Social Psychology

Minority Influence and the Coming #GOPDystopia


We’re in the middle of the fight of our lives. The forces of the 1890’s are everywhere and moving against every gain we’ve made since then: taking away rights, the social safety net, and any regulation of business. If we’re not careful we will be living in Cancer Alley, drinking Flint water, paying for Texas utilities, and dying quickly and quietly when we start costing more than we contribute to the wealth of the one percent.

In the right corner, wearing the red trunks, and weighing in at 74 million votes are the openly seditious advocates for single-party pseudo-democratic minority-rule authoritarianism! On their platform are the rights, freedoms, and benefits that Russia bestows on its citizens, rulers, and oligarchs.

In the left corner, wearing the blue trunks, and weighing in at 81 million votes are the forces of democracy looking to make a more perfect union with expanding prosperity and equality for all who grace our land. On their platform are the rights to vote, privacy, a living wage, housing, and medical care.

In the middle are the uniformed, uninvolved, and uninspired citizens who just can’t see how politics affects their daily lives and various businesses that might be willing to pressure states and the US government to do the right thing unless and until it begins to hurt their profits and then, it’s on your own folks. Seriously, never get between a capitalist and his profits.

Don’t believe me, listen to the esteemed presidential historian, Michael Beschloss, tweet all over us!

And, with that assist, we come to the topic of today’s post: minority influence and how it is helping and hurting us in our struggle to resist the authoritarian take over of our government.

Minority Influence

Minority influence is a form of social conformity in which the minority changes the opinion, belief, or behavior of the majority to conform more closely with their own (from the Four Weird Tricks post). Moscovici determined four weird rules that the minority should follow when seeking to change the opinion of the majority. As we go through each one, we’ll discuss how each side is using them. Feel free to give your opinion in the comments; I’d love to discuss it all with you.

Behavior Style

(1) BEHAVIOR STYLE. The way the minority behaves is super important because the majority knows it don’t have to pay no attentions to no minority no way no how unless and until they are marching through their neighborhoods all peaceful like, and then all they need to do is come out onto their lawns with guns and shout invective and hope — hope I tell you! — that someone starts something so they can shoot them some minority and be all Kyle Rittenhouse famous and not McCloskey famous.

Moscovici determined that there were three ways that the minority had to behave:

  • Confident. The minority has to act with absolute confidence that they are right. The right is “confident” that the 2020 election was stolen, but when you have to go through the Gordian knot of cognitive dissonance to preserve that one, you are not really confident. They are also confident that they are right on abortion, guns, and election “security.” The 6 January Committee hearings and the SCOTUS abortion ruling just might could have some influence.
  • Unbiased. The minority has to be objective in what they are advancing. If they come off as partisan at all, the spell is broken and the majority flies like budgies from their cage. The right isn’t even trying to hide their bias in any of this. They are openly saying that they are trying to steal the ’22 election. Their pretext for doing so is a transparent falsehood. The 6 January Committee is coming off pretty good. The dire consequences of the abortion ruling are objective and undeniable. It has the right arguing that forcing ten year olds to carry their rapists babies to birth is okay because there just aren’t that many ten year olds being impregnated by rapists as long as you think one isn’t that many. And, let’s face it, the age of consent in the Virginia Colony and Common Wealth was ten, so Founding Fathers, amiright?
  • Enduring Resistance and Abuse. The minority has to be willing to put up with all the shit the majority is going to throw at them for being a minority. Any little infraction will allow the majority to smear the entire minority with whatever it was and dismiss their views. That’s why the right is always trying to label us as antifa violent Portland assholes. It’s okay for them to shoot abortion doctors and blow up abortion clinics, but it isn’t okay for us to shoot Supreme Court justices or Republican senators from states with Democratic governors. Not that anyone would do that or even suggest it.

Depth of Thought

(2) DEPTH OF THINKING. Once the majority is paying attention, they have to THINK about the issue at hand. The more seriously that they think about it, the more likely they are to change.

