Monday, September 9, 2013

Politics–Converting a No Into a Yes

It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. - Samuel Adams

The average voter has to hear a point seven times before it registers. - Paul Weyrich

The political and media fight to convince Americans to attack Syria continues unabated, being driven by passionate pleas from President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry.

Since many people thought that their initial reaction to reject the strike seemed like a no-brainer, many have wondered why the appeal to attack Syria has not only continued unabated but appears to have escalated.

They forget that politicians are using a tried-and-true technique that commonly turns a passionate “no” into an equally rabid “yes”.

Here is what the process looks like (click on the image for a larger version of it).


It’s an iterative battle, with each proposal using information gleaned from the previous rejection and playing on people’s emotions as I wrote about in Anger: Setting Yourself Up For Manipulation

Occasionally, if the message recipient is particularly resistant to the message, more than one iteration may be necessary within each of the steps shown above.  In addition, some steps may occasionally have to be revisited if something new is added to the message that introduces resistance that was not previously expressed by the message recipient.

Each proposal not only factors in the responses from the previous proposal but includes a lot of additional information that is misleading or which overloads the recipient so that they cannot create the space necessary to properly evaluate the proposal before them.

Each iteration also gets more complex, the stakes get higher and the deadlines become more critical (at least as suggested by the politician).

It is a battle of attrition … one which the average citizen eventually loses (most times, not all) because they don’t have the resources to keep fighting, the information to make an intelligent choice, the time to keep fighting or because they are so worn out just trying to survive their own battles that they don’t have the energy to fight something which they have become convinced is not a big deal to them anyway.

Such techniques are not limited to the Syria issue.

In fact, it’s the common technique that politicians use to bring you to their viewpoint instead of the other way around, the latter being a more appropriate, more effective form of representation “for the people, by the people”.

Who will win the battle?

It depends on how badly each side wants to win their side of the argument and whether or not someone else enters the conversation with an idea that either works for all parties involved or derails the original intention of one side or the other.

What side of the battle are you on?

Would you recognize the signs that the other side is changing your position even if it against your fundamental beliefs?

Are you sure?

In service and servanthood,


Addendum – September 9, 2013 – Resisting the Cycle

I would be remiss in my thoughts if I didn’t share a brief musing on resisting the cycle described in this blog.

Many people are susceptible to the traps described in this blog because they respond with emotion (not to be confused with passion) instead of data / facts.

If one responds with requests for data / facts (or responds with data / facts to challenge the original assertions), one has a better opportunity to get to truths and to be able to make effective choices based more on truth and less on emotion.

People who hide behind “everyone knows this”, “it’s protected under national security” or something similar or who respond to data or requests for data with sharp emotion don’t have facts.

When they don’t have facts, they aren’t worthy of your time, your influence or your support.

And when you can use their own data against them, that’s even better.

It reminds me of the apocryphal story of the man who was solicited in the mail by a fraudulent evangelist who promised that for every $100 that the man sent to the evangelist, God would reward him in kind with 7x the donation from unexpected sources.

The man wrote on the donation card “If you truly believe that God rewards people in this way, why don’t you send me $100 a month and you will receive $700 as you describe”.

He never heard from the evangelist again.


  1. Why are you continuing to bash Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Party in blogs like this?

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I don't quite understand this comment, given that it is a musing on President Obama and the potential attack on Syria.

      While I made a reference to politicians in general, I made no reference to Alberta, Alberta politics or Alberta politicians.

      However your comment reminds me of the old adage - "you won't see yourself in something unless there is something to be seen".

      Thanks for the note - create a great day.


  2. The best comment that I have heard is from James J. Hill: "Just so the wealth of the country, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor as well as the predatory rich, but above all from the predatory politician.-- James J. Hill

    If the electorate is simple minded or ignorant of the issues, not only of the issues surrounding Syria, but what the US government's role is in foreign policy regarding national security, then your progression of getting a bad idea turned into a YES is appropriate. But only good sheepdogs, and more of them, will keep the government wolves at bay.

    Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Edward Carrington on 16 Jan. 1787, “Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, judges and governors shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; and experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”

    Jefferson's quote is not only about how the government oversees the nation, but national defense as well, including Syria.

    1. Kevin,

      Many thanks for your detailed response. As usual, your responses are on-point .... more people need to pay attention to your musings on the difficulties facing us in a world filled with potential .... potential that can only be harvested if we willfully and intelligently choose to harvest them.

      Create a great day, Kevin!