A Traitor Speaks

A former Republican staffer on the House and Senate budget committees explains how the modern Republican party co-opted low-information white voters who should want to vote for Democrats:

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? – can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. “Entitlement” has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is “entitled” selfishly claims something he doesn’t really deserve. Why not call them “earned benefits,” which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don’t make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the “estate tax,” it is the “death tax.” Heaven forbid that the Walton family should give up one penny of its $86-billion fortune. All of that lucre is necessary to ensure that unions be kept out of Wal-Mart, that women employees not be promoted and that politicians be kept on a short leash.

It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors’ looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At “Washington spending” – which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade’s corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.

There’s a lot more in the essay, including a perceptive analysis of Republican authoritarianism, and how de-legitimizing institutions is part of their gameplan. The whole thing is well worth a read. (via James Fallows)






187 replies
  1. 1
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    low informatino white voters

    Is that what the Italians are calling it these days?

    Such an intahnational blog.

    Edit: No fair fixing typos. By the way the ad right above the post is for “The Venetian” (hotel I presume) in Vegas, with a picture of a gondola and the Grand Canal. May have enhanced my take on the typo.

  2. 2
    B W Smith says:

    I can hardly wait to see Lofgren on all the Sunday shows explaining his concerns and educating the public. Wait, did I hear someone say it’s not gonna happen?

  3. 3
    beltane says:

    I never understood why Democrats didn’t use their Hollywood connections for something other than campaign contributions, like in learning to use language that appeals to the masses. Really, they should be testing their message on the least intelligent people they can find, rather than trying to appeal to upper class Beltway consultants.

    And while Progressives often complain about Democratic messaging, their efforts at it are not one bit better. “Public Option”? Give me a break.

  4. 4
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Interesting article by the way, but in addition to the notion that Republicans are better at propaganda than Democrats, I think it’s even more damaging that Democrats who have the ear of the public are repeating right wing trickle-down talking points themselves.

    If the easily-swayable voter the author here describes hears the Democratic President of the United States saying that government is just like a family and has to tighten its belt because you know after all families can’t just print money when they run out and all the rest of it, what in the world do we expect them to believe?

  5. 5
    Kane says:

    I recall watching an interview with Republican strategist and pollster Frank Luntz. He stated that on a majority of the issues concerning Americans, a majority of the population agreed with the Democratic positions.

    Instead of fighting the same losing battles, Luntz insisted that Republicans had to empower themselves and their arguments with a change in language. The estate tax soon became the death tax, the corporate response to environmental issues became “Common-sense environmental policies”, cuts in education would be phrased as “No Child Left Behind”, and so forth.

    Luntz also spoke about the importance of framing a debate before it ever begins, a technique the Bush White House did very well with every issue. Talk about Iraq, always mention 9/11. Someone brings up the questionable methods in the run up to the war in Iraq, raise the rhetorical question that it’s better to fight them over there than over here.

    Democrats didn’t fall on the wrong side of the issues overnight, rather Republicans caught up and surpassed them on language skills, which is kind of ironic if you think about it. In the end, it’s not so much the content of what is said, but rather the context.

  6. 6
    beltane says:

    By the way, I was once able to make inroads with a Teabagger by using some hardcore Marxist, class war language. If you appeal to people’s anger at the injustice of being ripped off, you can’t go wrong. The Republicans know this, and so they deflect this anger towards minority groups and liberal whites. But if you tell these same blue-collar white people “Look, while you’re screaming about Mexicans, some Wall Street pansy in a silk suit is cleaning out your bank account”, you’d be surprised at how their ears perk up.

  7. 7
    Unenthusiastic Obama voter says:

    Even more depressing is how our otherwise intelligent President has accepted, and even adopted, the republican terms. With his most recent cave in on smog regulations, his cited excuse was “regulatory uncertainty,” a nonsense term invented by republicans to be used to justify every business friendly decision, whether it makes sense or not. This, of course, comes after Obama also accepted republican rhetoric on the debt, spending, civil rights, etc.

    Does he actually believe any of this stuff? Have the republicans managed to absorb him? Is his staff krypto-republicans? I’m baffled. He’s screwing up on both policy and politics, at the same time. A remarkable achievement.

    Where’s ABL to explain to us how Obama’s adopting of republican talking points is either an inconsequential or a brilliant act — and anybody who dares question his infinite wisdom should be added to her list of trolls?

  8. 8
    Xenos says:

    Madison Avenue spent decades learning to make people insecure so they would buy unsafe, unhealthy, and pointless products. This expertise has been applied to the political sphere.

