We, Not Us
As I believe I’ve said before in various ways, I’m a big believer in the idea that a problem can’t be solved if you don’t properly understand it. I’ve thought a lot about the current political situation in the United States, because it feels like a perilous time in history, and I don’t think merely acting on instinct or taking our best guess is a good move. Trump’s election changed the calculus significantly. In so many ways, in fact, that many things I thought I understood well about the Republican party I know and—well, certainly know at any rate— changed with them. There’s a sense that the party itself has changed, and even for me—and I am a bit stodgy, and was more sympathetic to the GOP establishment than perhaps they frankly deserved— it strikes me as for the better. The GOP establishment had, at best, a case of terminal depression. They weren’t playing to win, nor were they playing not to lose, but playing to lose slowly. There is a different flavor to the GOP now, and I think the base is enjoying that. I certainly am.
At the same time, I’ve had to have a good think about things I took for granted. I didn’t see 2016 coming, putting me in the exclusive club of virtually everybody. Nevertheless I’ve been a political cynic for a very long time. Just from those two words—”political cynic”—you can guess, likely accurately, what my old model therefore predicted regarding events in France, Britain, and Australia. Namely, I saw Le Pen’s loss coming, but I did not see the yellow vests coming, even though on reflection, I think that A indirectly begat B. I certainly didn’t see her list coming back to cream Macron’s in the EU election. I didn’t see Brexit coming. I did see the eventual attempted murder of same by a thousand bureaucratic cuts coming—but then didn’t see the BREXIT party coming. Congratulations to Farage on now having the largest number of MPs from a single party, and I hope he gives the EU Parliament Hell. At the same time, the story of whether Britain will indeed find the gumption to leave is still partially untold, and I don’t have the confidence to venture an opinion on it. I hear starkly conflicting and well-argued positions on why Brexit as an issue can still go various ways. I’d prefer to see what happens and learn from it. And finally, I didn’t see Australia’s recent election coming.
If your interest is finding a way to defeat the Left without us ending up in a civil war on the way, as is mine, this is all simultaneously encouraging and frightening. Under Obama I had a model of the world that worked very well for what was mostly the post-war order and certainly seems to have been the post-Reagan GOP. To put it succinctly, it was a system that did not work in our favor, but at least did so by grimly well-tabulated mechanics. Despite the cold war, too many people on our own side felt the socialists had the moral high ground and ought eventually to win. Given the horrors of the USSR, that’s impressive. It borders on humorous— in the same way that a man having his beheading scheduled for a day he had previously reserved on his calendar for a haircut is humorous.
Just recently we’ve had a system that works more in our favor, but by extremely unpredictable if not mostly unknown mechanics. Most commentators I read haven’t got a solid explanation for these. A lot of the pseudo-explanations are more poetic than practical—”we’ve finally woken up”, etc. Maybe that’s partially been because solid evidence of anything has been so difficult to get. Indeed, a feature of this political moment is that we are flying by instruments, and they aren’t very good instruments, as Sarah and I have both noted. But I think I have at least a minor insight into one mechanic. It doesn’t explain everything, but it is my attempt at a more complete explanation for why polls are suddenly so very unreliable. In explaining this, I have to account for two things—one is that people’s behavior has not merely changed, but done so suddenly, because otherwise polls would have adapted to it in their old baseline. And the other is that it seems inescapable that people are lying to pollsters to some degree, which I had previously discarded out of hand. But why? And why now?
Well, I’ve been incubating a lot of thoughts on the subject, and I’m at last ready to at least venture an opinion on what I think is going on. Paradoxically, I think that to do the question justice, I need to start by recontextualizing the Left in term of a strategy that’s been so omnipresent, it’s been invisible to me up until now. I’m adapting some of my old frameworks and I’m doing it imperfectly, but I think this is necessary work. There are hints here, which I will close with, as to how larger and more important questions can be answered. After all, what we don’t understand, we cannot reliably ask to keep working. What we cannot reliably keep working—given the precarious position of civilization just now—may well be the very thing we rely on to peacefully resolve our current situation.
