Social Psychology

The GOP Censuring of Those Who Voted For Impeachment is a Symptom of Groupthink


Hey ho, y’all, it’s the return of the groupthink posts because, well, the Repubes have their mindguards out enforcing their conformity to the party line. Unfortunately, that party line has been hijacked by the rabble. It might could even be tragic if it hadn’t been so gawd-damned predictable. We know two things:

  • Groups decisions are more extreme. Under certain conditions, which we’ll explore shortly, group decisions are more extreme than those made by individuals. And, right now, we’re witnessing some extreme decisions made by the Repubes and their voters.
  • Groupthink leads to disastrous immoral decisions. When groups are more concerned with loyalty, conformity, and unanimity and are distressed, the decisions they make tend to become more and more disastrous and depraved. Does anything describe the modern Repubes and their voters better than that? Does anything explain the truly crappy and deceitful choices of the GOP?

Sometimes I feel like a broken record blaring my cacophonous disonancy into the void for all to ignore. I’ve addressed the dangers of the Repubes’ groupthink in no less than 26 posts — 26! — dating to the first month of the blog in May 2016. You’d think by now, I’da done changed the world, and ever’body in the GOP would see the error of their ways and done changed it by now. I guess, not, but HEY! Maybe number 27 will do the trick! Yeah, that’s it. I just haven’t written it often enough. This time, they’ll get it. This time, they’ll change.

Okay, so we’ll spend some time going over the necessary basics of groupthink with copious and liberal links back to the previous posts so you can follow those for more information on any given point. We’ll do some ‘splaining about the conditions under which groups make more radical decisions than individuals. And, then we’ll end by matching it all up to what we’re seeing in the censuring of the Repubes who have voted for impeaching the Ol’ Pussy Grabber in one form or another.

Extreme Group Decisions

As it turns out decision making is a tricky thing. Some times group decisions are better than individual decisions and sometimes not. There are some factors that influence the quality of decisions that groups make. We’ll focus on the factors that make poor decisions.

Problems in group decision making arise when not every member of the group has equal access to the same information, when there is not a clear right or wrong answer, when the decision is more opinion-based than factual, and groups tend to take more risks than individuals do.

Hmmm… opinion over facts. Ya don’t say. Some people know more than others, and they’re not sharing their information. I see. No clear right or wrong answer. And, taking more risks? You know what I think? I think this is starting to sound an awful lot like the GOP and their low-information voting base.

So, the Repubes in Congress, in state governments, and on the street are already starting out with a giant step into the decision-making landmine. When they take that next one, look out! There may not be any getting out of it without a disaster.

Groupthink… AGAIN

You know what had a good explanation of groupthink and the way it matched up to the GOP? A post from 3 April 2018, The Existential Threat of the GOP’s Groupthink and Nascent Dehumanization, that’s what. I’ll crib from it for a bit, but for the full effect and other entertaining information, go back and re-read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Groups are more likely to enter into groupthink if they have these qualities:

  • Highly cohesive: A group is highly cohesive when it is made up of similar members who have similar ideas and want similar things. What have Repubes been working towards since the GOP’s misreading of Reagan’s 11th commandment as never attack another Repube rather than never attack another personally? The Tea Party cemented their cohesion with intolerance and Trump’s narcissism turned it into a black hole sucking in any form of descension.
  • Insulated from experts: Do we actually need to say anything more about this after the complete debacle of the GOP response to #COVID19?
  • Limit the search for and appraisal of information: All conspiracy theories all the time and the embrace of what’s her name, Major Tator Greed?
  • High stress: How else can you describe distracting yourself from the needless deaths of 400,000+ Americans and the willingness to sacrifice 500,000 to 1,000,000 more by obstructing the #BidenHarris #COVID19 relief bill than being under high stress? How else can you describe defending Trump’s insurrection riot?
  • Low self-esteem: After kowtowing and toadying to Trump and MAGA for four years, do any of them have any self-esteem left? They’ve flushed all that down the shitter, haven’t they?
  • The leadership favors a solution and a better one has little chance of being accepted: The Repubes have given up on solving anything other than packing the courts with radically unqualified judges and transferring the nation’s wealth to the one percent as quickly as possible. At least with the Ol’ Pussy Grabber out of office, they don’t have to worry about him stepping in at the last minutes to scuttle whatever plan they may have negotiated.

