Author Topic: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger  (Read 3199 times)

Cain

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How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« on: March 25, 2008, 07:07:44 pm »
Article by John Dolan (a favourite of many of the forum), posted today on Alternet.  May show some of the perceptual bars among the right wing that have to be overcome.


I'd like to suggest a very simple strategy for American liberals: Get mean. Stop policing the language and start using it to hurt our enemies. American liberals are so busy purging their speech of any words that might offend anyone that they have no notion of using language to cause some salutary pain.

Why, for example, not popularize slogans that mock the Bush loyalists as "suckers"? Something like, "There are two kinds of Republicans: millionaires and suckers." Put that on a few bumper stickers and I guarantee a lot of "South Park Republicans" will quit the GOP. They just smirk when you tsk-tsk at them for being disrespectful. They want to be disrespectful; every normal young male wants to be.

And this, of course, brings up a big issue: At some point liberal writers are going to have to decide if it's OK to be young and male at all. For better or for worse, millions of American men hold on to playground ethics long after they leave elementary school. For most of them, the 2004 election came down to a classic playground scene: Would John Kerry defend himself when attacked by bullies? Liberals, still stunned by the way a legitimate combat vet like Kerry was beaten by a combat-dodging spoiled brat like Bush, never understood that for millions of voters, the question wasn't how well Kerry fought in Vietnam but whether he would fight in 2004.

Would he defend himself when called out by the gang of disgusting bullies Bush had gathered around himself? It would have been so simple, so glorious, if he'd just turned on his accusers and reacted like a human being: "You're questioning my record on behalf of a skunk like Bush who spent the war with the Alabama National Guard, and then went AWOL from the Guard?"

Millions of American voters were waiting, hoping Kerry would react like any sane person would have. He never did. I don't know why not; I assume he was in the hands of some Clinton gurus who babbled about "rising above the fray." Well, that sure worked well.

And please, don't tell me you're above such gross playground considerations. The American people are the beneficiaries of centuries of serious Leftist violence, starting with the American Revolution and climaxing in the Civil War. Without brave Leftist warriors slaughtering British and Confederate soldiers in large numbers, the whole tradition of American liberalism would not exist.

And we are the sufferers from the most disastrous wimp-out in recent American history: Carter's debacle in response to the taking of American hostages in Iran in 1979. That refusal to use punitive force to free his country's diplomats may have made pacifists feel nice, but it was an expensive treat; it got Reagan elected, showed a host of evil right-wing PR staffers that all they had to do was talk tough to win, and convinced a huge number of disgusted American male voters that the liberals would not fight back.

Kerry could have turned that around in 2004; it was almost as if a Hollywood scriptwriter had arranged the perfect confrontation, in which the liberal champion could flatten his orc-like tormentors and show the voters that one can be a progressive without being a wimp. Instead, he confirmed a prevalent myth that liberals are "soft" on terrorism and the military -- in other words, like illustrator Gary Larson's Wimpodites: "Though skilled with their pillow arsenal, the Wimpodites were frequent targets of Viking attacks."

And so far, the liberal response, the liberal attempt to reach out to the guys in the big trucks is embarrassing "populist" essays using bad imitations of American slang. Let's be blunt here: "populism" is condescension. If you want male voters' respect, stop patronizing them. (It just creeps them out.) Far better to insult them -- to their face, in their face, telling them bluntly that the talk radio nonsense they parrot is pure crap. They know that themselves. Half of what they say is designed simply to reassure themselves and their friends that they're not the same sort of wimps their social studies teachers tried to make them into. So they're not afraid of being called cruel or insensitive; they're afraid of being suckers.

The minute we start calling them on their suckerdom, they'll change sides -- and we'll finally have some decent troops on our side. But as long as liberals speak in the language of Beavis and Butthead's Mister van Driessen, they'll despise you, even when they know you're right (which they do). We may not be the most systematically intellectual tribe on earth, but Americans are very verbally sensitive. They will not heed Mister van Driessen, even if he's telling them to evacuate a burning classroom. They'd sooner die. You may find this irrational, but when I think back to the progressive mindset I became familiar with UC Berkeley, I understand this reaction very well. I don't condone it, but damn! I sure do understand it.

Liberals aren't generally perceived as fighting the robber barons -- they appear as a secular clergy far more obsessed with cleaning up our gloriously obscene language than fighting back.