    Democrats can do more of the same, or find some way to change the way the game works. But they need to hurry up about it.

  9. 9
    JenJen says:

    This paragraph lays out what is obvious to most of us here, but it’s still chilling to read it from somebody on the inside:

    If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren’t after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté.[5] They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be “forced” to make “hard choices” – and that doesn’t mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.

  10. 10
    beltane says:

    @Xenos: The use of propaganda violates every tenet of liberalism. This is why I don’t consider myself a liberal but a leftist. A human who cedes control of his or her mind by choosing to be uninformed, can only be reached by appeals to their chimpanzee brain. The world is full of not-very-intelligent people who can only be reached through emotional manipulation, not logic. Therefore, unless the Democrats learn to deal with the electorate we have, rather than the one we wish we had, the Republicans will always run the show.

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Unenthusiastic Obama voter: It isn’t that Obama has suddenly and mysteriously adopted Republican framing or that his Administration is staffed with crypto-Republicans (a notion I find so absurd as to be asinine). As the Lofgren post notes, the Republicans have managed to get everyone to adopt their framing. This is an unadulterated bad thing, and it should be fought at every turn. This has been building, however, for 30-40 years and even with determined efforts it will not be turned around overnight.

  12. 12
    Samara Morgan says:

    /yawn
    low information voters== low cognitive ability voters.
    i been saying this since i got here, dude.

    meanwhile, back on the right…..Ace and AllahP both have ~1500 comment threads on Sarah’s non-speech.
    heres my comment from Ace’s thread.

    Ace, dude, shes just a spoiler.
    Wanna know WHY she gave that speech?
    She ax Perry for the VP slot and he said no.
    That is why it wasnt a direct frag of him.
    But she is gunna frag him if he doesnt take her onboard.
    Its a dilemma– Perry believes in the polls that say she cant win, and that she’d be a drag on the ticket– she doesnt believe in polls.
    She is running for the VP slot. She just made a veiled threat to take Perry down if he doesnt take her on board.
    Move/counter-move.
    Can’t wait to see what happens next.

    i stand by my prediction.
    Perry/Palin 2012

    hes gunna give…she has him by the shorthairs– the conservative base.

  13. 13
    John Weiss says:

    @Kane: I don’t think ‘language skills’ is correct.

    The Republicans are no better at language than Progressives. They’re much better at propaganda and they’re much better at staying on message. And the average voter is a boobass.

  14. 14
    SteveinSC says:

    @beltane:

    A human who cedes control of his or her mind by choosing to be uninformed, can only be reached by appeals to their chimpanzee brain.

    Welcome to South Carolina.

  15. 15
    Linda says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah we should bring our language to the level of the voter. Good idea. But what are the voter’s obligations? If you can read People, you can read a newspaper, or a news website. Voters can–and should–educate themselves, and they have nobody but themselves to blame if they are ignorant. People see themselves as consumers of politcs and government, and bitch when their politicians don’t pander to them. Is it boring? Too bad! They are not consumers, they are citizens. That implies an obligation as well as rights. Citizens bear some of the responsibility for the distortions of our government.The rock bottom obligation is to pay attention.

    Omnes Omnibus: The ship is hard to turn around, and the captain needs to be steering it hard. You only transform the game when you start laying down the rules, and framing the argument is how you do that. Obama needs to do this more, NOT figure how to split the difference.

  16. 16
    Alden says:

    Nice synthesis, I guess. But if there was anything in there we havn’t been reading about in various places for the last 20 years, I missed it.

  17. 17
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Xenos: you dumbass.
    Can’t fight mother nature.
    Its red/blue genetics and RWA (right wing authority tendency) in action.

  18. 18
    Xenos says:

    @beltane:

    Therefore, unless the Democrats learn to deal with the electorate we have, rather than the one we wish we had, the Republicans will always run the show.

    While Republicans don’t hesitate to consider themselves as an elite with a god-given right to bamboozle the proles, even leftists hesitate to set themselves up as a vanguard these days. Just think of the arrogance that exudes from DSK. But maybe that is necessary – and the Republicans see outrageous uppitiness from the milquetoast demeanor of President Obama.

    How to do that with today’s Democratic Party is a good question, though. A third party on the left would be worse than pointless.

  19. 19
    Kane says:

    Messaging of the Obama administration and the Democratic party borders on political malpractice. When the majority of voters are unaware that 98% of working families and individuals received a tax cut, then something is wrong.

    The Obama administration and Democrats should have been highlighting what is in the Stimulus package. Most voters still can’t explain what the ‘Stimulus’ contains, which makes it all the more easier for Republicans to claim that it didn’t work.

