Behavior Economics

Getting the American People to Impeachment

What? The Ol’ Pussy Grabber contacted the Ukrainian president and tried to convince him to open a fake investigation of a fake crime not committed by political opponents all for his personal gain and then instructed his staff and administration to cover it up and they did! Un-fucking-believable, right? Not, in the fucking least.

When you elect an extreme narcissist, don’t be surprised when that extreme narcissist puts his needs and interests over those of the country. Expect that extreme narcissist to

  1. be unable to do anything else than satisfy his own needs,
  2. gaslight his staff and career administration officials until they quit, are fired, or go along with his bull shit.
  3. gaslight the nation until his supporters have been galvanized into unwavering unconditional resolve and accept everything that he pulls from his ass as gospel, and
  4. gaslight everyone else until they are so confused they don’t know what to do other than to turn away.

To many of us, the facts are clear: the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is a corrupt criminal who is using his office to benefit himself in any and every form and fashion. But, to many others, they say, Those phone calls aren’t any of my business.” If you’re like me, you’re scratching your ass and wondering why they don’t get it or don’t care?

There are three things we must do to answer that question: (1) check for motivated reasoning, especially on those of us who believe that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is a corrupt criminal; (2) examine the motivations of those who actively defend the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, i.e. the Congressional Repubes; and (3) the role of the basic proposition of behavior economics on our choices, especially the so-called independent voter. We’re only going to focus on the third one because (a) the first one is laughable, (b) we’ve addressed the second one, and (c) I’m most concerned with the “independent” voter’s decisions and motivations because it is key to predicting the political consequences impeachment.

[P]eople hate risks, but will take a risk to avoid a loss.

Risks, Losses, and Impeachment

Behavior economics is the field of study at the intersection of psychology and economics that examines the influences on personal decision making. One of it’s most basic propositions is that people hate risks, but will take a risk to avoid a loss.

Chaos, Perceptions of Risk, and the InDePeNdEnT Voter

The Ol’ Pussy Grabber specializes in chaos. His entire life is a giant game of three-card Monte. Chaos is essential for the barker to “win” at three-card Monte, so the Ol’ Pussy Grabber makes sure he is surrounded by chaos. If you can’t focus on the cards or the hands, then you never know where the money card went. Same same with every scandal, every crime, every unethical decision and policy: keep everyone’s eyes somewhere else. He even uses one scandal to distract from another. Why do you think AG William Barr-the-Door is investigating Clinton’s emails AGAIN?

With all of this chaos swirling around, making any kind of change feels like a risk. The disaffected, disinterested, disconcerted iNdEpEnDeNt voter is uncertain about which way is up and the color of the sky right now. With so many competing narratives, choosing one to believe, feels like a risk. Out of the hundred or so competing narratives, 99 of them have been put out by the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and his groupthinking sycophants, the other one is the truth.

The one-third of the American electorate that makes up the independent voter doesn’t even think they can follow the money card much less try or want to. So, when asked to choose, they’ll stay with the status quo, i.e. dislike the chaos that is the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s daily life now writ large on America, and be against impeachment.

Explaining Impeachment Polling

This principle of behavior economics explains the choice the the electorate is making right now. It explains the reason that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s approval rating is consistently underwater by ten to twelve percentage points, and impeachment is the inverse of that. The partisans haven’t changed their views: the ones who support him are against impeachment; the ones who are against him, support impeachment. Of the wavering quavering uncertain third of on-lookers, the majority disapprove of the mess he’s making but won’t support impeachment because it means making a bigger mess.

To me, that’s clear: when the world is this impossible-to-understand, complex, chaotic mess, most people won’t take the time to piece it together, they’ll just hunker down and wait it out.

Unfortunately, we are about to get Hurricane Maria’ed and Dorian’ed. This shit-storm has stalled right on top of us and is only intensifying. Waiting it out, may only mean we come out of our bunkers — the lucky few who are still alive after it passes — to find utter wreckage and ruin and little help for reconstructing afterward. Fortunately, unlike the residents of Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, there are things we can do to de-intensify and to extinguish this garbage fire of a shit-show.

Framing Not-Impeaching as a Loss

Understanding the psychology behind what is happening, means we can find more effective ways to orchestrate the outcomes that we want. If the only time that people will take a risk is to avoid the possibility of a loss, then Dems need to frame not impeachment as a loss. It’s as difficult to do as it is to state.

