Amid yammerings about a "national divorce" and a new-secession*, the sane majority on the Union side of this phase of the 250 year American Civil War is having great difficulty penetrating past Kremlin-basement propaganda to persuade bewitched neighbors to rejoin a Great Experiment in rational thinking, facts and justice.
Some smart folks are trying to figure out why it’s so hard. The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic, by linguistics genius George Lakoff (author of Don't Think of An Elephant) and Elisabeth Wehling is one such effort.
“Voters cast their ballots for what they believe is right, for the things that make moral sense. Yet Democrats have too often failed to use language linking their moral values with their policies. The Little Blue Book demonstrates how to make that connection clearly and forcefully, with hands-on advice for discussing the most pressing issues of our time: the economy, health care, women’s issues, energy and environmental policy, education, food policy, and more.”
My respect for Lakoff is boundless and I quote or cite him frequently in Polemical Judo. But this advice (above) is myopic and self-referential. This approach will only nibble at the edges of the MAGA movement, whose insulated Nuremberg rallies are all about chanted incantations of outrage-at-fantasies, and not appeals to values. (See an example of how deep down the rabbit hole these cult circle-jerks have gone, with almost every paragraph telling – or based upon – an outright lie.)
If you actually want to chip or chop away at that mad cult, then you are better off using methods I offer in Polemical Judo.
Where we agree is that the effort is worthwhile! First, because if we can peel just 100,000 more wakened Americans away from today's mad, re-ignited Confederacy, it could collapse their fragile demographics in scores of gerrymandered GOP districts. But also because these are your neighbors and countrymen/women/x, and they deserve your ministry.
Just look up the phrase: “All Heaven rejoices when…”
But sure, this Little Blue Book is welcome for an entirely different reason. Not to convert MAGAs, but because it could help to maintain the Union coalition! By emphasizing shared values and goals, we might assist Bernie and AOC and Stacey and Liz and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison in their hardest task...
...which is riding herd on the least reliable and most self-indulgent-flakey members of our coalition, preventing a pompously-preening, indignantly impractical far-left from betraying the cause, the way they did, reliably and predictably -- with devastating effects -- in 1980, in 88, in 94, in 2000, in 2010 and again in 2016.
== Ministering to our neighbors… before the McVeigh Tsunami can build ==
But let's consider just one of my suggested methods... I've been testing it for years and found it to be stunningly, dazzlingly effective. A fact almost as surprising as the near-utter refusal of any Democratic or neutral politician or pundit or citizen to try it, even experimentally!
In Polemical Judo and elsewhere, I’ve pushed hard the notion – proved again and again – that you can corner political fanatics with wagers. Or rather, by demanding they back up their incantations, their magical chants and rationalizations with cold, hard cash.
At one level, it always works. In fact, it is the only thing that ever works with MAGAs. I go into this elsewhere.
Of course I am not the only one saying this in a general sense. Take the Long Bets site offered by the Long Now Foundation and Stewart Brand and Kevil Kelly, that has for a decade mediated longer term wagers over arguments that can be settled – among adults – by the passage of time. (In an earlier blog I described Kevin’s failure to collect from a famous non-adult!)
Here’s another. A standing offer of (as of 2018) $100,000 of stakes for wagers over climate change that (surprise?) has had no serious takers among the cowardly blowhard denialists.
“For the fourth year in a row, I am offering a $25,000 climate bet to anyone who thinks he or she is smarter than a climate scientist. The “definition of insanity” meme is as absurd as it is overused. But in fact I don’t expect different results this time. I predict more of the same:
1. Lack of courage by deniers and conspiracy cranks to accept the bet.
2. Hand-wringing, insults, and excuses by bloggers.
3. Another new global climatological temperature record.
“Most deniers know full well that global warming is real, that it is caused by humans, and that it will continue. Why take a personal risk with actual money when it is easier and less expensive just to continue denying, blogging, and harassing scientists?”
I hope this endeavor is still active. I've found that the Confederate 'movement' is driven in large part by a desperate, overcompensating need to express pushy masculinity and that nothing terrifies those preeners more than being challenged to actually step up "like a man" and back up their blowhard assertions with pre-escrowed major wager stakes!
Alas, I also offer a side bet. We’ll get to 2024 without a single pundit or Democratic politician or – (best case) – scientifically-inclined zillionaire realizing how potent – if properly executed – this method could be.
