What we’ve got here is more than failure to communicate

Doug Mataconis thinks that convincing the public to gut Medicare may be as simple as putting together a Draper-worthy PR blitz:

Republicans may find that they are losing the public relations battle over entitlement reform and deficit reduction…

[….]

For better or worse, the public has become used to these programs in their present form, and they mostly like them. Changing them is going to require convincing the public that it’s necessary, and that they won’t lose out under a system, and that they might even be better off. So far, as Jazz Shaw notes over at Hot Air, that isn’t being done

It isn’t being done because it can’t be done. The Ryan plan wasn’t ineptitude with insufficient cover, it was a spectacularly slick roll out of a product that no one wants to buy. Slapping another label on the can won’t help Republicans sell their horse meat this time. Somebody stop me before I have to reach for the Canadian Club (if I stick with the clear liquors, I know where I stand).

Elia Isquire describes the insider fascination with PR magic very well:

Over-estimating the importance of “messaging” in politics is something I think almost all of us do from one time to another. In part it’s because our media is so narcissistic and spends such time focusing not on policy but “optics” — indeed, fetishizing phrases like that one or “PR” or “damage control” or “photo-op” to the point where they’re now rather mundance parts of our cultural vocabulary — implying that the real game of politics is the one played during commercials and inside the tiny little boxes that float right next to Chris Matthews’ head. I think it’s also a product of our increasingly living in the post-truth era, in which it’s simply assumed that everything can be equally popular, regardless of its merit, provided it’s “packaged” just right. (But that’s a longer, wankier, different post for a different time.)






61 replies
  1. 1
    jwb says:

    Hey, blaming the marketing is the Dem’s schtick not the Gooper’s. What’s going on?

  2. 2
    Jazz Superluminar says:

    I thought Steven Taylor slapped DM down pretty well with his follow-up, though. Also, “post truth era” should become a tag.

  3. 3
    Valdivia says:

    For these people–including the Village–it’s all about the roll out not about the policy. See previous thread on Halperin and the death of OBL. Who cares if people don’t want to gut Medicare? Sell it better!

  4. 4
    Dave says:

    You can call a pile of shit a pumpkin pie, but everyone will still know it’s a pile of shit.

  5. 5
    piratedan says:

    well why shouldn’t the Right feel that it’s just a better marketing campaign away from being successful? They have the money, they control a goodly portion of the media and you have the track record of the American public being easily distracted, after all, didn’t Republicans get elected in 2010 and take over the house and the state legislatures?

    We’re simply fortunate that they marketing this shinola like the smokeless cigarette, doesn’t matter what the packaging is, it still smells like shit.

  6. 6
    Scott P. says:

    Yes, I think it’s very possible to overestimate the magic of media.

  7. 7
    Pangloss says:

    “Compassionate Conservative” and “Morning in America” were enough proof for the media that “everything can be equally popular, regardless of its merit, provided it’s ‘packaged’ just right.”

  8. 8

    @Valdivia:

    For these people—including the Village—it’s all about the roll out not about the policy.

    Yes but I think the general public also likes to see behind the curtain, not just in politics but in all aspects of the public sphere. Walter Kirn wrote about this, he called it “procedural voyeurism” and explained it as the public’s obsession with procedure over outcomes. I wrote about it last July.

    Everyone wants to be an expert, I mean since when do we Americans pontificate on such things as filibusters and constitutional law and all that crap, the nation that couldn’t find France on a map is suddenly an expert on everything.

    It’s a way of feeling in control over things which we can’t control.

  9. 9
    Walker says:

    They got cover from PolitiFact for God’s sake (and I will never trust PolitiFact ever again because of it). What more cover do they want?

  10. 10
    jibeaux says:

    I just read that an older woman in Kenosha, WI asked Paul Ryan on his recent tour: “We are supposed to give up our insurance for vouchers. Are you going to give up your gold-plated insurance for vouchers?” Apparently, she didn’t get a straight answer.