The Repubes have been living the conditions of groupthink since at least Old Newtie Gingrich conceived of his permanent majority if not before. Let’s review the eight symptoms to complete our review. We’ll be borrowing from the granddaddy of the groupthink posts, Groupthink or Group Cluster… Explaining the Modern GOP.

  1. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views. Can you say primaried? I thought you could. Can you say censured?
  2. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks. The Big Lie ain’t going to lead no one to do no violence no way no how, is it?
  3. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions. Because that is someone else’s job. They just do as they’re told.
  4. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions. If it is good for the rich, then it is good for America!
  5. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary. The Dems want to destroy America! They hate us for our freedoms.
  6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed. Unless, they are muttered in the dark and off record to reporters.
  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.

Censuring Repubes Favoring Impeachment

In the House, there were ten GOP Representatives who voted for impeachment and in the Senate, there were five Senators who voted for the holding the impeachment trial. I think that five of the fifteen have been censured by their state parties, but I could be wrong.

So, on the questions of whether the Ol’ Pussy Grabber should be impeached, tried, convicted, and barred from every holding office again, most Repubes are approaching the decision with just about every characteristic of making an extreme group decision and using groupthink:

  • They are deliberately limiting the information they have and share.
  • They act like there isn’t a right or wrong answer.
  • They are basing it solely on opinion and disregarding any facts whatsoever.
  • They are taking huge risks since it is clear that Trump didn’t learn a lesson from his previous impeachment, is trying to destroy our democracy, and won’t constrain himself in any way, shape, or form. To leave him without any accountability is to invite further attacks and undermining of our democracy. What could be riskier than that?
  • They obviously value conformity and have exerted great pressure on their members to toe the party line:
    • They lose the flying monkey squad onto anyone who defies them allowing death threats and threats of violence to be made.
    • They fear being primaries and the party will support primary opponents that are more radical if they speak out.
    • And, now the state parties are explicitly acting as mindguards by censuring the Congress folks who voted in favor of impeachment or the trial.

The Repubes are working very hard at limiting dissent within their ranks. Censuring members of the party is one of the harshest punishments they can occur. By being so harsh, they are making it far more likely that dangerous immoral decisions regarding impeachment, conviction, barring of Trump from office, and just about anything else that comes up will be made.

Under these circumstances, they cannot and should not be trusted to make decisions that are in the best interest of the country. They are plummeting down the road to wrack and ruin, and they’ll take us all with them, if we let them.

This post was informative and entertaining, so don’t miss future posts! Sign up for the email list.

Image Attribution

“Censured” by Umberto Lopez is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

5 replies »

  1. “The single raindrop never feels responsible for the flood.” – Douglas Adams

    There sits the central power of Groupthink.

    The same can be said of the single snowflake in the snowball. That’s a better metaphor for what is happening, been happening for a long time, in the Republican Party. The snowball is rolling downhill and growing and gaining speed on its way to disaster. The question is, will it be a disaster for the party, or for the rest of us?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      I think the longer the Republicans are holding any kind of power whether the majority in Congress, the 50-50 split in the Senate, or the judiciary, the more likely they disaster will affect the rest of us. Hopefully, the combination of the 6 January Insurrection Riot and MTG-QAnon axis will be enough to scare any independent voter towards the Dems and motivate the Dems to turn out the vote. If that happens, we might could just limit the damage to an imploding Republican Party.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • It appears that Democratic organizers all over have taken the lesson from Stacy Abrams, and the rising tide of Repiblican state legislators to make voting harder can only reinforce that message to resist and get out and vote whatever the obstacles. Also, the Dems will have the sharp, clear contrast between the “Do Something And Go Big” Biden administration, and the “Do Nothing But Obstruct And Complain” Repubs on Capitol Hill to play up. Somebody, please, please make the DNC smart.

        Liked by 1 person

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