Categories

Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Should the Democrats have chosen Hilary?

To an outsider looking in, it seems astonishing that on 4 November 2008 John McCain might actually be voted the next president of the United States of America. According to the latest Gallup Poll, Barack Obama has a slender lead of 2 points (47:45) but running mate Sarah Palin is said to be stealing large numbers of female voters over to McCain’s side.

How, I ask in wonderment, is this possible? This election terminates one of the most woefully-inadequate American presidencies in modern history.

Think about just how incompetent and/or deluded George W Bush has been. One vital military victory (Afghanistan) derailed by 5 years of not winning another, totally-unnecessary war (Iraq), with world-wide sympathy for 9/11 and tolerance of the Afghan invasion turned to detestation of the United States as the world’s bully boy. (A perception only just begiining to change as Russia is now up for the title!) Incompetence reflected in Bush’s simply not knowing what to do as the federal government’s inaction cost lives in New Orleans 3 years ago – reflected in the federal government’s missupervision of the sub-prime lending market becoming a catalyst for a partial meltdown of America’s – and thus the global – economy.

How, this outsider asks, can the average American want anything to do with the Republicans after this debacle of a presidency?

The answer might lie, in part at least, with the re-election of Bush in 2004. Or, as the Daily Mirror headline (04/11/04) put it: ‘How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?’

The Democrats then, as today, had an apparently-decent, mildly-liberal man (John Kerry) as their candidate. And he was slaughtered at the polls. And he had the advantage of being white!

In a country where government-sanctioned racism has only been dead for a little over 40 years and where there are still quite healthy pockets of intense racism, being the first black presidential candidate is certainly ground-breaking and attention-grabbing – but, whether it’s a vote-winning quality is a moot point. (I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been an assassination attempt yet!)

The race issue aside, if Obama is more or less cut from the same cloth as Kerry, what makes the Democrats think this time it will be different? Obama’s certainly got much more charisma than Kerry ever had; but will that alone be enough?

PURPLE/RED/BLUE or BLUE/ORANGE/GREEN?
Why in November 2004 did so many Americans vote for George W, rather than Kerry?

Things domestically/economically were reasonably OK; but Iraq was already becoming  a major thorn in Bush’s side. Although the mess was still a way off the deepest depths it would reach, it was already clear things were going badly wrong. No ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ – the pretext for the invasion – had been found, the first major prisoner abuse scandal (Abu Grhaib) was in full swing and the insurgency was gathering pace.

I’m going to postulate that a very large proportion of the American electorate is governed by the PURPLE, RED and/or BLUE vMEMES. Memes such as loyalty and patriotism, pride in oneself and one’s country and sacrificing your own interests to do what’s right easily turn into people’s schemas when those vMEMES are in charge. Bush, whose head certainly seems very dominated by RED and BLUE, talked about “standing fast” and “winning through”; Kerry, apparently led by the GREEN vMEME, talked about “bringing the troops home”.

Those Americans whose thinking was dominated by PURPLE, RED and/or BLUE didn’t want to be told that their president was a lying self-server who had got it wrong and they would lose the war. They wanted to be told it would be okay if they remained steadfast, trusting in God and their president.

Obama’s taunt that a McCain presidency “equals 4 more years of Bush” may ring true as exactly what they want to those PURPLE, RED and BLUE thinkers. A self-fulfilling prophecy?

Of course, there are many Americans whose thinking is dominated by higher vMEMES. John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton could never have made the White House otherwise. However, their ORANGE ambition was powerful enough for them to put on a ‘common touch’ masquerade sufficient to resonate with the lower vMEMES and catch a substantial part of that vote. (Conflict Management theorists Robert Blake & Jane Mouton (1964) called this style of matching others to lure them: ‘Opportunism – Exploit & Manipulate’.) In contrast a number of commentators have noted how GREEN and intellectual Obama’s thinking is. That will go down well with GREEN+ thinkers – but will it appeal to PURPLE, RED or BLUE? There’s certainly some BLUE and ORANGE in Obama’s proclamations; but communicating large-scale with PURPLE and RED is more difficult for him.

GREEN was clearly a strong influence in the higher echelons of the Democratic Party, as the nominees for presidential candidate were whittled down to a woman and a black man. How more politically correct could that be?

Hilary Clinton, I suspect, was badly advised. She fought a hard-nosed and sometimes overly-dirty campaign, with the result that the Democrats chose the nice black guy over the white bitch. The Democrat faithful may well come to rue that choice – especially now McCain’s ORANGE has stretched up to borrow a touch of GREEN and call in a woman to bid for being the United States’ first female Vice President! So McCain may well be able to steal some of the wavering GREEN thinkers who might otherwise have been more likely to vote Democrat.

Hilary, like her husband, appears more dominated by ORANGE than GREEN. Not least in New York she has shown she can masquerade and stretch down to mix it with the lower vMEMES.

4 years on those voters, whose PURPLE, RED and/or BLUE led them to vote for Bush, can take satisfaction that their steadfastness is being rewarded. They made the right choice. Iraq is slowly going the United States’ way. However, America still needs to still be vigilant. As exiting commander General David H Petraeus has said, the gains made “are not irreversible”. And, then, of course, there is still Afghanistan to be put right. So PURPLE, RED and BLUE can see the need for a war-hardened leader still – and, hey, isn’t McCain actually a war vet?!

The swelling financial crisis is a different matter. But, while Obama can point to the Bush regime’s economic mismanagement, neither side has any real answers which will make a significant short-term difference. In any case, economics at a level beyond the immediate household budget is largely too complex for PURPLE and RED thinking – so arguments about it are likely to be ignored.

