Did HOA-Land contribute to the national disregard for democratic America?

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”  (Hosea 8:7)

In my 2020 Rogue Presidents post [1] I warned:

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the HOA social and political dynamics are identical as we have witnessed on the broad national scale. I am not sure as to what came first, the chicken or the egg? To what extend has the HOA independent principality mentality and legal scheme contributed to the national scene? Or are the HOA dynamics just a reflection of the broader culture in America today?”

I am not a psychologist or sociologist but a student all my life of leadership in government, corporate, and military. Based on the events over the past 2 years —and showing no signs of abating  for the next 2 years — regarding the staunch, cult follower support of Donald Trump by Republicans at the federal and state levels, I must lean toward a national, cultural change in America. It has led to a rejection of the Constitution and all its principles and values that truly made America great.

America today is no better that the banana republics and totalitarian governments that hypocritical politicians  openly criticize. The guiding rule for politicians that was “to avoid the appearance of impropriety” has become outright lying to the face of the public, redefining the traditional meaning of words, as George Orwell portrayed in his book 1984, to advance the political views of the cultists as necessary for America’s survival.

To a lessor extent, but functioning in parallel with  the national malaise, are the private government HOAs. With the members exhibiting the same cultist conduct that the HOA president and board can do no wrong.

Further reading:

  1. Rogue presidents: Trump and HOAs  (Nov. 2020).
  2. Countrywide political culture cause of HOA reform failures (Feb. 2021).

Mgmt case study #1 – final update

By this time I believe some are beginning to realize the larger objective of my posts.  It’s about HOA-LAND, that collection of HOAs across America, and SCG was just a prime subject for study that provided detailed documentation.  Through acts of commission and of omission, by both the board of directors and the members in general, my research  was revealing.

Now that the board of directors meeting was held, without write-ins being allowed and no outcry of foul by the members,  I conclude my study of a failure to act in good faith that contained documented violations of state laws and the governing documents.

My case study showed that an HOA with members above average income and education  exhibited the same social and political dynamics of the prevalent HOA culture. It is a culture found throughout HOA-LAND that allows for the classification of HOA-LAND as a nation within America, consisting of independent principalities allowed to exist outside the Constitution.  In the face of demonstrable violations of the law and the governing documents, the silence by BODs and the majority of the members places HOA communities above the law as outlaw communities.

Although participation in  the SCG polls and focus groups was in the thousands, the failure of members to participate in my nonpolitical  “Values” poll  is indicative of the HOA Culture.  It is very disappointing, but not unexpected.  Early results do not show a heavy leaning for or against but a balanced response that I see as truthful, honest replies. Another failure by the members to accept criticism.

Check out the poll — it’s anonymous. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NF7FVR2

I was texted by a member who said this failure was due to fear on the part of members. She was partially right; fear is one aspect of the social dynamics of the HOA Culture in SCG.  Others texted asking, what does this prove and where are you going with this?  In a broader context, we are dealing with  simplified explanations by apathetic members.  Why is this so?

In my well founded argument of the social and political  dynamics at work included findings of the existence of:

  1. an authoritarian environment made possible by members’ authoritarian followers behavior. In short, trusting in authority figures. (It is in keeping with the increase in American authoritarianism);
  2. a cult-like behavior by members who religiously support the board of directors, who completely believe that the BOD can do no wrong, and who  will intently not discuss or debate the issues, but ready to attack and disparage the messengers (as found in cult followers);
  3. a “You can’t fight city hall” mentality stemming from the adhesion governing documents granting powers to the HOA and supported by pro-HOA statutes mimicking the governing documents in many ways (the practical ability to seek justice in the courts is subject to unattainable financial and emotional bars;
  4. a “I just don’t care” attitude by members who are in love with the amenities and benefits made possible by the HOA, and the means to that end doesn’t interest them;
  5. a fear in being rejected, ostracized, and socially distanced as “not one of us,” and “should move out if not happy here,” if critical or disagreeing with the prevailing views of the “establishment.”  Or, in other words, the equivalent of not being politically correct.

The making of this culture falls only partially on the members to the extent of their being all too willing to accept pro-HOA propaganda —  carefree living, affordable housing, resort style living etc.  CAI (Community Associations Institute) has for over 40 years 1) heavily influenced and dominated the formation of HOA-Land as an institution – accepted without question as that’s the way it is; and 2) conditioned and indoctrinated the public and members with its CAI School of HOA Governance (my label).  NO, that’s not the way it is!

This business trade group has advanced its mission to support its members, the attorney and manager “venders.”   Collectively, its program of education and acceptance can be found in its CAI Manifesto, which is a collection of all CAI documentation including town sponsored seminars and conferences,  court filings, and legislative testimony in  almost every state.

As I presented elsewhere, SCG has a “clique” of CAI members who, over the years,  are also or were SCG presidents and directors.  And their presence continues and can be seen on the BOD and as committee chairs today.

How SCG, and all HOAs, go forward depends on a proactive and involved membership, starting with reforming pro-HOA state laws and trickling down to conforming governing document revisions.

Authoritarianism in America; authoritarianism in HOA-Land

Some 23% of Americans live in HOA-Land, that collection of fragmented independent principalities known, in general, as HOAs. HOAs are separate, local private governments not subject to the constitution, and collectively constitute a nation within a defined geographical region known as the United States.

 “A nation consists of a distinct population of people that are bound together by a common culture, history, and tradition who are typically concentrated within a specific geographic region.”