    Pointing out that Congressman are trying to sell you something they themselves are unwilling to accept = always awesome. No spin required.

  11. 11
    catclub says:

    The GOP tried to save Terri Schiavo
    Obama tried to save Medicare.

    Bush tried to kill Social Security.
    Obama tried to kill Osama bin Laden.

    of course there is also:

    Obama tried to kill Gitmo

  12. 12
    jibeaux says:

    But out of curiosity, I would love to know what the pitch is to convince voters that “they won’t lose out and might even be better off.” I would love to know what sort of specific, substantive examples of improvement over Medicare would be cited in that pitch.

  13. 13
    danimal says:

    “…if I stick with the clear liquors, I know where I stand…”

    If I stick with the clear liquors, I cannot stand.

    And if the GOP stays on the Medicare elimination kick, they’re going to drive the cost of liquor to new extremes. The goldbug era may be nearing an end, as conservatives sell off their gold bars to pay their bar tabs. This will kill the GOP. I won’t show for the funeral.

    ETA: blockquote fail, again

  14. 14
    catclub says:

    @jibeaux: Ryan should promise to take that trade in a flash.

    He can afford it.
    If he cannot afford it, he will get a golden parachute (with health care!) when he retires.
    Pretending that the problems of congressmen are the same problems as those of people earning 1/4 or less of what he earns is a win for him. It justifies tax cuts for poor people who only earn $250k/yr.

  15. 15
    JR in WV says:

    These guys (the R’s) are like the Caddy salesman on Mad Men, “Look at all that new chrome!” while anhyone from our era can see that the steering column is a spear aimed at the driver’s chest.

    They were able to throw shit at the new care bill, and tried renaming a perfectly ordinary well put together program “Obamacare” and confuse folks who have been on a Government_Controlled health care program for decades, several in fact, like Social Security and Medicare.

    So naturally they tnought they could pass a pile of shit, call it a Cadillac, polish the shit til it glowed, and no one would smell the smell.

    It’s their whole way of life, selling people piles of shit, called Republican Statesmen; what could possibly go wrong?

    But people know about Medicare. They know they would be both poor and dying like flies without it. Dumbest thing the D/’s did was not name their health care plan “Medicare for All”.

    And also too, always ask “Does your new program include Senators and Congressmen?” Always, always, especially if it’s a Repugnant you’re talking to!” what they said!

    JR

  16. 16

    Of course the Village believes that anything can be sold with a better marketing campaign. They’re part of the Republicans’ marketing machine. The moment the Republicans figure out that they can’t sell anything they feel like with a slick enough marketing campaign is the moment the Village starts to go out of business.

  17. 17
    slippy says:

    Please, Republican fuckwit retard morons. Please, more spin and packaging on your shitty ideas. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE continue to harp on this one-note song of yours as if it is the only fucking thing you care about.

    PLEASE, continue trying to end Social Security and Medicare, whilst simultaneously giving a giant, disgusting handjob to people who own multiple yachts, because if you keep driving into the buzzsaw of American public opinion, you will eventually cut your retarded faces to shreds on it. And I will just laugh and laugh and laugh.

  18. 18
    jibeaux says:

    @catclub:

    I think the larger point is that there is no overhaul of the Congressional health care plan to a voucher system. Regardless of whether he personally foregoes something, Congress clearly doesn’t want any damn vouchers in their health care plan or they could have them.

  19. 19
    The Raven says:

    But it’s not just Teh R’s–it’s a disease of US politics. Me, last November:

    Faced with an election that is the crystallized result of essence of policy failure, Obama decides that he…sent the wrong message.

    To win the first election you have to “message.” To win the next election you have to deliver. Obama didn’t deliver on jobs, housing, and banking, and it’s pretty hard to message that away. Now the Republicans are offering poison and calling it medicine, and it’s pretty hard to message that away, too.

