Today’s Democratic Party
(this post originally was published a week after the election day, but before Senator Sanders said: “It wasn't that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic Party lost the election” I decided to re-post it.)
1. My first president was an idealist dreaming of a perfect society.
My second president was a power-grabbing irrationally acting drunk.
My third president was a former low level army spy.
In a case, you did not recognize them, they were Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and Vladimir Putin.
When I realized that my third president was becoming my last president I moved in the U.S.
I never would have thought to have again “Boris Yeltsin” as my president (only speaking English and not drinking).
Of course, I am very disappointed with this. However, as a scientist I find a relief in knowing that social forces do obey social laws in a way very similar to physical forces obey physical laws.
Despite the popular belief, Trump’s victory WAS predictable (all pollsters – go back to school).
What happened on November 8, 2016 was a bloodless revolution of a certain type, called a mob revolution.
It was not the first mob revolution known in the history of mankind (but one of the few of bloodless, at least so far).
Two of the most well-known are: the French Revolution of 1789-1790 (http://www.history.com/topics/french-revolution), and the Russian Bolshevik coup of 1917 (http://www.history.com/topics/russian-revolution).
The designer of the Bolshevik coup Vladimir Lenin studied the French Revolution (among many other studies) and wrote books on the matter. Then he successfully used his theory to design and to organize the coup.
Those books have been available in many languages for about a century. In different countries, many Marxists extremists used them successfully to take over a power. The theory works like a clock! But only under certain conditions (like any scientific theory). To win a power takeover organizers have to ride a wave of a deep populace disappointment and to direct it into actions (hopefully, just a massive voting turnout). That deep populace disappointment happens when the social establishment concentrates all energy on an internal power struggle and loses touch with the needs and feelings of common folks.
All mob revolutions had been based on a frustration masses felt due to economic downturns in the countries. People felt tricked, lied upon, neglected, exploited and powerless. As the result, they embraced leaders with strong rhetoric and simple solutions. “The system is rigged, those … (rich, Jews, intelligent, foreign powers, immigrants, …) are our enemies, we have to destroy them, demolish the system, and start from scratch”. “The International” (the hymn of Socialists and later Communists of the 19th and 20th centuries) has these words:
“Stand up, damned of the Earth
Stand up, prisoners of starvation
Reason thunders in its volcano
This is the eruption of the end.
Of the past let us make a clean slate”.
The latter line describes the typical emotion of people who have been feeling frustration for a long time. When negative emotions have been brewing for a long time, eventually logic just gets shot off. People just don’t care anymore about current social structures and what to crash them. It is like a movie detective who has to let go a criminal and in frustration brakes his beloved coffee mug against a wall.
If Clinton’s people read the books and knew the theory, they would be on guard and would be able to develop the right strategy to curb Trump’s enthusiasm.
But that exactly is the problem. Neither Clinton nor her team were able to step outside of a circle of traditional views on politics.
2. All those pundits, political scientists, sociologists, media analytics professionals, think tank members, pollsters, etc. have to admit that they have no idea how to access populace mood and how to predict populace behavior in extraordinary social circumstances. The current school of polling has completely failed.
One of many pollsters said today on a radio: “Clinton’s numbers were within the margin of error”. Another one said: “Evidently, many of those who did not show any indication to vote, voted for Trump.”
If the “margin of error” included the losing scenario, did you warn your client? Did you even know that the losing scenario was within the “margin of error”? Did you consider a scenario with a large percentage of hidden voters? Did your polls show a possibility of the last-minute voters? Did you even try to assess how many last-minute voters might exist? Questions can – and should – go on and on.
Right after Trump’s nomination it has become extremely clear that this election is far from regular, the social landscape is highly abnormal. It should have become self-evident (like it has now) that current technologies of social predictions work only for regular social events and cannot help with analyzing this race. Instead of asking "Who will you vote for?", right questions would be "What do you talk about when you are in a bar with your friends?", "What are your fears?", "Describe the leader you want to see in the WH?", etc. The problem is that no one from social-analytical establishment – on both sides – really saw how distorted the social landscape was, hence no one tried to developed methods which could capture those hidden abnormalities and irregularities. Well, now they have four years to figure it out.
