Dragging the debate left; the fine art of political mass consciousness-altering

In a Pit thread, Der Trihs said something insightful. (Yeah, yeah, snark about the source elsewhere–he did.)

I think this is a good description of how to do political negotiation, & how not to.

In fact, I’ve been putting off starting a thread referring to this principle, & Der Trihs reminded me of it.

And then today, I made the argument that Domestic Partnerships might be acceptable where gay marriage is not (I’m not sure this is true, but it’s a classic, “Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” argument)–& got this response in another Pit thread:

Fair enough.

Ergo & henceforth, I propose to consistently push a position as deviant from the status quo–but in the direction I find desirable–as I can stand. E.g., I believe in a British-style National Health Service, & will advocate for same. I know that many will find that extreme; that’s the point. The more of us who advocate for that, the less our country will think Canadian-style Medicare is extreme.

On the other hand, trying to pitch something that’s already a compromise is a good way to get nothing. If we advocate for Swiss-style health insurance on the basis that it’s as close to American as you can get, would we make any progress?

Pitch a proposal away from the status quo & away from the “possible.” Then compromise on the possible.

I don’t really mean this to be health-care thread specifically; though I’d be willing to let it drift there. What other policies can we apply this principle to?

This is the political equivilent of a “negotiation”.

Say you want to list your house $200k. However, the price for which you will let it go at is well below that figure. And you also know that I know that you have a threshold point well below $200k too, so you list for $215k, I offer an insulting low ball figure to get to your actual sell point. In the end we compromise on something in the middle, but each of us will go to far extremes to get to that middle ground that is acceptable, or atleast what we think is the middle ground.

That is how laws are made, IMO.

There’s a problem, though. Price that house too high and you won’t be able to negotiate at all - you won’t get anyone looking at the property.

Think there isn’t a political equivalent? Remember HillaryCare and the 1994 congressional elections that followed.

I think the OP has a point - somewhat. But there is a limit to how far the voters will let you push the debate, and that isn’t usually very far.

Absolutely. If you’re too extreme on your position, most will pay no attention to you.

And people almost always fail to appreciate how drastically different opposing views can be, and just how many people really are on the other side, and how far they can go.

People who think that Nancy Pelosi is a wild-eyed left wing socialists don’t grasp that there are in fact people even more leftist than she is. People who think that George Bush is a right wing extremist struggle to process the fact that there are, in fact millions who think of him as not conservative enough.

I disagree with the premise. Clinton was the most effective Democrat president since FDR and he was a moderate.

I do not think this is objectively true.

Rather, they collapse (for either example) anything beyond … well a certain point relative to their own views into an undifferentiated extreme.

That is more a characteristic of being an ideologue than anything objectively true about the range of opinion in any given country. One can certainly see people relatively far from the centre who, not being ideologues, can still differentiate among parties on the other side. Then one sees ideologues who tend to collapse all opponents into a perceived extreme (and are unable to see they themselves are far from the centre, or if they do, they have convoluted excuses as to why).

But in a property negotiation the correct response is to make an offer and stick to it, do not negotiate further. You can’t offer a $200k property at $215K and expect to get 200. If the fair market value is really 200 my offer to you will be 190 or 195. If you make a counter offer below your ridiculous 215, you have already lost the negotiation. You have admitted your lie. I will just wait. The worst I can do is fail to buy a property above market value. The best is I get it for less than it’s value.

But what exactly about Pelosi’s behaviour would warrant describing her as an extreme left wing socialist? No doubt she has more liberal views on many issues, social and economic, than some conservatives would be comfortable with, but the accusation is self-evidently hyperbole.

The 6 in 6 Congressional programme, which exemplifies her approach as Speaker, is entirely moderate. Tweaking the minimum wage, setting Iraq benchmark etc. You’d have to be completely divorced from reality to call that extreme left wing socialism.

As for Bush, whether or not his base now finds it convenient, when confronted with the inevitable backlash against their party, to suddenly discover he’s no true conservative, in terms of some fidelity to some hypothetical pure ideological standpoint, is totally irrelevant. We look at his actions, and on that score, they really are pretty extreme outliers, in context of a sensible definition of the middle in reference to previous administrations of both parties. I mean, Nixon’s Administration looks like a boy-scout liberal paradise by comparison, except in some vague ways in terms of permanent campaign paranoia.

This was the Administration the Republicans got at the height of their power, an embodiment of the conservative movement. They had unfettered control and that’s what they did - it’s a little late to be expressing buyer’s remorse, and nor does that rescue the Administration from the reality of its actions.

I’m pretty far to the left, but I’m perfectly capable of perceiving (and have run threads about) the differences between the various factions and schools of thought on the RW. But most RWs seem incapable of looking at the LW – defining that as anything to the left of Bill Clinton – save through the wrong end of a telescope. It’s like, between Obama, Pelosi, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, whoever’s heading up the Communist Party USA lately, there are no differences that matter, all evil is the same.

