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The Lift

To My Boys

What happens when you are competing against someone who has it easier in a competition? In sports, injuries, home field advantages, cheating (that is not recognized by the refs or league) and a host of other things can tip the scale.

In these situations there is a tendency to focus on how unfair things are rather than planning out how one can overcome these obstacles. The anger that we seek to feed in those situations only drains us of the bandwidth and reserve that we will need to move forward. That anger is also a displacement of despair where we think it is impossible to win, especially if you or your team has lost to the same opponent.

In our current political environment, there are some simple truths that the Democratic party is facing:

1) They are a broad coalition, meaning there is significantly more internal conflict

2) Due to the electoral college system, their relative strengths (cities, coastal states, persons of color) are somewhat wasted in that voting power is disproportionally concentrated in places where there are higher concentrations of voting groups that lean Republican. Using another sports metaphor, the GOP can be blown out in 3 games of a 7 game series and still win by eking out 1 point victories in the other 4 games.

3) There is a media ecosystem where lying is not proportionally punished. There are no refs in such battles and, as such, one team can essentially tackle a defender on a pick and roll without any potential recourse. Putting it in mathematical terms, GOP partisans think on a log scale in terms of their teams' bad actions while Dems think in a linear scale (this could change with a switch in power, but as of now there is no counterfactual to Trump so we don't know).

4) The siloing of partisans (through Facebook and other platforms) ensures that emotion will always be high with the rewards of in-tribe validation. This means that it's hard to argue with folks in the other tribe, especially about information they receive. It also means they will vote with their tribe no matter what

That takes what seems to be an insurmountable lead in August (~8 points), reduces it to 3-4 (only swing states matter as opposed to the popular vote), then reduces it even more due to the challenges of one party trying to be pragmatic and moderate while the other goes all-in.

So where do we go from here?

The most crucial thing that comes to mind is the focusing of attention. Take the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. If poor Orpheus had only kept his head facing forward and not turned around at the last minute, his love would have returned to earth and not disappeared back into Hades' underworld. There is little good that can come from anger, or fear, or doubt at this point. Like an engine without a vehicle attached to it, it can only generate power that goes nowhere, eventually overheating and/or breaking down without accomplishing anything.

With that in mind, my hope is that I can follow this easier-said-than-done advice for the next 60 days, where I can write letters in lieu of indignant FB posts and Tweets and take comfort in completed voter calls instead of the knowledge that the opponent is going to collapse (even more) in the next election rounds.

Let's leave it all on the field, and admire how much (more) that was needed to win.

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