With the election of the fascist, Giorgia Meloni, as Italy’s next prime minister, we have the next great big flashing alarm warning us that fascism is once again raising its ugly head from the swamp we vanquished it to in the 1940’s. Even as she proclaims herself as no danger to democracy — at least no more than Mussolini was, that is, allegedly — the MAGA GQP is agog about her rise to power. Kari Lake — nominee for Arizona governor and well known Big Lie monger — loudly proclaimed to Tucker Carlson and the world that she can relate to her racist fascism because that is what represents her constituents — admittedly, I translated it for you.
Here’s hoping she’s wrong and her constituents reject her brand of politics because, as Rachel Maddow so helpfully pointed out on her show Monday night, that anyone who wants to defy election results and put the candidates they support into office even though they’ve lost, are not working for your interests. If they won’t accept the outcome of the vote, then they won’t accept your interests, either. So, there’s Kari Lake’s and the rest of Big Lie Band’s true colors laid bare for us all.
While we fume and fret over the fascisting of the US and the rest of the world, as we galvanize our resolve to resist their pernicious pursuits first at the ballot box, then in the streets as they are in Iran and Russia, we should cast our attention at what it will take to put them to deny them their base.
In other words, how can we get MAGA to quit fascism?
There are two pertinent psychological principles that could be used to strip the GQP of their MAGA support: follow-the-leader theory and minority influence. We’ve written about both here at Ye Olde Blogge. We’ll explain each and then rate our chances of…
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The Follow-the-Leader Theory of Politics
We all know that thinking is hard, and, let’s face it, we’d all rather be Netflix and chilling than thinking hard or otherwise. If the pandemic taught us nothing, it taught us that. So, what’s a voter to do when trying to decide which politician to support in an upcoming election, I mean besides just ignore the whole thing and sit this one out like most of us do?
The world is now a complex place. We’ve got budgets in the hundreds of billions of dollars. We’ve got technologies that Isaac Asimov never dreamed of when he wrote I, Robot, so how’s a self-respecting low-information occasional voter supposed to keep up and make the best choice for their country when they can be bothered to drag their sorry, hairless, flabby ass off the couch and down to the voting booth?
They vote for the politician they like AND adopt their policy positions. When you declare loudly and frequently in your heavy southern country accent and misspelled signs that you luv yer county and all yer rites and fiefdoms, then you vote with the politician who does, too, even though you can’t really articulate what those rites and fiefdoms are. And, you just know that there is another bunch of rascally politicians who hate us for those exact same rights and freedoms and would destroy your god-fearing way of life if they ever got into office.
Because the issues are so complex and devoid of anything even remotely resembling the sexy sexiness of House of Cards or your average Tom Clancy novel, you just believe the things your favoritest politician tells you to believe. It’s so easy, you don’t even notice when they’re telling you to believe something altogether different from what they were telling you in the last election. But you vote for ’em because they support yer rites and fiefdoms and the American way of religious freedom to discriminate against all those who offend your cherry picked beliefs just like they did when they kicked Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for not loving Jesus right.
This type of political decision making is called the follow-the-leader theory. Those pesky political scientist types came up with it using their very own thinking brains after analyzing DATA — like that’s even a thing. They found that only 50% of their participants could match politicians or parties to policy positions AND that only 20 to 40% had a stable view on policy positions.
The only time this pattern did hold was when abortion rights and the Second Amendment were involved. Our views on some topics are reified, thus the abortion litmus test in the GQP.
It does suggest, however, that if there were a politician that MAGA liked, they’d happily switch their votes to that person no matter what their policy positions were.
Minority influence is the social psychology theory that a small portion of the population can change the view of the majority of the population. In order to do this, four factors are necessary:
- BEHAVIOR STYLE: The minority has to be consistent and confident. Probably, also helps to have simple easily understood message or ask.
- THINKING STYLE: The majority has to be engaged in deeper thought on the issue. This is the tricky one. The right has sought to inoculate its base against thinking more deeply about any of their hot button panic issues, immigration, #COVID19 restrictions, the Big Lie, and any others that will surface.
- FLEXIBILITY & COMPROMISE: The minority has to signal that they are willing to accept compromise. That’s why the likes of Hannity and Carlson and the other conservative talking heads react with their hair on fire to any little thing the left does and call us radicals.
- IDENTIFICATION: If a member of the majority agrees with and publicly supports the minorities position, it makes it easier for the rest of the majority to do so, also.
We’ve got former Republican never Trumpers out there defying Trump and grifting off of the good nature of liberals who need every ally we can get in our fight against fascism. The likes of the Lincoln Project don’t fit the bill. No one in MAGA world will identify them, and, they certainly won’t think more deeply about whatever it is they are blathering on about. I doubt that the Lincoln Project has been consistent in their message, either.
Nevertheless, to wean so-called rural conservative Christian white voters off of MAGA, we’ll need a group that has a consistent message that they are confident about, get these voters to think more deeply about, express their willingness to be flexible and compromise — although, you can’t compromise with fascists, so there’s that — and recruit representatives that these voters can identify with.
Is it Possible?
When we contemplate the world of Trump rivals and alternatives, we get to thinking that it isn’t really possible. De Santis and Abbott are probably the two front running alternatives. De Santis is clearly the main one. He recently beat Trump in a Florida straw poll by eight points. We have some also rans like Kristi Noem… um, who else is there? If Trump doesn’t run, they’ll be coming out of the woodwork, but who else is really positioning themselves for a run at it? We’ve got the usual mentions of Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, and Mike Pence, but none of them have any more of a chance than Georgia Governor Brian Kemp does.
That’s really the problem with envisioning the end of MAGA. What will replace it. Your grandfather’s Republicans of small government and low taxes doesn’t really exist any more even among the never Trumpers, and it never really appealed to the masses.
Reagan propelled the Republicans out of the deep hole Nixon dug for them, but it wasn’t his traditional Republican appeal that did it. It was a whole lot of racial animus dog whistling and fear mongering. It was his appeal — Poppy Bush even changed his stance on abortion to be VP — that got folks to support him and adopt his policy positions.
But, somewhere out there is the Republican equivalent of Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter who came out of nowhere to win their nominations and the White House. Somewhere out there is someone who could attract enough MAGA folks to their banner that they would give up the Big Lie and return to the land of sanity.
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Categories: Social Psychology