Progressives need to stop doing things that don’t work !

What works, what doesn’t

by Richard @ Flexible Reality – 15 July 2017

On center stage is our #45th President, a man who came into office with the approval of 90% of Republicans, and 13% of Democrats. Six months later he has the approval of 83% of Republicans and 8% of Democrats. According to Pew Research:

The intensity of the public’s early views of Trump is striking: Fully 75% either approve or disapprove of Trump strongly, compared with just 17% who feel less strongly. Nearly half (46%) strongly disapprove of his job performance, while 29% strongly approve.

Essentially he has lost the support of 6+% from both parties in the past six months. Given the ample justifications for these losses, is seems incumbent upon Progressives to attempt to identify precisely what factors were instrumental in those losses, and what factors seem to have had little to no effect.

In a commentary in the July/Aug edition of The Atlantic, Michael Gerson makes the case for a principled centrism version of resistance:

“A substantive, centrist response to Trump has a chance of releasing his hold on the GOP and the country. A sneering, dismissive, dehumanizing, conspiratorial, hard-left-leaning response to Trump is his fondest hope.”

After the election Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show submitted an op-ed entitled: “Let’s Not Be Divided, Divided People Are Easier to Rule”, but prior to the election he berated the Republican candidate for tweeting with “those fat little tiny fingers of yours” and for trying to think with “that stupid head,” and when he advised the candidate that “maybe you should look in the mirror, asshole.”

Caitlin Flanagan’s article, from which some of the above originated, lambasted “The Politics of Late-Night Comedy”which alienated conservatives, made liberals smug, and fueled the rise of Trump. One of her more damaging insights was: “Though aimed at blue-state sophisticates, late-night comedy shows are an unintended but powerful form of propaganda for conservatives.”

Thus, one could seek an answer to the question what would it take for Trump supporters to stop supporting, or acquiescing to his behavior, actions, and regressive policies? One answer appears not to be “the Comey affair“. It does not appear to be his crass, rude, and nasty behavior toward women, including his wife. It does not appear to be the public disdain he provokes in other World leaders and their citizens. It might not even be his Administration’s “Russian problem”.

So what does it take? Why did 6% of the electorate that supported him in Jan 2017 cancel that support six months later? Was it the flip-flop on “The Wall”? Clumsiness on the “Muslim ban”? Cancellation of national support for the “Paris Accord”? Daily incriminating drip of Russian collusion news articles? Excessive use of government subsidies for his personal gain? His chaotic Administration which seems to lose the ball on many fronts? Or just a generalized sense that he “is different” than what they considered him to be at an early time?

Quartz Media maintains a continuing list of politicians who have publicly renounced support for him, and their public statements, such as they are, of the “why”, which cover the gauntlet of justifications:

  • demeaning comments and actions toward women
  • deplore his antics
  • sickened by what he said
  • has insulted us every day
  • has become an international pariah
  • what he has said and done reveal a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world
  • not the best choice for anybody
  • he’s been on so many sides of every issue no one knows where he stands on anything
  • will not support him because of what he isn’t
  • the hateful rhetoric
  • he has shown himself to be a sociopath, without a conscience or feelings of guilt, shame or remorse
  • could cause great damage to our country and the world at large
  • just very concerned about his mental stability and his moral background, or lack thereof, which he brags about
  • he has the ability to assemble a nontraditional bloc of supporters
  • he exemplifies the angry underbelly of American life and gives voice to that anger and hatred
  • I have no stomach for his personal style and his penchant for regularly demeaning others
  • he makes some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine
  • a man who degrades women, insults minorities and has no clear path to keep our country safe.
  • The only way you can be comfortable about Trump’s foreign policy, is to think he doesn’t really mean anything he says.
  • He doesn’t appear to be a Republican, he doesn’t appear to want to learn about issues
  • I have become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize

Another element is the role that social media and the MSM has played in the support numbers. Notice that respondents almost never point to a media outlet or commentators presentation as being the driving force behind their decision. In the aftermath of the election the only cable news outlet to increase their viewership was Fox News with 2.9 million total viewers compared to CNN and MSNBC combined at 1.82 million.

Social media echoes, or perhaps exacerbates, the political divide in this country with a strong increase in the vitriolic comments, and “fake news” articles being posted online. Comments that in earlier times were relegated to the fringe are becoming mainstream. Trump’s attacks on the MSM have several affects, including moving “journalists” to the bottom of the most prestigious professions list lumped in with car salesmen and lawyers.

There is a significant gap in the respect given to different professions based on partisan identification. Some of this shows up in the 24-point gap between Republicans and Democrats over respect for police officers: 68% of Republicans, 44% of Democrats, over religious professionals at 63% vs 40% of Democrats; Military 78% for Republicans, 64% Democrats; Television journalists 15% (R), and 25% (D), and Newspaper reporters 18% (R) vs 27% (D).

At an increasing rate the front pages of major political websites have shown a marked increase in their willingness to criticize the current Administration. Heavyweight center-right outlets like “Real Clear Politics” and “Red State” now feature articles critical of Trump; while several formerly solid Republican commentators have issued public pronouncements saying they were leaving the Republican Party over Trump’s behavior and actions.

All three major political comedy sites regularly focus on the Administration’s ineptitude, bizarre actions, and questionable integrity. Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, but especially John Oliver have been credited with changing the discussion on topics in Washington, as Oliver did with his shows on Net Neutrality, Civil Forfeiture, Police Militarization, and the FIFA expose. There is also no doubt the late-night comedy hosts have made their accusations and descriptions more precise, with less bombast, and bloviation. The nasty insults and flippant remarks have given way to direct quotes and videos of Trump behaving badly.

As the principles of cognitive dissonance demonstrate, this elision into letting the perps incriminate themselves works like a charm for Progressives, and reduces the ease which the affected can claim dishonest representation.

Perhaps the best explanation for the support decline is as simple as what John Kasich said: “it’s  an accumulation of his words and actions that many have been warning about”.

From these statements the way forward with resistance is to emphasize every demeaning episode he has with women, to point to every abusive statement he makes, to highlight his flip-flops on issues, to in essence use Trump’s direct words and actions as the ammunition.

Instead of explanations, appeals to history, logic, precedent, or morality the emphasis must be directly on his words, actions, and deeds – simply detailed.

Thus to make the viewers and participants come to their own conclusions about him, rather than stay ensconced in their party or tribal identifications and resort to what their clan believes to be true.


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