Note that I've used the word "fighting." Americans are a violent people -- and I mean that as a compliment. We are a magnificently violent people who value courage above all else. In this, the ordinary American is in total agreement with George Patton, John Paul Jones and John Brown. They were all violent leaders, who sent a lot of Redcoats, Nazis and secessionist slaveholders to an early grave. I consider that glorious; so do most Americans.

John Paul Jones said, "I intend to go in harm's way" and coined a boast that generations of Americans, and even Bugs Bunny himself, repeated with pride: "I have not yet begun to fight." John Brown killed and died to provoke a final conflict over slavery. When American liberals can appreciate, encourage and manipulate the violence of such people, maybe you can talk to your fellow Americans again.

A good first step would be accepting the fact that language is a weapon -- and using it effectively. Most liberals affect scorn for mere words, in the way that I affected scorn for mathematics after flunking algebra twice in high schools. And most of the hardcore academic progressives I've known have tin ears. Their sheer awfulness is adaptive within the academic ghetto, in the way that a lack of any olfactory ability is adaptive for carrion eaters; but it's disastrous when they try to talk to people outside their guild.

It's not really that hard, after all. Just stop trying to be "populists," because frankly you sound like North Korean infiltrators trying to pose as surfer dudes. Try smacking your South Park countrymen in their deluded heads with some bumper stickers of our own, just as down and dirty as theirs. Wanna get them out of their gas-guzzling Dodge extended-cab semis? Stop whining at them and try putting these four little words on the back bumper of your hybrid: "Big truck, small dick." Yeah, you might get yelled at at a stoplight; you might even get hit. You might even consider hitting back.

Liberals have always been good fighters, once they get going

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2008, 07:14:28 pm »
"Big truck, small dick."

I just wanted to point that bit out for anybody who doesn't want to read the whole thing.

Also, I'm not sure if I hate this guy for valuing the party over the ideology, or love him for trying to bend 'liberals' to his will.
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Cain

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2008, 07:18:59 pm »
Believe me, Dolan is no Democratic party cheerleader.  Ideologically, he's a liberal sure, but he's not the type to blindly go along with Clinton or Obama, for example.

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2008, 07:24:05 pm »
Well said.

Mittens, et al.

To steal a line from TGRR: "Are you gonna be like Sam Adams, and punch them in the mouth?"

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2008, 07:31:09 pm »
I think it's a good article showing the distinction between Liberals and the seething, shoggoth-like morass that is the Democratic party. I would also point out that everyone embraces our Founding Fathers as *insert their politics*... The Libertarians claim them for the small government side, the Conservatives call them conservative because of States Rights and personal responsibility, The Liberals claim them for their liberal views against England... and no one wants to admit that every part currently available only implements a part of what "the founding fathers" envisioned. The Libertarians forget that many of the Founding Fathers were Liberally inclined, while many Liberals forget that most of the "founding fathers" would have probably puked their guts out, then ended the revolution if they had any idea what "politically correct America" would look like.

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2008, 07:47:08 pm »
Honestly, I don't think "fighting" would really do the trick.  There are some fundamental ideological stands on policy, particularly social policy, that serve as titanium walls between liberals and conservatives.  They may be more likely to want to share a beer with a liberal, or be more accepting on a sociological level, but when it comes to politics and ideology, I'm not convinced it would have that big of an impact. 

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2008, 08:10:22 pm »
Great article, and some great points. I find myself mostly in agreement, but also here comes Devil's Advocate:

I was trolling around the net last week, and I found a forum in which radical conservatives were poo-pooing John McCain for his "liberal use of language" (in this instance read liberal as pussy). "When he was debating Obama, did he not have the balls to call a spade a spade?"

 :roll:

Liberals tend to get all riled up when you call them pussies, which is the function of this article. Though I agree that a change in communication stance would be good for the left wing (and the right wing), I disagree that "getting tougher" is the answer.

I mean, "YOU'RE WITH US OR AGAINST US" is pretty strong, manly, threatening language and it certainly hasn't won many hearts. Sure, Reagan got elected (in part) because Americans wanted a bad-ass cowboy to contrast peanut farmer Jimmy Carter. But does that mean they want a bad-ass cowboy for EVERY election? (Cramulus quickly looks up the results of the last two National elections) Well I guess they do. But still. I don't think "calling a spade a spade" is necessarily good tactics for the democratic constituency.

Then again, only the swing vote matters, right?

By 2020 this democracy thing had better be settled by cage matches or else I vote we go back to monarchy.

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2008, 08:54:47 pm »

Liberals tend to get all riled up when you call them pussies, which is the function of this article. Though I agree that a change in communication stance would be good for the left wing (and the right wing), I disagree that "getting tougher" is the answer.


