While reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, I had an epiphany.
For the last decade or more, the political left has been able to dismiss much of the right’s arguments simply by calling them “racist.”
(Also applies to sexist, homophobe, et al.)
This has always been known to be a disingenuous argument, but it works. The crazy part is that even though right wingers know it to be false, most of them will act against their own interests in order to avoid that label.
Now I understand how exactly it works.
It’s what most of us have always known, but couldn’t articulate.
Cialdini: Commitment and Consistency Comprise One of the Cornerstones of Influence
According to Cialdini, humans have a compulsive desire to act in a manner consistent with previous actions. Sometimes, they are content with simply maintaining the appearance of consistency.
It is important to note that people align themselves with what they have done, and not with what they have said or will do. Like Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” It’s why people who promise the world yet accomplish nothing meaningful are rightfully dismissed as being “all talk, and no action.”
Once someone makes a commitment, they will behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with said commitment. Because people obsess over their perceived self-image, this opens them up to manipulation by bad actors. Thus, one can influence them into doing things they would never otherwise do.
How this Weapon of Influence Dominates the Cuckservative Mindset
You know that many right wingers, particularly those who hold public office, see themselves as kind-hearted and God-fearing people who favor traditional family values. Those are admirable traits, by and large.
The problem comes into play when a leftist accuses said right winger of racism. As Cialdini suggests, this creates a cognitive dissonance in the mind of the kind-hearted, God-fearing person. He holds no ill-will towards people who don’t look like him. He can’t understand why the leftist perceives him as one.
Put simply, it is a compliance trick. Here, the influence of desiring internal consistency compels the man to remove the label of racist.
How does he remove that branding, in his eyes? He does things he never would have previously done; apologizes for things he has never felt, done, or said. Additionally, he denounces those who would help him, since he doesn’t want to be lumped into the basket of deplorables. They’ve been silenced.
Or, he can avoid the branding in the first place, by not speaking out on what he sees happening around him. That defines the current political climate, for most right wingers I know.
The best option, however, lies below.
Cialdini’s Work Teaches How to Fight Back Against Race-Baiters
First, recognize when someone tries to trap you with a statement you know is demonstrably untrue. They want to take advantage of your self-image, to influence and bend you to their will.
The best option is to call out their actions; point out the absurdity of their statement. Tell them you know better than to fall for their compliance trick. Become uncucked like Donald Trump, and say “You have to call me racist, because that’s all you have: a little compliance trick.”
There’s nothing wrong with consistency. The problem lies with foolish consistency, “the hobgoblin of little minds.” Don’t be slavishly devoted to fixing your self-image when there’s nothing that needs fixing.
Perhaps you did cave in to the race card at one point. Now you’re a nice little boy, atoning by liking Facebook posts claiming “Diversity is our strength!”
Some part of you recognizes that since then, something feels off. You have stuck to your guns since then, despite the feeling of unease.
Ask yourself, “Knowing what I know now about [what I see happening around me], if I could go back in time, would I make the same choice again?”
If the answer is yes, perhaps my website isn’t for you.
If the answer is no, congratulations on becoming uncucked. People like us should stick together, and I have an email list to help keep in touch with you.