Violent communication won

By Nancy Churchill

Since the election, many on the left have been calling out Democrats for their “loss.” Spoiler alert: Hillary Clinton won the vote by 2.9 million — that’s a win. Donald Trump will be president not because Hillary lost the vote, but because we didn’t realize we were not electing a president, just Electors to represent us in the Electoral College. And Elector representation is skewed toward the states with the fewest voters, by a margin of over 300 to 1.

So Democrats shouldn’t succumb to self-flagellation. Though far from perfect, they were not at fault here, but rather the victims in what Marshall Rosenberg explains as violent interaction in his book Nonviolent Communication. Hitler was the most famous practitioner of violent communication, giving rise to “Godwin’s Law,” which states that every discussion about strong-man power sooner or later reverts to a comparison to Hitler. But the victimizing language of violence exists at every level of human interaction, including potentially every kitchen in America.

I used to work for the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority. Yes, to its credit, Illinois was once trying to prevent violence at every level: child abuse, including sexual abuse, teen dating violence, spousal abuse, and elder abuse, including elder financial abuse. My focus was on schoolyard bullying. I doubt if this invaluable agency survived our Governor’s draconian budget cuts, a form of violence itself, in my opinion.

Rosenberg’s mission was to expose violent interaction as being rooted in language. Violent communication is the language of bullies who verbally or physically beat up their victims, then blame them for their plight. Bullies thrive by building a support base of sycophants who extoll their “greatness,” automatically evoking the Hitler comparison.

Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, knew and identified the principles of successful propaganda: control the dialog and the narrative []. Paraphrasing number 14 on his list, “Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans [i.e., “lock her up”]: they must evoke desired responses which the audience previously possesses [“Muslims can’t be trusted”]; they must be capable of being easily learned; they must be utilized again and again…; they must be boomerang-proof.”

Benjamin Franklin said, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” This election proves a common bully can win the presidency if he has a mind and the power to label people with “distinctive phrases,” i.e., violent communication, that too many reasonable people are taken in by. (Number 7: “Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.”) He proved more than capable of controlling the media to demonize his opponents with lies, by de-legitimizing those media who didn’t succumb as having a liberal bias (Number 6: “To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium”).

Democracy, not Democrats, was this election’s loser. We are an oligarchy now. Or worse.

One thought on “Violent communication won

  • Dec 28, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Here is another view of the culpability of the Democratic Party in losing the recent Presidential election and, by the way, one that I favor:

    Letter to the DNC: You are responsible
    Posted on November 14, 2016

    Dear DNC:

    Please read. Please listen this time.

    Cheaters never prosper. We, the entire nation, are suffering because of your corruption and lying deeds. The nation spoke and told you that they were tired of the “establishment.” You didn’t listen.

    Starting with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and EVERY single one of the DNC staff who was involved and responsible for abusing their position in order to bias and influence the outcomes of the Democratic primaries and the choosing of the Democratic nominee. You influenced the media and prevented the equal flow of finances and blocked the other candidate from those things. You had decided long ago that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee and everyone else be damned. You humiliated the entire Democratic Party in front of the entire nation.

    You did not listen to the people. You did not listen to the groundswell of anger among the American people – Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, No Party Affiliation’s etc. … You ignored everything that was important to them. You had choreographed this plan but never took into account what ‘we the people’ were telling you. You put forth a candidate that carried baggage. You used “super-delegate elites” in the party to guarantee the outcome that YOU had already determined. At the convention you didn’t listen or take counsel except for what Bernie forced into the Platform. You treated Bernie delegates likes they were aliens and from another party. You were mean and cruel. You put on a “show” and tried to hide the fact that the DNC had RIGGED THE SYSTEM. It started with that.

    You thought that “the first woman” would win. You didn’t listen. You spent time focusing on the negatives of Trump instead of what Hillary had to offer and why people should vote for her in spite of her negatives. Neither the DNC nor the campaign could do anything to excite and motivate people to get out and vote let alone to a rally. You never tapped into the excitement that Bernie had found because he listened.

    How do we go forward? How do we trust the DNC again?

    The DNC needs to look in the mirror and take responsibility for being CROOKED. Integrity is what you do when people are not looking – you got caught. It doesn’t matter who leaked or hacked on this level. That is a National Security issue. The issue for the DNC is that YOU KNEW YOU LIED about showing bias and influencing the outcome. You didn’t listen to the excitement from within the party and the platform that Bernie Sanders – who exudes integrity – was talking about all along and he tapped into the anger. Bernie was the “outsider” and “anti-establishment” candidate that voters were looking for. You lost your chance. And now you have created a mess.

    You are responsible for anything that is repealed or overturned. You are responsible for the loss of rights for minorities, LGBTQ and people of color. You are responsible if the ACA is repealed and gutted. You are responsible if Social Security or Medicare is privatized. You are responsible if the 1 percent continue to gain extraordinary tax breaks. You are responsible if there is not a meaningful living wage. You are responsible if we end up out of NATO. You are responsible for the accelerated destruction of the planet with fossil fuels, fracked gas and coal. You are responsible if the criminal justice system doesn’t get reformed. You are responsible if the prisons continue to operate with impunity. You are responsible for the future of the Supreme Court. You are responsible. Own it.

    You owe every Democrat a deep and sincere apology. Do not look outside for blame. The other side tried to thwart Trump but they failed. Their voters were energized because they felt he got it. You THWARTED Bernie. His voters were energized because they knew he got it … But you made sure that energy and enthusiasm was squelched. The Jill Stein vote was negligible. Don’t blame those voters.

    Clean House. You need to get people at the DNC who are NOT biased and looking out for their own agenda. People who are not politicians who are strategizing or influencing the outcomes of the primaries. People who have integrity. Let your voters choose the nominee. Learn to listen.


    Jane McNulty

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