== Pertinent aside about conspiracy theories ==
As for vast conspiracies, David Robert Grimes has demonstrated that the likelihood of a leak is proportional to the number in on the conspiracy and the passage of time. He approaches the question mathematically here: On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs. It's quite a read.
But I have an entire chapter dissecting conspiracy theories in ways you never saw before... and it's (you guessed it) in Polemical Judo.
== Back to George F. Will… the “worst American.” ==
I admit to polemical excess when I called GFW "The Worst American." My standards were particular...
That he is clearly not a stupid or misled person, but rather one who is both brilliant and well-trained in the skeptical arts. Moreover, he is fully aware that nearly all of human history was a cesspit of malgovernance by owner-cheater-lords and their inheritance brats... and that delusionally non-sapient oligarchy has been tried endlessly and found valueless, compared to the rare, vivid, fecund, creative and vastly more-just Periclean experiments.
Erudite and educated, he knows well that Marxism was halted in its tracks not by Republican-Confederatism, or by Wall Street scions, but by the Rooseveltean social contract, accomplishing what Marx never imagined possible -- inviting the working class into the bourgeoisie and their most-vigorous children into the best schools and marriages. That experiment has by far the best track record, under any criterion of human success. Including success at generating flat-fair-creative competition and reducing the wastage of talent that Adam Smith despised, above all else.
George Will knows all this...
...as he knows that the current counter-putsch by world oligarchy has one paramount aim -- to restore the default human condition of deeply-stupid inherited privilege. And hence, Karl Marx is now risen from his deserved dustbin-sepulchre, to shamble once again across every university campus around the world. That feat of resurrection is arguably the only enduring accomplishment of Supply Side 'economics.'
He knows all this. Therefore, alas, it is with open eyes and by deliberate choice that George F. Will spent decades concocting polysyllabic incantations on behalf of an oligarchic world-cabal that he knew, full-well, aims for utter destruction of the civilization and experiment to which GFW owes everything.
And so, when he saw, at last, what he had wrought, his ensuing denunciations of Confederate/Putinist/Salafist/Scudderite/Trumpite troglodytism and treason were decades late and a 1780 dollar short... and nothing at all like what we need from him, even now.
Is he waiting to see any residual glimmers of sanity flicker on the gone-mad U.S. right? I am sure he will spy some and leap upon them, issuing joyful incantations of "both-sides-ism." And thus evade his one chance at redemption. Alas.
* Re: the "national divorce" crap out there... well, I told-you-so. For years now.
Bill Maher offers a palliative of "toning down the hate a notch." Though he also admits there's no way that
return-to-dialogue will be done by the 25% of the country that's in a hate-drenched psychotic break. I agree
that his prescription would normally be wise, except that it's not how confederates work. Any offer to
"reason together" will be viewed as weakness...
...unless it is couched as strength. And I have repeatedly told you all how to simultaneously offer reasoned discourse
while projecting strength.
"Come, let us check the factual basis for your mad assertions, before panels of senior retired military officers...
with cash money riding on the outcome."
THAT is how you can offer a reasoned, evidence-based negotiation over facts... but in a way that makes you look strong
and confident and that exposes the confederate or oligarch-shill as a yammering blowhard. And a coward, because he will
run away. They always do. And that is always, always and always and always...
...shaming themselves in front of others. And that is a victory. Not the kind we'd like. But the one that we can get.
Oh, one last thing. Maher said that Reds "have all the guns." Wrong. They have MORE guns. But in fact they have
fewer actual trigger fingers. And Maher seems not to know that liberals and minorities have been quietly buying
since 2001. So no. A hot Phase Nine will not be a slam-dunk for reds. Especially after they have spat in the faces
of every single US profession that actually knows stuff. Seriously, guys. How is that supposed to go for you?
Oh, final note: You think Texas can scoop up its marbles and gerrymander-ignore the majority of Texans
and go its own way? Oh, we may allow it! After Dallas-Austin-SA-Houston corridor gets their own secession
plebescite FROM Texas. And the entire Rio Grande basin. Sure. Sell us beef and oil... and watch how quickly
we make those commodities obsolete without your science-hating drag at our ankles. And then, we'll welcome
back counties that wake up and vote and beg to return. Same holds for every sessesh state. It's the deal that's
ACTUALLY plausible. Come on and step up fellahs. And till then, let's bet. No? I thought not.