July 5th, 2006

ozarque figure

Emotional weather discussion note....

This morning's post from Andrew Tobias [at http://www.andrewtobias.com] -- about global warming and the success of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth -- has a sentence that strikes me as fitting neatly into the discussion we've been having. He says:

"The feeling of many – certainly of the Republican leadership – is that so long as there is some chance we are not doomed, we should not act."

I don't know what to call that emotional stance. Not learned helplessness, certainly. Not despair, not hopelessness, not fatalism. Norm has recognized a problem -- but as long as there is some chance that he's not doomed, he sees no reason to try to do anything about it. Lazy cluelessness, maybe?
ozarque figure

Emotional weather; part eight....

Earlier in this discussion, sanguinity commented:
"Speaking for myself, and ruling out the times when my depressive switch has been flipped and my brain is not working properly: hope is generated by misery. People in general (and this includes myself) don't like to take risks, and are generally content to let the status quo continue. But the worse things get, the more likely it is that people are going to take action to make things better. It's in dark times that the strong leaders appear, it's in dark times that the grassroots become strong, and it's in dark times that I, personally, am most willing to throw my future into the hands of Fortune, and risk whatever has to be risked."

I agree that often things have to get almost unspeakably awful -- we call it "hitting bottom," right? -- before the people involved will finally do something that might reverse that downward plunge.

But I'm wondering: Do any of you see a strong leader (several strong leaders would be even better) out there somewhere, that might bring the grassroots together in strength? Any nominations?
ozarque figure

Emotional weather; one of the mysteries...

indefatigable42 commented:
"... [T]he Republican party does have low-income supporters. Why are they willing to believe that what's best for the fat cats is also best for them, and that environmental problems won't touch them if they just bury their heads in the sand?"

This is one of the things that I've found most baffling. I'm surrounded by low-income supporters of the Bush administration, and they are certainly not stupid. As would be true for any other motley group, there are stupid individuals among them, sure -- but almost all of them are intelligent and competent people. They are entirely aware of the fact that when they vote for the current administration they're voting against their own economic self-interest. They're also aware that if the research now warning us about global warming is valid they're going to be badly hurt, and that the current administration isn't going to do anything about that. If you ask them, they'll agree with you about both of those things. But neither of those states of awareness has changed their voting patterns.

Somewhere, and recently, I read an article that made the following case:
The reason these voters vote against their own self-interest is because -- for the first time in their lives -- there's an administration in power within which people who share their worldview are "players." They want to be part of that. They perceive themselves as sharing in that power if they vote for that administration, and that matters to them; it's a different kind of self-interest, and apparently it trumps the other kind.

I cannot remember where that article was, or who wrote it, or even its title -- I apologize for that. [My brain, as I head into my sixth consecutive day of struggling with the Disappearing Newsletters Masacree, resembles tapioca pudding.] My guess is that it was in Harper's or Atlantic or Esquire -- but I've searched all my recent issues of those without finding it. I've tried Google, and can't find it. But I remember vividly the hypothesis it presented, because it struck me at the time as a concept that made a great deal of sense. Far more sense than the stupidity hypothesis.