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Ratcheting (DRAFT)

Ratcheting is a management technique for improving a situation over time. For example, first you set a goal of reducing defects to 10%. If the current defect rate is 12%, that that feels achievable by the workers, who gladly set up measurements and processes to get there. When that is achieved, you set the goal to 5%. When that is achieved you set the goal to 1%. And so on and so on. The point is that if you had set the goal to 1% at the start people would feel it is hopeless and not work on it. Ratcheting works very well.

ratchet set A ratchet gear The name "ratcheting" comes from the name of the tool called a "ratchet", pictured on the left. The key element of that tool is that it only turns in one direction.

The key part of such a device is the "Ratchet and pawl" mechanism, pictured on the right.

In politics, the ratcheting technique is also useful.

For the last 15 years when we've fought for Marriage Equality, the radical right was smart enough to not say they are against it for the real homophobic beliefs that they hold. They said, "Why aren't civil unions good enough?" When states pushed for civil unions they said, "why isn't domestic partnership enough?" When we pushed for domestic partnership we were told, "it's too expensive".

We've seen D.P. in New Jersey, Civil Unions in Vermont, as so on and so on. All of these have shown that "almost enough" isnt good enough. We must continue to fight for the fullest, most equal status: full marriage equality.

The breakthroughs in marriage equality around the country that have been springing up just this year are excellent examples.

Ratcheting can be used not just to tear something down, but to build something up. Martin Luther King, Jr's Civil Rights Act passed but only after various states implemented something similar to show that it was possible, and to discover what techniques work.

Ok, that's where this draft ends. The problem that I'm struggling with is that I need better examples of political ratcheting used against us, used by us, and future uses of it. Suggestions?

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You know, I agree that the right used ratcheting very successfully here, but I believe that it was so successful in part *because* of the emphasis on marriage as a word specifically. As far as I can tell the right won the marriage debate hands down (and still does mostly) because the attempt went something like.

"You know that word you always thought meant marriage of a man and a woman. Well, you don't know what you're talking about. It means any two same sex people too."

As Tom described, this gave the right the ability to ratchet so successfully because they could make the argument to push from marriage *downward* easily. Since the majority didn't want same sex marriage, the right could easily say "Well, maybe we'd consider domestic partnership, but marriage is out of the question" And even when DP was the outcome the right was able to emphasize something like "They won't be satisfied with anything less than corrupting marriage anyway so we can't let them even keep DP" and so the ratchet continues.

Ratcheting works best when people believe the first argument, in this case that people shouldn't be allowed to marry members of the same sex.

Here's an example of how we could have used ratcheting to go *with* the majority:
(Not an option anymore because the debate is already so well framed as pro and anti same sex marriage)

Start with an appeal to fairness (which Americans support, even for gays):
Same sex couples shouldn't pay less/more taxes than married couples!

Maybe even link it to the social change wrt marriage and living together:
Married people shouldn't have to pay more/get away with less taxes than singles!

Move on to other mandates or even directly to pushing domestic partnerships with all rights of marriage, preferable for same and opposite sex people.

At the same time start to loosen the marriange/government link:
Make the government stay out of the church! Keep the government from telling us we have to have licenses and stuff to get married. That's interfering with a preacher's rights. Why should a JP have the right to do something that only a preacher should be able to do (marry people)

Modest steps relatively popular with the American people and harder to counter without seeming like a jerk, but eventually resulting in the same (better!) result.

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