Casting the continued rule of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and the Repubes as a loss is very difficult. To me it is absolutely clear that the Repubes see the Ol’ Pussy Grabber as the means to their desired end: never to lose an election and never have a judge overturn one of their laws or policies. And, that is what makes it almost impossible to couch continued rule by the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and the GOP as a loss.

The Existential Threat to Our Democracy

No one can conceive of the US being a single-party pseudo-democratic authoritarian regime. It’s like believing that your bad driving, eating, and smoking and drinking habits will kill you. It is so fundamental to your worldview: you have to be a safe driver because you’ve never been in a bad accident. So, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, running yellow lights, rolling through stop signs all of that has to be okay because you have such great reflexes and control of the car that you’ve never had an accident. You haven’t died even though you’re smoking a pack and drinking a fifth a day, so how can it be bad? It just is outside of your ability to conceive.

Even though the Repubes in general and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber in specific represent the proverbial existential threat to the continued existence of our liberal democracy, it is the impossible sell. People won’t believe that any more than they did Chicken Liddle’.

The Dems have to phrase it in terms of other losses that people can see in their everyday lives. Losses that outweigh the pure enjoyment that people get out of being racist misogynistic bastards, and don’t believe for a moment that many of the iNdEpEnDeNt voters aren’t getting a lot of vicarious, if not direct, enjoyment out of it. These people go where the winds blow, and, right not, it’s blowing racism and misogyny.

Losing Our Delusions

Probably the easiest sell here is the loss of the illusion of free and fair elections. I say illusion because we’ve had some real rat-fucking of our elections for a long long time. Maybe not every election, but LBJ stuffed ballot boxes for JFK in Texas, we handed the South back to the racists to KKK it up there so we could have Rutherford Hayes as president, look at the mishegas in the North Carolina 9th that handed the seat that Dem Dan McCready woulda won in the regular election except for the blatant illegal absentee voter theft to Repube Dan Block in the special. So, yeah, we’ve got a long proud history of fucking with our elections, but it was always on the down low, except for that mess in NC’s 9th. What we need is the illusion of election integrity if not actual election integrity. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber with his obvious appeals to foreign government interference threatens the comfort of our collective self-delusion. That’s a loss that any occasional meme posting Dem-leaning non-voting independent voter can truly want to avoid losing.

But the sad fact of the matter is that about one-third of the American electorate are happy to trade our democracy for authoritarianism so long as they get to be as racist and misogynist as they wanna be, and about a third who can’t be bothered to quit social mediaing about #SayNoToSexUntil and #SNLPremier long enough to consider the state of our government. That leaves it to the third of us who are aware, concerned, and wanting to keep our liberal democracy to vote en masse for Democratic candidates in the 2020 elections.

10 replies »

  1. When you surround yourself with corruption as Trump has, if the House puts some teeth into enforcing witness subpoenas, they you will methodically expose Trump’s impeachable guilt

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy James!
      It’s remarkable how few have come forward. With the addition of real professionals like the ambassador to Ukraine who testified today, we may see more movement on that front. On the other hand, all you need is for the WH to keep publishing their sanitized summaries of his phone calls and his statements to the press.



  2. As much as Trump and his flunkies complain about never-ending investigations, that is exactly what he is asking AG Barr and the Ukrainians to do. Finishing an investigation of the Bidens (or Clintons) even with a mashed up conspiracy theory fantasy conclusion doesn’t serve his purposes as much as being able to have the fact of an ongoing investigation to talk about in a “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” way. In the creation and maintenance of chaos, suspicion works better than certainty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!
      That’s it exactly. He just needs to create enough confusion about these complex scandals to nullify their effects with those who aren’t paying enough attention to know the facts — given my twitter feed, that’s a lot more SJW-types than they like to admit. It is a strategy that cynically takes advantage of our cognitive tendencies: the availability heuristic, reluctance to take a chance unless it is to avoid a loss, the anchoring heuristic or framing effect, question substitution, and the affect heuristic. In some ways, we did not evolve to do well in this rough and tumble political arena, especially with dishonest operators at work.

      We need to counter it with the simplest narrative that we can: Trump was trying to undercut a free and fair election. We shouldn’t get lost in the weeds of the legality or illegality of it. We need to stay with the tried and true liberal value of fairness. This needs to be a fairness versus fear election, liberal versus conservative at their very core. It is at its very core the thing that makes Warren and Sanders so popular. They are all about fairness.


      Liked by 1 person

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