    This, by the way, is part of why Krugman is so successful at prediction: he looks at things which can reliably be measured and relies on models measured against actual history–on scientific knowledge, in other words–and this takes him past the messaging.

    The overall disease is probably a result of Really Really Badly not wanting to face reality, on the part of the leadership of both parties. Neither party wants to alienate the wealthy and powerful, neither party wants to bell the dragon (Chinese currency policy), neither party wants to take a strong environmentalist stance, neither party wants to tell the public they were wrong about economics for the past 30 years. So we get “messaging” instead.

  20. 20
    geg6 says:

    @slippy:

    Yup. Couldn’t say it better myself.

  21. 21
    birthmarker says:

    the public has become used to these programs in their present form

    We have become used to paying for these programs, on every paycheck we have ever received.

    The plan as I understand it will make the receiving of benefits need-based, which will eliminate many of us from earning the full benefit. Yet we will still pay. Ryan et al have never said we wouldn’t continue to pay, just no longer receive. And I seriously doubt anyone 65 or older will be able to buy private insurance for the amounts they are bantering around.

    It does seem they are trying to have all of us die destitute.

    Fortune Magazine has a good on-line article by Shawn Tully. I can’t link, but it does explain a few details.

  22. 22
    geg6 says:

    @The Raven:

    This, by the way, is part of why Krugman is so successful at prediction: he looks at things which can reliably be measured and relies on models measured against actual history—on scientific knowledge, in other words—and this takes him past the messaging.

    OT, but speaking of this, did anyone see McMegan’s criticism of that study? Fucking hilarious.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/bus.....er/238311/

  23. 23
    jrg says:

    I think it’s also a product of our increasingly living in the post-truth era, in which it’s simply assumed that everything can be equally popular, regardless of its merit, provided it’s “packaged” just right. (But that’s a longer, wankier, different post for a different time.)

    A significant portion of the population thinks that living wills are “death panels”, and the tea party is something other than the same old republican bullshit re-packaged in a tri-corner hat.

    About 1/3rd of this country will buy freeze-dried dog vomit if you call it a twinkie. You’ve got to remember: these people are stupid as shit. They voted for Palin, for God’s sake.

  24. 24
    catclub says:

    @jibeaux: Yes, I agree that congressmembers are often quite selfish. But Ryan is not sharp enough to realize that he should have included vouchers for congressmembers as part of the new medicare.

    Also, _their_ health plan is effectively the same as for all government employees. Ryan would be happy to screw 98% of those out of benefits.

  25. 25

    @jrg:

    About 1/3rd of this country will buy freeze-dried dog vomit if you call it a twinkie. You’ve got to remember: these people are stupid as shit. They voted for Palin are willing to eat Twinkies, for God’s sake.

    FTFY.

  26. 26
    C says:

    It’s unfair to horsemeat to compare it to the Ryan plan.

    I lived in Japan for a long time, where raw horsemeat is something you might order when you’re at a bar/pub (izakaya), and it was delicious.

  27. 27
    Danny says:

    Food for thought, but it’s still a fact that democrats are often piss poor at messaging and message cohesion, and that many policies are easier sells with good messaging.

    We can’t improve at a game we’re losing without acknowledging our weaknesses, and that they do matter.

  28. 28
    WereBear says:

    The Republicans got this far because they lied about things your average person knows NOTHING about.

    Anyone, average or not, hates to admit that.

    So they would buy the lies because they honestly didn’t know any better, and getting it wrong is better than admitting you don’t have a clue.

    But now they are lying about things, like Medicare going away and OBL being dead, that people do have strong and informed opinions about.

    That’s an entirely different thing.

  29. 29
    JGabriel says:

    Doug Mataconis via DougJ @ Top:

    Changing [Social Security and Medicare] is going to require convincing the public that it’s necessary, and that they won’t lose out under a [new] system, and that they might even be better off a) lying, and b) lying, and c) lying.

    Fixed for accuracy.

    .

