The Herd Is Watching

By Curtis Hewston

Recent studies of herding animals have yielded a surprising find. That is, it is not some alpha male in the pack that determines the direction the herd will take, but what amounts to a group wink and a nod. All that is required for a herd to move to a new food source or out of a dangerous situation is a vote of the critters. (Interestingly, sometimes it requires a simple majority, sometimes a two-thirds, depending on the seriousness of the situation.) Thom Hartmann explains it further in his book Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture. As it turns out, it might be that our natural world learned long ago that when a group decides, it decides what’s best for the group. When a leader (a despot) or leaders (an oligarchy) decides, it typically decides according to what’s best for the leader.

It seems that when the herd deliberates and votes — and when the vote comes, it’s practically instantaneous — a “critical mass” is reached and off they go. Now, we, the independently minded, free-thinking liberals we are, like to think of the lesser, Fox-viewing, mouth-breathing conservative public as herd animals, so this is perfect. And here’s what I’m getting at. I sense something happening. I sense some deliberation among that herd, a shrugging off of their alphas, and movement — the midterm elections notwithstanding.

Who would have guessed two months ago that we would be celebrating one fine achievement after another in this lame-duck session of Congress? Just look what AP’s Jim Abrahms wrote on Nov. 14:

Lame-duck sessions are usually unpopular and unproductive. Nothing suggests otherwise this year. Seven weeks ahead of the GOP House takeover, hobbled Democrats and invigorated Republicans return Monday to Capitol Hill.

And today? From McClatchy:

President Obama’s success this week in pushing the New START nuclear arms deal to the verge of Senate passage is but the latest of an extraordinary string of victories he’s won in the seven weeks since Republicans gave his Democrats a “shellacking” in the Nov. 2 midterm elections.

That troublesome tax-cut deal is looking better every day. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a huge accomplishment. A long-overdue food safety bill — done. A strengthened free-trade deal with South Korea — and done. Today we should see if the GOP has been rightly shamed into accepting the 9/11 first-responders (Zagroda) bill. And, sure, the DREAM Act was a notable defeat, but rather than being yet another humiliating loss, the victories elsewhere are making it look like a great idea whose time has not yet come.

Rachel Maddow reminded us last night that it only took one thing to make all these good things happen — the Dems’ threat to keep the Senate in session. That’s it! The terrifying Republicans melted like a witch in water. Harry Reid has made those cocky obstructionists look like the cowardly, whiny, selfish, petty, entrenched, entitled bastards they truly are. John McCain, John Kyl, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, and particuarly, Mitch McConnell, ad nauseam — that letter you all signed last month? Those were fightin’ words.

And here’s what I’m getting at. I think the Republican base is watching. They have seen their rigid leaders crack like frozen pipe. They have heard them whine about being tired, having too much to do and not enjoying the holidays. They have watched as their senators turned and walked away from New York’s finest, while shedding tears for themselves and their colleagues. They have even seen the collaborators at Fox News begin to splinter off. And maybe they are winking and nodding, signaling to one another that it might be time to buck the alphas and make a move.

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One Trackback

  1. By The Herd Is Moving - The Blue Highway on May 25, 2011 at 9:11 am

    [...] some foreshadowing of a larger Republican demise? I wrote about the potential back in December, in The Herd Is Watching, whereby a “critical mass” is reached and the voters take off in a whole new direction. [...]

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