Friday, October 23, 2009

Uncaring and Deceptive

In a recent post, I mentioned that Republicans are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of voters. Republicans focus too much on the “minds” side of the argument. They should be spending more time on the “feelings” side of things.

Here’s a case in point. It is a fundraising request from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Click on the video for a perfect example of how to play to an individual’s feelings.

The video has nothing substantive to say about freedom, security, or fiscal responsibility. It simply reinforces the theme that Republicans are bad people, showing a “typical Republican" as being uncaring and deceptive.

Think of the political ads you see on TV. The Republican ads focus on issues. The opposing ads deal with feelings.

The reason that the “feelings” advertisements are so persuasive is that it makes no difference what a person might be promoting if you don’t like that person as a human being. Convince an electorate that Republicans are bad people, and you have a huge political advantage.

There’s power in using themes in salesmanship.  The GOP has a long way to go in this area.

UPDATE 10/24/09:
In case the DSCC pulls the video, here is a transcript:

The setting is a spoof of the “Mac vs. PC” advertisements used by Apple to promote its computer products. The two characters are represented as U.S. Senators. The Republican is a white male, dressed in a dark business suit. The Democrat is a white female, dressed more casually, with a red sweater over a floral tunic and jeans. “FD” is the female Democrat and “WMR” is the white male Republican.

The scene opens with the two characters on a completely white set. Whimsical music is playing softly in the background…

FD: I’m a Democrat…

WMR: And I’m a Republican.

FD: I come up with ideas in the U.S. Senate to help America…

WMR: And I block them.

FD: It’s true. He does. [turns to WMR] Do you have any ideas?

WMR: No. Ideas are hard! Blocking them is easy, especially in the Senate.

FD: But don’t you care about helping the American people?

WMR: Not really. I just kind of want to see you fail.

FD: [eyes rolling] Typical… [turns to WMR] So how many hours have you wasted so far?

WMR: [proudly] In the Senate alone, Republicans have wasted over 1,000 hours. [side glance to FD] Hey, rules are rules. They add a crazy amendment here, cloture vote there; throw in a ton of filibusters. We’re very good at saying, “No.”

FD: [looking at WMR] The American people aren’t going to stand for this!

WMR: We won’t get caught. As long as they’re confused by all the noise and misinformation we throw out there.

FD: [turning to WMR in a pleading voice] But we need health care reform!

WMR: [with dismissive voice affect] Don’t care!

FD: [pleading voice] We need jobs!

WMR: [with sing-song voice affect] Don’t care! [WMR exits stage right]

FD: [deep sigh; raised eyebrow]

Cut to a graphic of the GOP plan being “NOTHING.” Follow with a splash screen for DSCC.ORG.

Note that the Republican in this video is a white male. In our culture (without exception!) caricatures and cartoon depictions of Republicans are white males. This consistent representation conveys a message to young white men that if they are Republicans and want to avoid being “losers”, they had better change their political affiliation.

Also note that the criticism associated with Republicans is for what they are. Republicans are simply people you wouldn’t want to be around. This is a very powerful message, and one that is expertly delivered.

Keep in mind that you probably won’t see any adverse reaction to this message. Our anti-Republican culture sees this as the “correct” point of view.

Isn’t that something that should be of concern to the GOP? Just asking...

UPDATE II 10/25/09:
Just got linked by Left Coast Rebel.  I think Californians have a better handle on this whole "stereotyping" thing.  The reason Andrew Breitbart was so successful with his ACORN sting is that people know that Republicans are like the caricature in this DSCC video.  A Republican could NEVER look like Hannah Giles...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

They Don't Know Their Place

This week I worked as an Election Judge in Douglas County, Colorado. We are having an “off year” election, with no candidates for national office. However, we are electing four members to our seven-member school board.

Here is a copy of a mailing I received that recommends a slate of four candidates:

What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

The four candidates are recommended by the Douglas County Republican Party, and it appears that the Party is endorsing candidates who are running in a “non-partisan” election.

In addition, the Denver Post reports that Colorado Ethics Watch is asking for an investigation by the Office of Special Counsel. The contention is that one of the candidates (Meghann Silverthorn at the bottom of the election form shown above) has violated the Hatch Act because she is employed by the Department of Defense and is running as a candidate for “partisan” political office.

Once again, Republicans are causing problems.

I see this issue as connected to one in Kinston, North Carolina. The Washington Times reports on this town having decided last year to make local elections non-partisan. The main reason appears to be that Kinston is in fact a one-party city. As the Washington Times reports, “…no one among more than a half-dozen city officials and local residents was able to recall a Republican winning office here.”

So what’s the problem in Kinston? The Justice Department has ruled that Kinston may NOT conduct non-partisan elections. Loretta King, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, wrote a letter to Kinston stating that “…the elimination of party affiliation on the ballot will likely reduce the ability of blacks to elect candidates of choice.” (It might be worthwhile to note that Ms. King is the same person who brought about the dismissal of a civil suit against the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia.)

But back to the situation in Douglas County, Colorado…

Here, Republicans make up almost 50% of registered voters. In the City of Kinston, 65% of registered voters are African-American. It is reasonable to assume that most of the voters in Kinston are not Republicans.

And so we have Douglas County Republicans under fire for using partisan politics, and Kinston, North Carolina being redressed for NOT using partisan politics. What is the principle being applied in each case?

