Today’s Word: Manipulation

Manipulation: Exerting shrewd or devious influence
especially for one’s own advantage.


Snippets from Heather Cox Richardson’s latest newsletter.

The Sanders camp wanted to get rid of the superdelegates altogether, believing it would help him win the 2020 nomination.

But now that it looks like he will likely not win outright, he will likely be sunk when the superdelegates are in play on a second ballot. So now he wants the nomination to go to someone with a plurality of delegates—that is, not a clear majority, but more than anyone else—on the first ballot.

Did Buttigieg or Klobuchar cut a deal with Biden before endorsing him? Almost certainly. But that is not a corrupt deal; it’s how politics works.

(Emphasis added.)

Yes, ’tis the story of politics AND government.

We are often reminded that our government operates under the premises of being of, by, and for the people. Perhaps this is true when “the people” are those with titles like President, Senator, Representative, Judge, Governor, and a plethora of other titled officials on down the line.

The common refrain is that these people are OUR representatives. They are (supposedly) speaking and acting for us … for our benefit. Yet again and again, we hear and read about actions these individuals have taken that benefit no one except themselves. In other words, they have exerted shrewd or devious influence to their own advantage.

Since we are currently in an election year and many of us are hopeful there will be a change in the regime, one can’t help but wonder how much manipulation will take place before the election is over.

31 thoughts on “Today’s Word: Manipulation

    • If the various factions among Democrats can’t unite and put their petty squabbles aside, it’s possible.

      The difference between 2016 and 2020 is that we’ve seen Trump in power. People are far more motivated to fight for sanity now.

      As to the primaries, the rank and file of the party are making their choices about who they want to be the nominee. If someone’s favorite candidate got eliminated or ends up losing, that does not mean the process was manipulated or corrupt or unfair. It just means that the mass of Democratic voters chose differently.

      Liked by 4 people

      • But there is manipulation going on behind the scenes. Sanders originally wanted to manipulate the process to “get rid of superdelegates.” Now, after things haven’t gone as he anticipated in the primaries, he wants to manipulate the process again. Of course it’s to his advantage to “work the system” … as it is for any candidate.

        Further, for all intents and purposes, the entire voting system is being manipulated by the Russians.

        Wouldn’t it be nice if elections were as simplified as they are in lesser arenas where people simply gather together somewhere, raise their hand for who or what they want … and the most “hands” wins.

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      • Yet, when you read posts that Gary puts up pleading for people NOT to vote for Sanders ( because he is a socialist and of course, as we all know, this will be the utter ruin of the US of Eh?) one has to wonder at the competency of the average US voter to choose a viable candidate.
        Not that this level of incompetency is the sole preserve of Americans. After all …. down here in South Africa, Jacob Zuma’s favorite song was Ushini Wami – Bring me my Machine Gun.
        Ah … heady days!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m not sure what posts put up by one person tell you about “the competency of the average US voter”.

          Most polls of a Sanders-Trump race show Sanders winning, albeit by a small margin. Evidently a majority of voters prioritize removing Trump over avoiding socialism.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I hope the polls are right! On another note related to polls, I read the young folk tend to support Bernie, but statistics indicated not many of them voted. That’s disturbing.

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          • Maybe it would be more accurate to say polls of a Democrat – Trump race, as Biden seems to be giving Sanders a run for his money?

            You know US politics better than I ever will,. Do you reckon Sanders will get the nod from his party?

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            • Yes, the same polls show most of the Democrats beating Trump, and by similar margins — indicating that most (non-Trumpanzee) voters just want to get Trump out and don’t much care which Democrat replaces him. My point was that Sanders also beats Trump, so the “socialism” thing isn’t turning many voters off of him if they would vote for another Democrat.

              Liked by 2 people

            • As to Sanders “getting the nod from his party”, that decision is being made right now. State by state, the party membership is voting in the primaries to choose the nominee to run against Trump. Things have been going back and forth — for a long time Biden had overwhelming support in the polls, then in the first three state contests he faded and Sanders looked like the almost inevitable nominee, then after South Carolina Biden surged ahead again. It’s now basically a two-man race, but Biden seems the clear favorite. So no, I don’t think the party membership will choose Sanders as the nominee, though it’s still possible.

