Tuesday, February 21, 2017

An Open Letter to Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Senator Al Franken


An Open Letter to 
Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, 
Senator Chuck Schumer, and Senator Al Franken
Before reading the letter, I would recommend to watch a 4-minute video “What Could Liberals Learn From Physics?” https://youtu.be/OwzKlFpIt_E (the transcript is at www.GoMars.xyz/FS.html)
  
According to The Atlantic (and other media) on 02/19/2017 in Melbourne, Florida, Donald Trump started his 2020 reelection campaign (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/trump-kicks-off-his-2020-reelection-campaign-on-saturday/516909/).
Reaching out directly to constituents is nothing new, of course. Every politician does it. 
The point the media miss is that with the constant use of Twitter, regularly issuing provocative statements which ignite extensive media coverage, and with regular rallies, Donald Trump and his advisers have brought this political tool to a completely new level (at least in the U.S.). Trump does not have much of a support from his own party, and by reaching out directly to people, he manages to put a pressure on local and state officials of all sorts (and Trump must keep his supporters in the state of excitement, or he will lose them).
Among extreme examples of such reaching out directly to people, we can mention the Cultural Revolution which happened in China (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution). When the then-leader Mao Zedong was on a brink of being pushed out of the power, he appealed directly to the Chinese young people, asked them to form militia, and paralyzed the country for ten years.
Probably, America should not worry about running into such an extreme social disaster as the Cultural Revolution, but there are core American values which are at risk of being watered down, or even dissolved (such us the freedom of speech, checks and balances within governing institutions, trustful media).
For everyone who has even the slightest concern about the future of the Country, David Frum’s article “How To Build an Autocracy” in The Atlantic should be a must-read one (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/03/how-to-build-an-autocracy/513872/).
In part, Frum cites words “written more than 200 years ago to explain the most important safeguard of the American constitutional system: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition”.”
That is exactly what Democrats and all progressivists have not been able to produce to counteract Trump’s team.
Dear Senators Sanders, Warren, Schumer, and Franken.
Unfortunately, each of you alone is not strong enough to successfully spar with Trump, but four of you together may present a formidable counter-force to his current media domination. You are respected politicians; your names are nationally recognized. The hope is that when you start leading the “resistance” (quoting Bill Maher), eventually Democrats will be able to present to the American people a smart, and charismatic (and, hopefully, young) person, who will be able to consolidate all the progressives. 
But that is just a hope; the time for thinking about the next Presidential elections has not come yet. 
The immediate goal is to mobilize the forces, to direct the actions by giving activists clear goals, and to win back the Congress. There is no time for waiting.  This fight had to begin on November 9, 2016, but still is dormant. Inside party maneuvering, reshuffling the same people between the same chairs is the recipe for a failure.
The first thing you have to do is to accept the fact that the top Democrats f@$ed up the elections. You have to tell people that the top-level Democrats made big mistakes, that Hillary Clinton and her team made mistakes, that you made mistakes. But you will use those mistakes to learn from them, and to regenerate the party, and to re-energize the people.
You cannot follow the same path Hillary Clinton and her team followed in 2016.
Right after Trump became the nominee, it was clear (for those who could see) that the social landscape was drastically different from what Clinton’s advisers thought. But their arrogance made them blind; they kept using the same old “playbook”, and they lost.
Winning the popular vote and losing the White House does not make the situation better; it actually makes it worse. 
There is only one silver lining in this loss. If Clinton had won, the Democratic party might had been stagnating for at least four more years. Now, after a slap in the face (well, a hit in the face), the party has only to choices; become obsolete, or reform itself on the march.
I hope, you see that the old methods and approaches to build the movement, to lead the party have not worked, and will not work, because they have been developed for a situation which is in the past, and will not come back any soon (more on this later).
Basically, you have to invent new methods and new approaches to build the movement, to lead the party, to help rise to the top new people. 
In the meantime, four of you have to build a progressive media firewall.
For each Trump’s rally, you have to organize at least four of yours. For each Trump’s media outburst, you have to fire up at least four media eruptions. 
Do not wait for an approval of your actions from anybody else; this is up to four of you (at least for now).
The good start for developing a new strategy would be just thinking of what would you do in the past, and do just the opposite (this, of course, is a hyperbole). For a while, you have to stop listening to the party officials, advisers, think tank intellectuals, etc. who you have been listening in the past. You need to find and gather people who have been giving away warnings about Trump since the beginning of his campaign. Then and only then you can call back some of the people who used to work for Hillary Clinton (because you do not want to repeat her mistake by listening only to people who tell you only what you want to hear).
You have to accept the fact that the approach “We are good – Trump is bad! We tell the truth – he is a liar! We care about you – he only cares about himself! We are for all people – he is racist!” etc. has not worked, and will not work.
You cannot honestly think that all people who voted for Trump are racist, or white supremacists, or poorly educated, or just hate Hillary Clinton. Hence, you need to know the hidden reasons underlying peoples’ choices, otherwise you and then all progressives will follow the Hillary Clinton’s fate. 
Here I begin the most important part of this letter.
We have to start from addressing a question: “How do people make decisions?”
For example, when you (or your child, or your friend, or your enemy) stand in Baskin Robbins (or Dunkin Donuts, or Burger King) staring at the menu trying to figure out what to order this time – do you make a decision?
The answer actually depends on what do you call a “decision”. 
Without deeping into a long discussion, let’s just say that in general, we – humans – make two types of decisions: rational decisions (a.k.a. logical, via a step-by-step reasoning), and “irrational” (a.k.a. intuitive, a.k.a. a guess, or a hunch). The ability to make rational decisions differs humans from other animals; take this ability away – and we will be no smarter than dolphins, or dogs, or monkeys, or cats. 
During a usual day, we do not make too many of rational decisions, because usually we do not have to. Usually, we just have to make choices which would not greatly affect our well-being, or our future.
When we are angry, or when we are happy, or when we are sad, or when we are stressed, we may not make the same choice which we would have made if we were calm and rational. 
The reaction which we call a choice, or a decision, is the result of the brain functions happening in our subconscious mind without our interference. Maybe, on average, we use about ten percent of our brain power for a logical reasoning. But that does not mean that other ninety percent do nothing. Our brain is constantly analyzing a huge amount of information to answer one single question: “What to do to survive?” (the strongest instinct of every healthy animal is self-preservation). Then our brain makes a choice for us, and places it into the logical part of it, so we would be able to articulate it (first of all – to ourselves). And then we start defending this “decision we had made” like we were actual authors of it.
Of course, the picture I just painted is very simplistic, but presents a good initial model of a human decision making process. 