  30. 30
    sukabi says:

    the big problem for Republicans and their plan to “privatize” medicare, is a severe lack of awareness of how much the public LOATHES having to pay insurance companies mucho bucks for policies that DON’T COVER THEIR HEALTHCARE NEEDS, and dictate which doctors you can and can’t see, which drugs you can and cannot take, which tests your doctor can do, ect.

    most folks can’t afford the crappy insurance now, so why would anyone with a functioning brain think it would be a good idea to be forced to buy the same crap?

  31. 31
    Jazz Superluminar says:

    @geg6

    did anyone see McMegan’s criticism of that study? Fucking hilarious.

    I know! I wonder if she’s jealous not to be included, or relieved…

  32. 32
    Jazz Superluminar says:

    @Danny
    good points, but I didn’t read either DougJ or Elia as dismissing messaging, just pointing out it’s not, by itself, enough.

  33. 33
    susan says:

    ”From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”

    ANDREW H. CARD Jr., White House chief of staff, on why the Bush administration waited until September to press for public support of its Iraq policy.

  34. 34
    Danny says:

    And there are aspects of marketing / messaging / the art of rethoric that aren’t really that superficial at all.

    For example the intent and ability to focus on how some abstract policy issue really matter for the voters. How it affects their life, why they should fear it or welcome it.

    That goes to the heart of what democracy is all about.

    The left wing movements of yesteryear knew that full well, and had no problem making the pitch. I guess they called it “agitating” or something back then, though :)

    The only problem with “messaging” and “PR” as far as I’m concerned is the message or product sold.

    Is the message dishonest? Is the product bad for you?

  35. 35
    bemused says:

    Chip Cravaack in his phone town hall this week, shot out the GOP lies staccato style.

    Drill, baby, drill.
    For jobs we must cut the corp tax because the US has the highest corp taxes in the world.
    Chip is aghast that Planned Parenthood has $1 beeellyon dollars in assets and at CEO Richards salary. I looked up others and Salvation Army has $10b in net assets but I’m sure they are worthy because they don’t provide birth control for 18 yr old girls. (Fed Gov’t shouldn’t be paying for teenagers birth control was an opinion told to me by an inexperienced young Cravaack staff woman recently).
    Chip acted like he had never heard the word voucher and would not answer what insurance companies would ensure senior citizens.
    Too much regulations, also too.

    There’s more but all I can remember at the moment. It was a horrible experience and I think my mind is trying to block out the crazy.

  36. 36
    Efroh says:

    @Danny:
    Food for thought, but it’s still a fact that democrats are often piss poor at messaging and message cohesion, and that many policies are easier sells with good messaging. We can’t improve at a game we’re losing without acknowledging our weaknesses, and that they do matter.

    Completely agree with you. I think the Isquire article is way, way, way off the mark in dismissing the power of policy marketing/packaging. Was she not paying attention during the run up to the Iraq War? It was rolled out like an ad campaign and the media bought it completely, bringing the rest of the country along for the ride. If anything, messaging (particularly coordination and framing) is something the Democrats should be focusing on more, not less (especially after they win and settle down to the hard work of actually governing).

  37. 37
    TG Chicago says:

    Doug Mataconis is a libertarian with a particularly juvenile set of priorities. For instance, he feels that taxation is unfair. He’s pretty ridiculous.

    Fun fact: his name both sounds like and is an anagram for “A Dogmatic Onus”

  38. 38
    bemused says:

    @catclub:

    Paul Ryan said they are proposing a personalized Medicare that would work exactly like members of Congress and federal employees have except for one teeny, tiny difference Ryan neglected to mention. Federal employees benefit plan rises in value in step with private insurance premiums while Ryan wants Medicare vouchers to grow only at the rate of inflation.

    Next town hall meetings, people should ask their R congres screature about this wee discrepancy.

  39. 39
    daveNYC says:

    @JGabriel: Damnit, you beat me to it.

