Why Is It Easier for Dems to Bicker Than Oppose GOP?

Have you noticed that there seems to be a war on? A war between Bernie Bros and Clintonistas? I can’t open Twitter without seeing a buncha buncha hate flying between folks on the left. Barack Obama makes a speech, earns $400,000.00, and suddenly he is a scummy sellout. Chelsea Clinton tweets at 3:00 AM, and she’s a conglomeration of people cobbled together in a 24-hour schedule to pretend to be her on Twitter. Clinton does an interview and says she made mistakes in the campaign, and she’s not over it. Bernie Bros claiming Sanders woulda beat the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. Bros claiming that the DNC did it to themselves by rigging the system against Bernie. And, now being pro-choice is optional and “fading as an issue” according to Nancy Pelosi?

Iwanker poses for Trump Tower, Manila advertisement and barely a peep. The experts weigh in, sure, but boy howdy, we are ripping Chelsea, Hillary, Obama, Bernie, and, now, Elizabeth Warren to shreds. The GOP is out there lying about covering pre-existing conditions, how much of that is on Twitter? But, goddamn, that Hillary interview sure is being dissected. Bernie supports an anti-choice candidate and suddenly his commitment to women’s rights is being questioned.

Perez and Ellison do a unity tour, and it does more to disunite the party. One side is trying to out chant the other! People are bragging about the cheers given to Ellison and Sanders because some how… what?

Just the other day, someone commented on this blog that it wasn’t okay to elect a female predatory president! Holy shit! Do people actually prefer the Ol’ Pussy Grabber to Clinton? Is that possible? Is it possible that the hot chaotic mess that is currently writhing in the White House is considered preferable to the steady cerebral rational leadership that Clinton offered? Are we all mammals with mammalian brains? How can we be saying these things about each other?

What in the actual fuck is going on here? Have we all lost our collective minds? Seriously, this shit is painful. Pain-fucking-ful. Full o’ fucking pain be this shit.

It is all the more mind-blowing when you see the theatrical throngs thronging the thoroughfares thwarting threatening legislation and policy. We feel so united in the #Resistance and then the Clinton-Sanders, progressives-Democrats, leftists-centerists, incrementalists-purists dividing dichotomies gets started.

And, that is just it — aside from the Russian-paid hacks out there trying to stir up trouble — when we face a clear common foe like racism, threats to women’s health, climate denial, we come together and make common cause. But, the second that common enemy steps out of the line of fire, we turn our guns on each other. We have purists to our left and compromisers to our right and strategists in the middle and the gee, I just don’t know, bozos staggering around with their fingers up their noses and the folks who never got past their teenage rebel years just fucking things up.

Explanation #1: Blue-Eyes Brown-Eyes & Social Identity Theory

One of the explanations lies in how we perceive groups and how quickly we can form groups. Most people don’t believe or realize how quickly hard and fast boundaries between groups can form. One of the clearest demonstrations of this is Jane Elliott‘s heartbreaking Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes Study. If you haven’t seen any of the footage that Jane Elliott has produced over her life, you should take the fifteen minutes to watch this snippet.

Ms Elliott was reacting to the assassination of Martin Luther King. She wanted to teach her lily-white third graders a lesson in racism. She stood in front of her class and said, Blue eyed people are smarter, cleaner, better. Blue eyed people get five extra minutes at recess, get to drink from the drinking fountain, go first for lunch, and to get seconds at lunch. And, the children lit into each other like those brown-eyed kids were common Muslims getting on an airplane. They were howling for those brown-eyed kids to be removed from the plane this very instant!

It was heartbreaking. It was like everything bad happens to us. It’s like we lost our best friends.

Social Identity Theory explains a lot of this sniping between Dem-favoring groups. I’ve written extensively about SIT twice before. It is a well-established theory. Basically, it suggests that people seek social groups, after all, we are better when we work together. It is how we evolved to be the most dominate species in the known universe. We are attracted to people that we perceive as being similar to ourselves… and we judge people within a second of seeing them for the first time! To be similar is to have the physical appearance of similarity. It is why face-tatoos are so off putting. Come on, guys. Really?

Once we’ve identified with a group, Bernie Bros versus Clintonistas, for example, we develop a clearer distinction between the groups. Our self-esteem gets caught up in the esteem of the group. That’s one reason it smarts so much to lose. To enhance our self-esteem, we often denigrate the other side. Trash talk can be a fun creative way of expressing yourself, but can we agree to draw the line at electing someone like the Ol’ Pussy Grabber? Maybe not.

If we want to overcome this social identity division, we have to quit sharpening the distinctions between the Bros and the ‘Istas. We have to start emphasizing our similarities. It will take discipline and swallowing a little pride and keeping focused on the goal.