I don’t think it has anything to do with legal issues.

In Douglas County, the public school system is the province of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and Classified Employees. The Douglas County Federation is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, and is bound and determined not to allow voters to create a Republican-dominated school board.

In Kinston, Republicans have been kept out of power for years. No local change in voting policy will be allowed to change that dynamic.

In both cases, our culture is teaching Republicans “they need to know their place.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Nobel Laureate

I tend to divide the world into two groups of people: those who are Manipulators, and … the rest of us.

The Manipulators are the ones who work the system for their own personal benefit. Whatever the arena in which they find themselves, their work is NOT for the common good or the benefit of the enterprise. It is for the personal power and authority of the Manipulator.

You probably have run into a Manipulator in your work environment. This is the person who constantly asks, “What’s in it for me?” If work is to proceed on a particular project, and the buy-in of the Manipulator is required, there must be a benefit that accrues to the Manipulator. Without that benefit in place, the Manipulator does not support the project, and work on it does not move forward.

The hallmark of a Manipulator is inconsistency of principle. A principle is supported only so long as it benefits the Manipulator. You might hear this characterized as opportunism, but I think it goes beyond that. The Manipulator has to sell his or her position on a particular principle, so there is an emotional component or “passion” that has to be applied. The degree and depth of communication of this passion is what distinguishes a great Manipulator from an average one.

Politics is a magnet for Manipulators. It is the arena where their craft can be employed in the context of a high-stakes game. The game has high costs in terms of both lives and property, and the Manipulator works to make sure that all risks are assumed by others.

President Obama is slated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The prize is awarded for various reasons, but in his case it appears to be awarded for appeasement! He is being celebrated for expressing the idea that, “I can get along with people who want to kill me.” His message is that others should feel the same way.

World opinion, with few exceptions, legitimizes this position.

The problem with the President’s position is that the risk is assumed by all of us who don’t have access to the protections afforded the POTUS. Mr. Obama is protected by one of the best security details in the world. While he is able to profess being comfortable with people who want to kill him, he knows that those same people will have a difficult time achieving their objective. That is not so true for the rest of us.

Getting along with people who want to kill you doesn't work out well. Cambodians remember the 1975 to 1979 years in which 2 million people died. Rwandans will remember the 1 million lost in 1994. And yet it still seems that appeasement is held out as a noble stance.

What will cause appeasement to lose its cachet? REALITY!

When a Holocaust occurs, people pay attention. If you are still trying to get along with those who are butchering other people, you become subject to ridicule. This is what the Manipulator cannot stand. The principle on which the position of appeasement was taken will change, and change fast.

This all sounds like extreme imagery, but I think we should remove appeasement from the realm of platitudes and euphemism. Think of Microsoft and its products. For whatever reason, certain people want to harm Microsoft. Hackers create ways to access the Microsoft operating system and do harm to its users. Microsoft could issue a statement saying “Microsoft wants to get along with those who wish to do it harm,” but that would not be in the best interest of Microsoft shareowners. They expect the company to protect itself and to protect them.

Why is this an obvious position to take, and yet in the world of politics, it is deemed right and natural to want to get along with those who want to kill you?

I don’t have a good answer, but it’s what makes politics interesting.

UPDATE 11/07/2009:
The Fort Hood incident on Thursday is a tragedy that brings into focus the clash between Nobel fantasy and reality. Note that the President has been careful in his remarks about the shooting. Rather than devote time specifically to acknowledgement of the tragedy, he packages his remarks within the context of other announcements.

The deaths of 13 people in a "gun free zone" is what politicians might call the "tension between idealism and reality." The President does not want to break that "Peace Prize aura" by acknowledging that his desire to get along with people who want to kill him might be dangerous for others.

His style of "leadership by example" comes dangerously close to being "leadership by hypocrisy."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Are the GEICO Cavemen Republicans?

The current healthcare debate has become a “Clash of Characterizations.” Those who favor the government plan are portrayed as deliberate and thoughtful, simply asking the question, “Who could oppose something that benefits so many?”

Opponents are characterized as Crazies or Racists, and could end up being targeted for reprisal.

Since Republicans make up the preponderance of those who oppose government-run healthcare, it is Republicans who suffer the greatest amount of negativity in the characterizations. If you happen to oppose the government plan and are NOT a Republican, you probably begin your statement of opinion with something like, “I’m an Independent, but...” You shield yourself from the Crazy/Racist characterizations by clarifying for all that you are NOT A REPUBLICAN!

I sense something of this effect when watching the actors who portray the GEICO Cavemen. They come across as hip individuals who are totally dismayed when their culture assumes them to be inferior. Republicans, in similar fashion, might be bright and capable, but they are considered misguided and politically inferior by our culture. It is a burden that tends to make Republicans defensive and negative, and that behavior actually ends up reinforcing the stereotype.

Why not derive some fun from all this? The next time you are on an airport people-mover, or meeting some friends after a ride, watch for some facet of our culture that demeans or diminishes Republicans in a way that is “normal” or “natural.” It might be a newspaper article, a movie, or a show on late-night television.

Send a note to this blog. (The e-mail is on the profile page.) I will make sure it gets documented in the annals of our anti-Republican culture.

Who knows? You could be the next Michael Yon in America’s Culture War!