Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The twisted psychology of the war on Papa John's

I find psychology interesting, as most people do. And this election year is full of interesting psy-ops.

First, I've notice that ever since the president announced that he was behind the challenger in fundraising, there has been dozens and dozens of news releases about the 'evil' things the challenger's biggest donators give to.

The biggest flap, of course, was over Chic, (no pun intended).

The latest was over Papa John's.

Since the media loves a controversial story, they willingly run with anything a political hack gives them, with little interest in facts or suspicion as to the motivations behind why the story was just handed to them.

But that psychology is boringly simplistic. Dirty tricks by politicians is nothing new, and when one team starts falling this far behind in fundraising, they attack the other's donors in an obvious attempt to intimidate the donors into drying up.

But more interesting to me is the psychology behind what makes it a successful attack.

Take Papa John's and the DNC's latest smear. They're pushing for a boycott of a business (that employs thousands of loyal democrats), in an attempt to intimidate the owner into withdrawing his support. If the boycott is successful, hundreds of stores will close and thousands will be unemployed.

That's success.

That's the goal.

Even if all the stores close and go out of business, 'Papa' is still a multimillionaire. He can still donate millions every election for the rest of his life. So the goal of stopping one man is rendered meaningless.

But this is a psychological attack. It's meant to intimidate those smaller businesses that couldn't weather such a storm. It's a warning to all the mom and pops out there that may be thinking of donating a few thousand this year.

But simple intimidation is still not the end of this.

There's something more at work here.

All those thousands of Papa John's employees that the DNC is trying to get fired are the very neighbors of those tricked into doing the boycotting. These are people they see at the gas station, in the shopping mall, and on the street every day. The people that will be hurt the most by the boycotts are innocent democrats and republicans in the neighborhood. They're family and friends, not some abstract 'they' or 'him'.

So, how can the DNC (or any political party) trick their followers into destroying the lives of thousands of their neighbors in a vain attempt to punish or intimidate a donor for the opposition party?

Back to psychology.

There was a story on 60Minutes about a little mom and pop that almost never had anyone inside. It just had a mason jar full of cash, and prices on everything.

And for fifteen years, the money in the mason jar always matched what was missing from the shelves. The honor system worked, in the south.

But the question was why did it work. The bigger chains flirted with the same system, but put a jar of cash and a table of goods out in front of a Walmart or a Target and neither would last more than 15 minutes, let alone 15 years without both getting stolen.

These were the same people, in the same neighborhood.

So, why such different results?

Why could you use the honor system at a mom and pop, but not a big chain?

It's because people tend not to steal from individuals, but have little or no compunction about stealing from a big, faceless, nameless 'them'. If it's mom or pop, a mason jar will do. If it's Target or JC Penny, then you better have guards, cameras, and security.

Back to Papa John's. Politicians have discovered this trick too. If they told you to take on an action that, if successful, would destroy a business that was right down the street, and cause dozens of your neighbors to lose their jobs, nobody would ever do it. Not ever (with the exception of a few Timothy McVays out there).

BUT, if they can convince you that the company is big, and that a few cents won't really hurt them anyway, then you can get a mob of people to, with just a little prodding, destroy the stores of your choosing.

But you have to dehumanize the business first. (It wouldn't hurt to put out a few 'you didn't build that's' too)

You have to get the mob to forget, if only for the moment, that it's thousands of employed democrats and republicans, dozens of your neighbors, that you're being asked to destroy. To do it, you convince them that it's some big, goliath, heartless business, because "businesses aren't people". But when businesses fail, thousands of people are the only ones that get hurt.

Back when BP was in the news for all the wrong reasons, there were dozens of stories about gas-station owners that had sunk their life savings into opening the station. They owned it, not BP. But dozens of these senseless boycotts destroyed hundreds of these privately owned businesses. And as for BP, they sell oil to Shell and Amico, as always, and never felt a penny's difference.

I just hope, one day, we'll be able to use this trick of psychology to turn democrats and republicans into the dehumanized 'them' of politicians, so we can put them all out of business and fix this country again... But then, that's probably just the libertarian in me coming out. Forget this last paragraph, and let's go back to destroying the businesses that employ our friends and neighbors, just because a CEO or owner doesn't vote the way we want them to. We got rid of Whites-only stores, just to replace them with Democrat-only stores.

That isn't progress, if you ask me. But then, what do I know.

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