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February 19, 2014

On Maximalist Demands

I had an exchange with Emperor of Icecream. Because this idea is central, in my opinion, to the mechanism by which we lose elections we could and should win, I'm popping it out as a main post.

Below, the exchange. Emperor's comments signaled by my ">>>" idiosyncratic quotations.

>>>OK, fine, but what's your solution? I'm willing to let you do whatever the hell if it doesn't affect my kids. But I won't accept that my kids welfare and well-being is secondary to you getting your rocks off. Let's be frank. A country made up of Aces is doomed. No kids, no future.

Indeed, s'true.

>>>So why should you getting what you want trump me getting what I want?

Because you will not get what you want. You will continue making outsized demands on the public that they consider completely unreasonable and they will not only tune you out, but outright reject you as "extreme."

By making outsized demands you are poisoning the well for achievable goals.

This is part and parcel of this madness that has taken over the party that "We get more of what we want by having a starting position that is not only maximalist, but, according to public opinion polls, extremist, and outside the overton window."

This theory makes no sense. I have been in negotiations in contracts where the opposite party demanded what I thought were unreasonable things. This did not result in my "giving them more."

What it resulted in was my walking away from the contract entirely.

You know why? because they had telegraphed their desire to make unreasonable demands on me. I saw into the future, and I saw a future in which my counter-party would routinely invoke contractual clauses to control me, despite the fact I was specifically rejecting the specific controls sought.

And yet every day I sit here and read that the way to "win" is to make Big Huge Demands on the public. And every day I say "that's not how the left does it, the left engages in incrementalism and slowly raising the temperature of the water so the frog does not realize it's boiling," and every single day I hear people reject this and just insist, again and again, despite all available evidence and personal experience and logic, that we "win" by making the demands we actually seek ten or 20 years down the road, upfront, as our *starting offer,* our opening bid.

>>>If that's your bottom line, all that happens is that you are building up an interest group of parents who are gonna hate libertarianism. As the pornification of the very young becomes more and more apparent, the pressure to do something about it will also grow. So if your bottom line is that in practice sexual libertarianism is opposed to children's welfare, you are making it inevitable that sexual libertarianism will be deeply curtailed.

Yeah well it's not happened yet, has it? Your entire argument is that this gets worse and worse by the day. Ergo, there is no evidence for this Uprising you speak of, and quite a bit of evidence against it.

>>>But most parents are OK with adults doing their thing, so long as the experience of growing up isn't cheapened and sexualized by it. So you should try to appeal to them by trying to find a way to make that work.

That is what I am trying to do. And I am trying to tell you that while most adults will find it quite reasonable to agitate agaisnt the sexualization of children, they will vote against you, with hostility, for extending that reasonable impulse into an unreasonable one -- patrolling their own sexual choices.

Added Thought: One of the ways in which we lose on a perfectly reasonable position is this: The public hears us talking about children, but, as with Hillary Clinton, they strongly suspect that "children" are simply the most attractive faces for this policy, and that what is really meant, and ultimately sought, is laws and controls on adults.

And then they say: No thank you.

And I cannot say that the public's suspicion about this is invalid, given that many people do in fact make the case that it's "all connected," and that adult behavior does in fact influence children's behavior, and that, therefore, adult behavior needs to be restrained "for the children."

You can't sell this argument -- this is only about the children -- because it's not true. And you can't get angry at the public or "LIVs" for realizing it's not true, when in fact it's not true. The LIVs are right. The "children" are but the opening bid, the tip of the icebreaker's blade, for a much more extensive agenda that ultimately reaches adults.

On the other hand: What if the argument actually were true, and people internalized the idea that they ought not push for political/legal restraints on adults, but only on children?

In that case the argument could work -- because, you know, it would have the benefit of being true from the outset, rather than false.

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posted by Ace at 01:32 PM

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