Regular readers know that getting people to think is difficult and getting them not to think is easy. We have biases towards not thinking and are easily tricked into believing all kinds of bullshit just to avoid thinking about anything. Thus, we have these lines floating through our minds:

  • The easiest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.
  • Hearts and farts, or whatever crap they’re doing.
  • It’s a child.
  • Every sperm is sacred; every sperm is great; and if even one is wasted, god gets quite irate. Oh wait, that’s Monty Python.
  • Immigrant caravans filled with terrorists carrying monkeypox coming to impregnate your 10 year old and force her to have their babies!
  • The US is a Christian country found upon Christian ideals.

Please add any others you can think of in the comments. I’d love to see them. At any rate, all of these platitudes, tropes, and slogans are meant to stop us from thinking. Most of them are designed to engage our emotions and activate white racial animus, which are the antithesis of thinking. Thinking would mean you’d have to confront your own racial issues and few white people will ever tolerate that level of discomfort.

The right has been very effective in blunting the impact of many of the left’s iniatives using this tactic. No gun reform after Sandy Hook, no police reform after George Floyd’s murder, voter suppression and nullification without evidence of voting fraud or even irregularities.

Flexibility & Compromise

(3) FLEXIBILITY AND COMPROMISE. Just like the minority has to be well behaved, they can’t be too demanding. They have to show that they can and will compromise with the majority. I know that compromise is a bad word right now, but it is the beating heart of democracy. And, like Reagan used to say, it is better to get half the loaf now and then burgle the bastard for the other half later.

Admittedly, ethical and constitutional issues cannot be compromised over, and there is no sense in trying to compromise with a party that adamantly won’t compromise on anything, but we aren’t just talking about the Senate or those issues. So, this is an easy one for the right to blow up.

I know this one is controversial, so let’s discuss your concerns in the comments, okay!

Identity

(4) IDENTITY. It is easier to get change and agreement if we are agreeing and making changes with someone we identify with. Who do we identify with? Celebrities and people who “look” like us. It’s one reason the right is so hopping mad that Hollywood is liberal and there are no good conservative entertainers.

It’s one reason that the 6 January Committee hearings have been effective: they’ve had testimony from Republicans that worked in the White House and on the campaign. Many of the racially ambivalent white folks of the indecisive but vulnerable to the racist dog whistle voter has been sitting up and paying attention. Those people are like them: wanting to do the right thing on the outside, secretly trying to oppress the Blacks on the inside, and willing to keep quiet about it all until they can look kinda sorta heoric for having done nothing when it mattered. Seriously, has there been a better explanation of American history than that?

Putting Minority Influence to Work

So, here’s what we have to do between now and election day:

  • STAY FACTUAL & CALM.
  • GO BEYOND THE MEME. Get people to think deeply about the issues. Figure out what’s wrong with the thin veneer of truthiness that the right white washes everything with — kneeling was about insulting the flag — and refuting it factually and calmly.
  • FIND PLACES TO BE FLEXIBLE. Maybe defund the police wasn’t the greatest slogan, but what do you think about increasing funding for social and mental health services so that police officers aren’t the only responder if it isn’t fire or injury?
  • IDENTIFICATION. Look for similarities with whoever you’re interacting with. Pressure celebrities and corporations to take a stand, but don’t rely on them to save us. They won’t. They’ll take the easiest shortest road to fame, fortune, and profits. It is up to us to make sure that road runs through democracy and equal rights.

Leave a comment…

…and let’s discuss how you think we can convince the iNdEpEnDeNt VoTeR to get more involved and take the threats to our democracy and climate more seriously.

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53 replies »

  1. We today have at hand a pretty clear first-hand example of just how quickly the climate can collapse.

    Re. Malthus’s dire prediction of exponential population growth and geometric resource growth [that] have not come true … BY WHOSE MEASURE? I’d like to smoke some of his dope. In my lifetime, not quite seventy years, we’ve gone from five to, in November, eight billion people. What’s not exponential about that?

    I got a buddy at another blog, in our age group, a fairly middle of the road kind of guy, who recently told me he wasn’t worried about something happening twenty years out. I had to call bullshit. It’s happening now …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ten Bears!

