if it means selling at or below cost. If they keep the contract maybe they can cut quality or something else to reduce cost. But if the contract is lost so too is their cash-flow and their business.

  •  Yes, sort of (5+ / 0-)

    But really, negotiations are about PERCEIVED power...that is, negotiators may not have an accurate sense of their own, or the opposing party's power.  And determining power is, in itslef, not an entirely simple process.

    Basically, we need to include the potential for misreading the power dynamic...because people, including politicians, can be wrong.

    Personally, I think Obama has more power than he thinks he has.  I think the republicans have less.  But to have that debate we need an entirely different frame than the one provided in this diary.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:42:29 PM PDT

    •  Perception is important, but at the same time (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, Urizen

      as I noted...

      You can't trick people who are used to being in control into thinking you are if you're not: They will challenge your power by default, and any pretense will simply fall apart.  Only the true ability to flex muscle in a way that demonstrates your superiority forces them into the subordinate negotiating role.
      You can't hustle a hustler.  You can only defeat them with reality.

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:53:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you are giving these politicians (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, justmy2, kurt

        Too much credit.  By all accounts (and I am genuinely surprised by this) Romney and the republicans thought they would win the last election...they were wrong...and really fucking stupid.

        Democrats have also been played several times.  

        Basically, it appears to me that you are relying the problem of perfect markets you so clearly rejected when discussing prices.  Perfect negotiations, wherein all parties are equally and accurately knowledgable are very, very rare.  Never underestimate stupid.

        "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

        by Empty Vessel on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:58:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But that's the point that I'm trying to make. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mike101, 84thProblem, Urizen, kurt, gramofsam1
          Perfect negotiations, wherein all parties are equally and accurately knowledgable are very, very rare.  Never underestimate stupid.
          The same logic applies to power - people seem to think a political negotiation consists of two perfectly equal sides dancing around each other, and that's rarely the case.  Almost always, one side has the clear power advantage and the other's main interest is in limiting how much they lose in a transaction they cannot avoid.

          And even within the context of your point about the quality of information, it doesn't take much intelligence to carry out the simple imperative "No tax increases (on us rich people), cut the non-defense budget as much as possible, no compromises, no exceptions."  And because this is an infrastructure ruled by a few hundred ultra-rich people, its power is exercised constantly, rapidly, and efficiently, while ours is cacophanous and irregular.

          We have to do better, not just increase the decibels with which we accuse scapegoats of betraying us to make ourselves feel better about doing nothing.

          Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

          by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:26:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The difference is the Public nature of the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, DeadHead, Quicklund

    negotiation. It is a good thing, because it exposes the arguments and the posture of all sides. It would be like negotiating a car deal in a stadium filled with audience members and the people who will finance the deal, who will in the end vote on the outcome of the deal. MUCH more complicated than a private negotiation.

    Under those circumstances, both negotiators do much more "posturing" and "head fakes" and "trial balloons" and actions designed to influence the crowd in the stadium, and their opposite negotiating partners indirectly, and their real positions with each other may not be the same as their intentions.

    Each of the participants is attempting to influence the crowd with the proposals and counteroffers and timing and rhetoric AS they negotiate. Ultimately, they are trying to form public opinion as they negotiate, so that by the end of the deal, the majority, especially if its a 50-50 opinion split at the outset, will agree that someone won and someone lost.

    This is how power is created in our system; public negotiations create narratives about who won and who lost and who gets to tell the story.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:45:48 PM PDT

    •  How does that explain the gun debate? (4+ / 0-)

      You have a proposal supported by 90% of the American people, going nowhere simply because Republicans control the process and the NRA controls Republicans.

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:54:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This system has always been stacked against change (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, SoCalSal

        from the founding to today. It is only changeable in comparison to every other system devised, which by and large change not at all until an explosion happens. European democracies excepted, since their last explosion nearly ended Western Civilisation, and they learned the lesson.

        The American system's ability to change public policy is further hampered, as it has always been, by American's faith that money implies moral virtue. You must have done something right in the eyes of God to be so blessed with so much money, and have so much influence in the politics, we continue to feel. The American system assumes that is true, and always has to greater or lesser degree. At the moment, to a much greater degree.

