Thursday, November 7, 2013

Making Friends and Influencing People

Warning: mentions politics. Do not respond with regurgitated political talking points and thoughtless one-liners, even if you know I like you as a person.

So, Virginia just had a very close race, and the Republicans lost. The immediate, and inevitable result happened - the Republicans turn around and say "You Stupid Libertarians! If you'd only done the smart thing and voted for our person, we would have won! It's all your fault we lost!"

Let's deconstruct this message for a minute, and maybe some of you will understand why this neither makes friends nor influences voters the way you want them to.

1. Libertarians are not Republicans. They don't have the same goals, the same ideals, the same aims, or the same parties. In fact, if you look into the mass of libertarians, you'll soon realize that while they have a lot of differences, they're often less divisive in aggregate than the republican party - and they are far, far away from the "RINO" Republicans that hold the elected seats and are the face and power of that party.

2. If, after every election, you shout and scream at someone "It's All Your Fault, You Expletive!", people don't forget these insults. They remember, and it makes them even less likely to vote for your candidate even if there's overlap with their ideals at the next election.

3. The non-participation of registered voters always far outweighs the percentage of registered voters who went third party. Even if you assume that all the votes were true (very unlikely; we know there's fraud), 20% of the registered voters didn't turn out for this "close" race.

4. People who haven't got a majority party will take any funding they can to use to their end. Look, in South Africa, the apartheid government refused to educate blacks. The western world turned its back on 'em and basically said "You're no longer a colony, so it's not our problem." The only people who would take the desperate and the disaffected and give them education and training were... China and the USSR. In the end, the communist guerrillas they trained, in the form of the "African National Congress", essentially brought down the government and won the civil war. (See who's in power today.) Yes, they've now made a bloody mess of a once-vibrant economy, because that's what communists do, but the point is - if a Democrat-affiliated donor offers a lot of money to a third party, they're neither stupid nor slow, and they're not blindly suckered by a conspiracy theory. Nor will they turn it down and remain poor just to satisfy the Other Main Party's wish for 'ideological purity.'

Put these four points together, and consider how, after several elections worth of finger-pointing and blaming, the message is loud and clear: "I'm not even going to check into what you want, or who your guy is, you have to vote for mine because I think he's right, even if he doesn't want what you do, and I'm going to point the finger and blame you again anyway if we lose... no matter how many of my people didn't think he was worth voting for and sat this one out."

That is NOT the way to get the libertarian vote on your side. I don't care if your candidate is the second coming of Thomas Jefferson, if your party has a history of treating swing voters like that, they're not going to vote for your guy. Add in the long-established Republican tradition of making some noises to the right virtues, and then acting like.. well, John McCain and Chris Christie, Scott Brown and Mitch McConnell... and no, you're not going to woo a lot of badly burned and thoroughly disgusted voters of an entirely different party by a last ditch effort of "But this one's Tea Party! He's Awesome! You've got to ditch your candidate and support ours because he's making all our right noises!" Even if it's true.

Look to your non-participation rate within your own party before you start casting about for a third-party scapegoat, guys, because a dog may lick the boot that kicked it, but swing voters, and voters that belong to another party with different aims and goals than yours, sure won't. All you're doing is ensuring they won't vote for your guy in the next election.


  1. Hey I live in Colorado ... I hear this shit damned near every election. Neither the party of evil nor the party of stupid can seemingly foist a candidate that i can vote for without holding my nose and i am sick of it . So screw them both , ill pull the lever for snoopy if i have to in order not to further enable them .

  2. What Farm Dad said.

    By the way, this post is the best explanation of The Great Voter Divide, and the reasons therefor, that I've ever read.

    Well done!

  3. There's also this: history proves that nothing is static, and what are the main parties now have not always been so...nor are they guaranteed to stay that way. Just because (R) and (D) are the main parties of the moment, with the main philosophies of the moment, does not mean it's hopeless to vote any other way. These things have a way of changing, despite all the incumbents try to do to hold onto power.

    So to stand athwart history yelling "Your party is pointless! Only mine and mine enemy have power!"...