And one more note: the stronger our emotions are, or the longer we experience those emotions, the more chance that we would not listen to any rationalization of our actions. We would tend just to react. There is a study which demonstrates that when people experience stress over a long period of time the brain chemistry changes (that is why doctors prescribe pills to help with depression). Disorientation is not just a psychological state, it is a state of a physical disjunction in a brain.
It does not mean, of course, that people become insane, but people become less influenced by logical arguments and more inclined to a simple emotional reaction to various stimuli.
If it involves massive numbers of people, it may lead to mass migrations (for example, Syrian refugees, but also the same reaction we can see regularly in animal world), or to following “a messiah”. 
For millions of Americans the past two decades are associated with a continuous state of stress. The fall of the Twin Towers, two wars, natural disasters, economic depression, job loss, social stagnation; these are only some of the major sources of a pressure on the society in general, and on the middle class in particular (one of the latest publications: http://nypost.com/2016/05/12/americas-middle-class-is-headed-toward-extinction/). The social and especially the economic environment has become very stressful for millions of Americans.
Ecologists know that a stressful change in the environment (like, a change in the average temperature, or average humidity) may lead to significant changes in the ecosystem (some species can even extinct like dinosaurs, or begin mass migration, or mutate). When due to any reasons species start experience the shortage of food, they start searching for the ways to adapt to the new situation. 
When in 2012, due to a harsh winter, the population of blue hares in Yakutia (Russia) suddenly dropped, “a "super pack" of 400 wolves laid siege to the remote town of Verkhoyansk, forcing locals to mount patrols on snow mobiles until the government could send in extra help” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/15/wolf-attacks-lead-to-state-of-emergency-in-russias-siberia-regio/).
Whether we like it or not, our brain is wired in almost the same way as a wolf’s brain.
Of course, we experience much deeper emotions than just a hunger. But living in a constant fear of not being able to provide for a family, feeling day-after-day how the usual prosperity is slipping away like a sand through fingers, leads to a gradual transformation of the way people view the world and their position in it. We could say, that a longitudinal social stress leads to a psychological “mutation” of a large part of the population.
Millions of Americans expressed their frustration with the current state of social events and economic status. They have been forced to accept lower paid or less stable jobs. They feared that they would not be able to leave to their children better living conditions. They have been losing their savings. They felt like they lost a “game” called “life”. 
Trump and his team brilliantly used this massively spread psychological state.
Everyone wants and needs to be a part of a winning team. This need is growing with every day of feeling sad and lost. 
For millions of people, who have been feeling a stress so strong and for so long time, that they started disconnecting from a reality, Trump created a fictional reality. 
In that “reality” he was “a head of a winning team”, promising to everyone who joins “so much winning, you will get tired of winning”.
In fact, Trump and his advisers have not invented anything new. 
Trump, Bannon, and Inc. used the tactic which has been very well known for at least a century.
1. Make as many people as possible to feel as miserable as possible (“our Country is a disaster”).
2. INVENT enemies and blame on them everything bad, do not care about how illogical it might sound (liberals, immigrants, Muslims).
3. Present strong emotional passages, even if they do not make any sense (“You will get tired of winning”).
4. Promise anything, even if it is impossible (“We will build the wall and make Mexica to pay for it!”).
5. Embrace and bring to your team people who have no moral limits and who want only ONE thing – a three-headed dragon (money/fame/power).
6. Suppress any opposite views, or at least drown them in the ocean of misinformation (a.k.a. fake news)
7. SCREAM!!
This tactic is very old and well known for everyone who read Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin; and had been successfully used to bring many former and current dictators into a power. Evidently, Clinton’s advisers have not read this literature (which makes them “a vanilla” of consulting). 
The tactic does not appeal to a logic, it does not offer rational approaches. Its main goal is basically to generate the atmosphere of excitement similar to the one sport fans feel on a stadium when their team has been losing until the last minutes but won in the end (a.k.a. Super Bowl LI). Everyone who experienced this feeling once, got “addicted” to it, and wants to feel it again; this feeling is like a drug (why else do sport conglomerates make billions?).
Donald Trump’s priority has been and always will be his own personal rating. 
That is why Trump has never cared and will never truly care about the meaning of the words he says or writes, because for millions of people the meaning of his words does not matter. They will support him no matter what he says, as long as he will make them feel as winners. 
And to feed the need to feel as winners Trump, Bannon and Inc. constantly create for them an “alternative realty” (some people would call it “disinformation”). 
Liberal media can point at Trump’s mistakes, leis, fictions as much as they can; liberal media can make fun of Trump as much as they can – that will not make any difference for people who support Trump.
Trump’s team brilliantly exploited everything they could to paint Hilary Clinton as a loser. Of course, the content of the “damn emails” never mattered. However, making Clinton explaining herself made her look defensive; and “winners do not look defensive” (unless they do, but who remembers that). And, of course, for rational people Benghazi or emails did not make any difference. But Trump was not appealing to rational people. He (or most probably Bannon) was counting on that the number of people in distress had risen and reached the critical mass. Clinton’s team did not see it. Trump won.
Dear Senators Sanders, Warren, Schumer, and Franken.
Your immediate goal should be creating and promoting a clear view of the “real reality”. It must be truthful, which makes your job harder than Trump’s. It also must be positive, energetic, winning! 
It will never be enough just to scream: “He lied!”, or “Look what he did!”, or to make fun of Trump’s Tweets or appearance. Firstly, this is also just a fog to deflect the attention from the actors hiding behind the fog (Bannon, and Inc.). Secondly, liberal media have to get out of the bubble and finally start reaching out to non-liberal audience. Thirdly, your media actions need to be such that even Fox news channel could not avoid talking about them on a regular basis.
You have no much time to get prepared. You have to start acting now. Many people who voted for Hilary Clinton, have been feeling like now the Atlanta Falcons fans are feeling, and may soon become so dissatisfied with the Democratic party that will be lost (will become politically inactive).
As a “dictator-in-the-making”, everything “bad for the Country” Trump will blame on the opposition, and everything “good for the Country” Trump will attribute to himself. Your task will be to counteract Trump’s team and to offer people the actual facts (David Frum has more on this).
And one last note: please, tell your supporters, and then remind them once in a while, that if they just act on emotions without giving some rational thinking to their actions, they are no different from people who support Donald Trump. Trump’s team outsmarted Clinton’s team. Do not let his team to outsmart you.
#THINK
Good luck.
Dr. Valentin Voroshilov
P.S. A special word to Senator Bernie Sanders
Dear Senator. You have been speaking about the need for a political revolution all along. Well, now you have a second chance to lead it. Turns out, before revolutionizing the Country you need to revolutionize the Democratic party
P.P.S. Dear Senators, please, keep in mind that if the Democrats will not take the Congress back, it will be your fault.
P.P.P.S. Please, feel free to leave your comments! I have a blog where you can find a comment box 