So with that in mind, I want to approach two things. First, how does the Left think now? That question deserves re-analysis, because the Left now is not the Left I was analyzing half a decade ago. For one thing, they have gone from quietly, grindingly, passively malevolent, to rather aggressively domineering and insane. Actually, it’s something of an improvement, by my lights. They still tell me they’re going to ruin my life for my own good, but now they do it with such poor credibility that it borders on refreshing. And yet I think you will find, after this journey with me, that they didn’t really change so very much—they just took new opportunities.
Second, rather obviously, how does the Right think now? Is it the same? The results certainly aren’t. You can tell the Left gets that something has changed, because when the left is in pain, instead of shouting “ouch”, or swear words like normal people, they shout “Nazi” and various words ending in “-ism”. It would be endearing, if they weren’t trying to destroy western civilization.
Let’s go back to basics. I started, in my thinking, from the premise that the Left is more generally communitarian in their approach than the right. That’s not really a shock to anyone here, I would guess. The Left focuses on groups, the Right generally focuses on individuals. I suppose I’ve never really asked myself before, though—why is the Left more interested in groups? And does that have anything to do with their marked decrease in sanity? Well, yes, I think it does.
I think that Leftists tend to defer to groups, and operate by preference in groups as much for strategic as ideological reasons. Indeed, once I realized how they tend to address things, I began to wonder if maybe the ideology came as an excuse for the strategy. I’m still undecided on that point. As you’ll see there are many practical synergies between the method by which a rank-and-file Leftist operates and their larger strategy, so arguments for development in either order could be formulated. It is therefore a chicken-or-egg problem I will lay aside for the moment.
Let us round back briefly to ensure our terms are clearly defined. What do I mean by saying they defer to groups? In essence, if you are arguing with a Leftist, they will—as quickly as they are able—try to involve additional people in the argument beyond the arguers. More specifically that takes two forms. They will either bring in a more powerful friendly entity with power over a large group—the equivalent of running to Mommy when overwhelmed—or they will directly appeal to the group, or both. And this is not merely a one-on-one phenomenon. At virtually every level of society, you can find examples where the Left appeals to the crowd at least one level of scale immediately above the scope of the current argument. This strategy is effective because it operates semi-independently of the argument being made. You could argue anything at all—including patently untrue and easily observed falsehoods, such as that the sky is entirely pink and green zigzags— and by strategically expanding the number of people in the argument to include more people than yourself, you can at the very least prevent yourself from being outright disproven.
“Strategically” deserves emphasis here. Yes, the Left prefers to appeal specifically to either like-minded crowds or friendly authorities in lieu of an argument. In the main they will try to do so. However, it is not strictly necessary that they have clear advantage in either case, merely that the number of arguers grows, and there are cases where the more subtle benefits of this approach are exploited. I will lay out the broad strokes— what it essentially does is transform things into a rhetorical ratchet. Even in a one-on-one debate, the opinion on who won usually varies, but outright loss is a lot more possible, especially if you’re walking around with the kind of beliefs and arguments the Left uses. But as soon as you involve a large group of people, the outcome of virtually any argument becomes impossible to tabulate. And even for the most clear-cut losses, because large numbers of people are involved who don’t want to “let the side down”, people will still support each other and refuse to admit it. An acknowledged loss is next to impossible.
You might think that this effect would be symmetrically true, but there’s a simple reason it isn’t. The Right historically is not willing to use groups in the dangerous, forceful, or aggressive ways that the Left does. The Left can always force a tie if they would otherwise lose. The right is spotty even about elevating arguments from small to large, and doing the same— although it has gotten much, much better under Trump, who I think understands all of this on some level. One dividend of a president who personally tweets about newsworthy things is that he drags the rest of the party into the fight. Even if large numbers of establishment members then turn around and bash him for doing so, as the midterms showed, that can provide helpful info to Republican voters—and meanwhile people who aren’t diehard establishment Republicans having a definite reason to get involved in the fight is to the good. But anything more than expanding the scale of an argument, Republicans tend to treat as strictly off-limits. There are excellent reasons for that, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves about the profound downside— namely, there are many situations where the groups invoked by the Left can force a “win” for them by destroying the target’s life, over-riding their opinion with improper use of power, et cetera. This is the mechanism of the ratchet. They have set it up such that they can’t really lose arguments—at worst they can have a bitter tie— and the tactic often opens opportunities to win in ways other than the boring traditional way of making a solid argument. Allow me to dive into some examples. In each of these I will attempt to highlight the two key elements—the escalation of the argument to the “crowd”, by which I mean at least the next-largest entity beyond the core arguers, and the strategic advantage of doing it in one particular way or another.
