Copyright © 2019 jsd

Come Join the Cool Kids

1  Introduction

It does not pay to focus 100% of the attention on the #pussygrabber himself. He wants the attention, but we should not give it to him. Instead, keep in mind that 63 million people voted for him, more than 90% of whom say they would do it again. That’s a yooge problem. In particular, regardless of the truth or justice of the case, it is operationally impossible to rein him in so long as he enjoys significant popular support.

Therefore: It is imperative to reach out to the voters, even the ones we disagree with ... especially the ones we disagree with. There is a time and place for preaching to the choir, and that’s fine as far as it goes, but we need more than that. It is a higher calling to evangelize the heathens. That’s difficult but necessary. That’s the first step; a great many additional steps will be needed.

I’m not smart enough to know what approaches will work, but I can say for sure what won’t work: You can’t win elections by insulting the voters.

That’s the easy part. The next part is more difficult. They have grievances that are less symbolic and more tangible than the above. For example:

And then there are grievances that involve differences of opinion:

And most of all:

They watch #FauxNews, which systematically scares them to death. Faux News does this intentionally, based on innumerable sociological experiments that show scaring people makes them more likely to support right-wing issues and candidates. Faux News is not alone; we also need to worry about Trinity and Sinclair.

2  Measurable Traits

According to reference 2, there are five measurable traits associated with #cheetoBenito’s supporters:

  1. authoritarianism,
  2. social dominance orientation,
  3. racism and prejudice,
  4. relative deprivation, and
  5. lack of contact with other groups.

Alas, knowing about these traits does not tell us much about how to change the situation. Yelling at people won’t make them less racist.

Here’s one thing that does help: Folks who grew up around immigrants and minorities are measurably less bigoted than folks who didn’t. However, it takes many years before the effects are seen. Also note that some people (including DeVos, the Koch brothers, and many others) have been working tirelessly, for decades, to re-segregate the eductional system.

Fear is a common thread linking several of the traits enumerated above. Some fear is based in reality, but much is stirred up artificially.

3  Outreach

Arguments based on truth and logic will have no effect on people who are scared. Also, as a friend of mine likes to say:

You cannot make a turtle come out of its shell by poking.

Figure 1: Turtle

That is to say, it doesn’t pay to threaten people that you’ll keep yelling at them until they stop being afraid. Also it means it would be quite counterproductive for us to riot in the streets; that would just instill more fear and alienate the people we are trying to engage. Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller have bragged that whenever they can, they intentionally provoke outrage, alienation, and hostility. They think that scenes of confrontation, up to and including riots, work to their political advantage ... and to some extent they’re right about that.

Rather than rioting in the street, we’d be better off finding some small thing to celebrate, and throwing a party on the streetcorner. We need to send the following message:

We’re the cool kids, we’re over here, and we’re not afraid. We get that you’re afraid. The question is whether you want to stay afraid forever. Don’t blame us; blame the demagogues who are systematically and intentionally making you afraid, for their own selfish purposes. If you want to stop being afraid, come join us. Life is not a zero-sum game, so let’s strike a mutually-beneficial bargain. We’re the cool kids, we’re over here, and we’re not afraid.

Persuading people is a long, gradual process. You can’t win the argument all at once; first you have to win their trust. It’s like a chess game, where capturing the king is the last move, not the first move. For more on this, see reference 3.

4  References

“The Real World is Not a Zero-Sum Game”
Thomas F. Pettigrew
“Social Psychological Perspectives on Trump Supporters”
doi:10.5964/jspp.v5i1.750 Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 5(1), 107–116 (March, 2017)
John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky,
“The Debunking Handbook”
Copyright © 2019 jsd