Well said BrainGlutton. I take the trouble to distinguish between worthless noise-makers like Coulter, foreign policy realists like Scowcroft and Baker, neo-cons like Max Boot, pragmatists and economic-theory-of-law guys like Posner, and conservative jurists like Scalia, etc. And I think many other people who are broadly unsympathetic to Republicans do as well. We certainly don’t put them all in a collapsed category of anything right of Clinton, with some uniform dismissal of credibility.

But the right has this annoying tendency to run away and hide from the best formulations of the opposing argument, whereby they just focus on the easy strawman like Cindy Sheehan.

How many times during the Iraq war, did we hear the pro-war crowd seek out the best reasoned rebuttal from liberal internationalist and realist camps, who opposed the war with prescient reasoning, rather than some sophistry about protesters being pro-Saddam?

It’s worth noting that this is a good description (albeit in reverse) of how the gay marriage issue developed. Not that long ago, gay couple-hood was not on the political radar at all. Suddenly the Left staked out a position that was quite radical at the time – that gay marriage was a moral necessity. The Right compromised with civil unions and domestic partnerships in many places; even President Bush has endorsed civil unions. The new center is that much farther left.

Obviously, it’s considered unjust, immoral, and/or incomplete by people on either side of the issue, but the center typically is.

I got one: Let’s push for a floor and ceiling on personal incomes. (I seem to recall FDR calling for a maximum income any American should be allowed to have but neither I nor anybody in this thread can find the cite.)

From The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius, by George Orwell (1941), “Part III: The English Revolution”:

See also Kim Stanley Robinson’s utopian novel Pacific Edge. Everybody is guaranteed $10,000 a year work-free, on which you can live very meagerly if you’re satisfied with that; nobody is allowed to have more than $100,000 a year; there’s still plenty of economic dynamism and competition and entrepreneurship because “Everybody wants to be a Hundred.”

I like this – at least as a starting point from which to negotiate down – because it doesn’t involve total nationalization/socialization of the economy, and yet it’s far more radical than anything the so-called social democracies of Europe have yet tried. Come to think of it, it would be a radical proposal even in Chavez’ Venezuela. :wink:

Sure, you would like it. You’re just shy of a Communist yourself. And I mean that descriptively and not pejoratively.

Confiscatory taxation (which is what your solution would entail) has been tried in various Western countries at various times. These countries typically experienced some combination of capital flight and brain drain as a result. Now, if you can fix that problem without stamping on the property or personal rights of the people involved, I’d like to hear that.

I don’t think you can do it.

Yeah, & it’s tempting personally to try to moderate your views so that others will think your idea is close to theirs & OK.

The problem is that most of us, & certainly most politicians, are social creatures, we want to go along & get along, & therefore moderate our views to be political.

So you get a situation where almost no one is willing to jump too far from the familiar, except the guy with the crabby adolescent’s personality, the one who’s not a “good politician;” or the full-of-himself arguable Asperger’s case.

The trick is to be willing to be thought of as extreme; & to let others not quite catch up to you in what they’re willing to advocate publicly, & thus make a successful compromise. This is better than to be too timid.

If ten senators advocate some kind of single-payer socialized medicine, but no one calls for an NHS; then NHS never comes up, Canadian-style single-payer is “the extreme,” & even a German-style system wherein health insurers must be non-profit is “compromising with the Far Left.” But if two of those senators call for an NHS, then single-payer’s not the Far Left anymore, just the left side of the aisle, & maybe more moderate leftists will take a chance on it. In a few years, you may see 8 NHS advocates, 25 single-payer advocates, & a majority willing to vote in a German-style system with mandatory non-profit health insurance, who think they’re resisting the left–all without adding 23 new senators.

Or maybe I’m full of it.

Or another example.

  1. Ann Coulter infamously advocated removing the right to vote from women, because women didn’t vote the way she wanted.

Ann gets to be the far right.

  1. Someone who advocates ignoring what those stupid racial minorities want, because they “don’t understand our culture,” sounds more reasonable to those who already kind of socially conservative than some ninny in a mini calling for her own sex to be disenfranchised because they don’t do everything she wants.

He’s now seen as the “rational but kind of bigoted” right, & his defenders will claim that he talks sense, while his detractors lump him in with Coulter.

Did Coulter help him by being more ridiculous, or hurt him by resembling him & being more ridiculous?

  1. Someone else just keeps on with the Reaganite line of “don’t discriminate against women, but don’t discriminate against men either,” & firmly but apparently fairly denounces “equal pay for equal work” laws.

Compared to Ann Coulter, this appears to be perfectly sane & colorblind. “He’s not a sexist! Ann Coulter is a sexist!”

  1. What has Ann lost? Nothing. Not only will she in reality still have the right to vote, but if she did get her wish, all those “stupid women” she disagrees with would be disenfranchised, & she could get enough men to vote her way with her snide sex appeal anyway.