12 Comments

While I agree with much of the history overview here, I continue to place my emphasis on the question, "why do economically and racially oppressed Americans regularly cheer on their oppressors?" Why does much of the electorate support intellectually and historically bankrupt ideas? Having read Festinger's work on cognitive dissonance and Cooper's fifty-year summary of the relevant research, I believe we have to examine this cognitive theory to better understand our democratic inability to learn from our mistakes.

A brief summary with my interpretation, necessarily oversimplified:

Habits of mind and attitudes cultivated and reinforced from birth are very difficult to change. If a relative or family friend helped you significantly in your childhood at a time of fear or crisis, your brain, which desires to achieve closure on most judgments for its own comfort, strongly imprints a positive memory of that person. Let's say that twenty-five years later you

learn from a reliable source that this same benefactor committed serious crimes, ones which

you find specially heinous. Your brain and nervous system is jolted. It cannot reconcile, either consciously or unconsciously, the conflict between long-held truth and contradictory new information. This situation is not sustainable, and so, for its own feeling of security and well-being, it actively suppresses the new information.

Think about Trump's voters: they were impervious to even non-political data. For to accept the truth that DT had committed countless immoral, unethical, and illegal actions over

a lifetime would have been to admit that they themselves had seriously erred in judgment.

Most of us have difficulty admitting we have been consistently wrong about important values.

This is simple; we must respect ourselves at all costs.

To bring this argument closer to the question I stated at the start, these same people would have to look back on a lifetime of being duped by predatory Republicans and neo-liberals. Their minds suppress all the dissonant information to protect its own sanity.

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"Most of us have difficulty admitting...." Yeah, but circle back to initial consanguinity. The pre-programmed response is so dominant. Unfortunately, a lot of homo(not so)sapiens seem to get a thrill (dopamine flush) out of vicarious meanness. Bad boy ooh makes me feel good. My lifelong authoritarian "anti-zionist" mom flipped on a dime to "Israel can do no wrong" for a meaner guy on the radio. Thanks for the references. I'll look into all the therapy I can get.

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Thanks for your comment. Even though I am a geezer, I am somewhat new to this. The lit of CD is not easy to read, and the original paper and book actually repel your attention. What most impressed me was the experimental design. Reading your comments (and those of others on this site) bring me a bit of optimism.

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I believe that we are focusing too much on Manchin, even though he is a malignant force working to destroy our government. Rather we should ask “who told Manchin what to do?” and, “why did he do it (i.e., how was he bribed and/or otherwise coerced)?” Regardless of who serves the oligarchs while serving in Congress, if Manchin somehow leaves office (perhaps because of the video of him and Alan Dershowitz in their Jockeys on Lolita Air), you can bet he will be replaced by another “Democrat” in the Senate who will serve the same masters because they are empowered to use the same kinds of carrots and sticks that are making Manchin do things adverse to our rights and our communities’ interests. Not only has our regulatory process been captured by the oligarchs, Manchin and other Manchin-like elected decision-makers are also helping our democracy metastasize into an autocracy by capturing all three branches of our government. We need to replace Manchin with someone who will promote our general welfare with best practice-based solutions and protect us from the bad guys. And we need to stop the morbidly rich from quashing progressive actions. Otherwise, they will stay in power and SLAPP, slow walk, and/or destroy any progressive movement that they like, which means it’s just going to take too long to avoid the 6th Mass Extinction. Happy Holidays.

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Dec 21, 2021·edited Dec 21, 2021

The Democratic Party really does need to work on their piss-poor messaging and then adopt Howard Dean's "50 State Strategy." To counter the right-wing juggernaut, it is essential to flood the red states with hard-hitting ads on all media platforms and to get involved in local politics. Spend the damn money! Get the truth out so that local yokels can vote wisely. This whole media problem is really getting out of hand, and Democratic leadership better wise up too ...and fast!

https://medium.com/liberaldemocratexpand/howard-dean-and-the-50-state-strategy-1be36f1aef4f

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Yay Howard Dean! I have never figured out how the Party decided he was beyond the Pale. Whatever.

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Remember the approach/avoidance gradients from Psych 101: fear always trumps hope in the mammal brain.

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Thank you Thom Hartmann for this brief, readable, and concise, history of neo-liberalism in Latin America, the U.S. and globally. And thank you for the note of optimism. Now We the People have to support progressive-leaning candidates who will work to restore our country's faith in good public governance and hold our leaders accountable to the people once again.

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Are we going to build this barn? I'd say yes, right after the burial.

I followed Thom's "declared" link to Progressives International. I had heard of the organization before but never knew details. WOW! Very impressive people are involved from all over the world. They are working against colonialism. I hope Putin and the Chinese are listening.

On another note, the remarks Manchin made about the American people being druggies and shirkers, only PROVE what an insufferable prick he is. I wonder what drugs he takes and how many times he has taken time off and left his staff to do all the real work. Some folks do not have any faith in their neighbors. They are not needed to build a new barn. They won't be there for the yummy potluck when it's done either. We know how to eat without them.

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Haha... well said!

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I do so enjoy reading the 'Professor's' commentaries. The incompetency of the Republicans and their tendency to pick the dimmest of bulbs and dullest of knives as leaders may be what has saved America from the abyss, to this point, at least.

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Here is an interesting reflection on (pessimistic) moment in American psyche, courtesy of Jon Fasman, fictionally, in "The Geographer's Library" (2005): "In the dying days of the Soviet Union, when faith healers, fortune tellers, tyromancers and pyromancers and gyromancers all became temporary norths for the wildly wavering needles of lost citizens' need to believe...." All hail Q, for the moment. Question is, are these "the dying days" of America?

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