Stockholm Syndrome and the Illinois Republican activist community

Why certain members of the Illinois Republican activist community are embracing the old guard establishment might not be an unsolvable mystery after all.

It’s not even disputed that establishment Republicans have for decades failed to advance things like limited government, school choice and traditional values in Illinois. Despite this, some Republican platform supporting activists are signing up for regular meetings and sharing websites with those who long ago proved their real goals were enjoying perks, power, and securing tax dollar booty.

The case can be made that this strange behavior is actually a manifestation the Stockholm Syndrome.

The name for this syndrome dates from 1973 when two machine gun carrying criminals took hostages in a bank in Stockholm, Sweden, and held them for several days.

After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, it was clear that they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue. The hostages had begun to feel the captors were actually protecting them from the police. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to aid in their criminal defense fees.

This mental phenomenon has been recognized for a long time in abused children, battered women, and in prisoners of war. Clearly abused Republicans are susceptible to it as well.

In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation.

For some who want to stay active in Republican politics, the thinking must be that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Among the symptoms of the syndrome include:

  • Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim.
  • Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser.
  • Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment.

In a state where there are fewer psychological problems clouding good judgment, the people who engineered the kind of disastrous 2006 election we saw last year would’ve been asked to give up their leadership posts. In Illinois, they need only invite a few platform supporting activists to regular meetings and make them feel important.

One of the four conditions that serve at the foundation for the development of the syndrome in an abusive relationship is when there is “the presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim.”

In threatening and survival situations, we look for evidence of hope – a small sign that the situation may improve. When an abuser/controller shows the victim some small kindness, even though it is to the abusers benefit as well, the victim interprets that small kindness as a positive trait of the captor.

The state party’s “reform tour” is another effort to give people hope that the same old mindset no longer exists.

Another aspect of this syndrome is that there is a “perceived inability to escape.”

Many abusive/controlling relationships feel like till-death-do-us-part relationships – locked together by mutual financial issues/assets, mutual intimate knowledge, or legal situations.

If you can’t escape or change is impossible, then you might as well make the best of it.

In relationships with an abuser or controller, the victim has also experienced a loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, and psychological energy. The victim may feel ‘burned out’ and too depressed to leave.

Conflict isn’t any fun, but anyone who thinks we’ll ever see needed policy reforms without a healthy dose of conflict better think again. An enormous and well-funded taxeating apparatus exists that isn’t going to be disassembled without a fight – a big fight. If a person can’t handle intramural party disagreements, it’s a good sign they need to find another hobby.

Fortunately, not everyone succumbs to kind acts from individuals who long ago proved their ulterior motives. And not everyone is unfurling their white surrender flags due to fatigue.

Over the past few months we have provided proof that IL GOP business as usual continues to serve the elitist few – continued opposition to SB 600, state officials backing Dems over good Republican candidates, backing an earlier primary that would help incumbents, GOP legislators continuing to play with the idea of a tax increase or gambling expansion, the continued tolerance of deadwood like Bob Kjellander as the state party figurehead. The list goes on.

The proof that we’re really on the road to change will be there when the party stops putting up barriers to grassroots participation. Note that the party refused to hold a special convention, and all signs point to the 2008 state party convention looking a lot like the 2004 top-down controlled energy-less state party convention.

On the legislative side, this summer’s opportunity to show voters how Republicans would do things differently hasn’t been lost just because of a lack of vision. Too many Republican legislators would’ve actually preferred to have Topinka’s income tax increase, as it would’ve made their regular dealings with the tax-eating class less stressful.

With this continuing track record, what rational voter would reasonably assume that the GOP insiders are really serious when they claim to seek the input of platform supporting Republicans? What they seek are enablers.

We’ll know we’re really on the road to reform when we hear a lot less bashing of Governor Rod Blagojevich. Why work on presenting solutions when you can just bash Governor Blagojevich instead?

Will we see a big tax increase, a small one or none? Will there be a massive expansion of gambling, a modest one or none? Predictions abound as the G.A. record overtime session winds down. Too bad no one seems to be predicting that Republicans will act like Republicans any time soon.

We’ve got a medical doctor running for the U.S. Senate. Perhaps we could use a psychiatrist to step in as GOP state party chair.