      The part of Malthus’s dire prediction that didn’t come true was that our population did not outstrip our resources. In fact, quite the opposite happened. By any metric you choose, poverty, hunger, medical care, housing, education, life expectancy, and others are all improving and have been more or less steadily since WW II.

      Climate change will reverse those gains.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  2. “Who rules our symbols, rules us.” – Alfred Korzybski

    Letting the other side define the words is the most fatal mistake. Then, they define the frame of debate. This is especially true of words like “Freedom”, “Liberty”, “Rights”, and “American”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      What astonishes me is that the press has allowed themselves to be bullied into bothsidesism. The fear that the profit imperative provides just exasperates the situation.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          When Reagan ended the Fairness Doctrine it was because there was so much discussion of his lies and inaccuracies and his administration’s corruption. In response, we got the line, the liberal bias of the media. After forty years of trying to “disprove” the bias by presenting lies as alternate interpretations and opinion as equal to facts, we got to a point where we couldn’t label lies, lies.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

            • And, that people understand lying for personal gain and resent it when it exploits them. We may not be able to pull everyone out of the cognitive dissonant quicksand of MAGA, but the hearings may be rescuing some and preventing others from tumbling in. One of the most compelling pieces of evidence for all of it is that Fox News won’t show the hearings or recap them other than to put their own spin on mere moments of them.

              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • It might also help if a number of high profile people who have made a business of spreading the Big Lie are either prosecuted and/or sued for fraud (deception for profit). A civil class action with a large number of plaintiffs might be most effective.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  It is satisfying to see Gannon convicted for contempt of Congress. Hopefully, his appeal won’t run out the clock on the committee or Congress and he’ll get a hefty sentence — anything less than a year will be a disappointment.

                  There are suits against Fox News and other conservative media outlets for defaming Dominion.

                  The 6January Select Committee has done a good job of laying out the evidence for a vast conspiracy. And, Garland has said the right things in terms of investigating Trump and other co-conspirators.

                  Hopefully, all of this will tarnish the Big Lie and its proponents enough that they won’t be electable.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I am hoping for individual and/or class action defamation suits against the conservative media from the attacked and threatened election officials and poll workers. They really do have grounds and standing because they have demonstrable harm caused by lies (which, in the case of the media outlets were told in pursuit of ratings and add money, and so, fraud).

                    Garland is not going to take a case to trial unless he thinks he can win. One of the stumbling blocks is the matter of criminal intent, a state of mind issue. Did the person or people continue with the Big Lie in spite of knowing it wasn’t true, refuse to accept that it wasn’t true (i.e., “I can’t find the evidence, but I know it must be true.”), or were psychologically unable to deal with the idea that it was not true (delusional)? Donald Trump’s position is and will continue to be that he knows the election was stolen, and that he was not doing a wrong, but attempting to correct one. As hard as that may be to crack through, I can’t imagine him allowing his lawyers to go for anything resembling an insanity or diminished capacity defense. For him, that would be taking the label of a looser.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      We really don’t want DoJ to make charges unless they can win at trial. It’s worse when the government loses one of these, especially with something as high profile as this. Can you imagine what it would do if they lost a criminal case against Trump? His ego would be off the charts and he would feel entitled to do anything. It would be worse than not bringing a case.

                      One of the concerns I have is the role of social media and pundits in creating the perception that Garland isn’t interested in or capable of bringing charges or starting an investigation. The constant carping that he isn’t doing his job when Trump’s guilt is so obvious is bad for our democarcy.

                      I wish we could know more about the offers and deliberations concerning threatened election workers. It seems like there should be some enterprising lawyer types out there that would want to bring such a suit. I know that non-profits and law firms a like contact potential clients to bring such cases, so I’d be surprised if no one had contacted the mother and daughter from Georgia. It makes you wonder what is actually happening that we don’t know about.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      It hasn’t stopped any of the worst offenders on my social media from carping about whether Garland will actually bring charges. As Jesus said, “There’s no pleasing some people.”

                      The other disturbing aspect of all the speculation on DoJ is the number of people who are advocating for Biden to either pressure Garland into starting an investigation or fire Garland and get someone who will. Both of those moves are very Trumpian and should not be part of any believer in liberal democracy’s thought process.