My hunch is that Hilary could have generated enough of the common touch masquerade to have got through to at least some of the PURPLE, RED and BLUE thinking. Obama, though enormously popular with certain societal groups, has yet to show he can do that on any kind of significant scale. There has to be doubt whether he can beat McCain without it.

Share this via:

Tags:

POST A COMMENT


Verification Captcha (human, not robot!) * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

No Responses

  1. John Stoner says

    You know, there’s an idea from around the integral community, Wilber has promoted, that the Blue/Green divide within the Democratic constituency undermines the party, and makes it impossible to elect a Democratic president. Which ignores Gore in 2000.

    Whether or not you think he won the election, there’s no debate on this point: he won the popular vote. Were those votes arranged a little differently, he would have won. The memetic divisions are close, yes, but Green-appeal candidate is not necessarily a loser. Moreover, Obama’s campaign has worked the presidential electoral system with a lot of skill up to this point–witness all the caucus victories. I wouldn’t count him out.

  2. Phil St Romain says

    John, what I had in mind were policies like the Community Reinvestment Act. The purpose of the CRA is to provide credit, including home ownership opportunities to underserved populations and commercial loans to small businesses. It was passed in 1977 then updated under Clinton and Bush. There are similar pieces of legislation which seemingly encouraged banks to make risky loans. One can find on the well-reasoned articles that point a finger at the CRA and others that don’t think it had much to do with the current crisis (mostly greed).

    Not my area of expertise to settle that matter, though I’m inclined to think that short-term balance sheets were the primary motivator and that it’s ultimately a failure of “bankmanship.”

    – -= – Back to Keith’s initial question, however. I believe a Hilary/Obama or Obama/Hilary ticket would have, indeed, resonated more strongly with the Purple-Red-Blue traditionalists that Keith speaks of in his essay — much more so than Obama/Biden. The biggest danger for Democrats is that this group becomes energized, as they were in 2000 and 2004, and now by Sarah Palin. I don’t think a Presidential election can be won in the U.S. without their vote, but we’ll see . . . Phil

  3. John Stoner says

    ” Greenish policies that encouraged and made it easier for lower income and minority groups to obtain loans and purchase homes. ”

    Um, that doesn’t jibe at all with my understanding of the situation, not even close. It seems to me to be more of a breakdown within Orange systems: in a very short time, the breakout of capitalism in Asia produced excess trillions of dollars of wealth, enough that it was impossible to find reasonable investments for it all. So a lot of it went to the American housing market. From the top down, lending standards relaxed so more people would be eligible over time to get the loans based on this capital bubble, whether they could afford them or not.

    For the best explanation I’ve heard: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?hed=1242

  4. Phil St Romain says

    Keith, I read your blog and think you have some good points.

    You wrote: I’m going to postulate that a very large proportion of the American electorate is governed by the PURPLE, RED and/or BLUE vMEMES. Memes such as loyalty and patriotism, pride in oneself and one’s country and sacrificing your own interests to do what’s right easily turn into people’s schemas when those vMEMES are in charge. Bush, whose head certainly seems very dominated by RED and BLUE, talked about “standing fast” and “winning through”; Kerry, apparently led by the GREEN vMEME, talked about “bringing the troops home”. I notice that you left Orange out in your analysis.

    My own read would that the Red State/Blue State divide is more about Blue/Orange vs. Green (yes, an oversimplification, I know). Maybe Purple and Red figure more than I’m seeing, but they seem to be much-resolved in the kind of patriotism and religious conservatism that characterizes Blue. I think it’s a huge mistake to characterize this perspective as mindlessly loyal. E.g. Those Americans whose thinking was dominated by PURPLE, RED and/or BLUE didn’t want to be told that their president (Bush) was a lying self-server who had got it wrong and they would lose the war. They wanted to be told it would be okay if they remained steadfast, trusting in God and their president. When Greens come on like this, Blues will naturally react to this caricature of Bush’s intentions and policies, for, with so very much at stake, Blues are willing to give Bush more the benefit of the doubt. After all, even staunch Democrats like Joe Biden would challenge the assumption that going to war in Iraq was premised on a lie, or that it had no relevance to the war on terror.

    Whatever the case, it seems that Iraq is not a front-burner issue in this election. The economy, and, hence, Orange is. On the one hand, it’s easy to blame the subprime mess on Bush, as it’s happened on his watch, or on Orange/Wall Street. On the other hand, there’s much about it that has more to do with Greenish policies that encouraged and made it easier for lower income and minority groups to obtain loans and purchase homes. The ensuing home-building spree and eventual housing bubble were an Orange response, but it would be disingenuous to place this mess at the feet of Orange. Lots of blame to go around, in my opinion, and it would be great for the candidates to acknowledge that and quit demagoguing the situation. Phil

    • keitherice says

      Hi, Phil
      I was meaning people like farmhands in the Mid-West and the South, miners in the East, the industrial workers in Motown and Chicago – if you like, more the traditional working class/manual labourers – rather than the professionals and entrepreneurial types. Clearly the United States has a huge ORANGE drive in its leadership and management – it is, after all, at the centre of the Capitalist world – but in a one-man/one (secret) vote democracy – the bulk of the people whose thinking is more focussed in PURPLE, RED and BLUE can offset the more complex thinking if the more complex thinking either ignores it or fails to manipulate it to its advantage.

      I reckon there has been an ORANGE vs GREEN struggle of sorts – Hilary vs Obama – but that doesn’t really get to the values of the bulk of Americans lower down the Spiral. Meanwhile McCain’s following Bush’s lead of playing to those less complex but more traditional values.

      One of the triggers for the Blog entry was a newspaper article on how much Iraq isn’t an issue in this election – with the suggestion that certain sections of the media are playing it down deliberately – which is more likely to favour McCain.
      Best
      Keith