              All this is consistent with most of the party membership being almost entirely concerned with getting Trump out and not otherwise much concerned with who our nominee is. I think most are voting almost entirely on the basis of which candidate they think would have the best chance against Trump, and perceptions on that point can change quickly.

              Also remember that about a quarter of the Democratic party is black. Blacks tend to be more centrist, not far left, and Sanders’s history of insensitivity about race also hurts him with black voters. Biden was Obama’s VP for eight years and he benefits from the association.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Another thing one needs to keep in mind — and I’m not sure this is obvious to people in other countries — is that the politically-aware, engaged, activist element of the US population (left and right combined) is a tiny percentage of the American people. The combined viewership of Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity is about six million — out of 325 million Americans. Most other ways of measuring the politically-engaged population would give similar results. If you read American political blogs you’ll find lots of people who get tremendously worked up about Biden vs Sanders and the minutiae of superdelegates and what have you, but that represents a tiny fringe of the whole country. As I said, a majority of voters realize Trump is a disaster and are very determined to get rid of him (and will vote accordingly in November), but that’s it. They’re not engaged with, or interested in, the rest of the process. Taylor Swift’s Instagram followership is easily ten or fifteen times the number of people who could tell you what a superdelegate is or what the differences between the various Democratic candidates’ policy views are. That’s our culture.

              Liked by 2 people

            • The combined viewership of Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity

              I have no idea who these people are so the relevance is lost on me, sorry!

              As I said, a majority of voters realize Trump is a disaster and are very determined to get rid of him ….

              Do you reckon this will include many of the evangelical half-wits that voted for him in the first place?

              Taylor Swift’s Instagram followership is easily ten or fifteen times the number of people who could tell you what a superdelegate

              Clueless on both, I’m afraid.

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            • Do you reckon this will include many of the evangelical half-wits that voted for him in the first place?

              No, they aren’t part of the majority I’m talking about.

              Are you allowed to write/say ”Blacks”?

              Why — aren’t you?

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            • For you lot in the US I thought the term was African-Americans?

              Personally I try not to identify people by the colour of their skin – though many do.
              Living in South Africa where we suffered so many years of Apartheid, designation by colour/race has way too many negative undertones.
              Furthermore, while we have a term for someone of mixed racial heritage what term do you lot use?
              Is there an ‘official” term in the US?

              Besides, you lot don’t say (Red) ”Indians” any longer , am I correct?

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            • When someone is trying to push a new word on the language, it generally only succeeds if it’s shorter than the word it’s replacing. For example, decades ago everyone accepted the shift from “negro” to “black” because it was shorter (one syllable instead of two) and absolutely nobody uses “negro” any more. “African-American” is seven syllables. Not a chance. It’s now sort of the “official” term, I guess, but it’s not actually used except in official (or pompous) writing and bureaucrat-speak. When people use it in conversation, they sound phony and ridiculous.

              There’s not a common term for people of mixed black and white ancestry, because all the “black” people in the US have mixed ancestry (probably at least 50% white ancestry in most cases). Anybody who has any noticeable trace of black ancestry is just considered black.

              Nobody says red Indians any more, but most people just say “Indians” and depend on context to differentiate whether they mean people from India vs people of the ethnicity originally indigenous to the Americas. The “official” term is “Native American”, but that’s almost as little-used in real speech as “African-American” and for the same reasons. I categorically refuse to use “Native American” to refer to a particular ethnicity because I believe any individual born in a country qualifies as a native of that country, regardless of race.

              designation by colour/race has way too many negative undertones

              The US has a horrible history of racism too, but the fact is that differences do exist between different racial groups in terms of voting patterns, how the police treat them, poverty, education, etc., and we need to be able to talk about those differences somehow.

              Some people might regard some of this as politically incorrect, but I stopped caring about that years ago. I’m describing the way words are actually used in normal English in the US. Political correctness in the US has been pushed to such ridiculous extremes that it’s being massively rejected (even more by minorities than by whites) and is now increasingly a target of the kind of healthy mockery we’ve always used to take down the pompous, stuffy, bossy types.

