Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dark Crossings: Closing the Strauss gap with the GOP

Four years ago I was offended by the GOP's Strauss strategy - a strategy that assumes most Americans are gullible peasants ...
Gordon's Notes: IHT: The long reach of Leo Strauss (Pfaff 2003)

... Bush and Rove live the Straussian story. The key element is that 'stories' are what the masses need. It's why Bush has absolutely no credibility among anyone who thinks. It's not that Bush is stupid, it's that we know everything he says is a 'story' for the 'masses'....

Gordon's Notes: Rove , Bush and the Swift Boat Veterans. Goering Lives.

... Now we begin to understand where the swift boat fraud is coming from. Kerry's biography portrayed some of them to as incompetent leaders and war criminals. They responded with a frantic barrage of accusations, amplified and encouraged by Bush money and right wing adulation. The more the money, the more the power, the more their memories changed.

There are links to the successful attacks on Dukakis, Clinton, McCain and others. This strategy works, and it works well. The masses can be swayed. Goering perfected these techniques 70 years ago, Rove is merely refining the master's work.

Leo Strauss, idol of the neocons, preached the power of stories to guide the masses...
Of course we know how it turned out four years ago. The Strauss strategy worked beautifully.

It still works...
Will the GOP's negativity produce a backlash? - Glenn Greenwald -

... there is this Rasmussen Reports poll from today, taken after Palin's speech:
A week ago, most Americans had never heard of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now, following a Vice Presidential acceptance speech viewed live by more than 40 million people, Palin is viewed favorably by 58% of American voters. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 37% hold an unfavorable view of the self-described hockey mom.
A CBS poll taken during the GOP Convention shows Obama and McCain tied (after showing Obama with a 6-point lead last week), while the Gallup daily tracking poll continues to show Obama with a 7-point lead...

... But the idea that Americans instinctively recoil from negativity or that there will be some sort of backlash against Republicans generally and Palin specifically because of how "negative" their convention speeches were is pure fantasy. Cultural tribalism and personality attacks of those sort work, especially when they're not aggressively engaged..

Now, four years later after attacking the Strauss strategy of Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld, I realize I've crossed over to the dark side ...
Gordon's Notes: Daily Show savages the GOP flip-floppers

... Some of my more logically minded friends are having trouble believing that the right wing can be so internally inconsistent. They need to read more Orwell.

The GOP has DoubleSpeak deep in their DNA. They do this stuff because it works; because a very large number of Americans are driven by emotion rather than reason...
Has America really changed, or was it always so? My reading of American history is that that authoritarian power of the Strauss strategy has waxed and waned here, just as it has in many democracies. In our time it's strong. I don't know why the Strauss strategy works so well now. Maybe it's driven by a power shift from less educated males to more educated females, maybe by changes to the economics of the media business, maybe it's due to the aging of the voter pool, maybe it's all of these and more.

Whatever the reason, Strauss rules today.

The problem for the enlightened rationalist is that there's a Strauss Gap between the GOP and the Dems.

In Straussian terms we can divide the GOP voters into the peasants and the masters. The masters know the GOP rhetoric is irrational propaganda, but they're fine with that. They imagine the GOP will serve their interests [1], and they believe that the rhetoric is needed for the masses.

Unfortunately, I can also divide the Dems into two groups -- but they're different groups. We too have voters who feel rather than reason -- though in our case their feelings are in fact aligned with their interests. Unfortunately, we have the Idealistic Rationalists instead of the Straussian Rationalists.

The Idealistic Rationalists are my former tribe. They believe that appeals to reason and noble values will work.

They're almost right. The elections are finely balanced. I fear, however, that American is still in a Straussian cycle -- and we could get worse.

We need to convert our Idealistic Rationalists to the Dark side, to convert them into reluctant Straussians. At the very least, they need to accept a painful truth -- Obama will not be speaking to you. He will say what he must say -- and you won't like it.

Harsh times. I wish they weren't so, but we know where wishful delusions lead.

Join me Luke, join the Dark Side of the Force ...

[1] Jonathon Schwarts explained beautifully why GOP rationalists are wrong to think the GOP serves their interests. They need a world that works as much as the rest of us, and whatever the short term gain the GOP gives them they'll lose big within they and their children's lifespans.

Update 1/19/2009: It's a good think I wasn't running Obama's campaign. Obama didn't need no stinkin' Strauss. I don't understand why Americans weren't fooled again, but, apparently, we weren't.

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