Open Letter to
Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren,
Chuck Schumer, and Senator Al Franken
Before reading the letter, I would
recommend to watch a 4-minute video “What Could Liberals Learn From
Physics?” https://youtu.be/OwzKlFpIt_E (the transcript is at www.GoMars.xyz/FS.html)
Reaching out directly to constituents is nothing
new, of course. Every politician does it.
The point the media miss is that with the constant
use of Twitter, regularly issuing provocative statements which ignite extensive
media coverage, and with regular rallies, Donald Trump and his advisers have
brought this political tool to a completely new level (at least in the U.S.).
Trump does not have much of a support from his own party, and by reaching out
directly to people, he manages to put a pressure on local and state officials
of all sorts (and Trump must keep his supporters in the state of excitement, or
he will lose them).
Among extreme examples of such reaching out directly
to people, we can mention the Cultural Revolution which happened in China (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution). When the then-leader Mao Zedong
was on a brink of being pushed out of the power, he appealed directly to the
Chinese young people, asked them to form militia, and paralyzed the country for
Probably, America should not worry about running
into such an extreme social disaster as the Cultural Revolution, but there are
core American values which are at risk of being watered down, or even dissolved
(such us the freedom of speech, checks and balances within governing
institutions, trustful media).
In part, Frum cites words
“written more than 200 years ago to explain the most important safeguard of the
American constitutional system: “Ambition must be made to counteract
That is exactly what Democrats and all
progressivists have not been able to produce to counteract Trump’s team.
Sanders, Warren, Schumer, and Franken.
Unfortunately, each of you alone is not strong
enough to successfully spar with Trump, but four of you together may present a
formidable counter-force to his current media domination. You are respected
politicians; your names are nationally recognized. The hope is that when you
start leading the “resistance” (quoting Bill Maher), eventually Democrats will
be able to present to the American people a smart, and charismatic (and,
hopefully, young) person, who will be able to consolidate all the progressives.
But that is just a hope; the time for thinking about
the next Presidential elections has not come yet.
The immediate goal is to mobilize the forces, to
direct the actions by giving activists clear goals, and to win back the
Congress. There is no time for waiting.
This fight had to begin on November 9, 2016, but still is dormant.
Inside party maneuvering, reshuffling the same people between the same chairs
is the recipe for a failure.
The first thing you have to do is to accept the fact
that the top Democrats f@$ed up the elections. You
have to tell people that the top-level Democrats made big mistakes, that
Hillary Clinton and her team made mistakes, that you made mistakes. But you
will use those mistakes to learn from them, and to regenerate the party, and to
reenergize the people.
You cannot follow the same path Hillary Clinton and
her team followed in 2016.
Right after Trump
became the nominee, it was clear (for those who could see) that the social
landscape was drastically different from what Clinton’s advisers thought. But
their arrogance made them blind; they kept using the same old “playbook”, and
Winning the popular
vote and losing the White House does not make the situation better; it actually
makes it worse.
There is only one
silver lining in this loss. If Clinton had won, the Democratic party might had
been stagnating for at least four more years. Now, after a slap in the face
(well, a hit in the face), the party has only to choices; become obsolete, or
reform itself on the march.
I hope, you see that the old methods and approaches
to build the movement, to lead the party have not worked, and will not work,
because they have been developed for a situation which is in the past, and will
not come back any soon (more on this later).
Basically, you have to invent new methods and new
approaches to build the movement, to lead the party, to help rise to the top
In the meantime, four of you have to build a
progressive media firewall.
For each Trump’s rally, you have to organize at
least four of yours. For each Trump’s media outburst, you have to fire up at
least four media eruptions.
Do not wait for an
approval of your actions from anybody else; this is up to four of you (at least
The good start for developing a new strategy would
be just thinking of what would you do in the past, and do just the opposite
(this, of course, is a hyperbole). For a while, you have to stop listening to
the party officials, advisers, think tank intellectuals, etc. who you have been
listening in the past. You need to find and gather people who have been giving
away warnings about Trump since the beginning of his campaign. Then and only
then you can call back some of the people who used to work for Hillary Clinton
(because you do not want to repeat her mistake by listening only to people who
tell you only what you want to hear).
You have to accept the fact that the approach “We
are good – Trump is bad! We tell the truth – he is a liar! We care
about you – he only cares about himself! We are for all people – he
is racist!” etc. has not worked, and will not work.
You cannot honestly think that all people who voted
for Trump are racist, or white supremacists, or poorly educated, or just hate
Hillary Clinton. Hence, you need to know the hidden reasons underlying peoples’
choices, otherwise you and then all progressives will follow the Hillary
Here I begin the
most important part of this letter.
We have to start from addressing a question: “How do
people make decisions?”
For example, when you (or your child, or your
friend, or your enemy) stand in Baskin Robbins (or Dunkin Donuts, or Burger
King) staring at the menu trying to figure out what to order this time –
do you make a decision?