  40. 40
    aimai says:

    @Dave:

    Dave makes a good point–so long as the pumpkin is near enough to you for you to be able to see what’s piled on it.

    These conversations don’t make sense floating in a vacuum. When you are talking about selling even iceboxes to eskimos it helps to remember that the product is an icebox and that the consumer is an eskimo. When those two things are brought together hilarity ensues but until they are brought together its all hypothetical–and in the space of the hypothetical a whole lot of irrational and PR driven stuff can happen.

    Lots of what the press and the political elites manipulate is information and image about stuff that is experience distant to the voters–its easy to convince people that the environmentalists are the new existential threat after the fall of the Soviet Union, and easier still to tell them that the Saudi based Al Quaeda was sponsored by Iraq. Almost definitionally most voters won’t be able to tell what’s pumpkin and what’s shit at that distance. But once you get to something that the voter actually experiences/owns/knows about then things get more complicated. And its possible for reality to speak back to the brilliantly named “post truth era.”

    aimai

  41. 41
    James E. Powell says:

    The Republicans do not mind losing a day, or a year, or a month. They are in this for the long haul. If the slick PR doesn’t convince the public today, no big deal. They have still been effective in changing the dialogue. Eventually, the mostly out of touch and mostly uneducated public can be convinced of anything.

    Example: The Republicans were able to pivot quickly from ‘deficits don’t matter’ to ‘the deficits will kill us’ not just because the president is black, but because they have been banging the ‘government spends to much’ bell for forty years. They don’t have to convince people because people already believe it.

    Similarly, the constant screaming about social security has convinced most Americans that the system is going broke.

    Unfortunately, the Democrats do not use slick PR, or any PR, beyond a candidates ‘vote for me’ program. When was the last Democratic effort to define the party’s basic beliefs by taking a stand on a major issue?

  42. 42
    rikryah says:

    I don’t give a shyt about how many Frank Luntz phrases that they use…

    Seniors understand

    End Medicare…Replace with Vouchercare

    the GOP couldn’t get past that.

  43. 43
    Danny says:

    @Efroh:

    I think the Isquire article is way, way, way off the mark in dismissing the power of policy marketing/packaging. Was she not paying attention during the run up to the Iraq War? It was rolled out like an ad campaign and the media bought it completely, bringing the rest of the country along for the ride. If anything, messaging (particularly coordination and framing) is something the Democrats should be focusing on more, not less (especially after they win and settle down to the hard work of actually governing).

    Exactly. Had the democrats and grassroots been able to match that evenly in the runup to war, we may never have gone to war. Messaging would have served country and citizens well.

    Wishing for, and working towards, a world without weapons does not mean that you have to go unarmed to a gunfight. There’s no contradiction there, no case for hypocracy, as far as I’m concerned.

    And I’m more than a little worried every time I read these common sentiments that amount to republicans being silly for trying to sell their policies, the public will reject them automatically no matter how the repubs act, no matter how the dems act.

    On occasion that may be true, but just as often we get surprised, and en up making the inevitable lament:

    “too many americans are rednecks & morons – they would eat shit if they were told it tasted good”.

    Perhaps. But if we never gave it a good shot convincing them that pie tastes better – who is to blame?

  44. 44
    Chris says:

    @WereBear:

    The Republicans got this far because they lied about things your average person knows NOTHING about. […] So they would buy the lies because they honestly didn’t know any better, and getting it wrong is better than admitting you don’t have a clue.

    Yep.

    I see this all the time in foreign policy, an area where the average voter is very low information. Whether it’s Saddam’s WMDs, Zarqawi being an Iraqi agent, Reagan winning the Cold War, what life is really like under the EU, Islam is trying to unify into one Caliphate and then conquer the world… the average voter doesn’t know crap about any of that, which is they so eagerly swallow egregious horseshit.

    Which is one reason you so often hear liberals wishing for a better informed population, but I don’t know how to get that done.

