This is the second of a two-part series on the reasons Dems seem to lose the messaging war on the GQP’s divisive social issues. In the first, we took a deeper dive into abortion because Roe v. Wade. But in all of these issues, the GQP has aggressive emotional divisive messages that seem to catch the Dems off guard and flat footed. It happens so frequently that it seems almost by design. The Dems are playing democracy games as if the situation were normal, and the GQP is playing the Waffen SS goose stepping into Paris. You’d think by now, the Dems would have woken up and smelled the burning flesh from the concentration camps. You’d think the electorate would be out in the streets screaming hell no into the night. But, you’d be wrong.
The American public, and by American public I mean middle-class suburban white voters — don’t seem to give two shits about any of these issues. They tell pollsters they do, so maybe they give one shit about them, but then go out and vote for the GQP.
Why the fuck is all of that? Why is it that you and I can see the magnitude of the threat so clearly and react with appropriate amounts of alarm, but our elected officials and fellow voters are somnambulant? Why is it that iNdEpEnDeNt VoTeRs, i.e. middle-class suburban white voters, fall for the racial dog whistles every fucking time and vote GQP? We’ll go through some of the cognitive tendencies that allow them to do so.
Emotional Decision Making
Anchoring bias is the cognitive tendency to base a judgement on the most easily accessed piece of related information concerning the topic. If you just saw a big story about passenger flight crashing, you’ll believer that flying is more dangerous than driving even though more people die in car accidents every year. You’ll even think that you aren’t influenced by the news story and are being objective.
It is the reason that the Big Lie about the election is so successful. After hearing the Big Lie repeated, even if it is in debunking it, people think of the election being stolen when they think of elections! Haha! We’re damned if we do and they get to eat their cake, too. How ’bout that?
One of the ways that the anchoring bias affects middle-class suburban white voters is that the GQP makes many issues so rancorous and hysterical — abortion, guns, race, #COVID19 — that the average white person doesn’t want to think about it. They fear getting into an argument with the rabid believer on one side or the other and looking stupid. But, then at the moment of truth in the ballot box, they face the vote, and their affect heuristic takes over.
The affect heuristic is the cognitive tendency to make decisions based on the current emotional disposition rather than on reasoning concerning the facts. If I ask you how you’re doing, you’re more than likely to say, okay. But, if I ask you about how often you had sex in the past month, then ask how you are, you’re more likely to say, lousy. Let’s face it, ain’t nobody getting as much as they’d like to.
After the GQP associates all of these issues with angst and anxiety and fear in the minds of all of us, as soon as the issue comes up, we’ll feel those negative emotions. When we think of Democrats that they’ve smeared with socialism, we’ll think badly of them even if we don’t agree with them. It’s what our anchoring bias brings to mind when we think of that person.
The GQP is gearing up for the 22 elections by painting the Dems as one of their old time favorites being tax-and-spend liberals causing all of the inflations. It helps them that they never vary the message very much. They just trot these tired old cliches out whenever the circumstances suit.
How did the Dems promote Biden’s Build Back Better Bill? By touting how much money they’d be spending on it! WTF, man? Didn’t y’all experience the last forty years of GQP rhetoric? Can’t y’all learn nothing?
Fatigue, Mass Psychosis, and Waves of Terror
People are tired of the debate over all of these rancorous issues. They’ve made up their mis~ and under-informed minds on the matter. They’re afraid of being embroiled in some heinous argument with a fanatic or branded as being in one extreme camp or the other, so they actively avoid information on the topic and tune it out when it comes up. It is only the extremely vocal and rabid forced birthers who drive policy and voting on the matter.
The GQP have latched on to that age old wisdom that you can counter a logical argument with logic, but what can you counter lies with? Logic is much harder to articulate and explain. Lies can be direct and simple. The easy black-and-white rhetoric of simplistic solutions to difficult problems becomes nearly impossible to counter. They tell the lies faster and more convincingly than they can be dispelled and disproven.
It induces an intellectual fatigue in which people become psychically numb and begin to accept whatever old BS the shameless lying liars shamelessly tell them. This is mass psychosis where the populace will believe literally anything.
What has the GQP done with all these issues? Pumped out lie after lie about each of them making it so that reality almost doesn’t matter. How do the Dems try and counter them? By painstakingly and fumblingly trying to tell the truth. It’s like we’ve sent Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to fight Darth Vader in Star Wars. “Now, just see here, you tall dark stranger! Now, what are you going to do with that bright shiny thing there? What is that? I’ve never heard of a lig-”
I don’t think we need to lie to anyone about anything, but we can come up with some pithier and more direct explanations of what we’re working for. I mean, build back better, really? We know exactly what is coming over the next year: lies about who got the bridges and roads repaired in their districts, lies about the necessities and benefits of family leave and the child tax credit, racist fear mongering, and accusations of socialism.
The anecdote is to reach out to the independent voter the disaffected occasional voter and educate them on the loss of our democracy, the loss of abortion, the loss of voting rights, and the decline of the middle class.
For middle-class suburban white voter, the country goes on working regardless of their vote. For the rest of America, we keep sliding further into the cesspool with only the occasional exclamation of disgust by the middle class which is just as likely to be disgust with us cesspool dwellers as it is to be with the system that put us there.
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“My Daughter, behind Fortune Teller Photo Face Cutout” by Patrick Feller is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Categories: Behavior Economics