As is probably self-obvious, arguing with a Leftist one-on-one has become a dicey proposition. Now, certainly, the sides have relative parity as regards friends to pile on, and I acknowledge that most people on the Left and Right will use this relatively mild form of appeal to the crowd. What the Right almost uniformly will not do is adopt other, nastier, forms of escalation to parties beyond the immediate argument. At present these take on three different forms, which I have ranked in order of the level of personal threat they are to the individual. All of them should be familiar, but we will consider them from the perspective of the escalation-to-the-crowd framework.
- This is simple enough. You appeal to a larger external group, in this case the website or host institution, to enter the argument on your behalf. This institution is the proverbial “Mommy”. The institution or website then simply disallows your opponent from continuing the argument. Deeply intellectually dishonest? Certainly. But that doesn’t matter. You “win”.
- 2- The Ragemob, which is a sort of extension of a mere pile on, where you denounce someone to as wide a portion of your ideological comrades as possible. It’s differentiated from a mere pile-on because you don’t personally know many—if not the majority—of the people you are calling into the fight. The tactic actually does have some unique synergistic benefits with current Leftist ideology. Leftist arguments tend to be very emotion-forward—to the New Left especially, the mere perception that something is wrong is a self-encapsulated argument (I might discuss this in detail soon, but it’s beyond the scope of this article). And, in general, seeing someone you side with ideologically attacked tends to make you feel something is wrong. The New Left also emphasizes “activism”, “education” and “raising awareness” as a sort of holy trinity of political activities, all of which manifest as being on a hair trigger to intervene when they perceive something is wrong. Consequently large, ideologically uniform groups can be invoked with virtually no effort, and with much less internal dissention and discussion than would happen if conservatives were to try the same thing. As Nick Sandmann can attest, it also has far more serious results than a simple internet pile-on. It can result in a permanently destroyed reputation, end professional careers if the person is a big enough lightning rod, and get them death-threats (including from enemy-of-the-people journalists!). If you destroy the life of your opponent, you “win”. 3- Doxxing, where one involves the entire internet in your argument, but this time instead of asking for direct help, you’re putting out a casting call specifically for the few unstable, dangerous, and similarly aligned nutballs who will attack your opponent in person for disagreeing with you. As far as I’m concerned legal accuracy would dictate that doxxing carry a penalty on par with attempted murder, and be counted as accessory to assault or manslaughter if it results in harm or death. It’s fairly obvious why this is effective at protecting a Leftist from serious argument—their opponent is fearing for their life and their family. If your opponent cannot argue anymore because they are busy hiring a private security firm or moving, you “win”. If your opponent actually ends up dead, maimed, or permanently scarred, you “win”. All told, three ways to “win” an argument on the personal level by forcing your opponent to withdraw from the argument, and none of them required a functional or even an existing counter-argument to execute.
