Mark Twain once said “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Self-deception definition: “The action or practice of allowing oneself to believe that a false or unvalidated feeling, idea, or situation is true.” Self-deception is the process by which people create and reinforce mental perceptions that prevent themselves from achieving success. Self-deception is a convenient way to fail, but at the same time ensure feeling justified in failure.
Here is a brief example of self-deception at work: A nice guy, let’s call him John, tells himself that “nice guys finish last” (because he heard that somewhere), and when John continually struggles to make a romantic connection, he justifies that the reason he has failed to make a romantic connection is because of his internalized rule that “nice guys finish last,” and since John is so nice, he must have failed because of his niceness. John will forever be able to feel that he is a good person and that society is simply stacked against him, thus he will fail but feel righteously vindicated. Got it?
John is taking some limited cultural information (nice guys finish last) and using that information to self-deceive and justify his failure. People do this to themselves all the time. They find some limited piece of information and utilize it as the justification for their failure, but at the same time not truly looking at themselves and evaluating what they could do differently.
Now let’s switch to a discussion of politics. Inside the self-destructive monster that is modern partisan politics lies unlimited opportunities to self-deceive and self-destruct. Our national discourse has devolved to a level that makes it almost impossible to have productive conversations with even our closest friends and allies on partisan topics. This devolving discourse has moved a long way away from issues toward an identity-based ideology. This identity branding helps people become loyal to one side, in the way people are loyal to Pepsi or Coke.
Idaho has a long complex political history, one which was significant for ongoing political shifts of leadership from D’s and R’s, and an ongoing tradition of working together across political divides to solve problems and support common values. Over the last decades that historical system has been hijacked by national political branding.
In Idaho, if you were to talk to a left-leaning voter about what it is like to be a Democrat in Idaho, you would likely get some sob story that sounds very much like John and his “nice guys finish last” self-deceptive point of view. A Democrat might express what it is like to be the “only” Democrat or what it is like to “live on an island;” the viewpoints they take are full of self-deception. They’ve bought into the “Red Idaho Myth” and decided that they are already defeated before they start. The progressive voter in Idaho feels so marginalized over the last decade they have not only stopped running as candidates and stopped voting in elections, they have even begun joining the ranks of the opposition party in primaries to attempt to “vote for the lesser of two evils.”
Because Idaho’s Republican Party has a closed primary, many Democrats decide to register as Republicans to weight the ballot box in favor of moderate Republican candidates. In the process, they continue to further the myth of an unbalanced, one-party driven political system in Idaho. They behave the same way as John, who gives up because he believes that a nice guy can’t win in a game that is rigged against him. The problem is that what the Democrats, progressives, and independents believe to be true about a rigged system just ain’t so.
The fact is that Republicans don’t hold a majority of registered voters in Idaho. Even with many Democrats registering as Republicans, the R’s can’t get to 50 percent of registered voters. If all Democrats unregistered as Republicans, the R’s might sit closer to 35 percent of total registered voters in Idaho. The truth is that in 2014 a Democrat narrowly lost a statewide election and a swing of just a couple thousand voters would have won the election. Even a moderate increase in turnout would change the landscape politically in Idaho, but the power of the “Red State Myth” is strong.
As the D’s continue to self-deceive, they bring about the exact result they dislike — a non-progressive political monopoly fraught with corruption and extremist views. The R team deftly perpetuates the national myth of Red State politics, while many on the Blue team accept the narrative hook, line and sinker.
How can discouraged Democrat voters get out of this in-the-box thinking of self-deception? They must act true and consistent with their values. If John wants a romantic relationship, he needs to act true, strong and confident to who he is and what he wants. If people want progress in Idaho, they must do the same. If progressive thinkers want to have success in Idaho they must act true to that value of progress by voting, campaigning and organizing. They must not live in a belief system that they will finish last just because they are in a red state.
People who hide in the shadows and look for justifications for losing will never win and never make a difference. My home state of Idaho does not need people to run away, it needs champions to fight for the environment, human rights and economic opportunities to grow the middle class. We need people of all political persuasions to hold true to their belief in a better tomorrow and work together to create that better Idaho.
As Ketchum celebrates its near miss in total destruction by the Castle Rock and Beaver Creek wildfires they should reflect on their very limited wildfire history. The silver boom of the late 1880s deforested much of the area. Bridges, trestles, smelters, mines and housing were built with timber, but the charcoal ovens that fed the smelter blast furnaces took an immense amount of timber. A set of 23 charcoal kilns at the Philadelphia smelter near Warm Springs needed about 100 square miles of timber for a 10-year run, plus more timber for other smelters and kilns. When silver prices dropped and shut down the smelters, much of the forests were mostly stumps and seedlings. The forests were renewed by the time the Forest Service took over management in the early 1900s. A few years later harvests were managed for forest health until about 40 years ago when all responsible management ceased. Forests are a renewable resource either managed for health or burned at a terrible price and a threat to life and property. The end results are the same.
The buzz in Washington surrounding the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District was all bad for the last couple of weeks. People had been bad-mouthing the Republican candidate, Karen Handel, they had been insulting the Republican National Committee’s competence and they had been dismissing any notion that Republicans could pull through to defeat the energized “resistance.” But the ashen, sour and dejected faces on CNN Tuesday night following Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff’s defeat made the last 10 days of Republicans’ worry and anxiety worthwhile. By any measure, the victory proves the Republican political machine is alive and working well.
Heading into Tuesday, Democrats were prepared to bask in their self-righteous glory and proclaim an outright victory in the wake of President Trump’s political decline. They wanted to claim a successful referendum on the Trump administration and the president’s “America First” policies. But with Handel comfortably pulling through to claim her seat, Democrats are left with nothing to show for their tens of millions of dollars and full-court press.
If anything, this race proves Republicans have no reason to be defensive as a result of Obamacare’s demise, it shows Republicans have nothing to hide from in the age of Trump and it signifies that nothing about the current faux-scandal-ridden environment has produced a downdraft for Republicans.
Democrats thought they were going to walk away from Tuesday’s race victorious, but they have yet to produce a viable person-to-person message for their candidates to work with. They still don’t have an economic message for voters who want something more than the liberal call for more welfare, and they have no legitimate response to the national call for a shift away from the status quo.
The left poured tens of millions of dollars into this race, making it the most expensive House race in history. But many of those contributions came from outside groups, Hollywood elites and liberal benefactors who have never once visited Georgia’s 6th. And perhaps that reality is fitting. After all, Ossoff did not reside in the district he ran to represent and he epitomized the synthetic, millennial Democrat who, despite loud campaigning, really does not have much to say.
For her part, Handel did a good job holding her own in a race that could be best described as having spiraled out of control. She was focused, argued for Republican policies and maintained a level head despite the unprecedented onslaught of attacks from liberal groups. Democrats’ attempts to conflate Handel with Trump failed to make a difference in Tuesday’s election.
The RNC also deserves a great deal of credit following the victory. It targeted Republican voters, got out the vote and made clear that Republicans are just as strong today as when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in November last year.
Democratic pundits will try to distract from the devastating loss they experienced Tuesday, but there is no hiding the fact that the race for Georgia’s 6th failed to show much backlash against Trump among the affluent suburbanites who liberals too often assume are moving their way. Tuesday was a yuge win for Trump. They may not admit it to pollsters, but a lot of people are pulling for the president. And they are pulling for Republicans.
Following their devastating defeat in Georgia, Democrats must ask themselves whether House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has a place in their leadership. Clinton is gone and Pelosi should step aside to make room for someone younger. But it won’t be Jon Ossoff.