Alternative Group Boundaries

One of the Moral Foundations of conservative thought, or perhaps simply a problem for all people, is a tendency to define ourselves as members of an in-group and dismiss the out-group. This is particularly problematic when the same groups are re-enforced over and over: when we decide we are liberals and conservatives, rather than Americans, people, neighbors and a host of other possibilities (not all of which imply opposed groups or outsiders). It's hard to say "no" to in-groups: if we keep repeating that Americans are thinking of themselves as liberals and conservatives and shouldn't, it probably reinforces the thought pattern as much as it breaks down. A more effective technique is to ignore liberal and conservative groupings, and create new ones. These could be inside the liberal and conservative fences: radicals, liberals, liberatarians and conservatives; pro-Choice, pro-Life and pro-Birth. But even more effective is when you create new groups that people will feel loyal to, that cross the liberal-conservative divide.

A big failure, but that we might get right next time, is the way that both Occupy and the Tea Party were against bank subsidies and crony capitalism. The framing for both movements focused on their liberal and conservative status, which was correct but counterproductive. They were seen, they were framed, as subsets of liberal and conservative movements, instead of being framed as two allied wings of the group of people who absolutely had had enough of government subsidizing the rich.

By Stephen, 12 February, 2020

I've heard a lot of attacks on Biden, "He should get out," with harsh lists of everything he's ever done wrong and nothing he's done right.

Imagine you liked Biden and had half a mind to vote for him in the primary. People are trying to convince you to change your vote, and also stay energized after the primaries. How well does the comment below work; what would you change? [Cognitive Politics is about communications approaches, not about particular candidates.]

By Stephen Cataldo, 2 October, 2017

Two recommended communication techniques are to isolate trolls and to stick to your frame and values. These ideas are often in tension:

For example when neo-Nazis and white nationalists grab torches and march through our streets, we can isolate them and their supporters relatively easily, or talk about institutionalized and unconscious bias — where we have a lot of work to do before there is near-universal agreement.

By Stephen, 13 August, 2017

A variety of flavors of American white nationalism are on the rise. The Republican President has waffled about how evil Nazis are, often comparing them to the people protesting them. The racism-apologist frame is that this is a free-speech fight. That people giving Hitler's sieg heil salute and Americans who oppose them, if they get into a brawl, are equally at fault.

By Stephen Cataldo, 4 October, 2015


It appears that the Vatican Ambassador to the US, Carlo Maria Vigano, played sneaky politics with the Pope's visit, getting Kim Davis near enough to the Pope that her team could imply Papal support.

The allegation is he used the Pope as a pawn for his political views, using him to rally conservative-minded Catholics to place their religion in the service of politics.