Thursday, October 19, 2006

Politicians who learn -- wouldn't that be a breath of fresh air?

* kathleen reardon:
"From a persuasion vantage point, (change) is a tall order. Decades of research indicate that once people have publicly committed to a position, it is difficult to change their minds, even if they know they were wrong. No one likes to be wrong, especially publicly so. Change is uncomfortable when it's not abhorrent. And human beings decline to engage in it. Doing something differently means stepping into the unknown or an arena inhabited by one's previously proclaimed adversaries. That's why fear works so well as a deterrent to change. It backs people into their mental cages.

Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have exited his. If so, he's a rarity in public office, an enigma on today's cowardly political landscape. Is this a man who learned? Is this an exceptional politician who can be inconsistent without being buried alive by a press ignorantly promulgating the delusion that change is tantamount to lying or, worse, an embarrassing admission of having been wrong? And, if so, can other politicians, a la Schwarzenegger, change their minds based on new information and still win? Politicians who learn -- wouldn't that be a breath of fresh air?

What if we were to consider change a strength rather than a weakness, as adaptation rather than abdication? That's how voting is supposed to work - as an educated choice, not a banal routine. Rather than blind allegiance to a party or previously proclaimed positions, Americans could then vote their hearts and minds. What a novel concept!

To help this along, I have a persuasion tip for the Democrats. You need an Assisted-Voter-On-The-Threshold Program for those considering a change. Many Republicans, Independents and Democrats who believed the lies are now experiencing cognitive dissonance - a discomfort with their previous choices. They're standing on the threshold of change and need a hand across. Help them understand why they voted as they did last time, how many people like them were duped, and what they can say to people who criticize their new way of thinking. Otherwise, they're going to slip back into their comfort zones or not show up at all.

They need to hear from people like themselves who are deciding not to be lemmings. A good start -- people who love their country and would go to war in a heartbeat if the cause was just and the reasons honest, who are religious but don't want their love of God used to feed voracious corporate greed, who are sick of lobbyists silencing their voices to commandeer Senate and Congressional votes, pretense covering perversions in their own Capitol, and deprivation of the majority to feather the nests of the insatiable.

Change is difficult. A clear platform from the Democrats won't provide it. The world is too complex. But a moral political compass will. No more public relations sophistry of the types exposed in detail by Frank Rich in his new book. No more hijacking of our values for self-serving ends. Let's be stirred like we were by JFK, not by promising specific actions on problems we've yet to identify or completely understand, but by promising to represent Americans instead of resenting them.

Help people see that they were far from alone in not knowing they'd been deceived. Introduce us on television and radio to people who changed their minds, voters who are not putting the same people back in power and who are tough enough to take the heat for making a change, for learning, and for following their minds rather than the pack."
i heart kathleen. i think this is a great post (as always) - but i'm not sure that we are going to be able to get a whole lotta people over that 'change' threshold in 19 days. It's all about GOTV for the next three weeks. If you don't want to be submitting something to on Nov 8, do whatever you can to make sure everyone you know is going to get to the voting booth on Nov 7.

(btw - do me a favor - if you like kathleen's work and drop a note of support for her in the comments. i've previously said that she ' taught me everything i know')


rimone said...

What if we were to consider change a strength rather than a weakness, as adaptation rather than abdication?

unfortunately, no one has yet pointed out that when one doesn't change; when one is 'resolute' or whatever the fuck he's calling it these days, the fucking world goes by and in relation, that one is like going backward (think of astronomy and planets going 'retrograde' while everything else is spinning into the future).

Kathleen i looove your work. like Larisa and a few others, you've put my crazed thoughts into sane, grounded statements. you should be very proud of Luke. :-)

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Kathleen is as good as can be, and certainly as good as it gets at Huffpo. I'm not a regular reader of Huffpo, in that they won't let me post in comments, so I don't trouble them by adding to their hit count.

Kathleen said...

Kathleen Reardon is sooo right on, it's downright painful that she isn't in a position of authority.

The inability to change is the inability to learn. It takes a magnanimous soul to admit error and unfortunately, most are so insecure and conformist, admitting error is too frightening. Having a hand reached out to them could be just the reassuring thing needed.

All God's chillens have clay feet, afterall.

oldschool said...

Ms. Reardon's work is always excellent. Clear, concise, insightful and persuasive. I second Kathleen's comment that it would be wonderful to have her in a position of authority. Secretary of Common Sense, Pragmatism, and Good Judgment.

I wish I could make my mind work like hers, though not all of the time, for I'd miss the sheer entertainment value of my occasional Demented Days.

Superteemu said...

Reardon is one of the rare HuffPosters I always read. I've avoided commenting, though, since that would put me in a vulnerable position: with one answer, she'd be able to negotiate me into giving all my assets into some good cause, or to marrying her (if she's into boy-flesh). And it's not that I wouldn't find someone with that much intellect attractive, but guess who'd end up doing all the housework? :(

lukery said...

thanks everyone.

if i had my druthers, kathleen would be secretary for state - the average global IQ would jump by 5 points overnight

oldschool's comments notwithstanding, the cool thing about kathleen's framework and teaching and writing and so on is that it's completely accessible. there's not a lot of magic involved. i was lucky enough to be in her class for (just) one semester, and now when i read her stuff it is always compelling, but it is 'merely' the 20% icing on the cake of the basics that i was able to absorb in a short 30 or so hours in her class.

In other words, i'm sure kathleen has her days of fun insanity just like Oldschool - she isn't an expert in Jedi mind-trickery or anything, she just has a fantastic framework that anyone (even me) can understand and use, if they have the (basic) tools.

of course, kathleen is a gazillion times more sophisticated than any of us - but still...

lukery said...

teemu - lol.

the cool thing about kathleen's 'style' of negotiating is that it is the exact opposite of zero-sum. her goal isn't to get you to do the housework against your will - it's about understanding how much you hate housework vs something else, and versus how much she dislikes it. e.g. if you hated doing the 'housework' and hated mowing the lawns, but didnt mind shopping, cooking and doing the dishes, and she hated cooking and dishes, and gardening, but didnt mind housework - then you could find the best outcome between the two of you. allocating the shopping might be a toss-up.

or to put it in more concrete terms - a friend of this blog is in the process of selling his house. he told me that he got, say, $20k more than the market price, and he was ecstatic. he also told me that one of the conditions of sale was that he got to live in his house rent-free for another 6 months (becuase the buyer doesnt need to property immediately), and that he didn't have to spend any money on fixing his place up, or pay any realtor fees, or any advertising etc etc.

in other words, he effectively got, say, $30k more for his house than what it was worth when you include all the relevant bits - but the temptation is to focus on the 'headline' price only - which might miss a lot of the 'hidden' value in the deal.