                      The one sensible thing that I’ve heard from the punditing class is that it is not Garland’s job to weigh whether investigating or prosecuting Trump or anyone else is good or bad for the country. If Biden thinks that it is bad for the country, he can pardon anyone. That’s why he has the power of the pardon. It was an implication that I hadn’t fully appreciated before it was explained.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I think Joe Biden knows that in Garland he’s got one of the best people on the planet for the job that needs to be done. People need to look at what happened with Steve Bannon and understand it. They brought the simple, clear, slam dunk charge and now going into any further charges, the guy has the “GUILTY” label already. That approach should terrify a lot of the Trump gang. Some may well be inspired to think about making a deal when their turn comes.

                      I see three categories of those vulnerable to prosecution. There are the Trump true believers. They can’t be flipped until, maybe, after they are convicted and spend some time in a jail cell. Then there are the opportunists. They will be looking for getting lesser charges if they have evidence to offer. And, there are the intimidated, like Lindsey Graham who will sing like birds if they are more afraid of jail than of Trump.

                      As for those agitating for an investigation to be started, they need to be made to understand that it has been going on for some time, just not being paraded on the news shows.

                      It is true that the pardon power is the real backup that allows prosecutor independence. As much as it can be, and has been at times, abused, it is vital.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      As I’ve said for a long time, starting in 2016, America has been getting one long intense civics lesson. The Garland saga is just the latest unit. Hopefully, when all is said and done, we will all have a greater appreciation for what our government does, who does what, and what we might could improve upon.

                      I’m hoping that Garland makes some progress on his prosecutions before a potentially Republican held House bogs him and the rest of the administration down with impeachments and investigations. The 6 January Committee keeps saying that they are receiving lots more volunteers with evidence to share and testimony to give. It seems like this period between now and when the new Congress is sworn in could be some of the most decisive in our history.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • There is, I think, a high probability that each and every one of those new witnesses for the 1/6 Committee is either dropping in after also visiting at DOJ, or receiving an invitation to go there next.

                      Shall we indulge in speculation about an October Surprise from one or more of the active Grand Juries? Hmmmm …

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      The only indictment I can see ready by October is the one being brewed in Georgia. And, I bet the Georgia state GOP has some high jinks that they’re willing pull before any real indictments are issued.

                      Okay, the NY State investigation might could yield an indictment or two by October.

                      As soon as the Feds open an investigation there is going to be a mad scramble for deals. I wouldn’t be surprised if it weren’t happening right now.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I wouldn’t be surprised if the GOP didn’t have an October surprise planned, either. Given the caliber of people involved, though, it may be more of a head scratcher than a surprise, though.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I was just picturing the successors of Nixon’s dirty tricks, McCarthy, Bobert, Greene, Cruz, Hawley, Johnson et al. trying to come up with an October surprise to trip the Democrats up. Three Stooges level of scheme comes to mind. I guess the quality of politician that the Republicans are putting forward really says it all.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I’m thinking back to the classic October Surprise when Reagan set up the deal with Iran and the Contras to get the hostages out and undermine Carter. I can’t picture the current crew pulling off anything that slick. Most likely, they will still be trying to find the election fraud or Hunter Biden’s emails.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Iran-Contra is well beyond the capabilities of this lot. Perhaps it will be more of a 3 November picture of a Dem candidate with Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez or accusations of pedophilia a la Nixon in his senate campaign.

                      It is just a sad commentary on conservatism that this is the caliber of person that they are putting up for office and are willing to support.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      There’s a lot of people on social media who owe the DoJ and Garland a big apology. I’m hoping that the evidence is as strong as it seems to us laypeople.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Chasing clicks, likes, and shares does not always make for the highest quality reporting. The problem with the profit motive is that everything else takes a backseat to it.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I’m not sure how to fix the Internet. It really leaves us all vulnerable to those with loose morals and a willingness to try and cause problems whether it is at a professional level or at the individual amateur level.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The only fix I can imagine that might work would be for the internet to be an transnational public utility, not dependent on advertising, but that raises a new bunch of questions, like censorship and how to manage who gets how much bandwidth.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      It is hard to imagine how the Internet can be transformed so that it isn’t resting squarely in the shadow of humanity’s psyche. As vital as it has become to our everyday existence to nearly every man, woman, and child around the globe, it also contributes to many of the evils and ills that plague us. As always, how do we balance restrictions so that we minimize the harm and still allow enough of the positive?

