Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Hot-button Symbolism

This comes from 2011, in this article in the Atlantic. One can argue whether it is 90-100% accurate or something more around 50%, but I don't think there would be much argument that the thing has considerable truth in it.

Why then has no major party embraced it nor new party come up that steers in this direction?

Readers here know the answer: because the tribalism and symbolism do not overlap, and those drive politics more than actual positions.  I am not being merely cynical here. It is not simply the case that some people cannot understand such distinctions - the number of people who could not grasp the point of this is small.  People have discussions every day with folks they work with, or are in their families, churches, or neighborhoods who they wish to establish some common ground with. We don't wish to be divided when we are face-to-face, and will make verbal compromises in excess of what we would actually vote for on a secret ballot. 

But it doesn't stir the blood.

OWS people want their tribe to prevail, and do not trust the folks who have 2nd-Amendment bumperstickers.  Even if they agree, as they might on some similar sentiment to that above, they fear it would all be a ploy, and they would be betrayed at the first opportunity if they allowed those people any power.  Better to support people who have the right instincts.* Similarly,Tea Partiers don't have drum circles and new fluttery-finger communication, aren't ever going to have those things, and when they get into the booth, will not vote for those guys, whatever they had worked out in conference beforehand. 

If people do not respond to the same symbols you do, they are always one step down in trustworthiness. Not for everyone all the time - if we are none of us completely rational, neither are we ever completely irrational either - but for enough of us that we will make no headway.

Sometime soon I should do a post on exceptions; that many liberals have a secret admiration for very limited types of gun use and hunting (how else would LL Bean and now Woolrich have grown without them?), while conservatives retain respect for some types of entirely useless classical learning, even while deploring the general category publicly. Guys who insist they would never drive anything but a Harley (say "Indian Motorcyles" and watch the excitement rise), yoga instructors who covet sports cars at dangerous speeds - we abound in exceptions and contradictions.

*The knock against Roosevelt for a generation was that he had been a traitor to his class. See also, the Doonesbury fury with the Bushes.


Retriever said...

Good post.

Not an exact parallel, but I suspect similar issues prevented people fighting the rise of Fascism in Europe between the two world wars. Socialist Workers parties and decent middle class types and non-monstrous aristos alike would have shuddered privately at Hitler and Benito but not been able to stomach allying with the other people who could have defeated the forces of evil. As people in my family of origin used to say, NOCD. To which, all I can respond is to tell people to go watch the arena scene in Gladiator with the chariots. Strength in numbers. Just because the Fascisti cooped the imagery of those sticks tied together, doesn't mean the lesson of rag tag different people defeating a seemingly overwhelming enemy doesn't still hold. If united. Back to my kennel now….

james said...

Yes, like allying with Stalin. Necessary, but you could hardly fault someone for delaying to see if there were any possible better way... And the Tea Party's core world-view differs so much from Occupy's that even the overlap in goals isn't going to make an alliance anything other than very weak.

Texan99 said...

Both groups may distrust the power of corporations when abetted by the power of government, but they have very different ideas about how to cure the problem. Tea Partiers are often confident that the corporations' power won't cause many problems as long as the government doesn't get into bed with them, though admittedly there's a strong populist streak in the TP that would just as soon kill the biggest, most powerful corporations ("Main St. not Wall St.!"). Progressives seem to think the problem can be solved if the government quits getting into bed with the corporations and instead crushes them, leaving the government as powerful as ever and the consumer with one less private option.

So I don't think it's pure tribalism. I could live with all kinds of hippie tropes--love me some drum circles!--as long as the free market were allowed to function with minimal government interference.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ T99 - I'm sure you aren't unique, and can find others who are sympatico. But I'm betting your approach isn't all that common, either. You are a fugitive from the law of averages.

Texan99 said...

You may be right, although both my husband and I recognize a good bit of ourselves in what has come to be called the "crunchy cons."

ymarsakar said...

Occupy is a puppet and astroturf operation, controlled mostly by the Ayers types.

They couldn't agree to ally with a patriotic faction even if their members want to. They do what they are told to, and their consciences are not involved when following such orders. It's why they can't or won't get rid of the rapists and thugs when they marched. They were the rapists and thugs. It's not a conscience thing or a free will thing, it's an Obey Ayers and Authority thing.