It’s a shame, too. Without an informed citizenry, without ordinary people investing their time, it seems democracy gives way to something else. Unfortunately, it leaves the power to rule society with the determined political insiders -- today that's the super wealthy, their brown-nosing hired hands and just enough ordinary fools -- to rule virtually unchecked.
On the network news John Q. Public sees and hears a parade of partisan shills making constant accusations and denials; then there are the fairly balanced and the crackpots. Newspapers mostly offer a tepid version of the same product. Cable television and radio talk-shows growl year-round; political blogs churn out copied copy to add density. Then come the attack ads of every election season. The sum of which forms a cacophony, which acts as a wall of blather separating John Q. from the raw truth of any given moment.
My point here is that many politicians, their financial backers and their consultants don’t really want John Q. to follow political news all that closely. You see, it could make him more difficult to manipulate. Better that he just chant the slogans, as if they are his opinions. Please note, this rant isn't about left and right thinking, or taking stands on particular issues. It's about language and how it's used. It's about propaganda which is effective, or not.
Propaganda shapes thought by framing ideas in a context which carefully limits the viewers’ perspective. It can draw you in, or push you away. It can be obvious or subtle. If boring the audience ultimately makes it more predictable, then the blathering process empowers the pollsters and consultants of both parties, but perhaps one party is actually benefitting more than the other.
In 2006 too many Americans seem numbly content with working increasingly more hours every year to maintain the same lifestyle. Once again the environment is increasingly at the mercy of narrow, short-term business interests -- quick bucks. The nation’s infrastructure is crumbling. America’s healthcare system in running amok. Yet, instead of fixing any of that the Republican party which controls the federal government gives us an imperious presidency which has spawned a disaster in Iraq and ignored a disaster in New Orleans. Hey, the national debt is off the charts.
Although it would seem these conditions would cause the electorate to look to the opposition party, the pitiful Dems have been so busy copying the GOP’s style of public relations, sadly with less success, an awful lot of people can’t tell the difference.
Propaganda. The Republicans have been kicking ass on the propaganda front for a long time. A key to the way it’s been done has been to make the busy middle class disgusted with the sausage-making world of politics and even quit voting. Hey, those cultural conservatives and war hawks, they don’t fail to vote Republican, no matter what. Bored or not, they vote because they are motivated by fear of a changing world.
Whereas, when the Democrats use the same tactics they make more of their natural constituency want to either take a nap or look to support third parties.
Allow me a baseball analogy: Let’s say the Democrats are a National League team and the Republicans are an American League team. The Democrats are strong on defense and pitching. Their offense is based on producing runs with singles and moving speedy runners. The Republicans have a power-hitting lineup, a bunch of big slow guys who can all hit home runs. Well, by using the Republican style of campaigning -- their lingo and methods -- it is as if the Democrats are playing all of their games in the Republicans’ ballpark. That would mean the Republicans get to use their designated hitter and aim at fences set to favor their hitters. Even the cut of the infield grass and the slope down the baselines would be tweaked to suit the home team. In such a world the Democrats are always the visiting team; they win occasionally, but not enough.
So I worry that 2006 will turn out to be another opportunity lost, another painful year of hammering slogans and negative campaigns from both parties. If the clueless Democrats keep helping the Republicans in this manner, as they've unwittingly done since copying Newt Gingrich’s GOP talking points strategy in the early-90s, no one should expect much to change.
Moreover, the establishment media isn’t going to willingly change this picture. It is making money, as is. But the Internet isn't yet under the control of the powers that be. No one really knows its potential, yet, to put over a candidate, to sway an election.
My advice to blogging Dems, stop copying copies in the name of expression. Stop preaching only to the choir. Try being persuasive to the undecideds. In your style, try being as different from the obstreperous Republicans as you can get.