Initially I was going to gloss over the city level. While the domineering attitude of the Left is on display in numerous states, over-riding the opinions of various cities to some extent (In California, for example), it’s hard to demonstrate when it is an escalation from the city level. The reasons are twofold. First, in my experience at least, most cities have some level of political self-segregation and are usually a stronghold for one side or the other, most commonly the Left. While I have seen occasional contentious issues in cities I’ve lived in, they’ve been much less frequent and less reliably divided on party lines than national or state issues. Secondly, the logistics of appealing things from the city to the state level inherently mask the activity. If you’re a Leftist mayor who wants to supersede a local discussion by addressing it at the state level—the city equivalent of running to Mommy— you need a Leftist governor and/or legislature to be able to have a place to kick things up to. Conservative legislatures aren’t usually big enough patsies to help you. Moreover, any arguable advantages of having the battle anyway simply to have the advantage of the talking point—an approach sometimes employed at the national level—are neutered in direct proportion to how local the issue truly is (though there are exceptions, as I’ll mention). To whit, often nobody else cares. But let’s say for the sake of argument that the state government does intervene, only we in this example are not experts on the local politics of the state and are watching from the outside. In that case, it may well be that a Leftist governor or legislature would act in a similar manner regardless of whether someone appealed to them from a city, or whether they took notice of the issue themselves. Indeed, even the people who were part of the initial argument may not know, since it’s hard to tell the difference between certain local issues that expand and state-level issues that are argued within cities of that state. Thus it’s broadly hard to differentiate the escalation of city-level politics from primary leftist policy-making at the state level. And even when general expansion of the issue—in a direct appeal to the crowd— is tenable, it’s not usually very helpful. For an example, take New York’s soda ban as an example of how that goes. Sure, initially the press did pick up and amplify this issue to the masses as a (primarily in the role of “educating” on the subject), and as a result, people who aren’t from the city did have one-on-one political arguments, in and out of New York state, about another city’s policies. But as they aren’t personally effected by the outcome those are simply personal political arguments, and likely be resolved by the methods laid out above.
One thing deserves dishonorable mention before I move on, and has been brought to my attention by Sarah. This is more a case of bypassing the people of the state entirely in something that concerns them. There wasn’t even a discussion that this was an escalation from, except possibly exclusively by swamp-things on the far Left. Governor Jared Polis, without bothering to consult the people of Colorado first, signed a national popular vote compact which will give Colorado’s votes to the winner of the national popular vote if states with a total of 270 electoral votes join it. Because he is, and let me try to be diplomatic here, a craven self-styled-aristocratic coward who is just so very committed to the Democratic principles that I remind you his party is actually named after, that he couldn’t even be bothered to actually allow Coloradans a democratic vote on whether they wanted to sign an accord that may lead to their disenfranchisement, is why. I understand Coloradans are now having to petition for the opportunity to fix this. Most of the tactics I describe here are for the plebeians who actually wait for an argument to start before flagrantly abusing power to end it. As Mr. Polis would tell you— if he wasn’t busy screwing Colorado over— he is no plebian. Plebeians have consciences.
Moving to the subject of state-level escalation, the most obvious manifestation is something my previous readers will be well familiar with: debate of things that should be state level issues at a national level. I am referring here to winner-take-all policy battles over things like abortion, drug legislation, health care legislation, et cetera, noted by both sides for the fact that they are bitter and polarizing. Now, this abuse in particular has been happening for so long I think it’s invisible to the average person. I myself had always assumed up until now that its occurrence resulted from a very poor understanding of civics on the part of the left. I am forced to revise that opinion, as I believe I was mistaken. Under this framework it’s a strategic choice. It’s the execution of an escalate-to-the-crowd strategy, and both of the manifestations we are coming to be familiar with are played out as a result of it.
On the one hand is a state level issue being raised to the level of a national issue and resulting in a successfully passed bill in the federal government. As the federal government then imposes it on the states one level of power down, this is a particularly in-your-face example of the run-to-Mommy variant of escalating-to-the-crowd. And while the power of the passed bill itself is obvious, it should be noted that even the drafting of a bill has benefits, and better still, is easier for Democrats.
