Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fear and greed, and 2010 and 2014

Is this year going to be more like four years ago than 2012?  The answer is 'probably'.  Think Progress rains on the parade.

Barring another big Democratic wave in November, 2014 is likely to be a bad election year for Democrats. That’s because they are stuck defending the big Senate victories Democrats made in the 2008 wave election, as well as several seats in states that have trended red in recent years. Any year when Senate Democrats need to defend seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia is likely to be a difficult time for Team Blue, regardless of how they perform at the polls.

In the fairly likely event that Republicans regain control of the Senate next year, they will suddenly enjoy a power they haven’t held since Senate Democrats invoked the so-called nuclear opinion last November — the power to block every single one of President Obama’s nominees to any Senate-confirmed job. That is, at least, if the Supreme Court gives them this power. (Next) Monday, the justices will hear a case that could effectively shut down the president’s power to make recess appointments, potentially cutting off the primary avenue a president has to push back against a Senate that refuses to confirm anyone to key government jobs.

That article continues in similarly gloomy fashion.  The $64,000 question remains: can Texas -- Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte and Battleground Texas and all the others -- overcome the bad trend lines?  History is unkind.

The Herculean task of registering hundreds of thousands of eligible non-voters (in Texas these reputedly number between 2.5 and 3 million), making certain they have proper ID to vote, and then getting them to actually cast a ballot (Texas registered voters who did not vote in 2012 counted 8 million) -- is still Job One.  It's the linchpin on which everything else hinges.  Unfortunately, no amount of Republican infighting is going to dampen the conservative hatred enthusiasm in November.  Ted Cruz is furiously whipping them into a foaming frenzy, and that will be something you can count on him doing once a week for the next ten months.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has told a conservative conference that President Barack Obama is lawless, providing the right wing rhetoric that makes him so popular in his home state.

The conservative Republican laid out his reasoning for why he thinks the president is “dangerous and terrifying.”

According to the Statesman, Cruz also slammed Obama for what he referred to as a pattern of “lawlessness on a breathtaking scale.”

“We are a nation of laws and not men,” Cruz was additionally quoted as saying by the website. “If we had a system where a president can pick and choose what laws to follow at utter whim … that is seriously dangerous.”

The only thing that's dangerous, as everyone knows, is the inflamed rhetoric Cruz keeps spewing.  He is a demagogue of the highest rank, and he stimulates the worst elements of the far right every time he runs his mouth.  If you can stomach it, check the comments at the links for confirmation.

I don't think Cruz will be satisfied until somebody gets physically hurt, and we all know who that is.  Which sounds more and more like his intent.

But Cruz warned those with that mindset that they ought to contemplate that their “guy ain’t gonna be there forever. If this president has that power so does the next one and the next one and the next one, and my message to all the Democrats and all the liberals is, what do you think about the next president, maybe a Republican, having the power Barack Obama has as a president who is not bound by the law?”

Personally, I don't think there are going to be any more Republican presidents for a long, long, time (and not just because Chris Christie has self-destructed).  There ARE, however, going to be odious pieces of crap like Cruz in the US Senate, terrible fools like Louie Gohmert in the House of Representatives, and homegrown lunatics like Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick in Austin for much longer than anyone wants to think about.

That's what Texas Democrats are up against.  Texas Republicans all pattern themselves now after their god, Ted Cruz.  And it worked in 2010 like a charm without him around.

So in my life experience, there are two primary motivators of human behavior: fear and greed.  Greed is well understood and easy to identify; fear is a little more complex. There's fear of loss (of money, status, "values"), fear of the unknown (xenophobia), and a few more like that.  Just this simplest of understanding takes care of explaining the motivations of 80% of all Republican voters (the 80-20 rule).

And, of course, Occam's razor is being used to illustrate it.

This is where it gets complicated.  If you believe, as I do, that Wendy Davis has risen as a leader on the strength of her abilty to inspire others, then her challenge going forward -- against what would probably be the discouragement of her advisers -- is to use (for best results) either fear or greed as a method of inspiration. 

1. That's not what Democrats do (motivate by provoking base instincts). They don't have much successful experience doing it, and when they occasionally resort to it, it they rarely do so effectively.  Democrats like to think of themselves as thinkers, thus the grand policy initiatives like Davis' education proposals, released last week.  Hopeful and inspiring to many, yes, but not so much for those who haven't previously been motivated by the concept of a better educated Texas to register, or just show up and cast a ballot.  The people, in other words, who are key to Texas Democrats winning a statewide election.

2. You must discard 'greed' as a tool to motivate potential Democratic non-voters.  Republicans have already co-opted and framed it against Democrats ("these goddamn Ill Eagles and welfare queens and poverty pimps are lining up for free Obamaphones!").  See also Gohmert's latest.

3. That leaves 'fear'.  And that means harsh language.

"Do you want your kids to grow up in a Texas where everybody works for minimum wage, where there's no hope to get a good education, much less pay for it, where you go to the emergency room to find out your child has asthma, or cancer, because your air and water has been ruined by the oil and gas companies?"

"Do you want to keep buying lottery tickets as your only hope for a better future? As your only retirement investment?"

'Are you going to just sit on your couch and watch TV and say your vote won't matter, when YOUR life and the lives of your children and grandchildren are at stake?  Do you want to see your kids grow up like this... or do you want to do something to help build a better Texas for them, and your neighbors, and their kids?"

And Republicans' greed can be used against them.

"You know who that 500% interest is going to, right?  Greg Abbott and his buddies. You want to keep living like that -- payday to payday?  Never able to dig out, much less get ahead?  While they get rich off keeping you poor?"

"You know things will never get better if you don't change them, right?"

You can't have this kind of blunt conversation with a total stranger -- i.e. someone you want to register to vote, or to come to the poll during election season -- any place but in person.  It must be had at their door, or in front of the Walmart.  Or in front of the payday lending store, where you are registering voters.

It's a dirty-ass job, an Aegean stables-type job, but BGTX has to do it.  They better be doing a lot of it already.  Else 2014 is going to be exactly like 2010.

(How's that for using fear as a motivational tool?)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Completely agree with the necessity of harsh language in messaging in the upcoming elections.