U.S. Elections: World’s Longest-Running Good-Cop / Bad-Cop Routine

best version interrogation
“Now, look — I’m *trying* to help you here, kid…”
There is a psychological trick that police interrogators use (or, at least, that police interrogators on some TV shows use*), known as the “Good-Cop/Bad-Cop” strategy — for those of you who are either unfamiliar or who could use a reminder, here’s the gist of it. One of the cops plays the bad guy, making strong accusations, threats, or even displaying a willingness to break the law by physically abusing the unfortunate detainee. The other cop comes in afterward, playing a sympathetic role, saying things like, “you gotta help me help you,” and sometimes even protecting the poor fellow from the bad cop. Either because of the trust established by the good cop’s display of sympathy or out of fear of the bad cop’s abuse, the person will crack and reveal whatever information they wanted or confess to whatever crime, believing the good cop is on their side, trying to help them. But the reality is that both cops work for the same institution and both cops are after the same thing: your compliance. 
The USA’s two-party system seems to be a monstrous, collective execution of the same psychological tactic and it is designed for the same purpose that interrogators developed their good-cop/bad-cop strategy — to obtain your cooperation. As a millennial, I watched the same dynamic play out in 2012 for all the disappointed Ron Paul supporters: they were allowed to exert an ultimately pointless effort to garner the support of the conservative Republican party — but when the establishment got its way, the media, pundits, and influential conservatives held up the sensationalized image of Barack Obama as the scary, mean, socialist/Muslim/Kenyan dictator (AKA the “bad-cop”) to scare the more independently-leaning Paul-supporters into accepting the deal that was offered to them by the Romney campaign (the “good-cop”), essentially bullying their support out of them.

You wouldn't want that crazy other person to get elected all because you didn't vote for me, would you?
You wouldn’t want that crazy other person to get elected all because you didn’t vote for me, would you?

An eerily similar situation seems to be approaching as the DNC is bent on pushing HilClint as their candidate-of-choice in the coming 2016 election — while a very sizable portion of its voters prefer the endearingly-grumpy, anti-establishment Bernie Sanders. If Clinton gains the nomination, Sanders-supporters will be widely bullied by the media, influential leftists, and indeed, their own peers, into supporting a candidate that they never wanted to support. The same is true on the conservative right — while Trump certainly has a lot of momentum, a large portion of conservatives dislike him, preferring a more reasonable John Kasich or a less-crazy Marco Rubio. But rest assured that, if Trump gains the nomination (which looks frighteningly likely), all but a few of the moderate or more independently-minded conservatives will face the same bullying as they will on the left — except this time, it will be with the terrifying, liberal visage of Clinton (or God-willing, Sanders) that they are bullied and it will be with the lesser-of-two-evils on the right with which they are tempted.

You wouldn't want that crazy other person to get elected all because you didn't vote for me, would you?
You wouldn’t want that crazy other person to get elected all because you didn’t vote for me, would you?
So — why am I telling you all of this? Certainly, many of you already understand this and this article could, and perhaps *should* end — right now — as just another frustrated and hopeless tirade, among a thousand others just like it, this election-season. We could leave it at that. Wouldn’t that be nice, in a mediocre sort of way? Alas, I must persist — I must ask: when are we going to put a stop to this tiringly manipulative state of affairs? When are we going to create a viable alternative to the madness? When will we say no? Will we ever? I would suggest that — though this is rough and I know I’m going to be crucified by people from both sides of the aisle –I would suggest that it has to start somewhere. The worst may simply have to happen for at least an election cycle (if not two or three!). It may be painful and terrible things might happen for a while but if we don’t, then this is going to go on forever — or at least until this country completely falls apart and probably fucks up a good part of the rest of the world in the process. If we don’t start voting with our reason and with our hearts — if we continue to vote out of fearthen we deserve to have the second-most-evil country in the world, run by the second-worst leaders. 

This won’t be popular, methinks, but dammit — if you don’t want to vote for Clinton, when the time comes — don’t. Support who you want to support, no matter how much they try to scare you about a Republican presidency and no matter how reasonable that strategy seems to be in the short-term future — they are counting on you not understanding the long-term repercussions. And if you’re a republican who doesn’t want to vote for Trump? Don’t. Please, support a third-party candidate, instead. If we stop falling for it, it’ll stop working — the two-party system and all of its sketchy, manipulative sabotage of democracy will be done-for. But all of this can only start with you standing up to it, no matter how unpopular it is at the time. The future generations will thank you.**

LOL, they fell for it again!
LOL, they fell for it again!


*After writing this article, I’ve learned that this is actually an often utilized interrogation strategy
** Well, probably not, actually, because you’ll be dead by then — but you get the idea.

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4 Comments on "U.S. Elections: World’s Longest-Running Good-Cop / Bad-Cop Routine"

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Hi! I’ve been following your weblog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a
shout out from Lubbock Tx! Just wanted to tell
you keep up the excellent work!

Will Morgan
Interesting dialogue from a millennial. But as Boomer who supports Bernie and who has watched the two-party tyranny confound the reformist (Capitalist!) left for every year since JFK, and even before him; I see little new here, except perhaps the opportunity to turn from whoever becomes President to the question of how to transform this movement from an electoral campaign to a long-term social movement. How long will Americans continue to believe that they can avoid a social or political revolution? The necessity of a revolution has been thrust upon us time and again, yet we go on day-dreaming that… Read more »
Pamela Valemont (@poet47)

Yep, don’t be a political opportunist, vote ethically. That’s about the size of it. If you opt for the former, there is absolutely no guarantee that your gamble will come off anyway. Never opt for second best, it is simply not good enough. Vote for the best. If the best doesn’t win, you did your best and you and your conscience will be happy. Bernie or bust!


…forcing US to either sabotage the system or accept the despotism.