  45. 45
    Danny says:

    @Chris:

    Which is one reason you so often hear liberals wishing for a better informed population, but I don’t know how to get that done.

    My 2 cents is that “messaging” and “informing” are pretty closely related. When Efroh says that democrats should try to improve their (collective) skill in framing and coordination what does that mean really?

    The way I view the concept of “framing” is as taking a policy area and what your own positions are and then asking yourself – why do I think that this is important for the person I want to convince? Where do we have common ground? Where do we have common values? And how can I convince him or her in a compact, attractive way to consider what I have to say?

    That is informing e.g. a voter. In a way that is time and energy efficient, given that those are scarce resources.

    Coordination then, is trying to assure that there’s a fair chance that the person that we want to give us a look will have gotten the whole message clearly and have been given the means to evaluate if he think it’s attractive.

    Once again, I think it all boils down to if the ideas and messages on sale are fraudulent and bad for people, or honest and good for people. If they are fraudulent – sure it’s easy to consider it all one big con job.

    Too often dems concede the battleground so all we ever get to see and hear are fraudulent and damaging ideas, e.g. bullshit, being sold to people against their better judgement.

    Doesnt mean it have to be like that.

  46. 46
    Ken says:

    @Danny: Danny, that’s a good point, but I’m thinking that in this instance, it’s the policy that is severely lacking.

  47. 47
    El Cid says:

    It works pretty routinely to lie to the public on a massive scale about something, so why not?

    People have been made by liars and establishment types who hate gubmit programs which aid people to believe that the deficit and debt will kill us all and is what is hurting jobs.

    And to believe that Saddam Hussein was about to row a boat over to the US and blow up Mount Rushmore with an atom bomb.

    So why not spend some years bombarding the public with screams about how Medicare will soon kill us all?

    It may not work, but it might, so they might think it’s worth risking.

  48. 48
    djork says:

    If you remove the vowels from Reince Priebus’s name, you’re left with RNC PR BS. Pretty fitting for him to be head of the party that constantly believes they are but one PR campaign away from utopia.

  49. 49

    Nice, Cool Hand Luke and Mad Men. Doug Harlan J, you are THE MAN.

  50. 50
    Lol says:

    For all their obsession with framing, the Professional Left is pretty terrible at it. At least in terms of messaging that will sway undecideds. It turns out people don’t like being called stupid or evil or heartless.

    Obama is very good at framing his message in terms that people find very reasonable. People simultaneously want their leaders to be bipartisan while strong enough to just get shot done. Say what you will about high-Broderism but people in the middle eat that shit up.

    So Obama presents the optics of bipartisanship while in practice only reaching out to the minimum level needed to get anything passed. Most negotiations were with conservative Dems but Obama always portrayed any concessions to Dems as being to the GOP. Best of both worlds. For all the carping about Obama caving to Repiblicans, you’d be hardpressed to name substantial proposals that were tossed solely to appease people whose votes were completely out of play and not to appease conservative Democratic senators/reps.

    And because he’s so good at yet another part of politics that the Professional Left supposedly wants to see Dems do well with, they hate him for it. (See also OFA)

  51. 51
    BruceK says:

    “Spectacularly slick roll out of a product that no one wants to buy.”

    In other words, it’s a legislative Edsel?

    (Okay, okay, that’s not being fair to the Edsel. From what I understood, it was a decent car that got overhyped to death…)

  52. 52
    Danny says:

    @Lol:

    Agreed 100%, except for this

    And because he’s so good at yet another part of politics that the Professional Left supposedly wants to see Dems do well with, they hate him for it.

    I wouldnt pretend to know exactly what got people like Hamsher and Greenwald to go bonkers, but in a general sense I think there’s a crowd that lives on being “teh most raddest”, not being anyone’s tool, not being fooled by the man, etc. For those people it’s only a matter of time before they’ll join the oposition to whomever is in charge at the moment. Their schtick depends on it.

