Thursday, June 28, 2018

Moderates are boiling off from the Democratic Party

This is a ten year old article that seems to offer an excellent explanation for why the Democratic Party seems like it's gone barking mad:
Early studiers of cults were surprised to discover than when cults receive a major shock—a prophecy fails to come true, a moral flaw of the founder is revealed—they often come back stronger than before, with increased belief and fanaticism. The Jehovah's Witnesses placed Armageddon in 1975, based on Biblical calculations; 1975 has come and passed. The Unarian cult, still going strong today, survived the nonappearance of an intergalactic spacefleet on September 27, 1975. (The Wikipedia article on Unarianism mentions a failed prophecy in 2001, but makes no mention of the earlier failure in 1975, interestingly enough.) 
Why would a group belief become stronger after encountering crushing counterevidence?
The shock to the Democratic Party was Trump winning the 2016 election.
The conventional interpretation of this phenomenon is based on cognitive dissonance. When people have taken "irrevocable" actions in the service of a belief—given away all their property in anticipation of the saucers landing—they cannot possibly admit they were mistaken. The challenge to their belief presents an immense cognitive dissonance; they must find reinforcing thoughts to counter the shock, and so become more fanatical. In this interpretation, the increased group fanaticism is the result of increased individual fanaticism.
We see this in spades, as people bet their careers on I'm With Her and now find that the expected payoff is not going to happen.  But while this explains the individual hysteria, it doesn't explain the institutional craziness that seems to have infected the entire Party.  

So what gives?  This seems pretty compelling to me:
In Festinger's classic "When Prophecy Fails", one of the cult members walked out the door immediately after the flying saucer failed to land. Who gets fed up and leaves first? An average cult member? Or a relatively more skeptical member, who previously might have been acting as a voice of moderation, a brake on the more fanatic members?
I think this is it.  The more lukewarm Democrats are either keeping their mouths shut or are disappearing from the Party.  The ones who remain are the ones who are more committed (translation: barking mad moonbats) who are the ones we hear talking about impeachment, banishing Trump supporters from the public square, protesting at Republican's houses, etc.

It also explains why Democratic Party big wigs are losing primary challenges to candidates of the more barking mad persuasion (e.g. Joe Crowley, one of the biggest of the Democratic House big wigs who lost to someone who can only be described as a commie).

Also, I think that this thesis has a certain level of predictability.  If it's true that the short term success of the extremists is a result of moderates exiting, then the November election will be a huge disappointment for the Party - more moderate Democratic voters will be put off my the extremists on offer and will either stay home (more likely) or vote Republican in protest (less likely).  Either way leads to the Blue Wave turning into a ripple.
This is one reason why it's important to be prejudiced in favor of tolerating dissent. Wait until substantially after it seems to you justified in ejecting a member from the group, before actually ejecting. If you get rid of the old outliers, the group position will shift, and someone else will become the oddball. If you eject them too, you're well on the way to becoming a Bose-Einstein condensate and, er, exploding.
The Republicans have their own problems with this (see the Never Trumpers), but unlike the Democrats the establishment GOP doesn't seem able to turn up the heat enough to evaporate off the Trumpians.  We'll see if the opposite will become true.  But the Democratic Party seems to be distilling itself to death right now, as they boil off anyone who appears to be remotely moderate.

5 comments:

kurt9 said...

The shock to the Democratic party is that the first black president and wonderkid failed to do anything useful to improve things in the U.S., particularly for blacks and other minorities who viewed him as their savior. The second shock was the election of Donald Trump.

Remember, SJW's always double down.

jabrwok said...

I voted Trump for two reasons: he wasn't Felonia Von Pantsuit, and his Presidency would be amusing if nothing else.

I've been delighted with most of his Presidency thus far, and my two main reasons have been vindicated in spades!:-D

Andrew Wetzel said...

I voted for Trump because he was an international businessman who lived and thrived even in the corrupt poophole known as New York City, while still seeming to be a real man-of-the-people.

That meant that he knew or was smart enough to hire people who actually knew about economics, politics and how things are really run. Either way, that would have been an improvement over everyone since Reagan.

I always have liked a blunt, hard-spoken man. I would have liked listening to Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge or Andrew Jackson.


Not being Felonia Von Pantsuit, the Senior Commie Sanders, or the Female Commie Stein, or any other of the bag of losers that were competing on either the Democrat or Republican sides, well, that was just icing on the cake.

Having a First Spouse who knows her/his/its place doth make the choice of the Trumps much more satisfying also. No Eleanor "I am the actual President" Roosevelt, or Hitlary "No, I AM TEH PRESIDENT!" Clinton, or the First Wookie (whatever the hect that was, (shudder, shudder).) We're back to having someone who brings class and grace to the White House.

Andrew Wetzel said...

And..

kurt9, I thought Bill Clinton said he was the first black president. Or was it the Halfrican-American one you are referring to?

drjim said...

And it's all in the big cities.

Rural America still has Trump stickers and flags flying.

Amazing what some extra $$ in the paycheck do....