I’ve seen some acquiescence surrounding our pending Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch. For the Left-inclined folks out there that watch his nomination process, shrug, and say “Well, Gorsuch ain’t so bad,” I have some strategy for you. It shouldn’t be beyond comprehension for anyone who thinks themselves House-of-Cardsian enough to vote strategically for Clinton (rather than voting for what they believe in ahahahahah sorry i merely wish that argument wasn’t past its prime because it was so fun and never tired or old hat anyways moving on–please don’t stop reading):
It’s not our responsibility to let anyone off the hook in the name of civility. In fact, it’s harmful to our goal of progressive utopia. If we’re thinking strategically, as our fellow Leftists demand of us so often, then the only people who should consider civility are our politicians. Since they’re playing a game that they’re practiced in, and the country’s not on the verge of a military coup or something, ᵒʳ ᵃʳᵉ ʷᵉ maybe there’s no need for them to stonewall the hell outta Gorsuch and stage hunger strikes and lay their bodies behind his car’s rear tires so that he’s stuck in his driveway like a total putz. I do not know what’s best in politics, I’m not a politician. Unless you’ve been a politician your whole life, I’m also skeptical on whether you know what’s best.
But that takes a weight off our shoulders.
Besides direct action like voting, or being elected, or storming the Bastille to hang the plutocrats, there is only the discussion. We get to dissect and antagonize and rant as much as we please. Political discourse is discourse. It’s the talking. And as private citizens, that’s all we’ve got.
But that’s valuable when the core of this conflict between the Left and the Right–as far as I can tell, given that this is a huge sweeping statement with no particular evidence, only what I’ve gathered and coalesced over my lifetime, so here’s where some trust comes in– is: Nature vs. Nurture. “Everyone is capable of anything with effort” insists Conservative thought, to be countered perpetually by the Liberal “not until they encounter the roadblock that is the biological function of their own brains.” This is THE Gordian Knot. I’d love exceptions, but it def feels like any field of study can be reduced to puzzling over this humdinger. Religion grasps at it too, when circling around free will and divine intervention.
We’ve been dancing around it for centuries, and no point of datum, no thousands of data sets, can resolve it. There’s too much evidence for either side, and too much room in the middle. You can hold the simultaneous beliefs that people can teach themselves valuable skills and someday exchange the performance of those skills for money… But also that the same people do not deserve to die of an infection at age 25 because a cat scratched them and “with all these bootstrappy classes i’m paying to take, who can afford gauze these days? oh no im bleeding out.”
So this conflict between America’s two political forces can’t be won by science. This is a battle of hearts, not minds. Like we aren’t going to whip up an irrefutable equation that the Left is better than the Right. “Errm according to my calculations, Democrats average a 258 Pure Soul score, while Republicans only manage 207.” Nope, not happening.
Though we do have to use science to prove what works at changing hearts! Well… Coercing hearts. torturing the hearts into doing our bidding
We know advertising, as a concept, works. Anything you would call propaganda is advertising, and vice-versa. There is a social aversion to both that keep them in check (see Tim Wu’s The Attention Merchants on that), so it’s not like a single entity can just bombard populations with a message over and over until they’re forced to accept it. ᵒʳ ᶜᵃⁿ ʸᵒᵘ
BUT when was the last time you saw an advertisement that gave an inch?
“Come on down to Comfy Jim’s Mattress Shoppe! Since 1983, we’ve lived by our slogan: ‘I only have two mattresses for sale!'”
When was the last time propaganda hedged its message?
“Join The Army: The Medics Are Really Well-Trained”
Want the best example ever? Remember the ads for the Marines where the soldier fought a (presumably-Afghani) lava colossus? And not with a gun, but with a sword? Regular TV ads are required to feature small print or a manic recitation of side effects; no such restriction here, it might as well have featured screen-length font reading “KILLING SHIT IN REAL LIFE? IT’S ACTUALLY A VIDEO GAME. NOBODY SUFFERS, ESPECIALLY NOT YOU.” (I’m not linking the video because subjecting you to propaganda is the Marines’ job.) And this worked, or they wouldn’t have run the ad. It worked to convince young men and women to sign up en masse to put their lives on the line.
So if we want to warm someone’s heart into beating the same rhythm as ours regarding healthcare, the environment, welfare, equality, needs & wants and what’s deserved & what’s earned, we have to stick to what works: absolute unbending pressure behind our message.
