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 [psywarrior.com/Goebbels.html]. 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.