Good motorcycle Cram!

I don't think that tough talk in general would be useful, but tough talk in the political space, particularly against opponents may be. There is no advantage to being gracious or 'above the fray' in today's society... there may be some personal satisfaction, but that doesn't pay the bills or get the votes. Kerry should have come out against the Swift Boater and Bush like a lion, but he didn't and second circuit programming said to millions "Oh, hes a pussy". If, on the other hand, he had defended his position, provided proof for the swift boat lies and ripped Bush into next month on his pansy performance in the National Guard(specially in a live debate)... second circuit programming might have said "Ohhh, he's a Top Dog" and then when Bush was unable to fit more than three words together in defense, (without screwing up adverbs, prepositions and adjectives) third circuit programming would have said "Oh, and he's an illiterate buffoon."

'Talking Tough" when you're supposed to be partnering seems like a bad idea... talking tough when you're going into a fight is good for morale and the crowd.
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Cain

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2008, 11:05:30 pm »
The thing is....as a long term strategy, I think this would ultimately fail.  Its not viable over a long period of time and would just end up replicating the bullshit from the GOP cheerleaders.

However, as a short term strategy, or a tactical one, it breaks down a strawman which has been used, and allows for the discourse to be reframed on other terms.  Right now, with the "tough, macho, national security" discourse of US policy, the Dems don't stand a chance unless they infiltrate that discourse and blow it up from within.  The best way to use it would to be to adopt it in order to get some breathing space in a debate, then lay out the issues afterwards.  Its a way to get policies heard, fairly.

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2008, 12:42:07 am »
I was under the impression that Kerry lost because nobody new much about him other than that he wasn't Bush.  He got painted as a politician (probably true) and Bush got painted as The Decider.

I could be wrong, that was the first election I really payed any attention too.
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Cain

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2008, 02:28:49 pm »
Perhaps.

I personally think it was if the electorate were given the choice between a Republican and a Republican, they'll choose the Republican every time.  He was what you got when you have someone like Bush, only you make sure they don't have a spine even when it comes to dealing with the opposition party members.

At least, that's the impression I got.  I was only able to see one debate, and follow the news on BBC and CNN, however, which is not as deep as I would hope.

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2008, 02:42:00 am »
IMO, as useful as "toughening up" might be to get short term gains, it would probably be adopted as a long term strategy (i.e: "Hey, it accomplished ___, so let's do it again and again!"), and would be ultimately become negative. At the moment, what's needed is more of a movement towards radical peacefulness. Adopting a stance of "I'm not going to mince words in calling out your bullshit, but I'm not going to be a militant dick about it either" would help get rid of the "liberal pussy" stereotype without alienating people who are opposed to the "fuck the other guy" strategy of the GOP.
Looking at how leaders like MLK or Gandhi are perceived, it's pretty clear that a strategy of radical peacefulness still works on a 2nd circuit sort of awareness. It's assertive without being angry, and intelligent without being weak.
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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2008, 10:44:03 am »
"My nipples are toughened! I am a rough and ready fighter, because my, my nipples are toughened! I can nurse the tender and eager fighters of change, because my, my nipples are toughened! You wish to back the army of change and I will feed them because my, my nipples are toughened!
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2008, 02:01:56 pm »
PD.com: We have tough nipples.

Cain

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Re: How to humiliate - and convert - a right winger
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2008, 03:21:05 pm »
IMO, as useful as "toughening up" might be to get short term gains, it would probably be adopted as a long term strategy (i.e: "Hey, it accomplished ___, so let's do it again and again!"), and would be ultimately become negative. At the moment, what's needed is more of a movement towards radical peacefulness. Adopting a stance of "I'm not going to mince words in calling out your bullshit, but I'm not going to be a militant dick about it either" would help get rid of the "liberal pussy" stereotype without alienating people who are opposed to the "fuck the other guy" strategy of the GOP.
Looking at how leaders like MLK or Gandhi are perceived, it's pretty clear that a strategy of radical peacefulness still works on a 2nd circuit sort of awareness. It's assertive without being angry, and intelligent without being weak.

I'm actually reading a book on Authoritarian personality types that tends to agree with that.  Strangely enough, according to the writer, Gandhi style tactics are the most effective at not creating a Dittohead-esque lashback and pissing and moaning about the fall of civilization, tough on slogans (tough on the causes of slogans), anarchy and other fun past times the Right engages in worrying about.  And can also occasionally work.

But more on that once I've finished reading the book and get to synthesize some conclusions.