What really drives the partisan divide: Peer Pressure
"The older I get, the more I learn that the people are totally -- and it frustrates me to no end as I've said I don't know how many times -- governed by what people think of them. It's the desire to be respected by their peers. "
This never-ending question we're all asking: What does explain the partisan divide in this country? You know, I'm curious. I would love to know why certain people who I think (by virtue of the rest of their lives) are demonstrably intelligent... These people are self-starters, and they are entrepreneurs. They're very successful. I asked myself, "How can they intellectually not just support Obama, but fund-raise and bundle for him?" A lot of high-tech people in Silicon Valley come to mind when I think of this.
There are answers to this.
There are answers to these questions, and that's what I've spent a lot of time pondering. I saw something that made me think of this in a different direction. It's a Rasmussen Report poll. Let me quote it to you, a portion of it. "Among those who rarely or never attend church or other religious services, Obama leads by 22 percentage points. Among those who attend services weekly, Romney leads by 24." Among people who go to church now and then, they're pretty much equal.
So look at this divide. Look at this partisan divide. Now, this told me that policy couldn't have anything to do with this. This has gotta be cultural. This has to be cultural, pure and simple. And then I thought back, as I do frequently, of the story I've probably bored you silly with by telling it so many times, about the highfalutin Republican establishment Hamptons dinner party where I was approached and jabbed in the chest and asked, "What are you gonna do about the Christians?" by a bunch of Republicans.
"What are you gonna do with the Christians, these pro-lifers? They're embarrassing us."
I think right there, that word, "they're embarrassing us," tells us... Ah! I'll speak for myself. It tells me a lot of what I have been trying to find or trying to learn.
I have come to believe that... Let me give you an example. Let's take, for now, a nameless CEO, although I have a person in mind. This person I'm gonna describe exists. Let's take this CEO of major, major Silicon Valley Internet company. This CEO is a huge Obama bundler. Huge! I mean, he throws fundraisers at the family abode, raises money, donates money, bundles money. He is totally devoted to Obama. It can't be because of Obama policy. It simply can't be!
Obama's policies are diametrically opposed to every economic philosophy implemented by this person. It simply cannot be policy, this partisan divide. When I saw this religion breakdown -- 22% more people who don't go to church vote for Obama; 24% more of people who do vote for Romney; and the people that go once a week, now and then, it's evenly split -- that's cultural. There is no question. Now, what makes cultural? What comes under that umbrella? Well, it's any number of things, including religion.
But it's also pop culture. It's movies, television shows; what's cool, what's hip, who's smart, who isn't smart. Branding. All those things are what come to the fore. So I've been asking myself: What would make otherwise smart people support somebody who's got policies that will harm their company? Why would they do this? Why would they raise money for this person? Why would they donate money?
Now, that's allowing for the possibility that they don't really understand that Obama is harmful for them. I have a tough time with that. I often say we need to redefine "smart" because a lot of high-IQ people do dumb things within the realm of common sense. There are a lot of people who are highly educated that do even stupider things. Again, it led me to conclude that for these people -- it could be Hollywood, could be Silicon Valley, could be Wall Street, could be any company -- it's not policy.
Because in most cases these people, unless they have a crony corporate relationships with Obama -- unless that exists -- are voting against their own company's interests. Why would they do that, then? "Well, they're not looking at that" has to be the answer. They're not looking at policy. This matters. Because if we think that we want to pick those people off and convince them that our policies are far better for the country; that'll create more customers with more disposable income for their businesses than Obama or liberal Democrat policies will...
If we think that we can persuade them with policy, we're barking up the wrong tree -- if they're choosing Obama for things have nothing to do with policy. And I think, going back to that Hamptons dinner and that one word: "embarrassing," it's branding or whatever you want to say. But I think there's some blockheaded thickness out there. I think the people I'm talking about actually think...
I'll put it this way: They would be embarrassed to be openly Republican. They'd be embarrassed, because of what people would think of 'em. And what would that be? Well, they're pro-life, yes. But they're not cool. They may, in fact, be stupid, which I think a lot of them think of conservatives. So how then do pick 'em off? How do you go get 'em?
More in a moment.
In fact, my friends, I would go further. I would say that it is true that a majority of people who vote for Obama are actually voting against their own self-interest, even the people on welfare and food stamps. They don't understand. They don't understand the destruction that he is wreaking out that's going to interrupt the flow of their benefits. But let's take Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud, for example, used to think... (interruption) Now, that got Snerdley's attention.
If you mention Sigmund Freud, people will listen to you. Sigmund Freud used to think that sex was the ultimate motivating power in people's lives. And when they issued Viagra, I was tending to agree with him. I'd never seen anything like it. But it turns out that as Sigmund Freud got older (and as do most people who get older, he got wiser), he realized that it was not sex that was the ultimate motivating power in people's lives but rather it was the drive to be respected by their peers.
