Do You Want To Beat McCain Or Just Score Points Against Hillary/Obama?

Hillary made a statement the other day that can be interpreted different ways. Some people are trying to claim that she said she is staying in the race in case Obama is assassinated. Others say she was just saying that the Democratic primaries often extend until June.
I’m not going to get into the argument about this here, except to remind everyone that in 1972 the Nixon campaign pioneered the strategy of disrupting Democratic primary races. I think it should be clear that much of the conflict in this year’s primary is being pushed by the right through the Drudge report, Washington Times, Fox News, etc. but for some reason in this election many Democrats seem willing to pick it up and run with it. This is a mistake.
Here’s the thing. The Republicans and Bush cronies have a lot of money and the incentive that many will be going to jail (and/or The Hague) if there is an honest accounting of the Bush years. The corrupt crony machine stands to lose billions and billions of dollars. They have the conservative infrastructure’s message machine of think tanks, information outlets, etc. They have the corporate media and the power of the entire American corporate structure that is siphoning so much of our money away to a top few. And they have a public conditioned to reflexively support conservatives after decades of unanswered right-wing, and pro-corporate propaganda. This combination is going to be hard to overcome. So it is going to take Obama supporters and Hillary supporters both voting for the Democratic nominee–whoever that is–to beat the Republicans in November.
To that end I want to write about how each “side” in the primaries could better approach the other, whether you believe they are right or wrong. Especially if you believe they are wrong.
Decide whether you want to beat the Republicans, or just score points against the “other side” in this primary battle. From what I can see many of the activists in this campaign are vastly more invested in beating the “other side” than they are in beating the Republicans in the fall. And they clearly have little interest in rallying the supporters of the other primary candidate to their cause.
The Commonweal Institute recently held a “salon” on cognitive dissonance, put on by Fellow Mary Ratcliff, who blogs at The Left Coaster and Pacific Views. Part of the discussion was about the psychological effect of holding contradictory beliefs and how to get people to leave behind beliefs that are harmful. Without going into depth here, when people know they have done something bad (or believed something that is wrong), they can can go through a process to justify to themselves what they have done, and thereby be driven very deeply in a bad direction in their thinking. The justification can be reinforced if the person encounters resistance.
For example, when a kid is being recruited by the Moonies (or bad boyfriend), a parent saying the kid is being “stupid” can drive the kid directly into the Moonie camp (or bad boyfriend’s arms) because the kid is reacting to being called stupid instead of thinking through the logic of becoming a Moonie (or pregnant).
Or maybe a Bush-supporter can justify in his or her mind that invading Iraq was an OK thing to do by deciding all Muslims are evil — and can become very fixed in those beliefs. You see that happening lately with a certain segment of conservatives.
In any part of the process, if this person is criticized it very strongly tends to force the person to cling MORE strongly to the wrong beliefs, and reinforce the justifications that are going on in the thinking. This happens especially strongly if the criticism itself is refutable.
So in this case, whether you believe Hillary’s “RFK assassination statement” was saying that primaries have often lasted until June or calling for Obama’s assassination, criticizing Hillary and supporters can have the effect of driving them deeply against Obama. Iif Obama is the nominee–as it looks like he will be–he is going to need those Hillary supporters. Not stepping up to her defense in this instance–and thereby reaching out to her supporters and letting them know that we are all on the same side–is a mistake that could cost him the election.
For background, this is from the salon invite, with some good sources:

Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me: Cognitive Dissonance in Politics and Personal Life
A salon conversation led by Commonweal Institute Fellow Mary Ratcliff

As background for this salon, you may want to read this explanation of cognitive dissonance and a few examples of how it can impact everything from your weight to major social conflicts: http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/cognitive_dissonance/
Wikipedia on cognitive dissonance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance
Book: Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Go read up.

7 thoughts on “Do You Want To Beat McCain Or Just Score Points Against Hillary/Obama?

  1. Couple of problems. First, Obama’s use of noise to overcome Clinton’s advantages in accomplishment and knowledge has had the ultimate affect of pissing off many Clinton supporters. Secondly, rightwing piece of shit trolls (redundancy) have used the Obama tactics of allowing abuse against Clinton and her followers to their advantages, contributing mightly to the discord, divisiveness and hatred. Third, stupidity and arrogance have been pervasive, such as moveon, kos, olberman and others taking an agressive anti-hillary stance. Fourth, Dean et all has taken anti-Hillary stances, furthering the odds that if Obama is the nominee, he won’t win in November (think McInane winning Michigan and Florida). Sooner or later the piper will be paid, and Obama supporters are beginning to plead for peace between the factions. Ain’t gonna happen. The supers better become familiar with Hillary’s increasingly strong position against McInane, and Obama’s increasingly visible weaknesses.

  2. I just wonder how much Bill is behind all the Hillary stuff? So Bill – let’s talk. Puh-lease let Hillary step aside with dignity. Okay, fair enough – when she is ready. But don’t make it more difficult than what it should be. There is no “cover up”. Except if we can call your spin since Monica and now the “Hillary working class hero” and “wrap up in June” bull. Back off Bill. You had your chance. No be a good ex-President and go talk to someone who cares. http://angryafrican.net/2008/05/27/bill-just-back-off-will-ya/

  3. The above article and discussion at the ‘salon’ is quite appropriate and enlightening for what is transpiring in this primary. A problem with it, ironically, is that it is so correct with the the ‘Angry African’ comment illuminating the discussions focus on the potentially lost opportunity for the Dem. Party. It is also understandable that different priorities exist. Attacking Bill, for example, ‘to get at the Clintons’, is understandably going to be someones focus just as making sure a Dem. is in the White House at this rare occasion where there is a Dem. majority in the House and Senate (barely) will be the focus of others. I think it is incumbent upon folks who are focussed on the latter to make every effort to reach out to the folks who are focused on the former. I see that, as does the author, as the only way to lessen the power of the Republicans. Thank You.
    Andre’ Lee

  4. You’re not going to take a position as to whether or not Sen. Clinton was calling for, or hoping for, the assassination of Sen. Obama? But you want Democrats to take your advice and get along with each other regardless.
    Man, with sages like you, is our side ever fouled up.

  5. Some of us think Obama is not actually a Democrat, and we don’t want to vote for someone who is bent on destroying the FDR coalition. It would take a nominal Democrat to privatize Social Security. Some of us would prefer not to enable that. Some of us are loyal to the old Democratic party.

  6. I’ll take a position. The idea that Hillary was hoping for, calling for, or even thinking about Obama getting assassinated is paranoid, ridiculous and hateful.

  7. If that’s what you think then I’ll go back and read your post again. Now you’re sounding like someone who might have something sensible to say.

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