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Tue Nov 23, 2021, 09:20 AM

A conversation with an Austrian emigre

One of my mentors was a self-made success who brought his immediate family to the United States in 1938. He went to work in the mailroom of a large corporation and years later, bought the company and made it one of the finest in its industry. Sadly, he passed away about a dozen years ago but rarely do days go by that his guidance and counsel don't advise me (and many others) how to conduct our businesses.

Our conversations were fascinating, fun and insightful. Once, he told me about his decision to move to America. In brief, as an Austrian Jew, he recognized the dangers of the fascist Nazis and he and his brother made the monumental decision to move the the U.S. They struggled when they arrived but fortunately, they had a little money to smooth their transition. Once they were settled, his industriousness and savvy brought him tremendous success.

He made it clear that the dominance of the Anchluss and the nearly daily violent attacks on Jews motivated him. He didn't want his family to be trapped. He told me that the local reports of violence were always described as isolated events that were not connected to one another. Of course, he would be proven correct that the Nazis were stirring the pot to cause unrest and destabilize the societies.

He made a decision that he described as gut-wrenching and vaguely unbelievable. Yet he made the right choice.

I wonder if some of us are in similar circumstances to my friend. I wonder what he would advise me today.

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Reply A conversation with an Austrian emigre (Original post)
PJMcK Nov 2021 OP
bucolic_frolic Nov 2021 #1
dalton99a Nov 2021 #2
bucolic_frolic Nov 2021 #3
wnylib Nov 2021 #4
CrispyQ Nov 2021 #6
wnylib Nov 2021 #7
keep_left Nov 2021 #8
Escurumbele Nov 2021 #5

Response to PJMcK (Original post)

Tue Nov 23, 2021, 10:34 AM

1. A valuable post and the word that sticks out is

"destabilize". That's how people buy into an alternative reality in this case Q to feed their revolution and normalize their bonkers leader.

Consider taking what you know and launching it at the DNC. Washington is out of touch, as much of a stereotype as that seems. They are fighting this with US mail solicitations for $$ and county party apparatus (whom I hear from twice a year in an email). They think phone-banking and door knocking and a few texts are novel, and to them they are.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 23, 2021, 10:41 AM

2. +1. The DNC chair is working out of his basement

These days, Harrison is doing most of his work from his basement in Columbia, South Carolina, his home of the past five years. The DNCís Washington headquarters is still largely closed because of pandemic concerns. So, like thousands of Americans working from home, he is balancing his work life with the demands of raising two young sons, scheduling video meetings with the White House and television interviews around nap times, school activities and even the occasional COVID-19 scare.

From his home base 500 miles (800 kilometers) south of Washington, he acknowledges that he is fighting tremendous odds. Political parties that hold the White House have lost congressional seats in virtually every midterm election in the modern era. And Democrats are clinging to the narrowest majorities in both chambers of Congress.


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Response to dalton99a (Reply #2)

Tue Nov 23, 2021, 11:09 AM

3. Exactly

Jaime Harrison is a prodigious fundraiser. He also did not win his Senate campaign despite that largesse. Something more had to be added - on the ground.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #3)

Tue Nov 23, 2021, 11:43 AM

4. That something more that is needed

Last edited Tue Nov 23, 2021, 09:11 PM - Edit history (1)

is good messaging. The quality of messaging is more important than the qantity of messages.

We need simple but meaningful messages that appeal to people's concerns. We need memes that become popular representations of our values. We could also use some messaging that tags the opposition with negatives.

Get off the defensive and set our own agenda instead of responding to the opposition's.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #4)

Tue Nov 23, 2021, 12:12 PM

6. We should have hired George Lakoff years ago.

In his book, "Moral Politics," Lakoff stated that the dems believe that people vote based on intellect, when in actuality, a ton of people vote on emotion. Our side thinks it's good enough to direct people to our platform page to read what we stand for, all the while, the right is bombarding the airwaves & social media with clever sound bites that stick in your head, who cares if they're honest or not?

Someone once said that democrats are good at policy but suck at politics. We're gonna lose our country if we don't get our act together. GOTV used to be our strong suit, but with all the suppression legislation being passed, we can't afford a demoralized base. And I'm not sensing a whole lot of enthusiasm on our side, while there side is revved up & ready to vote. And ready to count the votes, too. Something I'm not sure our side is taking seriously enough.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #6)

Tue Nov 23, 2021, 09:46 PM

7. Agree on emotional appeal versus intellectual.

People make most decisions based on emotions instead of reason. Reason is a guide. It is a means of sifting through fact and fiction. But, in the end, we choose according to what we like, need, or prefer. I remember having that conversation with a philosophy professor years ago.

Also agree that GOTV does not work in the present environment because the RWers have realized, especially after Georgia and Arizona in 2020, that they cannot defeat us against a good GOTV campaign. So they initiated the more extreme voter suppression laws. The worst are those that give RW state legislatures the ability to overturn election results.

So it is absolutely imperative that we win the message war to cut into the RW base. There are everyday life issues that transcend race, ethnicity, and religion that can unite people against fascism with the right message. Health care, good jobs, living wages, quality of life matter to everyone, even evangelicals. Give people the
message that we are delivering on those issues and RW politicians are not. We can and must undercut RW authoritarianism by winning over people beyond our base with what we do for them.

Imagine what would heppen in a red state if we won over enough voters with a message that they like andctgrn their legislature overturns their vote. All the anger that RW politicians have been directing at "the libs" would be directed at the right instead.

Good messaging could save the House and Senate for us. If we can hold the House and get a larger Senate majority, just imagine what we could accomplish.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #6)

Tue Nov 23, 2021, 10:00 PM

8. He was almost completely ignored; at least he was by people who could make a difference.

His think tank (Rockridge Institute) closed for lack of support. Really depressing.

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Response to PJMcK (Original post)

Tue Nov 23, 2021, 12:11 PM

5. I have to think that his advise would be for people to read some past and contemporary historical

events from other countries where totalitarian regimes have taken over. The first thing to note is that people always thought, despite what was going on in their countries, that a totalitarian regime would never take over their countries, the old "It Can't Happen Here" mentality, they were all caught by surprise.

By the end of 2015 I wrote an article predicting the worst scenario of what was happening in the USA, I am not a very good writer so I never sent it to any publication. But I based my prediction, having followed the developments in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez and now Nicolas Maduro, listing out all the steps the Chavez regime had taken since 1998 during the campaign through the end of 2015. I also compared it to other countries where totalitarian regimes had taken over, and was astounded to find that the methodology was exactly the same, whether they begun with "socialist", "communist" or simple transparent dictatorships rhetoric, they all end up in the same place.

Those comparison helped me line up the steps the republican party was taking in the USA, and they all matched with the steps taken in those other countries. The fact that Hugo Chavez had Fidel Castro as a mentor and trump had Vladimir Putin was an alarming fact. There were plenty other steps that compare very well.

I believe that we, as a country who is against totalitarian regimes, must look at past and current history to come to terms that what is going on in the USA is leading us in the wrong path. That, I think, your mentor would tell you to do because he would know that history repeats itself when we are not aware of it.

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