        87 years passed between the signing of the Declaration and the end of slavery. Three generations plus fought on that bloody political ground, and many lives and careers were ruined in the process. We essentially have the same system as then, and it has only been since 1963 that gun violence has been a preoccupying issue here. This is not to say, it will never happen. It is happening. It will ruin many careers and lives yet, but the Slave Power, which blocked change for 87 years, still lives in the form of gun violence and the immense power of money to influence the politics of any issue.

        We will win. It will take more time, more lives ruined, and more agony of the innocents until this latest iteration of the Slave Power gives in and allows us to qualify people to own military weapons. They will filibuster. They will lie, cheat and steal, because that is what they always do, and the people in the stadium will be fooled for a while longer with spurious arguments. But they will lose, because people are watching them, and judging them, and we must have faith that the hearts of the American people are as just and good as they have always been. I still do.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:14:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The point is that negotiations are based on power (0+ / 0-)

          not based on public peception.  Power advantages can erode under sustained, negative public scrutiny, but the fact remains that the GOP holds power that is in practical terms immune to ordinary public opinion.  Only truly mobilized public opinion can force them to capitulate.

          Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

          by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 11:18:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Although sometimes it is good to let people see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Quicklund

    exactly what the other side is capable and willing to do.  Then it's all the easier to unite the people against them.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:03:45 PM PDT

    •  Public opinion and public action (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mike101, Urizen

      are unfortunately not the same things, as the gun debate has shown.  Unless and until we the people are willing to do more between elections than complain about what happens in Washington and lazily smear everyone in it as a villain, the power advantage will always rest with people who have the resources to be engaged 24/7 through lobbying.

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:28:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In 2008 Obama won in a landslide ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Urizen, SoCalSal

    But he couldn't get a single Republican to move to his side on any of the legislation he tried to pass.
    The way the country is currently set up and with the filibuster in the Senate, very few things can happen.
    The Republicans have now gerrymandered the country so badly that, they can win the WH, the House, the Senate and lose the popular vote massively.
    This is what is happening in many states.
    The Media has become too accomplice of the politicians. 90% of Americans want background checks, how many newspapers are making sure this gets voted on? Lots of newspapers and TV /Media completely ignore it (Fox).
    The Power of the President in negotiations is very relative. There are simply too other factors in play.

    •  Very true. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Musial, Urizen, gramofsam1

      We have to be aware of the difference between power and authority in order to have either.

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:49:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  when negotiating fundamentals, this (0+ / 0-)

        is traditionally the breaking point where you get a new major party or a new party system. The whigs collapsed over betrayal of the North and free soilers, you get an uncompromising GOP, and the South walks away from the table. Any progress has been the result of not compromising national principles, but the plutocracy has been careful to block the reproduction of James Merediths, Bayard Rustins, Donna Reeds, not just unions but churches, schools, leftists, intellectuals, antiwar, all bought up as negotiating bodies like the old Whigs, but confident that the only alternative in a winner takes all system is retreat to non participation, no new major parties like the GOP of 1860. This is ripe for single issue movements that don't compromise. A national consensus such as FDR got, would be available by not compromising basic New Deal principles. The resulting civil war would be one fought in the arena of education or reeducation in civics, a national revitalization. Parties may become obsolete with the abolition of money in politics, as there would be direct appeal online over issues positions and accountability at the polls, energy conversion, demilitarization, nationalization of national industries etc.

    •  This is a new definition of landslide (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, Jeff Simpson

      Never heard that term applied to the 2008 election before.

      Here are a list of POTUS landslide victories

      53% to 46%and 365 to 173 are way off the pace.

      •  Within the Bushian reframing (0+ / 0-)

        of losing an election in 2000 and barely squeaking by in 2004 (if we accept the official result) as a mandate for radical right-wing change, 2008 was seen as a landslide.

        Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

        by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:37:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think I get what you are trying to say (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Urizen, kurt

    I'm not sure this is the way to make the case.

    The advantage of negotiation from the position of power combined with the law of large numbers leas to a situation where the position of power wins more than it loses. But it is not a win-every-instance sort of thing.

    The similar situation, negotiation from the position of indifference is probably the closer fit to what we see today. I would not say the GOP holds the power advanatage. But they do seem willing to let everything go to seed. Usually this is what provides the advantageous bargaining position. The opposition party cannot obstruct too much w/o pissing off the voters.

    But in America today the GOP is no longer trying to hide their sabotage. In that case there is little left to do but try to vote the GOP into a minority party in all branches of government. If American voters continue to reward the GOP well ... they say a democracy gets the government it deserves.