                      What’s clear, though, is that the profit-motive is not the answer.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The profit motive is rarely, if ever, the answer to any problem in the Commons, and the solutions begin with getting clear about what is necessarily in the Commons and what is not.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • And are willing to work at influencing the formation of those norms. That is exactly what the Koches and the Murdochs and others on the right have been trying to do.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

      • No, they didn’t “allow themselves to be bullied into bothsidesism.” The media built bothsiderism around the need for ledes to bleed. The media are the problem. Get rid of our Multi-Millionaire Mainstream Media and the unique position they hold in all of this gas-lighting, brain-washing kool-aid guzzling bullshit and we might have a chance to turn things around. Right now the media is basically in control, calling the ball.

        McVeigh hit the wrong building; Fox needs to be “9/11ed”: imploded into its own footprint with all the LIttle Eichmanns inside …

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Ten Bears!

          As I recall when Reagan ended the Fairness Doctrine, he did so because of the “liberal bias” in the media. The response by the media was bend over backwards trying to present both sides to the story, i.e. the Republican lie or distortion or the tiny proportion that supported their position or whatever it was, in order to “disprove” the bias. I’m calling that the bullying part.

          Once the news divisions of the various networks needed to make a profit and the rise of cable “news” and infotainment, news became sellable and needed an audience. Now it is all click bait and pimping for likes, shares, and views.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Like

  3. “Immigration is an invasion.”
    “Biden could fix the inflation, but he’s too radically woke to do it.”
    “Climate change is a hoax to take away our rights.” (alternate version: “Climate change is a hoax by China to destroy your job.”)
    This one is usually only said by implication: “Women (even 10 year olds) lie about rape and incest to victimize men they have seduced.”
    “You can’t believe anything you hear on the Lamestream Media.”

    There must be lots more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      Those are all good ones and all too true. Unfortunately, the resonate too well with those who are desperate to hear what they want to hear.

      I had started by listing and categorizing the slogans, tropes, and phrases that get used to deter us from thinking too deeply about any one issue, but the whole post turned into one long list. It is clear, though, that stopping any further contemplation or discussion of the issues is one of the points of using them. since Sandy Hook, there effectiveness has been all too clear.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The elephant in the ointment: in just three years we’ve gone from seven billion to eight.

    We’re in uncharted territory. If I were to grab anything for historical context it would be the Yurp Revolutions, the French and Russian. Folks just weren’t very bright and things got out of hand. It’s all well and good a brilliant physicist and Russian emigree lived well here writing a series of profound to those who can see past the thinly disguised science fiction novels about how the greater the population the more likely the anticipation of what the population will do … but that isn’t always so. As he showed in one of the novels and I recently, upon its percolating up through popular culture, compared Trump to the Mule: something entirely unprecedented, unpredicted, unpredictable, that came out of nowhere, caught everyone off guard. It took several generations to bring the best laid plans of mice and men back online. Plans best lain to the benefit of the few, not the many.

    Eight billion people on a resource exhausted ball of mud that can barely sustain one, it’s gonna’ get uglier before it gets pretty …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ten Bears!

      It will definitely get worse before it gets better. People are not good at sharing, especially when resources are scarce.

      One of the most interesting developments in my lifetime, however, is that the Malthus’s dire prediction of exponential population growth and geometric resource growth have not come true, yet we believe that they will kinda like we believe that crime is terrible when it is at one of its lowest points.

      The real question is how quickly will our climate collapse. It will probably be sooner than later. The increasing desperation that we will feel in trying to cope with it will leave much more vulnerable to the influence of demagogues. Unfortunately there are far too many would be demagogues who think they can turn the climate catastrophe to their advantage.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

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