Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tea Party Commitment Tactics

The Tea Party is showing greater guts and glory than I anticipated.  But we are in the first inning and the score is 4 to 3 in the Republicrats' favor.  We have elected candidates, taken control of the House and stopped the spending bill, but the the Republicrats passed the health care act, buried Ron Paul's audit-the-Fed bill, passed the pork-laden tax bill, and still push for candidates like Rick Lazio.

It is going to be an uphill battle.

One way to view the battle is as a negotiation.  The Tea Party is negotiating with the Republicrats, the two-headed hydra of the Democrats and Lazio Republicans.  This negotiation is win-lose, which implies a negotiation style that experts call "distributive."  It is distributive because the Democrats and the big government Republicans are thieves, and in the prevention of theft the Tea Party deprives the Rick Lazios, the Democratic Party and the interest groups that support them of their stolen wealth.  There is no gain to  the Republicrats from freedom except over many decades.  The six-figure-income school teacher and the eight-figure-income investment banker see little value in liberty because their out-sized, stolen pay checks are far more valuable to them in their ignorance and greed. 

Distributive bargaining requires hard bargaining. It involves bluffs; gambits; opening offers; counter-offers and manipulative tactics. One of the key ploys in distributive negotiation is commitment.  Roy J. Lewicki, David M. Saunders, and Bruce Barry (LSB) write textbooks on negotiation, and Essentials of Negotiation is the smaller version of their book .   They point out that by making a commitment the negotiator signals what the final action will be if negotiations fail.  The other side often views commitments as threats. Commitments can involve if-then statements with a high degree of specificity.  "If the health care act is not repealed, then we will vote for an alternative party," for instance.

Commitments contain the risk of fixing a position that might change with circumstances or additional information. In a political movement, such a situation is common.  Tea Parties need to combine a degree of flexibility with their commitments.  But we are far from worrying about a change in the fundamental circumstances facing the nation.  The United States is in decline because of the federal, state and local governments; the special interests; and the two political parties.  Steps to reverse the decline would include repeal of law and regulation such as the health care act; elimination of the Supreme Court's legislative powers; abolition of various government agencies such as the Departments of Education and Energy; and the abolition of the Fed, which would be the single biggest step toward rationalization of the American economy.

LSB write (I'm keying off pages 46 to 49 of their textbook) that commitments involve finality; specificity; and consequences.  Public statements enhance the commitment's potency.  Tactics to enhance the strength of commitments would include alliances with outside bases (e.g., alliances among various political movements); emphasizing commitment verbally; and making preparations to carry out a threat.  One can visualize two nations in a conflict. Should one begin mobilizing its army, the meaning is clear.  Demonstrations are a form of mobilization.  Civil disobedience is an effective tactic that will move public opinion in the TP's favor and carries enough of a hint of the possibility of further steps to make a point.

The Tea Party needs to continually refresh its commitment to the interests that underlie its positions.  These interests are liberty and the prevention of the sick violence inherent in socialism.


Pinni said...

Another great blog post! Glad to see you decided not to stop.

Enjoy the upcoming holidays!

Anonymous said...

Hey great post. Thought I'm not sure I agree with you 100%. Keep em coming. Are you interested in having anyone guest post opposing views?

Mitchell Langbert said...

I do post others' work from time to time. An opposing view is fine, but I would prefer to post opposing views from my general perspective, although a well done piece from a different perspective that contrasts my views is a possibility.