Thursday, October 8, 2015

Plouffe's "Stray Voltage". Maybe it only worked for Obama

Why does President Obama never let sleeping dogs lie? Why does he have to stir the pot over "gun violence?"

The simple answer is David Plouffe's "stray voltage" theory.
The theory goes like this: Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness.
This theory also applies to Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. The idea is for the community organizer to keep his followers all angried up; it correlates with the need for army commanders to keep the morale up in their soldiers.

But. There is a counter-narrative, which says that while you may want to keep your followers angried up, you definitely don't want to angry up the opposition.

Now I think that the Obamis did a pretty good job of angrying up their supporters in 2008 and 2012. And they managed pretty well to demoralize the opposition. In 2008 they blamed President Bush for everything, and they had a point. In 2012 they painted the caring, exemplary Mitt Romney as a corporate monster that sent the wives of laid-off workers to their doom.

As I understand, the point of negative ads on TV is not so much to blacken the reputation of a candidate as to demoralize his supporters.

But let's be clear. Any time you are playing the angry-up game you are playing with fire. You could, unless you are smart and/or lucky, end up demoralizing your side and angrying up the opposition.

So when President Obama decides to "politicize" the Roseburg, Oregon, shooting, is he going to energize the liberal gun-control nuts or the NRA gun-rights nuts? You tell me.

Since we are talking about the nation's First Black President, let us talk about a slightly different issue, the rage that inner-city black males express when they are "dissed" or disrespected.

Now, as a libertarian conservative I'd say that the record of the Obama administration is one long "diss" to people like me. I'd say that the popularity of candidates like Trump, Carson, and Fiorina is that they are pushing back against the day-in-day-out disrepecting of ordinary middle-class white people that is baked in the pie of liberal politics.

I'd say that the mobilization of minorities and women and young people that the Obamis achieved in 2008 and 2012 just ain't gonna work no more in 2016. Because minorities and women and young people got screwed in the Obama years. Sure, the Dems can roll out the same angry-up techniques in 2016 but I have the feeling that they won't get the same voltage, stray or otherwise, they got back when Hope and Change was new, and President Bush was the worst president ever.

I believe in the old idea that it's OK to angry up the partisans at election time. But after the election the wise leader extends the hand of friendship to the defeated side and talks up the fact that we may disagree as Democrats and Republicans, but at heart we are all Americans.

I believe that the politician that doesn't do that is sowing the wind and that after he leaves the stage his party will find that it has reaped the whirlwind.

No comments:

Post a Comment