This is another example of a unique synergy between Leftist ideology and this strategy. Leftists, being much, much more comfortable with violating the structure of the Republic to draft wholly inappropriate bills that commission centralized plans, also gain the advantage that national bills function very differently from state bills. People elected to be state representatives can actually largely free themselves from representing the interests of their states and focus on the interests of the party generally by doing so. This is because in national-level bills, and this is specifically true of those inappropriately drafted to interfere with the affairs of states for no compelling constitutional reason, it is assumed that the bill is a compromise between the state any one person lives in and the other forty-nine states. Any given representative has an airtight alibi for supporting such bills unless the violations of the state’s interests are truly egregious. Of course, such bills are reliably non-functional, the complexity of handling the special cases for each state being well beyond the practical abilities of any bill drafter whether they admit it or not. But interestingly, that sheer complexity hints at the other political advantage of drafting national bills for state issues—opacity. Even if the bills are single issue bills, once all the complexities have been grappled with, or an attempt has been made to do so at any rate, they have sprawled into dense, impenetrable monsters full of legalese. And this is not only necessary, it is expected. Nobody reasonably thinks that an omnibus bill could be written in a way that’s readable. In fact, to the extent that length and technicality will be equated with thoroughness in approaching the issue, transparency, clarity, or brevity would likely be regarded as naiveté or incompetence by the electorate. The result is bills that virtually nobody, including the congressmen whose job it is to do so, has the time or inclination to actually read it—and voters themselves enforce this. So, instead, drafters provide their heavily politically biased summary of what the bill does, uninformed by important issues like potential unintended consequences or sheer feasibility. Moreover, your opponent will have a difficult time refuting it. Even if we posit that he is an absolute savant, and can deconstruct and point out all the logical flaws in your bill in a reasonable period of time, it is likely that he, and he alone, will have the patience or attention span to understand it. Complex bills require complex debunking. The odds are, the electorate will not listen to it. Your summary, therefore, will be the only functional explanation of the bill on the field, and that puts your opponent in the uncomfortable position not of opposing your bill, but of opposing – in effect— your canned, slanted summary of the bill. The result, if you have any ability at writing canned summaries, is that he will look like the devil incarnate. These things both work to the advantage of people drafting these omnibus bills.
But suppose optimistically that the issue in question is so egregious that you will never get a bill passed on it. What has a state representative gotten by taking what was supposed to be a dialogue between him and his constituents, and expanding it out to the crowd of all the other representatives in congress? The answer is, they get an irresolvable argument. What benefit does that have? Well, we highlighted some of the most prominent in the introduction. He functionally can no longer lose. But additionally, it allows the politician in question to be constantly fighting against Republicans, and during this fight they get to pretend that the issue is the bill itself rather than the fact they’re trying to pass it in an inappropriate context. Republicans are famously bad at countering this gambit without sounding evasive. These bills are especially useful in draft form, because it means in addition to the traditional merits of an omnibus bill, any provisions that Republicans manage to gain traction on “could be changed, if only Republicans would just compromise”. Lost entirely in the discussion is the fact that the omnibus bill shouldn’t be considered at all. If you get lucky you might actually wheedle the Republicans into being stupid enough to take you up on it helping change it. Better yet, they might draft their own competing legislation. Either way, the perversion of the power structure in the United States is codified by mutual agreement, but in the latter case, they’ll also take the blame if the inevitably non-functional omnibus bill passes. And if they stand firm, you have solid evidence Republicans are not just heartless monsters, they are stubborn heartless monsters.
You might look at this and say—”but surely, if they can pass it at home, they should just do that”. The argument has benefits, but not ones that outweigh passed legislation (to the extent they consider the legislation intrinsically desirable). And you are correct—if they can pass it at home. But all that really says is, if there is no argument there’s no reason to escalate. Consider more contentious situations— this strategy is particularly good for bills that might be unpopular if passed just within the state. Omnibus bills are, in a sense, nothing personal. Also, as with large internet arguments, it’s harder to lose an issue in a serious way in congress. Sure, you can lose repeatedly. If you lose very publically you might even start having to put the things you want as part of the pork on other bills, or focus on other things for a decade or so. But even that might not be necessary. So your personal bill went down—there are lots of other people who could introduce a similar one in a few news cycles. If anyone catches onto the similarity, you can always say “at least we’re doing something”. Nobody needs to know it’s something you should never have been doing at all. There are a few times Republicans have managed to roll back sweeping legislation supported by the Democrats—prohibition, slavery— but those are landmark moments in a sea of statutes. For comparison, look how fast we went from the failure of Hillarycare, to a fully armed and operational Obamacare. As for your constituents, you don’t need to do anything to your home district except wait for them to stop paying attention. No costly campaigns, just patience.
