Wednesday, November 3, 2010

(Insert Republican) is Too Extreme for (insert State)

The Democratic Party won several close elections last night, employing campaign techniques that characterized Republican opponents as dangerous and too extreme for elective office.

Here’s an example from the campaign of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).

Here’s an example from the campaign of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO).

The characterizations are effective. They typically overstate a candidate’s point of view. A candidate wishing to limit the size of government is characterized as a candidate wishing to do away with government.

While a position overstatement is one type of misrepresentation, another is to distort the context of the candidate’s statement. A candidate wishing to replace the federal income tax with a flat tax is characterized as a candidate wishing to do away with exemptions on tuition and mortgage interest.

The distortions are a time-tested type of argument, and require a certain level of sophistication on the part of the viewer to understand what is being done. Political pundits dismiss those of us in the electorate as being too stupid to understand the required point of view. (We evidently missed the appropriate lectures in our high school debate class.)

I look at campaign activities from the anti-Republican mindset. I’m not so much concerned about the stupidity of our electorate as I am of a culture that accepts anti-Republican characterizations as fact.

Our culture warns us of Extreme Republicans, yet fails to classify other activities as “extreme:”

Philadelphia: November, 2008

St. Louis: August, 2009

Philadelphia: November, 2010

It almost makes you wonder, “What would the Founders think?"

UPDATE 11/6/2010:
Linked by Drunk Report.  (Think of Drudge Report but with a good dose of snark.)  Thank you!

UPDATE 3/30/2011:
Jennifer Steinhauer on her blog at The New York Times notes that the "extreme" theme is still de rigueur.

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  1. Isn't that more like what the Republican Establishment says about conservative Republicans!

  2. Anonymous:

    Your point is a good one. It often (sadly) seems to be just a matter of degree. Luckily, the conservative side of the political argument appears to be ascending, so the characterizations are somewhat less flagrant.