You can even imagine it, a conversation stripped of all intellectual pretense.
Roger says “I like the Republicans.” Danny says “Shut up, you’re wrong.” Roger: “No, you shut up, you’re wrong.” Okay— impasse. How does anyone come out on top? A teammate arrives.
Roger: “Shut up, you’re wrong.”
Danny & Dolores: “Shut up, you’re wrong”
Roger: “Shut up, you’re wr-“
Danny & Dolores & Derrick & Debbie: “Shut up, you’re wrong.”
Roger: “sh. . sh”
A ton of D: “Shut up, you’re wrong.”
[Exeunt Roger to woods, where he lives alone, ashamed, forever]
Shame is so powerful! Feeling as though he’s being kicked tf out of society is gonna either make Roger change his mind or get kicked tf out.
But maybe Roger’s squad shows up. And they have their own #squadgoals. The opposing sides build and build in number until they consist of the entire population of these United States. With such an overwhelming hypothesis, which team wins? How can we possibly figure out which unified voice ends up drowning out the other at the grand conclusion of this all-consuming screambattl—
We have a message and it needs to be the loudest. I’m uncertain of the best way to convey the message. The scale ranges from “kys trump and kin and all trumpkins” to “I have sixteen sourced research studies, each conducted impeccably. Read them all and you’ll be convinced.” You do you.
But if the goal of those actions and any in between is empowering our message until it seems as inevitable as tablets carried down the mountain, the only possible silencing or refutation of that message comes from internal naysayers.
Which brings us back to Gorsuch, and the moderates’ points in his “favor,” which can be reviewed with fresh eyes from the position I’ve described.
“Reagan named a supreme court justice and he didn’t turn out so awful!” First off: it was awful considering the alternative is anyone you can imagine who would be better. It’s awful to not get what you want from the world you live in when we have the capability and resources to make it any measure easier. It’s fucking awful and unfair and there’s no reason life should be like this. Don’t talk down to yourself. (I’ll do it for you, obvs.) Secondst off, who cares? I will remember your advice when I next stumble down a timetube into the 1980s. (no i won’t, like they didn’t even have spotify or cars back then, i would throw myself in front of a horse-and-buggy if that happened)
“He will probably have rulings I disagree with, but that’s okay.” Why not disagree with all of them? They will never be perfect. Ginsberg and Sotomayor ain’t perfect (though they’re closer). Until our world is perfect, disagree with every ruling that doesn’t elevate us, and demand more from the ones that do. Why not? What do you stand to lose by demanding the things you want? At worst, you don’t yet get the things you want. What do you stand to gain? … The things you want.
“He’s intelligent and civil. There’s no denying he’s fit for the job.” Sociopaths can be intelligent and civil. These are not hallmarks of any sort of moral or character or soul. He is not fit for the job because he is not perfect. Find me perfection and I’ll quit whining; until then, we have rhetorical work to do and the sleeves remain rolled up. Oh, and Gorsuch is neither intelligent or civil. He stands behind corporations over people (the opposite of civil) and he made the decision to do so (the opposite of intelligent).
“Save your energy for the next round of protesting!” What?? you don’t need to tell people to save their energy. When people run out of energy, they stop without your say-so. No one feels proud of it, so they do it in private, watching TV or whatever, so you can’t prove that folks are even capable of running out of energy. We may all have massive energy reserves that we still don’t tap because maybe every single human is a lazy bag of meatslush & dreams & shame (as if their inherent nature is in conflict with their lifelong nurture? huh). Who knows? So just never say this again, the advice has no positive effect and may have a negative one.
All of the quoted comments above strengthen the opposition’s message. Fuck that! Don’t stop being an advertisement for what you believe in. You’re Coke and they’re Pepsi. Why say anything that could give them market share? Especially when our drink tastes like grape socialism and theirs tastes like the icy runoff from the corpses of the poor thawing out on the sidewalks as winter snowbanks finally melt into spring a.k.a. LaCroix.
I get that what I’m suggesting is unnatural behavior. These tactics don’t lend themselves to friendly conversation. People might accuse you of an intellectual blind spot. Good. They’ve already lost. We’re going to win. ᵒʳ ʷⁱˡˡ ʷYES. WE’RE GOING TO WIN
tl;dr You can only bring people to your cause with individual communication and understanding of others’ humanity plus the unceasing support from and collaboration with your community. Everything I’ve described above is rooted in empathy and non-violence. Namaste.