Jonathan Chait  (Nymag.com, Jan. 3, 2022), wrote last week,  You can’t stop authoritarianism unless you understand it.” Consequently, my continued effort to reorient and reeducate HOA BODS and its followers.

The HOA is truly a totalitarian democracy.  In 2019 I wrote, “Authoritarianism in the HOA-Land Nation

“A totalitarian democracy . . . retains full power of . . .  the right of control over everything and everyone. Maintenance of such power, in the absence of full support of the citizenry, requires the forceful suppression of any dissenting element except what the government purposely permits or organizes.”

The authoritarianism of HOA-Land  is masked by a thorough indoctrination that the real estate subdivision is a democratic community because the members are allowed to vote, as meaningless as it is. It seems that the more predisposed to authoritarian control the more the member acts as a diehard, dogmatic, true-believer in the BOD.

Read more Cult behavior within HOA-Land.

Explaining HOA member irrationality – the BOD can do no wrong

My concern, since I was a teenager, was how do people make decisions and important choices, and why. It should be generally accepted today that we are facing a lot of harmful irrationality in many aspects of our society. It would seem, addressing the conduct, behavior and choices made by members of HOAs with respect to their HOA, and to the institution of HOAs in general, that the adage “My rationality is your irrationality and vice versa” is at play.  (What you consider rational I consider irrational, and what you consider irrational I consider rational).

My many years of activism in HOA reform legislation and research into this issue led me to the strong belief that the forces and dynamics of cult behavior[1] and authoritarianism[2] were the chief factors in the behavior of HOA members; the majority of whom seem to act in a highly irrational manner that was harmful to their own self-interests – the HOA can do no wrong.

Well, thank goodness Steven Pinker[3] makes some sense of rationality by delving into the functioning of the mind from a cognitive psychologists point of view.[4]  (It’s like trying to explain why the chicken crossed the road). Having a minor in psychology, I describe Pinker’s presentation as rather deep being directed more to  Rationality 201 or even higher, Rationality 301, using college level course structure. The “meat” of his book, for my purposes, comes in Chapter 10, What’s Wrong With People, when he comes down to the level of the average person.

From the very start Pinker makes it clear that the average person does not understand scientific investigation, the mathematics of probability, formal logic analysis, syllogisms, forecasting, etc..  He simply uses his gut feelings, his intuition,  which has always been mankind’s way of thinking.

Summarizing the author’s views, using annotations to simplify his learned arguments,

To be sure, many superstitions originate in overinterpreting coincidences, failing to calibrate evidence against priors, overgeneralizing from anecdotes, and leaping from correlation to causation. [In more common terms, failing to vet the claims or to conduct  due diligence].

Social media may indeed be accelerating their spread, but the [appeal] lies deep in human nature: people . . .  compose these stories, and it’s people they appeal to.

The mustering of [reasons] to drive an argument toward a favorable conclusion is called motivated reasoning. The motive may be to [support] a favorable conclusion, but [also to] flaunt the [other sides] wisdom, knowledge, or virtue.

People seek out arguments that ratify their beliefs and shield themselves from those that might disconfirm them. [Emphasis added].

“A large majority of Americans consider themselves less susceptible to . . .  biases than the average American, and virtually none consider themselves more biased.”

Study the above statements by the author carefully. It should become apparent that they describe the why and how the bulk of HOA members blindly obey their HOA board of directors.  They also explain the cult mentality of and the authoritarian appeal by the members (see Notes below).  It demonstrates that the mindset of the majority of members is believing that their HOA is heaven on earth and the next best thing to Mom’s apple pie; they do not want that belief disturbed and— unconsciously — naturally adopt motivated reasoning to preserve their image of a better community, a better world.

Please understand the difference between a real estate condominium and planned subdivision with its desirable amenities, landscaping, and oversight on contractual violations from the association that is the authoritarian, governing body also commonly referred as the HOA.  The former can be retained under the protection of Constitution now denied to the HOA members.

Applying Pinker’s findings, did the Arizona Supreme Court act irrationally in its denial to review the Tarter v. Bendt Petition[5] filed by the homeowner?

Notes


[1] See Cult behavior within HOA-LandEscaping the HOA cult environmentA Plan Toward Restructuring the HOA Model of Governance.

[2] See HOA political dynamics: totalitarian democracy and  Authoritarianism in the HOA-Land Nation.

[3] Steven Pinker, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, Viking (2021).

[4] Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of the mind as an information processor. Information processing in humans resembles that in computers, and is based on based on transforming information, storing information and retrieving information from memory. Cognitive Psychology.

[5] See AZ supreme court denies hearing HOA case raising limited-purpose public figure doctrine.

Escaping the HOA cult environment

There is a mass psychology present in HOA-Land — a cult environment. Everyone is vulnerable to cult recruitment. The followers cannot be held to blame because of their deceptive recruitment. There is a lack of awareness and information in regard to how the cult truly works and how it motives people.

Escaping the conditioning and indoctrination that creates the cult  mentality can be accomplished through debriefing techniques. The goal of debriefing is to get the cult member to think for himself and re-evaluate his situation. Debriefing methods can include:

educating the cult member on thought-reform techniques and helping him to recognize those methods in his own cult experience

asking questions that encourage the cult member to think in a critical, independent way, helping him to recognize that type of thinking and praising him for it

attempting to produce an emotional connection to his former life by introducing objects from his past and having family members share their memories of his pre-cult existence

Read more at Cult behavior within HOA-Land; Rogue presidents: Trump and HOAs.  The reorientation and reeducation required to attain substantive HOA reforms can be found in A Plan Toward Restructuring the HOA Model of Governance.