Groupthink or Group Cluster… Explaining the Modern GOP

Democrats fall in love;

Republicans fall in line.

This one maxim explains a lot about what has happened to the Republican party since Reagan and, consequently, to American politics. In the past 30+ years we’ve seen the Republican party go from championing detente with China, creating the EPA, bolstering the social safety net, and accepting that government had a role to play in guaranteeing Americans’ economic well-being.

Group Cluster

AntsMemeHow is it that we have dogged Republican beliefs in the thoroughly repudiated dogma of trickle down economics; the absolute failure of the ACA (which was first conceived of by the Heritage Foundation) in spite of its painfully obvious success; the clear absence of any voter suppression making the Voting Rights Act superfluous in spite of them enacting voting suppression laws as soon as the act was gutted; the righteousness of banning abortion under any circumstances even though it ensures women and children living in poverty; the utterly ridiculous concept that life beginning at conception, for Chris’ sake! and the self-defeating policy of denying access to birth control! Many of us had thought that these issues had all been resolved in the 1970’s only to see them rear their ugly heads in the past decade or so. Why is the Republican party bent on dragging us back to the 1890’s? Why are they so regressive?


Consider the eight symptoms of groupthink:

  1. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  2. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
  3. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
  4. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  5. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
  6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
  7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
  8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.
What is Groupthink?

Tell me that everyone of these isn’t a symptom of what is going on in the modern Republican party! Let’s explain them in their cluster fucks:

JimJonesMemeThe modern Republican party emphasizes informational conformity.

  • Informational conformity is a form of social influence in which group members come to accept the beliefs, ideas, and behaviors of the group as true. They drink the Kool-Aid and become their sincerely held beliefs.
  • They put direct pressure on dissenters to conform to policies and beliefs.
  • Their views are considered to be correct and unanimously supported.
  • Mindguards: Mindguards for fuck’s sake! Does anything sound more Republican than mind fucking guards? They deliberately avoid information that may be problematic or challenge their assumptions! Confirmation bias is one thing, but fuck me Jesus running across the lawn. Mindguards.

The modern Republican party encourages normative conformity:

  • Normative conformity is a form of social influence in which group members will mouth the beliefs and ideas of the group and go through the motions of the behaviors but not actually internalize them. Dissenters or questioners must engage in normative conformity or be ousted from the party. Can you imagine a worse hell? Think of all of the gay, black, or kind Republicans.
  • By not voicing dissenting views or challenging basic assumptions, an illusion of unanimity is created. When ideas are not debated, risks are taken without being fully cognizant of them.
  • To maintain group membership, dissenters must censor themselves least they draw the ire of the dreaded mindguards — I swear that is straight out of some dystopian paradise.

The modern Republican party has become a monolithic unassailable fortress:

  • These sanctimonious ass sniffers actually believe their murderous soul-killing caustic policies are moral. I know it is unbelievable to think that someone who would deny a shut-in older adult a fan in the 95+°F summer heat living on social security and ignore the deaths that such denials cause because you can’t bear to cut a bloated military budget or live with a deficit — which Reagan and W totally did, in fact, ballooning the deficit to unheard of undreamed of heights — would think themselves moral, but somehow these Jesus shouting narrow minded nimrods do.
  • They use the Bible and the teachings of Jesus to justify or rationalize their decisions. Forcing women to have unwanted children by outlawing abortion and eliminating birth control is not good for the children, the women, or our society. But somehow this Jesus they believe in wants them to force women to live in poverty or horrible marriages or both.
  • And liberals become the evil traitorous freedom-hating doofuses that cannot possibly have an idea worth considering even when it is their own re-cycled dumb ideas! Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is from the devil and a traitor and hates America. Drown me with a thimble of formaldehyde, why would you assume that any American hates America and our freedoms?

Janis (1982) defined groupthink as ―a mode of thinking people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action‖ (p. 9)

Diverse Perspectives on the Groupthink Theory

Birth Control

Just to drive how completely nuts Republicans are, let’s consider an example: Colorado’s free long-lasting birth control program. During his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, President Obama suggested that Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, left and right could agree that limiting unwanted pregnancies would be a worthwhile goal. Like that could be a thing, agreement! Ha! That might lead to compromise and that is the road to hell, brothers and sisters. The road to hell, I’m telling you! That is the dulcet charm of demonic seductress!