And what about national level disputes? Well, if this wasn’t already clear from the open borders zeitgeist of the New Left, and from the fact that the nascent one-world-government types in the EU would rather see Britain destroyed than let it govern itself again, even at the national level, Leftists reflexively find a larger entity or party to try to bully the nation with. These strategies are perhaps the most sickening. It’s transparently obvious at this point that the Democrats oppose border control out of an entirely personal interest in importing voters from outside the country. There’s no coherent way to sell it as good for the national interest given the harm unchecked immigration has done abroad and is doing here. You could think of this as appealing to the undifferentiated crowd abroad—it is harder for Germany, England, or US to put up an argument on issues regarding their sovereignty or national identity while being overrun by “migrants” who are fleeing poverty first and foremost. Grinding and horrible as that poverty surely is, the dysfunctional cultures these people live in, perpetuate, and now try to propagate, are its source and sustenance— not some vague theory of colonial exploitation or inappropriate intervention.
As for the EU, I suspect no institution has ever earned the title of “globalist” more transparently than them. I add further that Britain’s Remainers have shamed themselves and their forebearers deeply by quietly acquiescing to be bullied by them. Given how little they care for their nation’s sovereignty, I can’t understand why they even bother calling themselves Brits, frankly. They see themselves as citizens of Europe, they should at least be honest and say so. While I would hesitate to refer to the EU as a tool of a strategy— since at this point it’s acting more like an empire than a trade union— Remainers are still using it as one. They are leveraging the fact that the rest of Europe has been swallowed by globalist progressivism to try to force that ideology—which they themselves agree with—on their fellow countrymen, rather than have an honest debate with them over it. It is just another variant of Run to Mommy, by people who are, by any reasonable definition, traitors, and traitors for the same reason traitors have always been traitors—because it was, in their minds, in their country’s ultimate interest to be sold out.
Okay. So that’s what the Democrats and their Leftist compatriots abroad are up to. But what are we on the Right up to? How have we been beating them and how will we keep beating them?
Well, there are two major weaknesses in the endemic Democratic strategy. The most obvious one is that it is socially repressive, which naturally leads to a backlash. And if that backlash is not allowed publically, it will happen privately, in the form of preference falsification. That is, people will keep saying they agree with you, but will start to vote differently. That’s a familiar theory, but it has a critical flaw that I’ve been stuck on for a while. I’ve always been a bit hazy for me is why people would suddenly, en masse, begin to lie to anonymous pollsters, as their main form of protest. Sure, I personally do, because I want to throw off their poll numbers and every little bit helps. But this societal shift was comparatively fast. And for most large group analysis, if your explanation even involves the words “suddenly, en masse”, you need a solid explanation to back it up.
The 2016 elections in the US were not enough to convince me preference falsification was happening at appreciable rates. There were far too many variables in play, but most prominently, overall vote turnout was low and the Democrats spent most of the year presenting Hillary as inevitable. That seemed a reasonable enough explanation to serve as Occam’s Razor. For this reason, I still didn’t quite believe it was a prominent social phenomenon until Australia happened. But Australia is harder for me to explain away, because they have mandatory voting. For the polls to be significantly wrong in a society where there is enforced voting, either A) the pollsters have to be incompetent or B) they have to be intentionally doing push-polling, or C) people have to be providing them inaccurate information. I have no reason to believe the competence of pollsters has decreased significantly and suddenly, nor have I seen anything to suggest they’ve changed their methodology much. That leaves preference falsification. I think that lends the theory some of its more solid recent evidence. And, yes, you can still say that Australia is a different country, and caution against equating our politics too closely, and fair enough, but the resonance with 2016 is hard to ignore. Call it, if you want to be completely fair, merely the best evidence we have.