    One can easily predict what the Republican response to Obama’s job proposal is going to be. Republicans will simply tar and feather it and oppose it as another “failed stimulus” of government spending.

  20. 20
    Xenos says:

    @Samara Morgan: You are inviting me into a Nature vs. Nurture debate? Indeed, you must think I am a dumbass.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    /yawn

    Yes, dear, we all know that much of what Lofgren is saying is true. Many of us have been saying similar things for quite a while now. This post, nevertheless, has value for two reasons. First, it comes from a GOP insider. Second, it lays things out in one nice, clear, readable package.

    low information voters== low cognitive ability voters.

    Not necessarily the case.

  22. 22
    SteveinSC says:

    This is what you’re dealing with: Collecting bottle caps

  23. 23
    Samara Morgan says:

    @John Weiss: their base is more permeable to demagoguery.
    blacks and browns with conservative tendency would be permeable, but they have immunized to conservative eumemes over 50 years of race-baiting welded to IQ-baiting.
    that is, they would be more distrustful of intellectual and cultural elites except that they are more afraid of Bull Connor and the neo-confederates.

  24. 24
    Chris says:

    @JenJen:

    He adds this commentary at the end of the page, about Ayn Rand worship among conservatives:

    The GOP cult of Ayn Rand is both revealing and mystifying. On the one hand, Rand’s tough guy, every-man-for-himself posturing is a natural fit because it puts a philosophical gloss on the latent sociopathy so prevalent among the hard right. On the other, Rand exclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity. Apparently, the ignorance of most fundamentalist “values voters” means that GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction. And I imagine a Democratic officeholder would have a harder time explaining why he named his offspring “Marx” than a GOP incumbent would in rationalizing naming his kid “Rand.”

    See, no. I don’t think it’s ignorance, I think they just don’t care. Emotional/cultural traits like the cult of machoness often overrules values and principles (religious or otherwise), and despite what the self-proclaimed “values voters” pretend, that’s what’s happened here.

    To the extent that “Christianity” matters to most of them, it’s a tribal identity marker and not much else. The doctrine of “faith not acts,” which reduces good and bad to whether or not you’re One Of The Chosen, is a big part of that.

    Essentially, the religious right is the upper and middle class version of those gang members you see sometimes wearing rosaries or with other Catholic imagery. It’s all just for show. Which is why they have no problem taking Atlas Shrugged on as a second Bible.

  25. 25
    Chris says:

    Great find, by the way, one of the best articles on the subject I’ve read in a while.

  26. 26
    beltane says:

    @Xenos: A third-part on the left would not be a desirable thing. What we need is an intellectual establishment on the left that ignores the right-wing’s framing of issues, and comes up with a very aggressive, even outrageous, language of its own. Venom wins more votes than nuance.

  27. 27
    Davis X. Machina says:

    If we lied better, they’d never win another election.

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I’m worried about high misinformation voters, not low information voters.

  28. 28
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Xenos: bring it on sophist.
    but its not “nature vs nuture.”
    its red/blue genetics, game theory, and nature VIA nuture.

  29. 29

    @beltane:

    Marxist, class war language.

    Amen.

    And the class war is going on all the time. A lot of people know it but they don’t have the terminology to talk about it. Maybe we should furnish that for them.

  30. 30
    Jennifer says:

    It’s counter-intuitive, but the thing I’ve found that works best is to point at people and ridicule them for willingly going along with getting punk’d. No one likes to be played for a chump, yet the GOP has been getting away with playing their base for chumps for 30 years now. And the Democrats won’t call them out on it because they’re afraid it would make voters dislike them. Not so. A better response to “Ah’m gonna make abortion illegal!” is not “I agree that there should be some restrictions” but “no, he’s NOT going to make abortion illegal. He’s lying to you, just like every other Republican has lied to you about this for 40 years. They all say they’re gonna outlaw abortion. Have they done it? Have they ever TRIED to do it? No. They’re just playing you for suckers again. So go ahead and vote for him – you won’t get what he promised, because you never do, but you will get cuts to your Social Security and Medicare. And then these same guys who lied to you and punk’d you will be back to explain how it was someone else’s fault they took away everything you’ve worked for your entire life, but if you’ll just vote for them again, THIS time they’ll punish all those sluts by outlawing abortion. Being someone’s punk is no way to go through life, people. But if you like rewarding people who disrespect you and steal from you, by all means, go ahead and vote for them again. Just don’t kid yourself that what you get isn’t what you deserve.”