“We may not agree on abortion. But surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country,” said President Obama at the 2008 Democratic Convention in Colorado.

Colorado’s Long-Lasting Birth Control Program For Teens May Not Last Long

PregnantTeenThat was the same year that Colorado launched its birth control program aimed at teens and young women.Using state funds, Colorado provided long-lasting birth control free of charge for any woman or teenager who presented at one of the participating hospitals or clinics. Long lasting birth control are things like IUDs or hormonal implants. They work better than other methods because they minimize human error — you can’t forget to take them or be in a hurry and put them in or on wrong. Have you ever been drunk, tangled up in bedsheets, and laying on one arm while trying to put on a condom? If so, then you know what I mean. A lot can go wrong under those circumstances.

Get this, the program was funded by the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation to the tune of $23 million. That’s a lot of pied piping leading a lot of teenage sluts to whoredom! In case you’re wondering, that is the foundation named for Warren Buffet’s late wife, and another reason conservatives don’t like it. They don’t like it one little bit! No they don’t.

Because of this generous grant, it didn’t cost the taxpayers of Colorado one thin communion wafer and didn’t add a single demerit to Colorado’s Christian population’s sin inventory. No one in Colorado was put in danger of hellfire and damnation because of it. And, it was phenomenally successful. Teen pregnancies dropped by 40% from 2008 to 2013 compared to 30% nationwide in that time period.

“What greater gift can you give to a teenaged potential mother than the opportunity to plan her family so when she has children, it’s when they’re wanted, when she can afford to care for them … and to do it in such a cost-effective way in terms of government spending? It dramatically reduces government spending,” Governor  Hickenlooper said.

Colorado’s Long-Lasting Birth Control Program For Teens May Not Last Long

So, now that this tremendously effective program needs state funding to continue, Republicans don’t wanna. It might encourage the girls to have all the sexes because they are without one more intimidating problem, according to Rep. Kathleen Conti (R-Your pregnant teenaged daughter).

“Just to watch their eyes beam and say, ‘I graduated. And I’m one of the only people in my circle of friends who doesn’t have a child. And now I’m managing this,’ or, ‘I’m in this job.’ And to see that they’re still dreaming big,” Liz Romer (clinic director at Children’s Hospital Colorado) said.

Colorado’s Long-Lasting Birth Control Program For Teens May Not Last Long

The Resulting Faulty Decision

How is it possible to oppose such a program? How? Oh, let’s list the ways:

  • If you have a sincerely held belief in the morality of your cause: Hate the sin; punish the sinner. If you have a sincerely held belief in the rightness of your cause and ignore the ethical or moral consequences of forcing teenagers to live in poverty because they became single unwed mothers.
  • If you’re listening to other self-righteous blowhards talking out of their asses so that you develop a sincerely held belief in the rationalizations that you and all your moralizing Pecksniffian tut-tutters have created so that you do not have to consider any warnings, challenges to your assumptions, or other possible reasonings.
  • If you have so denigrated the other side and equated them with fiends, shaitans, and cacodemons, then you needn’t bother making anything more than the most perfunctory argument and can throw whatever weak shit you got at them cause they wrong.

In the end, you end up with what we’ve got: a party that discounts every fact, research study, or finding that contradicts their opinions, views, or goals; that demonizes and rejects the other side as being less than human; that will take incredible risks — default on the US debt? — to achieve their goals.

Your Drunk Uncle


Your favorite drunk uncle, Red Skelton

So, next Thanksgiving when you’re sitting next to your favorite drunk uncle and he starts spouting off about some dumbass Republican talking point — the people have to have a voice in the next Supreme Court nomination! You can (a) ignore his putrid breath, (b) not argue with him, and (c) understand that he has been victimized by groupthink! Where once was a proud sober human being willing to give the shirt off his back to a stranger in need is an empty shell of a human being searching in vain for a reason to live and trying to fill the empty hole in his soul with a tasty combination of vodka and whiskey. Pity the fool, and look for ways to help him understand. Otherwise, we’ll remain the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid.

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