Thursday, February 09, 2017

When You Want to Kill a Hydra, You Don't Aim for the Head...


Hercule et l'Hydre de Lerne, by Gustave Moreau (source; click to enlarge — extra large version here)

by Gaius Publius

Scheduling note: Starting this week, my comments here will appear regularly on Monday and Thursday.

Sometimes movements are defined by just the leader. In the old-time Westerns, if you  knock out (non-violently, of course) the lead guy who's been yelling "Let's lynch him," the rest of the mob goes home. But not all movements are single-headed. Some are like hydras, many-headed and hard to put down. Thus the quote of which the title is just one part:
When you want to kill a hydra, you don't aim for the head. And when you want to stop a movement, you don't try just go after the face in the front, because they'll be replaced.
The following is from a Facebook post by Noah Reson-Brown, and it hits several nails right on the head. (Those nails have names, by the way.) And while I don't agree with every point made — I think Trump himself is dangerous as well, for example — I believe the writer is on to something. Give this some thought (my emphasis throughout):
Donald Trump is not the enemy.

That may sound weird coming from a liberal progressive, but I'm also one of those people who wouldn't shoot Hitler if he could go back in time. Is that because I don't believe violence is ever the answer? No. Is that because I don't believe in stopping genocide? No. It's because I recognize that when you want to kill a hydra, you don't aim for the head. And when you want to stop a movement, you don't try just go after the face in the front, because they'll be replaced. I wouldn't shoot Hitler, I'd go after Joseph Goebbels, because he was the voice.

Donald Trump is an empty suit, a narcissist who will agree with whomever flattered him last. It's why he switched from Democrat to Republican, why he's got a Jewish daughter and yet is now pushing nazi propaganda. He's just going with those who are playing him like a puppet. And there's three factions doing that right now. Eliminating him only serves to help one of those factions and does a bit more to damage the other two. So let's talk about those guys.
A hydra with three heads. And they are...
First of all, you've got Mike Pence. Pence is a theocratic Christian zealot, the kind who's got a quiverfull army backing his play (you know, these guys: Victory for that group means LGBT rights go straight to hell, and a lot of these people are downright apocalyptic. Their plan? Push their agenda as far as they can using Trump as a scapegoat for any problems that arise, then impeach Trump and have their man in the big chair. Attacking Trump instead of his policies helps them, because people forget the policies and just think "yay, we won" when Trump goes down.

Second, you've got most congressional Republicans. They're more traditional conservatives. They're on the same game plan as the theocrats, wanting to push their agenda and then blame Trump once he's out (you lost health care because of Trump! But thank goodness we repealed that nasty Obamacare!). They're mostly lead by Paul Ryan. Again, attacking Trump instead of his actions absolves them of any guilt once he's out. He's the pinata for you to vent your rage on while they get shit done. They figure they can work with Pence once Trump's out to get their will, and they're okay with the evangelical folks getting what they want too as long as the Republicans get power.

And third... well there's [Steve] Bannon. Bannon's sitting on Trump's shoulder and telling him what to do, and it's bad enough that Trump's now eating out of his hand. Hell, Bannon's in the security meetings instead of the joint chiefs. So what does Bannon want? Well he's a bloody neo-nazi who wants to destroy everything, quite literally. Then man's pure evil and he knows it. That Muslim ban that's currently masquerading as a ban of only a few countries? His baby. Removing all references of Jews from the speech about the Holocaust? That's him too. Build a wall? He's there. The one good thing in all this... if Trump goes down Bannon doesn't have many more inroads into the political machine, for now.

But what's the point of all this? The point [in] attacking Trump is just attacking the smoke screen. Hit the policies. Tie the advisors to them. Make sure that when Trump goes down he takes Bannon and Pence and Ryan down with him. The recent airport protests were wonderful, because they attacked the policies and were clear about their goals, while protests that are just against Trump and are about screaming at how Trump voters are all racists are often as harmful as they are helpful (because they just end up alienating the folks who voted for him). People who voted for Trump identify with him... but they don't identify with Bannon. Go to town there.
"Go to town" indeed. I smell opportunity with at least two of the three names above. Pence may be harder to get at, but Ryan and Bannon look like sitting ducks, virtually speaking.

Many Trump Voters Would Have Chosen Sanders...

