Imagine you are an advisor to a politician facing a difficult re-election campaign in the fall and you are tasked with planning a campaign strategy. If you are a rational person, you would first start with the polling. What are the big issues on the minds of the voters and how do they rank your guy on those items. The best way to get back in good standing with the voters is to show them you care about their issues and most important, you agree with them on those issues.
Now, this is easier said than done. If the top issue with voters is energy prices and your guy has spent his career talking about the need to ratchet up energy costs in order to please Gaia, then you have a problem. The voters are stupid, but there are limits and your guy is a true believer. In fact, you worship Gaia as well, so the idea of speaking against the climate cult is a bridge too far. Still, you have to figure out a way to convince people that Gaia cares about gas prices too.
This is the problem with impractical politics. When public policy is about putting two cars in every garage and a chicken in every pot, politicians are free to acknowledge error and change gears to chase the voters. In happier times, politicians were the guys chasing the parade, hoping to get to the front so they could pretend to be the parade leaders come election time. That can only work when the only thing you believe in is being on the good side of the voters.
When politics is dominated by true believers, then the range of choices is limited to what ideology permits. Even worse, disconfirmation, those bits of reality that contradict the tenets of the faith, must be seen as a plot against the faith. After all, to acknowledge reality would require questioning the ideology. Instead, the ideologue is required to attack reality as a challenge to the faith. Politics for the ideologue is reduced to the friend-enemy distinction.
We see this today. The number one issue for voters is gas prices. The ruling class likes high gas prices because it pleases Gaia. They also like it because it harms the Dirt People, which reinforces the friend-enemy distinction. The Cloud People are largely defined by not being Dirt People. It is why administration officials start giggling whenever they are asked about gas prices. It is also why they cannot pivot to take the side of the voters and promote policies that lower gas prices.
Getting back your job of promoting a candidate in bad odor with the voters, this ideological trap is a problem. If the reason the voters are unhappy is an issue like gas prices and your guy is giggling about it in public, then there is no way you can fix his problems on that issue. That only leaves one option. You have to find some other issues on which your guy is good with the voters. With the right “messaging” you can distract the voters from the bad stuff and focus on good stuff.
This works if there are issues where your guy’s ideology is popular with the voters or issues outside of ideology. Right there is the problem. Since ideology is political, everything political will fall within ideology. In other words, there is nothing within the political space that falls outside of ideology. You could have your guy campaign on the latest sports scores, but the voters would just assume he lost his mind. They expect him to talk about the political. That is the point of politics.
Since the Cloud People define themselves in opposition to the Dirt People, it means their ideological position on all things political must in someway be in opposition to the very nature of the Dirt People. When hunting around for issues to distract the voters, your guy will inevitable stake out a position that separates him from the Dirt People as a matter of ideological identity. Even when trying to distract the voters you run the risk of alienating them on these secondary issues.
We see this with the current frenzy of gun grabbing in Washington. The Biden people put out word that they were going to distract people from the economy by grifting on the latest school shooting. The problem is the gun grabbers are consumed with spiting normal people who support gun ownership. Instead of the issue being a way to distract voters, it is a reminder that the people in charge hate the voters. The distraction quickly becomes a reminder of why people are unhappy.
The upcoming January 6 show trials are another example. The whole point of this thing is to remind the Dirt People of their place. They could sell some of this right after it happened, as most Dirt People are in favor of order. At this point, when shelves are empty and gas prices are soaring, the Dirt People are starting to wonder if the QAnon Shaman was onto something. This show trial is exactly what the party should be avoiding, but they cannot stop themselves. It is who they are.
Of course, from your perspective as an advisor, none of this matters. If your guy loses in the fall, you will still have a job. You may not be working for an office holder, but you will catch on at a think tank or cable channel. Politicians are just actors hired for the role and the supply is endless. You just have to remember who your friends are and who are the enemies and you will be just fine. After all, friends take care of friends who never forget who is the real enemy.
This is the crisis in American politics. The primary thrust of American politics is defending the prevailing orthodoxy from challenges. This reinforces class identity and that friend-enemy distinction. As a result, public policy is about maintaining the great divide between the Cloud People and the Dirty People in order to maintain ideological and class solidarity. This informs all of their actions. Pragmatic solutions to current problems are seen as apostacy.
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