(I’m not as moved by the EU elections, since you ask. I’m most familiar with England, and while from closely following I know that the BREXIT party overall mildly outperformed expectations by a seat or two, leading up to the elections it was little in doubt that BREXIT would do very well. I’m less familiar with how poorly predicted other EU elections that went to nationalist parties were, in part because I haven’t had much time or inclination to review foreign language press for these countries. I welcome comment on it.)
So if we take the theory seriously, how large a portion of the population do we have to assume is engaging in this behavior? Well, the election results were “merely” flipped from what pollsters expected—that is, the Liberal party took 51%, Labor took 49%. That is a huge difference statistically, but it isn’t a landslide victory. That might be a clue. It doesn’t take a large number of people lying to pollsters to cause this change, just a large enough number to throw off statistics in a big way. A simplistic way to look at it (and not entirely accurate, but good enough for the general point), is that out of the full 100% of voters, only about 2%, or 1/50 people have to lie to pollsters for that to make a change. Already, that’s a lot more plausible. In most contexts, if only 1/50 people do something, that makes them outliers.
Outliers, but outliers in significant quantities. Why would 1/50 people, relatively suddenly, change their behavior in this way? Well, go back and look at the tactics the Left uses, and in particular, note which ones are relatively new. While I think that the Left’s escalate-to-the-crowd strategy is very old, so old it’s part of their political DNA in a fundamental way, it wasn’t until recently that rank-and-file party members had the power to use it on an interpersonal basis so easily. Something all three of the dishonest ways to “win” an argument have in common is that social media was to their execution what railroads were to cross-continental logistics.
The suddenness could very well be accounted for by that. The speed of the two social movements mirror each other relatively well. I propose that average Democrats brought the party’s repressive tendencies down to the level of the personal. When individual consequences for thinking the wrong thing become dramatically more widespread, it makes perfect sense that individuals become much more paranoid about revealing their true beliefs, while simultaneously being presented with some very good, in-your-face reasons to change your beliefs if you’d previously aligned with the current witch-hunters. From that perspective it’s startling that it’s only 1/50.
The unilaterality of the shift is probably because the use of these tactics overwhelmingly favors one side, so the backlash cleanly favors the other. It’s enough to make me suspect that it’s one of the fundamental party divides, because beyond mere pile-ons, it doesn’t seem to me that Republicans responded in a similar way to the potential malignant power of social media. That of know of, we have no Covington-like victims of our own. AOC cosplayed as a ragemob victim over an old dance video to the absolutely uniform confusion and utterly nonexistent outrage of any conservatives I know or follow. I know of no doxxings, which actually surprises me because I expected the first one from the Democrats to absolutely open the floodgates. We certainly haven’t managed to get anyone banned from anything, not that we realistically could. I suspect part of why the response is so different is that Democrats re-adapted a pattern they were used to using for thinking about politics, but had only just been freed to apply in their own lives in a noticeable way—the same pattern we have just analyzed in depth. I genuinely don’t think the vast majority of conservatives had a similar thought pattern in their brain predisposing them to force people to comply— the thought of which makes me a bit proud of my own side. (Still unexplored but implied in that idea—I wonder what these people are like in offices. If a person complains to your boss or spreads rumors about you over a personal argument, rather than confront you about it, are those people more likely to be Leftist? My partisan heart says yes, but I doubt anyone would have the chutzpa to actually have done a large formal study of it.)
That, at last, is what lead me to the title of the post. “We” and “Us” are both ways of referring to a group that you are part of. The difference is, “We” is a subject. “Us” is an object. “We” act, and they act upon “Us”. It seems to me that we, conservatives, act directly and as our own agents, even when we act as groups. Leftists by predisposition seek an “Us” to act as their agent and on their behalf. They hide behind a mob, a legislature, or a multinational committee that they invoke. They can’t simply face you on your own level. If we on the right speak up, it is not we, but a huge, faceless “us” on the Left who will be called in to silence you; if we in the US protect our national interest it is an us in the UN who will be invoked to denounce you; if a we in Britain stands up for the country’s sovereign rights it is an us in the EU that is conjured to put them in your place—everywhere and always, there is a mob called up at the behest of the person who rightfully should have the argument, a group that they use to bully and dominate, seemingly at every level and in every place. Moreso as the years roll by.
