GOTV (Get Out The Vote) is the greatest nightmare for Republicans today. Democrats of all sorts, cowed in a multitude of different ways over the last 50 years, will learn to believe in themselves, and to vote regularly, in both Presidential and off years, up and down the ticket, and even run for office. When we vote, we win. We have the numbers to flip all of the seemingly Red states of the former Confederacy, even Alabama, in the next few cycles.
Our book for today, which I will use to explain much of this, is Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control, by Peterson, Maier, and Seligman. It explains how helplessness arises in many different situations, how it operates, how it can be created and enforced, and also what can be done about it. Like using GOTV to get people out of the helplessness of "My vote doesn't matter."
When experience with uncontrollable events leads to the expectation that future events will elude control, disruptions in motivation, emotion, and learning may occur. This phenomenon has been called learned helplessness.The most important result of research on helplessness is that those who have learned not to be helpless cannot be taught to be helpless again. The history of government and religion amply confirms this lesson, while showing how hard it has been to create conditions in which not being helpless can flourish. And yet we see it arise over and over again, and sometimes radically transform societies. But then the forces of reaction react and try their worst to undo it all, over and over again.
We discussed those motives in Grokking Republicans: Authoritarian Followers, Leaders, and Doubles. Now we are going to examine specific techniques, and how to counter them, particularly in the context of voting.
Republicans are in full freakout mode over Democratic GOTV. It is not just that they will lose elections, and that Democratic and Progressive measures will be enacted. They believe that this is an existential threat, because they will no longer be the self-proclaimed aristocracy of America and the world, and they are convinced that Democrats will be just as evil to them as they are to all of those whom they hate and revile and despise. Therefore they must do anything and everything possible to prevent the rest of us from realizing our power, from rising up out of our former helplessness. It is going to be ugly.