“Sunk cost fallacy” is a form of self-justification for continuing either a behavior or endeavor. The excuses are based on previous investments of time, money, reputation, etc., and is often exacerbated by hating to lose. Or a stubborn unwillingness to try something different. In gambling it’s known as “throwing good money after bad.” It is a delusion born of having lost so much money, you can’t give up until you’ve won it all back. Casinos make a lot of money from the sunk cost fallacy.
Since the 1960s, the divisions within the USA over Vietnam turned into a crusade for “family values” during Reagan. George H.W. Bush—who looks really good in retrospect—did not seek to overly fan the flames of division. From his presidency through the end of his son’s, things remained pretty much as they had for decades. Our politics were heavily partisan but still relatively civil. We could still talk with each other, for the most part.
Barack Obama became a rallying point for the right wing. It’s no coincidence TEA Party arose within a month of President Obama being sworn in. It was a corrosive acid that widened the partisan gap even further. Conservative media, from FOX to Rush Limbaugh, enriched themselves by whipping up the right by telling them what they wanted to hear. They stoked the fires of division because it kept the audience tuning in. There’s a lot of money to be earned from Hate.
Enter Donald J. Trump, serial bankruptee, welsher, con man and “reality” TV star who employed racism to create a political name for himself. The radical right lapped it up when Trump accused President Obama of not being an American. Trump’s attack on Mexicans in 2015 whipped up the racists even more. The GOP establishment—who never believed a vulgar cretin like Trump could be a serious candidate—was shocked to see Trump win the nomination. And so the Republican good ol’ boys sold their soul and cast their lot with him.
And now, even after that turd in the mouth of democracy named Donald Trump knowingly cheered on a riot and attack on our capitol building, the GOP and its media enablers are doubling and tripling down on Trumpism. These people are now stuck in the sunk costs fallacy, thinking they have already invested so much in Trump they can’t afford to back off now. The only question is how much damage it will do to the USA, to our democracy, to ordinary people.
What I expect will happen is that the GOP’s tragic Faustian bargain will likely kill the GOP as we know it, splitting it between responsible Republicans and Trumpians. It may take a decade or longer for the GOP to recover. Those who profit from this division will tally up their winnings and retire. The remainder of what used to be the dignified and mature Grand Old Party, my dad’s GOP, will have to regroup and try to deprogram the Trumpists who helped cripple a party that goes back to Abraham Lincoln.
Hopefully the Democrats won’t allow themselves to become hijacked by similar, opposite forces.