              Liked by 1 person

      • From other sources I’ve come across, it’s pretty much a death knell for him if he loses since he’ll no longer be exempt from the various and sundry lawsuits that will be filed and/or processed against him. So it’s as much about losing power and influence as it is about some other rather foreboding circumstances.

        And desperate individuals often take desperate actions.

        Liked by 1 person

        • He’s already padding the walls with contributions from his buddies, shoring up his own brand of the Titanic with a great deal of ‘thank you’ money. It’s gonna be a very long year. Between the new virus and the old president, Im beginning to think the 70s weren’t so bad after all…

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m not a fan of superdelegates to begin with…having wealthy people of political influence help to decide the nomination sounds more like oligarchy than democracy.

    But, that’s a change that I hope happens in future years. This year, I’m with infidel that it will be important to put squabbles aside after the primary process runs its course.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. While it is normal for those dropping out of races to ask their followers to go for the recommended candidate, in this case it seems all the drop-outs are recommending the “democrat” over the “social democrat.” When even the politicians are scared of the word “socialism” there is something wrong with most of the electorate. There is nothing to be feared about socialism, but there is a lot to be lost by the 1% which will ultimately be a gain for the 99%ers.
    It is time the entire American population be told the truth about socialism, it is government for the many, not the few. It truly favours a “classless” society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Remember that the overwhelming concern is defeating Trump. A lot of people, both politicians and voters, believe Biden would have better odds of defeating Trump than sanders would. That being the case, they will opt for Biden over Sanders.

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      • This is true. Unfortunately.

        I most definitely want to see Trump GONE!! … but I hate the idea of falling back into the same-old, same-old. We NEED new blood … new ideas … new policies. And IMO, Biden is not offering any of that.

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      • My problem? Beating Trump is only ONE PART of this election. Hopefully that happens. But what good is it if you end up with a wimp of a president?
        Not saying that Biden is a wimp, but what I’ve seen of Biden is someone who wants to please everyone, and therefore will end up pleasing no one. That’s as bad as Trump, without being Trump!

        Liked by 1 person

        • No Democrat is as bad as Trump. Not within a million miles of being as bad as Trump. Biden won’t fill top posts with unqualified toadies, or exploit the presidency for personal financial gain, or kowtow to dictators, or trash our relationships with other democracies, or deliberately whip up anti-Hispanic racism, or undermine the government’s response to a pandemic, or all the rest of the horrific bullshit we’ve been hit with over the last three years.

          Also, remember that the president doesn’t get everything his own way. Whether its Biden or Sanders or whoever, he’ll need to get anything really major through Congress. Even if Democrats win a Senate majority and abolish the filibuster, some Democrats are fairly conservative and any really major changes would have a lot of trouble getting enacted. In practice a Biden administration and a Sanders administration would probably be pretty similar in terms of what they actually managed to get done.

          Finally, I don’t believe Biden really means what he says about bipartisanship. Remember, he was Obama’s VP for eight years and he had more opportunity than anyone else to see how insanely obstructionist the Republicans are. But a lot of voters want to hear kumbaya talk. I think Biden is just pandering to them. He knows better.

          Liked by 1 person

          • One can only hope. I don’t like depending on hope, the odds are against it coming out the way one wants. When life offers you chocolate-covered nuts, take the macadamias.

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  3. It’s not just politics. It’s human nature, in my opinion. All advertising and marketing is manipulation (persuasion is so much nicer).
    So, two moderates drop out and support a moderate. Someone declares that to be a ‘communist plot’ because it is unusual to them.
    And the people in Iowa still don’t know who they voted for (just kidding). 2020. Eight more months. Hang in there. There’s no hope, but we can still hope.
    Three very old white guys are manipulating to be POTUS and the rest of us are standing around asking, “WTF just happened?”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. To say “that’s how politics works” is obviously quite true but also not in the spirit of electing the representatives that we vote for, as opposed to insiders making deals to further their own political agenda as well as the agenda of the elites.

    Like

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