    Greenwald I understand is also a libertarian, so it shouldnt really come as a great surprise that he could have ample reason to mobilize against democratic politicians.

    Sometimes “the professional left” is a misnomer.

  53. 53
    Danny says:

    For all [the professional left] obsession with framing, the Professional Left is pretty terrible at it.

    Sometimes I think part of the problem is that they are half way between a place where you think that PR and messaging are evil magic that the right uses to mislead the midless masses (think Marx) and how an advertising professional would look at it.

    There’s got to be a reason why they seem to think that if the president would just wield the “bully pulpit” with some nice framing added for good measure we would get Single payer HCR and a new trillion dollar stimulus in a jiffy.

    That’s looking at framing and messaging as a magical talisman that can bring them whatever they want. That’s just a pretext for attacking the administration.

    It clouds the real issue which is that these disciplines are indeed things that progressives should aim to get better at.

    But in a more finely honed progressive “machine”, the so called Professional Left would never be allowed to play the part they’re playing now; mobilizing against the president and other democrats, on the face of it for their own benefit, and to the detriment of the progressive cause.

  54. 54
    JC says:

    Been said above, but, given crazy 2010 elections like Obama and democrats saving the American Auto Industry, and STILL losing Michigan in a landslide, or Republicans screaming ‘death panels!’, despite 50 years of being on the record for limiting/ending medicare – as well as then rolling out the plan to end Medicare, and has been said, the rollout of the Iraq War, I think it is very clear that oftentimes, marketing IS enough. Reality DOES catch up and kick you in the ass at some point, but not necessarily before the Rethugs have done their damage.

    I do think lots of people criticize the ‘framing’ of the democrats, progressives, when oftentimes, it is much more the case that the Republican megaphone plus the ‘fake balance’ perspective of the media – regardless of the facts – is the issue.

    In terms of ‘not getting message across’, I’d say:

    60% Republican megaphone (radio talk, Fox, Corporate Ads)
    20% bad messaging
    20% bought and paid for Corporate democrats.

    The above percentages are a guess, of course. And seem to shift, depending on the issue as well.

    But I really do object to the false reductionism of ‘the democrats can’t message’, when the reality is more complex than that.

  55. 55
    Danny says:

    60% Republican megaphone (radio talk, Fox, Corporate Ads)

    What weapons do we have though to fight this?

    Just acknowledging the assymetry isnt enough, unless one wishes to fly the white flag of defeat. I think it’s perfectly possible to have a progressive Rush Limbaugh to wield. E.g. Moore, Stewart, Colbert shows that’s it’s perfectly possible. Maybe Stewart and Colbert are in fact a sign of a paradigm shift.

    But ideally you’d want guys like Stewart and Colbert but that also are as dependable and on message as Rush. A little bit more hacks to put it bluntly. Toers of the progressive line. The examples given above proves there’s a mass audience for populist progressive entertainers.

    20% bought and paid for Corporate democrats

    Possibly, but I feel that this issue often gets mixed up with conservative dems from red states where public opinion to a larger extent actually expects them to be “business friendly”. There’s every possibility to pursue changing the attitudes of voters in red states. And it requires good framing and effective messaging, and a lot of grassroot work.

    What I’m getting at is you need to break it down to the level where you can see a course of action to change things.

    When it is corporate influence, the only longterm solutions are legislative reform to diminish corporate influence on the political process and getting more progressive judges appointed.

    But both those two depends on getting support from the general public, so they once again require framing these issues, and effective messaging.

  56. 56
    Doug Harlan J says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur:

    Thank you!

  57. 57
    Bill Arnold says:

    The horseflesh comment reminds me that you can (or could) buy
    Raw Horseflesh Ice Cream in Japan.
    (Fixed with a working link, though you’ll have to search the page.)

  58. 58
    pookapooka says:

    I’m gonna use “mundance” every opportunity I can. A verrrry useful term.