3. For the Democrats this loss is the result of “a failure of imagination”. November 8 2016 is Democrats’ 9/11.
Number 1 reason for this loss is the arrogance of the Democratic establishment. They saw how Trump just broke the establishment of the Republicans, but they didn’t believe that this could happen to them, they didn’t even consider this option (instead of thinking “I know I am right” they should have asked a question “What if I am wrong?”). That is why they didn’t try to listen to Trump supporters, didn’t really try to understand their motives, just dismissed them as “deplorables”. If they did, maybe they would see that in addition to “deplorables” there was – and still is – (a) a layer of people who felt tired of hard living and just wanted to feel for once as a winner (sport team psychology); (b) a layer of people who felt ignored and wanted to feel relevant (teenager psychology); (c) a layer of people who did not want to be pushed to vote for Hillary merely because “Trump is bad” (rebellious psychology: you want me to do this – here is the opposite!).
Currently I am an Independent.
During the Primaries, I voted Democratic. I was walking to the voting booth ready to vote for Hillary. I loved Bernie Sanders, but I knew he had no chance to get the nomination. And in the last second with a pen in my hand I changed my mind and voted for him. Yesterday I voted for Hillary. But I am sure that lots of people just could not force themselves to vote for her. We will discuss soon why couldn’t they do it. But the fact of the matter is that no one in the democratic camp even thought of this possibility and hence no one even tried to work with it.
Arrogance results in rejecting any ideas which do not belong to an established set of views. That is why Hillary’s team has been using the same old playbook used by Obama. I do not watch news on a regular basis. Lately, when I did – randomly and sporadically – I saw Trump and crowds of people speaking out, or I saw Hillary on a stage with celebrities. If you see these images again and again you get an impression of who is with people and who is above. But Hillary’s team did not try to dig into a psychology of undecided voters. They just kept pushing the “bad Trump” agenda.
We – humans – love our independence, we do not like to be forced into something to do, even if that is for our own benefit (ever tried to make your kid to eat green stuff?). We want to be convinced, not forced. We do want to feel as a winner. If we feel frustrated for a long time our logic just gets shot off. We react like a movie detective who has to free a criminal and brakes his beloved coffee mug against a wall. We just stop caring about consequences of our actions. We just want to break something to feel just a little bit better, do something unexpected, out of order – to feel power again. And this part of human psychology is very well known. However, even when the polls showed a big and sudden (!) drop for Hillary, which was a clear indicator of something unexpected, her team did not try anything from the outside of the playbook they used.
You cannot treat unexpected using methods established for well expected cases.
Arrogance results in surrounding yourself only with people with whom you feel yourself comfortable, which means, talking only to people who confirm your views. During my Russia days, I watched Putin’s closest advisers expressing views almost opposite to the boss’s. Maybe it was just a play, but maybe it was a deliberate politics. What I see around me now is a strong motivation to avoid any disagreement. No one wants to have any discussion if there is a chance to be criticized. Everyone wants to talk only to people with whom one feels comfortable. Conformism within Democratic establishment is the real reason of “a failure of imagination”. But the same conformism has taken place in all social establishment strata, including government, science, education. People within the same circle do not argue with each other, do not criticize each other – that would mean for them that they do not belong to the same circle. The only arguing these days, or years, is happening between opposing camps.
This division is clear when you watch or read news media. Different media outlets have very different audiences, which do not talk to each other. For more than a year late show hosts laughed at Trump, mocked him and his supporters, but for the last couple of months they’ve been communicating to the same group of people, who made their mind a long time ago (hence, didn’t help to grow the number of Hillary’s voters). These hosts also mocked Hillary, but for her singing, or dancing, or dressing. No one mocked her for not trying to step out of her circle and to reach out to people with unorthodox ideas.
Because no one wants to hear unorthodox ideas.
Because that would require unorthodox thinking (a.k.a. thinking).
Much easier to rely on names.
If a big fish establishment name says or writes something – we publish or promote it.