Explanation #2: Association Machines = Predictability = Safety

But, there’s more at work here. Right now, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber has us living in his world playing his game: chaotic crisis fight. When the world starts to turn to shit, and by shit I mean stop being so predictable, we retreat into enclaves of safety. Often that means a group of some kind — we evolved to work better in groups. But, we do more than that.

tin-foil-hatsWe also evolved to be association machines, so we begin to look for links between things in our environment. The functional side of this is that it helps us identify danger. If it is surprising, then it is potentially dangerous. If it isn’t surprising, it is because we’ve encountered it before, and it didn’t kill us, so it must be safe. This is one of the theories about why conspiracy theories are so appealing: they reduce complex environments to something more manageable, they bring associations together, and they give us tEhe veneer of predictability. Predictability equals safety.

That need to pare down a complicated threatening environment encourages us to do some very unhealthy things like narrow our focus, confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, motivated reasoning, and information avoidance. In other words, it is easier and less threatening to re-litigate the Democratic primary battle between Clinton and Sanders than it is to resist the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and work to overturn the Congress and re-take the state legislatures in 2018. We are inherently lazy, so emotion trumps reason. Tweeting and Facebooking hate to Bernie Bros or Clintonistas is so much easier than organizing a neighborhood to vote in the 2018 election or canvassing or phone banking for a candidate or even calling your Representative or Senator to oppose legislation. It has the added bonus of the illusion of accomplishment. You did something! And, you can see it! It’s right there on the screen! I’m impo’tent, too, mo’fo!

Explanation #3: Fear as a Catalyst for Change

ChangeThere is a belief in the mental health world that people don’t change until they’re in enough pain to change. One of the biggest problems we have in white middle class America is that we ain’t in no pain, so we don’t change. One of the reasons that there was such a tremendous outpouring of #Resistance in the past few months is because the election of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber caused us a lot of pain as in fear. Fear is uncomfortable. Fear means danger. Fear means it is time to change. Fear is one of the biggest catalysts for change.

We face complex problems from healthcare to tax codes to economic policy to what the fuck to do about North Korea to immigration. One strategy that the right uses is to keep us confused so that the problems are overwhelming and to keep us afraid so we will vote conservative and for their simplistic solutions and illusory explanations. It is hard to imagine a world without abortion being safe and legal or Planned Parenthood or the neighborhood health clinic or the food pantry, but it is possible. It is so hard to imagine that we do not fear that world, especially if you’ve never relied on a food pantry or the neighborhood free-clinic.

The chaotic mess that is now squatting in the White House ortta scare the devil outta us all. It should be enough to unite us in opposition, but, obviously, it ain’t. The first 100 days of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s presidency is all he is capable of. It won’t change substantially from this. A real big motherfucking crisis is coming. It always does. Whether it is another Katrina or major California earthquake or Pulse or 9/11, it is coming. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber and his inexperienced understaffed White House will be totally incapable of leading us through it. We should be afraid. We should be very afraid. Many people will die or suffer horribly needlessly because of him.

Stay focused on the fear. Don’t normalize this bastard. Stay focused on his abnormality. Be outraged every goddamn day. And, channel it where it belongs at the GOP Congress that intends to further enrich the elite by looting the middle class and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber who will only be grabbing with both hands. If we don’t resist by organizing for the 2018 elections, we will all just be another wrecked life floating the maelstrom of destruction that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber leaves in his wake.


11 replies »

  1. Hey CalicoJack,

    The last two paragraphs especially serve as an important message for Democrats.

    That said, there are more layers to the rift on the left. I intend to talk about it this month. Of course, I will address the ongoing sniping between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ supporters. However, the fighting between voters is only a surface issue, IMHO. There is more going on in the background and many voters are screaming about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yes , the edges of the different Demo parties are getting tighter and harder to penetrate. There is a huge fear in all of them that they will lose effective power , This can and has over ridden the rational perspective of the Democrats, I have never seen it so obvious before. The edges of the differences are pointed and resistant . Some how we have to find some kind of ” political glue” to bring back some cohesiveness to all of this.. Will it take some major disaster? or what? Time is of the essence and we don’t have time for this bullshit. I also think that there isn’t any one stepping up to the plate , that seems like they could weld us all together again, The Repubs don’t have to do much to win , just sit back and watch us self implode.. W need to seriously get a grip!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you make a lot of sense in this blog. More sense than anything I have read in a long long time. And I will do my best to respond and keep my Bernie bashing to a minimum, But it has to be mentioned because much of why we lost this election was that those of us who are liberal, progressive, want what is best for minorities etc. (however we define ourselves) have in the past, been pretty united. Yes, Democrats may have broke up into different groups prior to this election, but as a whole, when it came to supporting candidates, we joined together and united to beat the other main party for the good of the nation. This did not happen in the 2016 election and there is a reason. Simply put, it is because we had an independent run on the Democratic ticket and that divided the party more than it has been divided in 4 decades. I have to point a few fingers and blame Sanders for that. I don’t think he started out to do that, I just think his movement got the best of him and his ego succumbed to it. But instead of helping our country it divided it even more. Trump united bigots and liars to win the electoral vote and progressives divided and bashed one another instead of working together and trying to help our fellow citizens. And they lost the electioneer us. I am not saying this to fight with Bernie supporters. or rehash old wounds. Just bring up how we got to this point historically since I have been voting since 1972. I like BS in Congress and think he is needed there to bring reason to a host of unreasonable representatives. However, my personal dislike for him goes back to the 70’s when I subscribed to as many underground newspapers as possible and he wrote for a slew of them. His articles were not favorable to women back then and so I knew his name well from his various articles and disliked in the 70’s and 80’s – from the time I was a hippie in California, to a divorced single mom trying to find my way in a world where women couldn’t get a credit card or get managerial positions due to their gender. Bernie was still writing creepy sexists articles. I remember who he was.. Getting into politics saved him from taking government funds and supporting himself and the child he had from a women he never married. It allowed him to repeat the same socialist ideas wrote about in the 70’s that he repeated word for word in 2016. So, personally, I never cared for Bernie even though I would have voted for him had he won the nomination. He still was better than Trump. I needed to clarify that before moving on…. However, NOW Bernie, his fans and the rest of us who supported Hillary, need to stop this infighting and make some important political decisions. Mainly, if we do not want an ignorant fool as our leader, then we need to focus not on Bernie’s agenda or anyone elses. But on a Democratic party that cares about “WE THE PEOPLE.” We need to unite. All races, all faiths, all genders and come together and stop fighting AND work as one unit so we can remove this cancer from Washington and do better for our world before democracy and our constitution disappear forever. So we can once again enjoy the arts and embrace intellectualism. So we can ALL have health care. If we continue to tear the Democratic party apart and bash one another then Trump will get re-elected simply because liars and bigots unite better than progressives and intellectuals do. They don’t debate. They unite and they will beat us again.