And even further, a desire to be respected by the elites who decide who is respectable or not. So let's take this a step further. If it is true, as I surmise, that people are not voting against Romney for policy or for Obama for policy reasons -- if they're voting for other reasons -- then how do we pick 'em off? Is it a mistake to run a policy-oriented campaign? Again, take this mythical CEO. And for this example, this CEO does not have a knowingly traceable crony relationship with Obama.
He's simply a political fundraiser. He simply has an emotional attachment -- as opposed to, say, somebody like the Solyndra guys, who, frankly, wouldn'ta cared whatever Obama was gonna do because he was giving them money. He was funding their business, so policy didn't matter. For this mythical CEO I'm talking about, that's not the case. In fact, this mythical CEO knows that Obama's policies are harmful. Yet something is stopping her from voting for people that will actually give her more customers with more disposable income which will grow her business.
So what is it, if it isn't policy?
I think it goes back to that word "embarrassed," and I think that for whatever marketing or branding reasons there are people to whom the most embarrassing thing in the world is to be a conservative and thought of as one, or a Republican or being thought of as one. That's just as embarrassing as it can be. Now, we could go through the reasons why -- and if I did, you would probably be forced to agree with me. But the point here is, the point is: We're running a campaign.
We're trying to win an election, and if policy is not how you go get people, then how do you do it? That's a huge question. Now, it could well be there's also this factor: This mythical CEO assumes that by being such a vocal public supporter of Obama, the CEO is gonna end up being in the elite circle of who decides who's hip and who's not and who's respected and who's not, or respectable or not.
The older I get, the more I learn that the people are totally -- and it frustrates me to no end as I've said I don't know how many times -- governed by what people think of them. It's the desire to be respected by their peers. Well if you are in Silicon Valley, you are not gonna be respected if you're a Republican. It just ain't gonna happen. You're not gonna be respected if you're a conservative. It isn't gonna happen, and policy won't matter.
If you, as a Silicon Valley CEO, can explain why conservatism is better for you -- better for everybody else, better for the country, better for Silicon Valley, better for customers -- the fact that you're still a conservative will not help you be respected. And that's what they all want. Conservatism is considered uncool. It's backwards, and it's rigid, and it's judgmental, and it's old-fashioned. It's almost Victorian. This is the branding.
Plus, it has the pro-lifers in it, and nobody, nobody, nobody wants to be associated with them! The Tea Party has been branded as similar, and nobody wants to be associated with that. Nobody wanted to be a Republican during Bush because the guy was an idiot, a cowboy idiot. I can't tell you the number of people who told me that. I'd go to California and I'd get frustrated out of my gourd when liberal idiots would tell me how stupid Bush was when I know he's not stupid, at all.
Harvard MBA, for example!
Reagan was able to make being conservative attractive and cool, and they learned their lesson with that. What was the lesson? Never again is a prominent conservative gonna be thought of as nice and jocular, and never again is a conservative gonna be portrayed as having beer with Tip O'Neill at the end of the day and getting along with Democrats. That ain't gonna happen. They're not letting another Reagan get created in terms of branding.
So Romney's gonna continue to be -- no matter what he is -- stiff, rich, heartless, the whole cliche. But it boils down to the fact, I think, that Freud ended up being right. What people want is to be respected by their peers. And as they get older and as they move up their own ladders of success, that being respected by others then changes. It becomes being respected by the elites. The elites they want to be. The elites they want to be part of. The elites.
The small group of elites who will be exempt from all the new policies, who will be exempt from all the high taxes, who will be exempt from all the regulation. That's what they're striving for: To not ever be considered to be part of the hoi polloi. That's why Hollywood, ever since Reagan, is going to continue to destroy (or try to) everything and anyone in show business who might make conservatism seem hip and cool and attractive.
The last thing that these people can allow to happen is for prominently successful conservatives to be seen as hip and cool and likable, respectable. Now, I'm just sharing with you my thinking about this. When I saw these religion numbers, that's what clued me in here -- and, by the way, it should have occurred to me years ago. I'm beating my head up against the wall arguing with Democrats and liberals on policy, winning every argument. On taxes, lowering taxes grows revenue.
The reality is what it is. It happens every time it's tried. That's the solution to the problem now: The lowest taxes on the largest amount of people that broadens the base that funds the government, that lowers the debt, that promotes economic activity. It's simple. That's what needs to happen, and it works every time it's tried. But that's not gonna persuade anybody because policies don't matter. We have gotten so partisan and so polarized, and it's not the policy that's doing it. Not totally.
To some people, of course, it is the policy -- and the lower down you go in the IQ scale, the more the lies about policy matter.
You have an answer to my question? Snerdley is saying that it's all in emotions. Yeah, of course, when you're worried about what people think of you, when you want to be respected by the people you think determine who's respectable or not, yeah. All I'm telling you is that I could go out there, Snerdley, I could go out there and emote as well as any liberal, and I'm not gonna persuade a liberal to become a conservative, because of what they think conservatism will make them appear to be with the people they care about being respected by.