The result is – The Boston Globe (just as an example) has not published any interesting view, any unexpected opinion, any unusual examination, because who would read something extraordinary (a.k.a. outside of ordinary), if the most of the readers represent that establishment which representatives got published in The Boston Globe?
4. Republican establishment did not see a large stratum of people who brought Trump to the win. Democratic establishment did not see the same stratum of people who could bring Hillary to the win. That stratum is not composed of the obvious Trump supporters, who truly believe in his ability to build the wall, who hate minorities, LGBT, and abortions.
A typical representative of this “hidden” social stratum said on a radio, that her brother is a gay, in her school they have and love many people from minorities and immigrants. Why did she vote for Trump? Because she felt ignored. Establishment was busy solving their own problems and simple folks got neglected, left on their own.
The meaning of this is simple:
(A) If I vote for Trump it does not mean I am a bigot or hate immigrants.
(B) My vote for Trump is me screaming – I’m hurting and I want to be noticed!
The first statement represents a form of a psychological escape tactic – by doing this (voting for Trump) I do not do anything immoral.
The second statement is the expressions of fears and feeling of being trapped and helpless. Those fears come from many sources, like dying local economy, stagnated wages, rising cost of leaving, seeing other social forces growing up in power (yes –immigrants taking jobs, minorities whose life matters). Hence – revolt against the current status quo; the current system does not work, we need to break it.
Vladimir Lenin wrote books and successfully used his theory to organize and to win the Bolshevik coup of 1917. I doubt that Trump’s or Hillary’s teams read those books (which is another sign of being conventional). But Trump was following his gut feeling, replaced his team three times searching for people with similar gut feeling, and who, like him, were able to think outside of the ordinary set of ideas (for good of for bad). Hillary relied on people using the same old strategy, which was her own strategy.
Arrogance of Hillary Clinton pushed her to enter the race. Then her arrogance made her say: “We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought”. This is just silly (at the minimum). We all have clearly seen the big division in the country. Hillary did it, too. But she hoped that this division would be in her favor. That did not happen.
Arrogance of the Democratic establishment led to nominating the worst possible candidate.
Party culture led to that no other valid candidate, including Biden (!), risked to challenge Hillary’s party rank. Only one outsider stepped in, but due to arrogance of the party apparatus he was outmaneuvered. And even with all this arrogance Hillary still had a chance to win, if she and her team would be able to step outside of the playbook they used for the campaign. Instead they just have been running ahead like horses with blinders (in this case a narrow-sightedness is worse than a short-sightedness; hope this explains the picture – this how
I see today’s Democratic party).
5. Whose fault is it? What do we do now? (Two beloved Russian unanswered questions)
Previous parts of this piece answered the first question.
The answer to the second one comes automatically.
Everyone who cares about the future has to become an active Democrat.
Has to participate in all local party events.
Has to vote out all current selected party officials and replace them with new ones.
Remember the lady on a radio who voted because she felt ignored and neglected?
I bet she has not been voting for a long time, she did not go to primaries or local elections. She did not want to participate in routine social activities, did not want to read various analytical articles and to participate in lengthy discussions. All she and many others want is having “a strong and fair king” who would make all important decisions to make their life better but without making them to participate.
Well, everyone who cares about the future needs to do just the opposite.
That lady also represents “whites without college degrees” who brought Trump to a victory. She does not see the big disconnect in her own logic. Yes, she personally is not a bigot and does not hate immigrants. But she elected a person who on his own just incapable of being a good political manager (yes – this statement is based on personal view of “political management” and facts about Trump). Hence, like it has happened in the history of mankind many times before, he will be an object of constant manipulation. He will not be managing the country, but his circle of influence will (among so many historic examples, check this one about Grigori Rasputin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigori_Rasputin).
But to see that, one needs to know a history, and to know basics of political management, and just management, and just be able to derive relatively long logical conclusions, and act upon facts and reason instead of upon emotions.
All these skills come from good education.
All these skills come only from good education.
This is why the 2016 Presidential elections has been a testament of the U.S. educational system.
This is why the number one goal for all activists across the country should be fighting for making education great! (not again, though, because so far it has not been great, so – just great).
This post has some more specifics on what to do: