The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Desperation - III

For the past few posts, I've discussed what I perceive as a growing shrillness in the Obama campaign, it's spokespeople, it's ads, it supporters in the media, and of course, it's supporters on the Left. I think it's a sign of desperation, but why?

I've tried to provide anecdotal examples, but is there something going on that's bigger than any single example? I believe there is, and it can be tied to a fascinating concept that was originally suggested more than a decade ago by conservative commentator, Glen Reynolds. At that time Reynolds was trying to explain why dictatorial regimes sometimes disintegrate in a precipitous manner. He coined the term preference cascade.

A few months ago, John Hayward discussed Reynold's original thesis.
A large population can be dominated by a small group only by persuading all dissenters that they stand alone.  Most of their fellow citizens are portrayed as loyal to the regime, and everyone around the dissident is a potential informer.  A huge dissident population can therefore be suppressed, by making them believe they’re all lonely voices in the wilderness… until the day they begin realizing they are not alone, and most people don’t support the regime.  The process by which dissent becomes seen as commonplace, and eventually overwhelming, is the preference cascade.
Stated more crudely, the emperor may have no clothes, but everyone is afraid to be the first to say so. Sure, a few people grumble about it, but among your peers - people who originally supported the emperor -- everyone stays silent. Until first one, then another, and then another begin to grumble about his nakedness. Before long, it becomes fashionable to state the obvious -- the emperor has no clothes -- the message has gone viral.

But this is politics, and no one is suggesting that the Obama administration is a dictatorship. What gives?

Again from Hayward:
[Obama's] popularity has always been buttressed by the conviction – very aggressively pushed by his supporters – that disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral.  You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him, or at least a greedy tool of the Evil Rich, or a “Tea Party extremist.”
There are very few democrats and independents who want to be characterized in that way, and so they remained silent, even though the President's failures of leadership and policy mounted.

Today, some moderate democrats and more than a few independents are beginning to grumble, some very loudly. And as the grumbling begins to build, other democrats and many independents begin to realize that criticizing this president is neither racist, elitist, nor extreme. That's the beginning of a preference cascade, and I think that's what Obama and his supporters fear most.