The answer actually depends on what do you call a
Without deeping into a
long discussion, let’s just say that in general, we – humans – make
two types of decisions: rational decisions (a.k.a. logical, via a step-by-step
reasoning), and “irrational” (a.k.a. intuitive, a.k.a. a guess, or a hunch).
The ability to make rational decisions differs humans from other animals; take
this ability away – and we will be no smarter than dolphins, or dogs, or
monkeys, or cats.
During a usual day, we do not make too many of
rational decisions, because usually we do not have to. Usually, we just have to
make choices which would not greatly affect our wellbeing, or our future.
When we are angry, or when we are happy, or when we
are sad, or when we are stressed, we may not make the same choice which we
would have made if we were calm and rational.
The reaction which we call a choice, or a decision,
is the result of the brain functions happening in our subconscious mind without
our interference. Maybe, on average, we use about ten percent of our brain
power for a logical reasoning. But that does not mean that other ninety percent
do nothing. Our brain is constantly analyzing a huge amount of information to
answer one single question: “What to do to survive?” (the strongest instinct of
every healthy animal is self-preservation). Then our brain makes a choice for
us, and places it into the logical part of it, so we would be able to
articulate it (first of all – to ourselves). And then we start defending
this “decision we had made” like we were actual authors of it.
Of course, the picture I just painted is very
simplistic, but presents a good initial model of a human decision making
And one more note: the stronger our emotions are, or
the longer we experience those emotions, the more chance that we would not
listen to any rationalization of our actions. We would tend just to react.
For millions of Americans the past two decades are
associated with a continuous state of stress. The fall of the Twin Towers, two
wars, natural disasters, economic depression, job loss, social stagnation;
these are only some of the major sources of a pressure on the society in
general, and on the middle class in particular (one of the latest publications:
http://nypost.com/2016/05/12/americas-middle-class-is-headed-toward-extinction/). The social and especially the
economic environment has become very stressful for millions of Americans.
Ecologists know that a stressful change in the
environment (like, a change in the average temperature, or average humidity)
may lead to significant changes in the ecosystem (some species can even extinct
like dinosaurs, or begin mass migration, or mutate). When due to any reasons
species start experience the shortage of food, they start searching for the
ways to adapt to the new situation.
When in 2012, due to a harsh winter, the population of
blue hares in Yakutia (Russia) suddenly dropped, “a
"super pack" of 400 wolves laid siege to the remote town of
Verkhoyansk, forcing locals to mount patrols on snow mobiles until the
government could send in extra help” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/15/wolf-attacks-lead-to-state-of-emergency-in-russias-siberia-regio/).
Whether we like it or not, our brain is wired in
almost the same way as a wolf’s brain.
Of course, we experience much deeper emotions than
just a hunger. But living in a constant fear of not being able to provide for a
family, feeling day-after-day how the usual prosperity is slipping away like a
sand through fingers, leads to a gradual transformation of the way people view
the world and their position in it. We could say, that a longitudinal social
stress leads to a psychological “mutation” of a large part of the population.
Millions of Americans expressed their frustration
with the current state of social events and economic status. They have been
forced to accept lower paid or less stable jobs. They feared that they would
not be able to leave to their children better living conditions. They have been
losing their savings. They felt like they lost a “game” called “life”.
Trump and his team brilliantly used this massively
spread psychological state.
Everyone wants and needs to be a part of a winning
team. This need is growing with every day of feeling sad and lost. For many
Americans to be a “winner” caries a special cultural meaning. “The winner takes
it all”; “A winner does not follow rules”; “If you don’t win – you lose”.
For millions of
people, who have been feeling a stress so strong and for so long time, that
they started disconnecting from a reality, Trump created a fictional reality. In
that “reality” he was “a head of a winning team”, promising to everyone who
joins “so much winning, you will get tired of winning”.
In fact, Trump and his advisers have not invented
Bannon, and Inc. used the tactic which has been very well known for at least a
Make as many people as possible to feel as miserable as possible (“our Country
is a disaster”).
INVENT enemies and blame on them everything bad, do not care about how
illogical it might sound (liberals, immigrants, Muslims).
Present strong emotional passages, even if they do not make any sense (“You
will get tired of winning”).
Promise anything, even if it is impossible (“We will build the wall and make
Mexica to pay for it!”).
Embrace and bring to your team people who have no moral limits and who want
only ONE thing – a three-headed dragon (money/fame/power).
Suppress any opposite views, or at least drown them in the ocean of
misinformation (a.k.a. fake news)
This tactic is very old and well known for everyone
who read Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin; and had been successfully used to bring
many former and current dictators into a power. Evidently, Clinton’s advisers
have not read this literature (which makes them “a vanilla” of consulting).