Now, I do not think this is the be-all and end-all, just a critical differentiating factor between the sides. For example, I would say that while the above might be helping the Right fox the Left in the polls—which in turn helps make it difficult for the Left to allocate their campaign resources (and cheating) correctly—I think that the real staying power of the Right is in the Left’s destruction of its own credibility. Because sure, people on both sides can be wrong, but the Left has a lot more to lose as the dominant force in the news media. And thanks to a toxic mixture of rampant, unacknowledged bias, nonexistent journalistic ethics, and huge bets on stupid stories, they’re doing exactly that. A friend joked to me that for many people the Game of Thrones finale was the second most disappointing finale to a long-running series this year—the most disappointing finale was to the Meuller investigation (I have to disagree, I found it highly entertaining). Good on AG Barr for standing firm even as Meuller tries to convince people that he totally would have made a call on obstruction but those darned rules prevented it—and all the best as he tries to keep Mueller from getting the spin-off show the Democrats desperately want. At all events, there is something much, much more serious under the surface there.
I mentioned the Left had two critical weaknesses from this strategy. What’s the other? Well, something you’ll have noticed, and that I have highlighted about this strategy, is that in it’s general form (ignoring morals, and when not exercised at levels that depend on a centralized view of government), it does not immediately require a particular ideology. It certainly does not require any particular skill at argumentation. And this is because this is a system evolved, like the shell on a sea-creature, to insulate the user. And with good reason. I suppose I’ve always realized how fragile the Leftist viewpoint is, but the degree and thoroughness (down to rank and file members) with which they have adapted and adopted a strategy designed, at its core, to “win” without actually engaging in an argument reinforces the fragility of the Democratic party in a way I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated. Moreover it’s immediately obvious that this is a feed-forward system—the more effectively Democrats insulate themselves, the weaker and the worse for wear they become when the insulation cracks.
Years ago—and I won’t get the quote exactly right—I watched a video by a commentator, I think it was Bill Whittle, where the commentator said of speaking on college campuses that it didn’t actually take much to change the minds of college students. He went on to say it was like taking a candle into a pitch black auditorium—certainly, a light may be tiny, but it can light some of the darkness, whereas there will never be so much darkness that the light will fail to shine.
Here’s why I make that little digression. Fundamentally, it strikes me that the Democrats are working frantically to protect themselves from even the smallest amount of real knowledge. If an animal has evolved a thick shell, I have a good idea what happens to it in its environment without one. If a party has evolved to carefully block all aspects of non-approved reality, it gives me a pretty good idea what even a small amount of real knowledge can do to their ideological integrity, if you can slip it past their defenses. Moreover, the strategy is dependent on an iron grip on the institutions. They need to have a mommy to run to. They need a media, and friendly social media platforms, to use as a megaphone to the masses. Take that away from them and—as long as you can keep their mobs out of your hair— they’re just scared, ignorant children, crying because they’ve run out of ways to bully you.
So don’t give up. They’re not an impregnable juggernaut. They’re a kraken made of glass—dangerous to anyone who gets in their jaws, seemingly harbingers of the apocalypse, even— but fragile, ripe to be torn apart by the mechanics of the sandpile. The moment even a little bit of reality seeps in, a crack forms in that shell, and once it’s lost its integrity, it’s all downhill for it. So keep lying to them. Keep making them miss their estimates and projections. More importantly, stay out of the way of their jaws. Your opposition is needed too much. We need you, to help us slowly lop off the tentacles they use to bully and force those around them into compliance. Cut them down until they are once again just a we, with no “us” to hide behind, standing face to face with the Right.
And on a level playing field, we will win, and they will lose, for one simple reason— we who have faced the world as just ourselves know that it takes quite a lot of practice.