    •  It has to be more than voting. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund

      Republicans have to be hounded out of polite society for the sick, corrupt shit they promote, and we really don't even try to hold them accountable.  We just treat them like a fact of nature - "Oh, there go those nutbar Republicans again, silly buggers."  We tolerate pretty much everything from them, while going apeshit on our own people for not being able to magically conjure what they don't have the power to force Republicans to do.

      Very few of us use even our modest powers as individual citizens as effectively as Democratic leaders use their elected powers, but nobody wants to hold themselves accountable.  Nobody wants self-government.  Everybody seems to want a benevolent authoritarian government that just magically does what they want, and not what other people who disagree with them want, while not inconveniencing or offending them in any way.  That's pathetic, especially for progressives.

      The citizen is the atomic unit of government, not the elected leader, but no one seems to want to even talk about how they can be more effective citizens - they act offended at the very suggestion that they're not already perfect in this respect.  If a million citizens would make just tiny little improvements in their own engagements with politics, that would have a massive impact far beyond hiring some professional posturer to feed us symbolic stands in a power context they can't control.

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:01:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is what is meant by the old saying (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, Urizen, kurt, SoCalSal, gramofsam1

        A Democracy gets the government it deserves.

        If a society won't even vote out of office known sabotaging obstructionists then that society is not going to shun them as pariahs. If several years of blatant public sabotage is not enough to motivate Americans to vote, then no amount of blogging will change our fate.

        We had an election here in Wisconsin last week. Estimates are we had about 19% participation.

        Want a root cause? There you go.

        •  It's deliberate impotence. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SoCalSal, gramofsam1

          Try to corner some of these people on why they're cynical, and you get a laundry of list of increasingly pathetic excuses.

          Q: "Why don't you vote?"
          A: "I can't get off work."
          Q: "So why don't you elect leaders who will help create better jobs and protect your rights as a worker?"
          A: "Who?  The Democrats would just betray us."  
          Q: "So why don't you elect better Democrats in the primaries?"  
          A: "What's the point?  Gerrymandering just gives Republicans control anyway."  
          Q: "The state legislatures do the redistricting.  Why don't you elect Democrats on the state level?"
          A: "Republicans would just buy the elections anyway."
          Q: "The only reason they can do that is Citizens United.  The only way to reverse that is a Constitutional amendment requiring Congress and state legislatures to support it, or else a different Supreme Court appointed by a President and approved by the Senate.  Why aren't you voting to make that happen?"
          A: "Republicans would just steal it anyway.  They're already seizing illegal authorities to do things."
          Q: "So why don't you revolt and defend your country?"
          A: "Too dangerous.  Besides, I can't get off work."

          PATHETIC.

          Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

          by Troubadour on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:47:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are many reasons (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            I cannot begin to say why people act the way they do. But there certainly is a massive disconnect between flag-waving teary-eyed American exceptionalism and the agonizing ordeal of spending 5 minutes in line to vote. People who don't vote should not be allowed to brag on the USA. Maybe that'd prompt 'em to the ballot box.

  •  It's hard to believe (0+ / 0-)

    that you wrote a diary lecturing the very people who brought about the dems' success [or failure, as it turned out to be].

    Why are we in the place we're at now?  Because of BO.

    His ineffective [and that is putting it nicely] head-ship in his first two years cost us power at the national and state level.  And now, the repubs have redistricted into what seems to be an assured majority for years to come.

    And you want to lecture us?

    Really, a diary about how we can pick effective leaders at the national level and not get fooled by a gaseous bloviator again might serve us better.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:41:02 AM PDT

    •  You can't seem to make up your mind. (0+ / 0-)

      If we're the ones who made 2008 happen, then we're the ones who failed to make 2010 happen.  You don't get to take credit for good things and then blame failures on some convenient scapegoat.

      Going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

      by Troubadour on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 11:29:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  BO pissed so (0+ / 0-)

        many people off that they didn't show up to vote in 2010.

        We, the people you are lecturing, did our jobs.  The regular people were furious, and rightly so, at BO.

        And now BO is on his way to throwing the 2014 elections and further destroying the dem party.

        He has always been full of it and still is.  But there are always people like you, ready to buy anything.

        Obama is best bs artist since Clinton

        The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

        by dfarrah on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 02:44:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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