The tactic does not
appeal to a logic, it does not offer rational approaches. Its main goal is
basically to generate the atmosphere of excitement similar to the one sport
fans feel on a stadium when their team has been losing until the last minutes
but won in the end (a.k.a. Super
Bowl LI). Everyone who experienced this feeling once, got “addicted” to
it, and wants to feel it again; this feeling is like a drug (why else do sport
conglomerates make billions?).
Donald Trump’s priority has been and always will be his own
is why Trump has never cared and will never truly care about the meaning of the
words he says or writes, because for millions of people the meaning of his
words does not matter. They will support him no matter what he says, as long as
he will make them feel as winners.
And to feed the need to feel as
winners Trump, Bannon and Inc. constantly create for
them an “alternative realty” (some people would call it “disinformation”).
Liberal media can point at Trump’s mistakes, leis,
fictions as much as they can; liberal media can make fun of Trump as much as
they can – that will not make any difference for people who support
Trump’s team brilliantly exploited everything they
could to paint Hilary Clinton as a loser. Of course, the content of the “damn
emails” never mattered. However, making Clinton explaining herself made her
look defensive; and “winners do not look defensive” (unless they do, but who
remembers that). And, of course, for rational people Benghazi or emails did not
make any difference. But Trump was not appealing to rational people. He (or
most probably Bannon) was counting on that the number of people in distress had
risen and reached the critical mass. Clinton’s team did not see it. Trump won.
Sanders, Warren, Schumer, and Franken.
Your immediate goal should be creating and promoting
a clear view of the “real reality”. It must be truthful, which makes your job
harder than Trump’s. It also must be positive, energetic, winning!
It will never be enough just to scream: “He lied!”,
or “Look what he did!”, or to make fun of Trump’s Tweets or appearance.
Firstly, this is also just a fog to deflect the attention from the actors
hiding behind the fog (Bannon, and Inc.). Secondly, liberal media have to get
out of the bubble and finally start reaching out to non-liberal audience.
Thirdly, your media actions need to be such that even Fox news channel could
not avoid talking about them on a regular basis.
You have no much time to get prepared. You have to
start acting now. Many people who voted for Hilary Clinton, have been feeling
like now the Atlanta Falcons fans are feeling, and may soon become so
dissatisfied with the Democratic party that will be lost (will become
As a “dictator-in-the-making”, everything “bad for
the Country” Trump will blame on the opposition, and everything “good for the
Country” Trump will attribute to himself.
Your task will be
to counteract Trump’s team and to offer people the actual facts, and to decouple positive changes from Trump (David Frum
has more on this).
And one last note: please, tell your supporters, and
then remind them once in a while, that if they just act on emotions without
giving some rational thinking to their actions, they are no different from
people who support Donald Trump. Trump’s team outsmarted Clinton’s team. Do not
let his team to outsmart you.
Dr. Valentin Voroshilov
P.S. A special word to Senator Bernie Sanders
You have been speaking about the need for a political revolution all along.
Well, now you have a second chance to lead it. Turns out, before
revolutionizing the Country you need to revolutionize the Democratic party
P.P.S. Dear Senators,
please, keep in mind that if the Democrats will not take the Congress back, it
will be your fault.
P.P.P.S. Please, feel
free to leave your comments! I have a blog where you can find a commentary box.
Below is an actual comment left at
the West weak is to their advantage.” Trump is not to blame for the economic or
military obligations this country faces today. All of these were created and
put into place by previous administrations, career politicians and Washington
insiders who profit from the actions of the military industrial complex and its
perpetual largely ineffective “nation building” schemes that began at the end
of the second world war and continue to this day under the supervision of both
Trump is not and should be expected to
perpetuate those expensive failed policies. He should concentrate and building
up the strength of our military, while at the same time avoiding engaging us in
any avoidable new conflicts. In short, he should walk softly and carry a big
Many people do not like Trump because
he looks like a wolf. FYI, a sheepdog looks like a wolf to a sheep. But
ironically it is the genetic similarly between the wolf and sheepdog and the
teeth of the sheepdog in particular that allow him to fight off the wolf when
Trump is a sheepdog whose bark and
bite may ultimately prove very uncomfortable for Putin should he take any
offensive actions against the USA and so I strongly suspect that Putin has more
respect for Trump than that the paranoid sheep recognize.
Time will tell, but I strongly suspect
that Trump will do a wonderful job of keeping his flock safe.
comment perfectly represents the sentiments of a common Trump supporter. No
logic. Outburst of emptions. Arguing with this type of a person would be the
same as arguing with a patient of an Alzheimer clinic.
main theme is shown in the end – “I want to feel safe” (meaning, this
person has not been feeling safe for a long time). “Trump makes me feel safe”.
The rest is just self-justification.
Many liberal pundits have not noticed this
stressful emotional state of many Trump supporters, they just bluntly called
those people "basket of deplorables".
We all know the result.