Reson-Brown then makes a point that I've made many times myself, most recently in the final paragraph here — that we need the biggest coalition we can get to fight the Trump/Republican coup machine. We're not going to get that by bashing all Trump supporters as if there were no differences among them.

Remember, many Trump supporters would have voted for Sanders if Sanders had not been roughly shouldered out by every element of the entrenched Democratic machine — including its secret-surrogate media hosts and Rolodexed pundit list. (There's anecdotal evidence that in open primaries, many people who supported Trump did vote for Sanders instead.) All potential Sanders supporters need to be asked back into the Sanders-issues fold, then left to decide for themselves who will stand with us and who will choose race-bashing over improving their lives.

Some, perhaps many, will cross back to us. It certainly won't help if our sneering drives them all away.

We need, in other words, the biggest movement we can get, not just to defeat privatizing, pro-wealth Trumpist policies, but also to make sure that neo-liberal — privatizing, pro-wealth — solutions are toxic in the Democratic Party as well.

Reson-Brown makes the same point:
And for god's sake, remember that the only way to win this is to build a bigger political army. The quiverfull people have been building an army for decades. And unless we want to outbreed them, the only way to do that is to build alliances with people we may not fully agree with, including people who voted for Trump out of a fear of Clinton (no, don't just rail at them for being sexist monsters, many of them had reasonable reasons). There was a time when the left understood this, supporting union mobilization and alliances between poor white workers and civil rights advocates (because social and economic justice are not mutually exclusive). There was a time when we understood that you have to listen to the plight of others before coming up with solutions so you know your solutions won't cause unintended harm. There was a time we knew when alliances were two way streets, and didn't call someone an ally while telling them to "shut up and listen" or claim that an attempt to share similar experiences was "derailing". We need to return to that time, or things will get a lot worse before they get better. I see plenty of conservatives terrified of the recent government overreach, Christians who are horrified at the idea of chasing away foreigners, and anti-Clinton voters who despise what Trump has done. Those people can be allies, if we're willing to work with them.
For those who forgot:
Quiverfull is a movement among some conservative fundamentalist Christian couples, chiefly in the United States, but with some adherents in Canada,[1] Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and elsewhere.[2] The movement sees children as a blessing from God[2][3][4] and it promotes compulsory procreation, abstaining from all forms of birth control, (including natural family planning) and sterilization.[5][6]
There's no time (nor frankly, inclination) to outbreed them. Might as well win back as many as we can to the Sanders Side.

Not Just a Battle; An Opportunity as Well

There are two armies in the field against us, and it's going to be a long (but fun, perhaps) battle, with many opportunities to trip up both sides. Paul Ryan, for example, if he were every effectively challenged — and just not handed his DCCC shield of protection — is vulnerable to electoral defeat. WI-01 is considered a swing district with a PVI of R+3, and stretches from south Milwaukee to the Illinois border. Any competent DCCC attack would have sent him to K Street long ago. Could still happen. Is next time too soon?

If Trump becomes toxic, he still has four years in office. But any member of the Republican House can be made toxic-by-association with Trump. If so, if we're effective in doing that, they'll be constantly looking at their own next election, and looking over their shoulder as well.

Who better than Paul Ryan to unseat in 2018. Would that send a shiver up the quiverfull spines of the rest? Opportunity.

A Shot Across the Vichy Democratic Bow

By the way, there's no reason we can't do the same to a few "bad Senators" on the Dem side in 2018. After all, there's no hope in hell of Democrats taking the Senate in the next election. What a perfect time to send a shot across one or two Vichy Dem bows (Vichy Dem: Votes like a Republican; takes money from Democratic donors.). I'll have a few names for your consideration after the cabinate nomination process is completed. There are some obvious targets already. Stay tuned.


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At 11:05 AM, Blogger orangelion03 said...

I can only speak to my own personal experience but NONE of the Trump voters I know would have voted for Sanders. NONE. These folks are my coworkers, social contacts in clubs/organizations I belong to, etc. Mostly comfortably middle-class types. They loathed HC, but considered Sanders too "socialist" or "lefty".

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in agreement with O above. Of course I live in a lava-glowing-red city in a blue state. I would suggest that NOBODY where I live who voted der fuhrer would have been caught dead punching ANY democrat chad.

I do know several who voted Bernie in the primary but didn't vote in the general because they find $hillbillary in particular and clintonism in general so totally odious.