    • Howdy Lesley!

      I appreciate the length, passion, and thoughtfulness of your comment. I want to take a bit longer to respond just to make sure I do properly.



    • Howdy Lesley!

      Still waiting in the doc’s waiting room, and I remembered that this comment was still waiting in the que. This one really moved me on several levels. For one thing, I’m impressed by your engagement in the social and political life of our nation over the course of your life. Quietly and not so quietly participating in the day-to-day give and take of our politics and being well informed. That is the ideal.

      Another thing that impressed me is your comment about being a divorced single mom. My mother divorced in 1968. I remember her coming home and complaining that the bank would not give her any credit unless my father co-signed for it. Of course, we had little or no contact with him and my mother was outraged that someone so disengaged emotionally and financially in our family would be so integral to it. And, rightly so. I remember when her boss told her that he wouldn’t recommend her for a promotion because she would be taking the job of a man who had a family to provide for. The absolute tone deafness of that comment was not lost on a pre-teen me. I remember having lost my coat one winter and us not being able to replace it. I walked shivering to school wrapped in sweaters because of it. We regularly went with minimal food at the house and frequently went to bed hungry. Those struggles and their causes made a big impact on me. It has formed a big part of who I am today.

      During the campaign, when Bernie’s past columns briefly became an issue, it was disappointing. I like Bernie’s politics a lot but recognized his limitations as a candidate. Because so much was going on with the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and Clinton, I never focused on Sanders as much as I should’ve. When I wrote an article about getting Sanders to quit, I thought some about his personality and motivations. Your comment pushes me to do more. There is more than a passing similarity between Sanders and the OPG.

      There must be a fair amount of narcissism for him to fly such an independent course. He must have an oversized belief in himself. It is clear that he is not a personality disorder; he is too well organized for that. But, to endure and thrive as a socialist in US takes someone who has a strong belief in his beliefs. He’s had to withstand a lot of slings and arrows. That is a degree of narcissism that most of us don’t have.

      The other similarity that strikes me is his tendency towards authoritarianism. He has a certain rigidity of thought and is slow to change as evidenced by his misogyny in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Again, to have had the career that he’s had to be as consistent as he’s been with some of his policies, he has to have an almost dogged belief in the rightness of his positions. More evidence of this was his struggle to adapt his message of economic inequality to racial inequality. I was impressed by his ability to listen and incorporate other points-of-view, but, ultimately, he was unable to appeal to blacks and Hispanic voters in the numbers he needed to be successful partly because he was unable to let go of his message of economic inequality. I’m sure that the failure of Clinton to get a white working class vote reinforces the correctness of his interpretation.

      His tendency towards authoritarianism betrays his ardent followers tendencies to authoritarianism, too. I think this is one of the big splits in the left: the authoritarian versus the antidisestablishmentarians. It is one of those curious contradictory positions that occur now and again that authoritarian personalities gravitate towards strong autocratic rulers. There is such certainty among his followers of his ability to carry the day and that he was robbed that it strongly suggests the authoritarian rigidity of thought.

      There is a blog post on authoritarianism that is percolating away. I’ve had one run at it, but there is another one coming.

      Thank you for your insightful and sensitive responses. And, please forgive my inability to respond in a timely manner.



  4. To put it very simplistically, I believe the dems think the followers of Bernie made the republicans win. And they are too busy having a hissy fit over the votes “taken away” from Hils that they have lost focus. You and I both know the country would not have elected hils (no matter that she would have been a good president), Bernie would not have been chosen to run as a dem by the idiot committee and no one thought the cheeto could possibly win anything as he is such a joke.

    Liked by 1 person

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