randombio.com | political commentary
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

This is what a revolution looks like

NRO's scorched earth strategy is self-defeating. They should use judo.

E ver since NRO changed their web page to all JavaScript, I've had a lot of trouble reading their articles. Unike Pjmedia, which sometimes comes in and sometimes doesn't, like a TV station just out of range of my antenna, NRO always just shows up as a blank screen like a giant white tabula rasa. Yet after visiting the site last week on a different computer, I'm thinking maybe I like the blank screen better.

Yesterday more anti-Trump columns appeared, one from a columnist whom I had always admired for writing literate, temperate prose. In this one Trump was called a vicious demagogue and his supporters illiterate. Maybe there wasn't enough space in their special commemorative anti-Trump issue. Whatever the reason, calling a fellow Republican and his supporters nasty names is, as far as I know, unprecedented for NRO. Voodoo dolls, sure; nasty names, no. I would like to own the pin concession near their editorial offices.

I share NRO's worry about the primaries. I've lived in six different states, from the east coast to the rust belt to the southwest, and not once has my vote in the primary ever meant anything. The good candidates always drop out long before a single vote is ever cast. I never once got a chance to vote for the candidate I thought was best. This time it will be no different.

So excuse me if I say I don't care whether Donald Trump or Ted Cruz (Republican Party), Bernie Sanders (Simon and Garfunkel Party), or Fnoork Klompicson (Minions of Cthulhu and Shub-Something-Or-Other Party) wins the primaries. It's not as if I will get a chance to to vote for or against any of them. Like the other 98.4% of voters who don't live in Iowa or New Hampshire, we're disenfranchised by the primary system.

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NRO blank screen NRO's home page as it appears in my browser.

But just between you and me, in the past seven years our government has turned objectively evil. They indicted the filmmaker who exposed Planned Parenthood. They made a mess of Libya, overthrew Mubarak, blamed Benghazi on an innocent filmmaker, sabotaged our chance for an anti-terrorist alliance with Russia, insulted our allies, wrecked our economy, and emboldened our enemies. They used the NSA to spy on us and the IRS to harass us. They are trying to undermine the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments.

Radical changes are needed. But the establishment's candidates have done nothing. To the voters they sound no different than John McCain, the guy who wanted to lose.

The voters are looking for a leader, and the Republican establishment is unable to provide one. Why? The reason, it seems to me, is what psychologists call choice blindness.

Whenever someone takes a volitional action to further a choice, they have a stake in the outcome. They have an even bigger stake in believing their decision was the correct one, and they will defend their decision regardless of the evidence that it was a bad choice. They simply ignore the information that tells them they made a mistake.

The political one-percenters have a huge stake in the outcome, so they're naturally unhappy that so many seem unable to see Trump as they do. To some Trump fans maybe it's a game—a reality show. But most of them are ready to destroy the Republican party. We are inching closer to a revolution. And, NRO, this is what a revolution looks like.

So, you might ask, how can the establishment take advantage of this vast, untapped pool of wisdom, sophistication, energy and rage? Simple: take his side.

Sounds crazy, I know. But hear me out. I have almost no social skills myself, but even I know the best strategy in defeating a bad idea is to use verbal judo.

If my boss came up with a harebrained idea (or, perhaps I should say, another one), I wouldn't say “Boss, that's a harebrained idea and you're an illiterate vicious demagogue. Have you ever even read a book? I thought not!” I say something like “Well, boss, sending a grant to the Society for the Extermination of Earthlings is a great idea! And did I mention you're really smart? We need more grants! But how about we send it to NIH instead?”

Okay, so you don't have to lie to them. But even I know if you call someone an illiterate moron they stop listening to you. I would respectfully suggest that perhaps a judo approach might work better with Trump supporters as well. To do that you have to engage their ideas. Calling people names is not the conservative way.

Anyway, here's my plan for reforming the primaries. instead of multiple-choice ballots, make them essay questions. The voters write in 3000 words or less what they would like the next president to do. Essays written in all caps are permitted. The candidates sign whichever ballots they choose, electronically if need be. Whoever signs the most ballots wins, but the winner is contractually obligated to do exactly what's on those ballots. If they don't, we throw them into a volcano.

Update (Jan 27, 2016) When discussing revolutions, most people think of Max Weber. But sociologist Pitirim Sorokin's book Sociology of Revolution is more relevant to what's happening in the Republican party today. He said that revolutions occur when the base instincts of the population are suppressed and authority and social control become disorganized.

He wrote that revolutions occur in two stages. In the first stage, there is a wild output of energy. In this stage, the rulers and elite appear weak, and are unable to suppress the revolt. There is a massive outpouring of energy directed mainly at the elites and former leaders. Unlike a civil war, a revolution is more of a rebellion against one's own leaders and the establishment elite than against the opposition party. Gradually, as the radicals lose energy, the second stage of reaction takes over and the elites try to restore the pre-existing order, often brutally.

The Republican party is in the first stage of revolution. How the party leaders respond in the second and whether the rebel faction holds up against the forthcoming reaction will determine whether the party survives or is replaced by something different.

last updated 5:09 am, jan 27, 2016

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