There's more than the 3 heads here. One not mentioned, though tangentially indicated, is the role of the money telling their democrap whores to stay out of the way. And GP says they are few... but they are almost all of them. Even in the senate, voting proves that Elizabeth has sold out... and Bernie is far from pristine in spite of his campaign rhetoric.

If *we* think we'll get anywhere working within the existing democrap matrix... *we* have them right where they want us/US.

You want the vector to reverse? You have to find another vehicle. Democraps will never represent our interests unless they line up with those of the billionaires. And they never ever will.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

To Noah Reson Brown: I guess you did not read the new Jack Reacher novel, Night School, by Lee Child. At the end, Jack talks about what he learned at West Point. Jack would have taken Hitler out in advance if he had had the chance and he follows through similarly with the arch enemy in the book.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the above: in general, forget about attracting Trump supporters. A wasted effort.

The task is to get many many more people to vote. Voter suppression is what needs to be addressed. We must get more regular, poor, young and minority voters to vote. That could possibly turn things around. The young in particular need to get riled up and step up to the plate. It is their world that is going down the drain. The draft sure got things going in the 60's. Their parents turned around against the war eventually, too, influenced by their draft age children.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Exit 135 said...

I agree with O above also. Every trump* voter I know is a white guy who works with his hands. Or owns a business with workers who work with their hands. Auto mechanics, A/C repair, etc. These guys thought Sanders is a nut - free college.

Their mantra: The government takes my hard earned money and gives it to the ...

Pick 2-3 policies which are immune to identity politics. That cross pollinate between the young and old. That affect all of us, generationally. Policies which ought to provide for the common good but are stymied by our betters. Our betters who mix money and politics for their own end.

But to your point. The DeVos uprising is instructive. Shove that right back back to Ryan and Pence. After all, DeVos is Pence's person. A billionaire incompetent christian fascist who now 'manages' a department with billions of dollars to play with. Trump still has no idea who she is. He is reported to call her his education lady.

100 million people are directly involved with public education during the work week. Students. Educators. Parents. I think this is the reason the DeVos uprising came about. Nail Ryan and Pence to the damage this woman will cause. They deserve it.

Last, the Devos nomination brought up wall street financing, student loan debt, guns, equal protection laws. These synergestic issues transcend identity politics. Good stuff to nail Ryan and Pence to I think. They deserve it. Let them own it.

At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similarly, Pruitt is a total shill for energy interests and there is an extensive record of his evil doings.
We all want honest leaders, no???
Oh, and we all need to breathe, to drink water and to avoid earthquake disasters!

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the phrase "Vichy Democrat." I will use it LIBERALLY!

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:52, true indeed. But 2008-2010 proved that you can animate dormant voters once, but if you fail/betray them, they don't stay animated. And why would they?

Yes, absolutely, animate 100 million dormant voters. But you can't sustain it with the Democraps driving the rickshaw. Within 3 months of seating of their next (if ever) congress, they'll betray, fail and serve the money and those 100 million will return to hibernation, a great many for life. Fully formed thinking humans won't allow themselves to be scammed repeatedly. It's human nature to NOT be Charlie Brown with Lucy's football.

12:13 you misunderstand the right. The misanthropes hate education. To them, education is a liberal plot to make everyone an elitist shitstain. Especially the Christian Nazis, who feel that all they need to ever know is in the bible. We minority of educated thinking human beings can "nail" pence and ryan with the devos cluster fuck... but that's exactly what they want and what will give their voting base priapism and make them have to change their drawers. They'd be more than delighted to own it.

1:27, same note. the rubes on the right WANT corporations to rape the environment for profit. In fact, recent research indicates that southern conservatives WANT the environment to visibly suffer -- a sign that big business is taken care of. OK before fracking? 4 earthquakes per year. After a decade of fracking? 1000 earthquakes. And okies are literally "chubby" over it because their businesses made money.

So you should see that hoping that observable facts and consequences of the damage that these people('s policies) cause will change minds on the right is fallacious.
The right doesn't think. And their opinions are told to them by our Goebbels industry. And their churches tell that nothing we do is wrong as long as we're holding onto or quoting the bible.

Remember this as you try to figure out how to fix this.

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In support of 11:17

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Nastarana said...

Anytime you Democrats want to get serious, come on over and join us.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OR jest Lynch Poppy Bush as self-ackknowledged :


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