Appendix:
Below is an actual comment left at

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“Keeping the West weak is to their advantage.” Trump is not to blame for the economic or military obligations this country faces today. All of these were created and put into place by previous administrations, career politicians and Washington insiders who profit from the actions of the military industrial complex and its perpetual largely ineffective “nation building” schemes that began at the end of the second world war and continue to this day under the supervision of both political parties.
Trump is not and should be expected to perpetuate those expensive failed policies. He should concentrate and building up the strength of our military, while at the same time avoiding engaging us in any avoidable new conflicts. In short, he should walk softly and carry a big stick.
Many people do not like Trump because he looks like a wolf. FYI, a sheepdog looks like a wolf to a sheep. But ironically it is the genetic similarly between the wolf and sheepdog and the teeth of the sheepdog in particular that allow him to fight off the wolf when necessary.
Trump is a sheepdog whose bark and bite may ultimately prove very uncomfortable for Putin should he take any offensive actions against the USA and so I strongly suspect that Putin has more respect for Trump than that the paranoid sheep recognize.
Time will tell, but I strongly suspect that Trump will do a wonderful job of keeping his flock safe.

**
This comment perfectly represents the sentiments of a common Trump supporter. No logic. Outburst of emotions. Arguing with this type of a person would be the same as arguing with a patient of an Alzheimer clinic.
The main theme is shown in the end – “I want to feel safe” (meaning, this person has not been feeling safe for a long time). “Trump makes me feel safe”. The rest is just self-justification.  
Many liberal pundits have not noticed this stressful emotional state of many Trump supporters, they just bluntly called those people "basket of deplorables". We all know the result.
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