  59. 59
    Cerberus says:

    @Chris:

    This is also why there have been great social successes for liberals…

    All based on education and getting more familiarity with what was previously “unknown”.

    The “coming out” campaigns for LGBTs, getting more opportunities for women and minorities so that we can get the huge examples of female secretary of states and black presidents, Day Without a Mexican, the various things that are dismissed as “PC culture”.

    The best way to counter the “heed the old lies” of ignorance is of course education.

    And it’s worked for the most part. If you poll people and especially when they understand what issue they are giving their opinion on, they overwhelmingly support liberal ideas.

    It’s why the messaging has become so desperate. The amount of subjects that people are ignorant about is decreasing and it requires more and more active misinformation to try and keep people stupid.

    That’s why the media has upgraded from being passively owned to actively serving as propaganda instruments for the highest bidder.

    They’ve lost their ability to be subtle.

    And they really have no one to blame but themselves, because one of the key areas of education they’ve been doing for the last 30 years is teaching kids that their lives depend on learning how to see through advertising. Also why kids seem so overwhelmingly liberal compared to the populations who had the least education on resisting advertising.

  60. 60
    Cerberus says:

    @Danny:

    Yeah, that’s the problem.

    Conservatism and right-wing ideologies are inherently authoritarian or preying on the authoritarian tendencies of the general populace.

    But left-wing ideologies and liberalism tend to be anti-authoritarianism. Worse yet for that strategy is the fact that modern liberals and progressives are attracted and motivated a lot by understanding the world and being aggressively reality-based.

    This means that you can’t just copy-paste right-wing propaganda tactics, because not only will it be hard to win centrists, but you’ll actively lose a lot of progressives and the thing about low-information centrists is that they tend to be base-level conformists who will respond to what seems the most popular. You can’t get the numbers up if the “intended audience” itself is boycotting the message.

    What is good news is that we don’t need to copy right-wing tactics.

    I was despairing that our media is wholly owned and its really hard to get any information for our side out there as well as a political system that was wholly entrenched against the social tide, but my partner reminded me that that has occurred before.

    Specifically the Civil Rights movement in the 50s which has social support, but no political support and an entrenched media opposition. Same deal with Suffragettes in the 20s.

    And what worked for these groups as well as many other groups facing similar resistances has been one of the best benefits of liberal’s “herding cats” nature:

    Diversity.

    We don’t need “message discipline” or hoping to raise enough money to install our own flacks. We can just hammer home with a hundred organizations with a hundred approaches and pull the audience out from under the propaganda.

    We’re seeing that right now.

    Why do you think the media has gotten so desperate and unsubtle lately? Why conservatives have been finding their media blitz tactics failing on occasion (remember they’ve been running nearly 30-40 years as an unstoppable force) or why so much effort has been spent trying to convince Americans that a black president is a flash in the pan we should never try again?

    Because things like the internet, educating people about advertising, and radicalizing the moderates have paid off in dividends. Republicans are on a short timer, mostly reduced to the showmanship of the Ringmaster and are trying to finish the con before the still dazzled white middle class ceases to matter.

    Sure, fleeing to the suburbs protected the ignorance of what has become a very important subsection of useful idiots, but the kids of the suburbs find friends online. The gated communities doesn’t prevent the diversity from moving in and it’s harder to protect the type of ignorance that is so exploitable by authoritarian noise machines.

    Once people think it’s hard to “corral them” for “message discipline”, but since the point of liberal activism isn’t to sell them cheap toilet paper, but getting people out of the habit of gleefully falling for bullshit, that’s a good thing.

    It also means if you’re going to continue to hard-sell the benefits of marketing, you need to know your audience. How we communicate the diverse further, how we can use the thousand techniques where they can be noticed and commented on.

    Or you can continue to be baffled why right-wing techniques seem to fail on the left.

  61. 61
    mclaren says:

    Shorter version:

    You’ll like eating this delicious turd if we just ladle some more gravy on it!

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