  31. 31
    Alex S. says:

    I completely agree, but I am also of the opinion that Democrats should fight dirty sometimes. At some point, always keeping the higher ground turns from noble into stupid. I’m convinced of the malice of conservative policies, and sometimes Obama appears to think that ‘If they don’t vote for me, they don’t deserve me’, and that’s a betrayal of the base and high-information voters. You need low-information voters in your coalition, there are too many of them.

  32. 32
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Davis X. Machina: you cant “lie better” to the conservative base.
    they dont have the substrate.

  33. 33
    Chris says:

    @Xenos:

    While Republicans don’t hesitate to consider themselves as an elite with a god-given right to bamboozle the proles, even leftists hesitate to set themselves up as a vanguard these days.

    Just as the media is terrified of being called “biased,” the Democrats are terrified of the label “liberal elite,” and will move hell, heaven and Earth to avoid that status. (To no avail, of course, in either case).

  34. 34
    SteveinSC says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Wrong, maybe this will help you figure this out:

    low information voters== low curiosity ==> low cognitive ability voters.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @beltane:

    …very aggressive, even outrageous, language of its own…

    The phrase “skullfuck a kitten” comes to mind.

  36. 36
    Unenthusiastic Obama voter says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I expected ABL to jump to Obama’s defense, but you will do.

    Yes, the republicans have managed to get everyone to adopt their framing, especially the mainstream press. The question I posed — and has remained unanswered — is why did Obama and his administration acquiesce and adopt the republicans frames? After all, the presidency does have a most prominent bully pulpit.

    I don’t pretend to know the answer, but many in Obama’s inner circle are Wall Street types and consequently may very well be crypto-republicans in mentality (I’m not proposing a conspiracy theory; I’m suggesting that many of Obama’s staff are far more conservative than we think they are, at least when it comes to economic issues).

  37. 37
    Xenos says:

    @beltane: You get someone from The Nation on MSNBC on occasion. Are they ever on ABC, CBS, NBC or CNN?

    Ever notice that once David Brock switched sides he was pretty much never heard from again, even though he went from a speechwriter to running an important website?

    And if people start protesting, how long do you think it will be until we hear the words “silent majority” again?

  38. 38
    Brazilian Rascal says:

    Indeed, we’ve hear or seen most of that before, but the source and the summation give it added strength.

    To me, it also definitely settles the “are the evil or are they stupid” dillema. Evil it is. They are only dumb when it serves their rotten purposes.

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    that is, they would be more distrustful of intellectual and cultural elites except that they are more afraid of Bull Connor and the neo-confederates.

    Shorter America to its minorities:

    Gentlemen! Over here, the intellectuals who may be looking at you funny. Over here, the people who want to lynch you, and occasionally still do. What say ye?

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SteveinSC: Wrong. A Venn diagram of low info voters would definitely include the less than bright, but it would also include a lot of people who are so busy trying to make ends meet that they are too exhausted to pay attention to politics.

  41. 41
    Chris says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I’m worried about high misinformation voters, not low information voters.

    This.

    This.

    This.

    This.

    THIS.

  42. 42
    beltane says:

    @Jennifer: YES!!! No one likes being called a patsy. No one wants to admit to being the dumbass who fell victim to some two-bit grifter.

  43. 43
    SteveinSC says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    And the class war is going on all the time

    and the Republicans warn about it all the time. Yet they are waging this war for all to see, but we are not supposed to fight back? It’s shrill, not bipartisan? Bull Shit. It is full-blown Class War, they’re winning, and the sooner we hit the fucking trenches the better.

  44. 44
    Kane says:

    She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan, and there was no imbecility, absolutely none, that she was not capable of swallowing if the Party handed it out to her.

    War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

    -George Orwell, Quotes from 1984

  45. 45

    @Samara Morgan:

    Their base is more permeable to demagoguery.

    Oh, my. Now I’m agreeing.

    Very nice turn of phrase, though.

  46. 46
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Unenthusiastic Obama voter: They, to be precise, may not be crypto-Republicans, they may be conversos or marranos

  47. 47
    Keith G says:

    @Linda:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah we should bring our language to the level of the voter. Good idea. But what are the voter’s obligations?

    Sorry, but that is crap. Whether it is middle school students, customers, or constituents you need to reach them where they are. Period.

    From the top:

    How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language.

    The Democratic Party led by the President has a product to sell (their leadership cred). If they do a better job than the other guys, there is a chance that they will get to hang around, but they seem rather disconnected about it all.

  48. 48
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Unenthusiastic Obama voter: Yes, I was pretty clearly leaping to Obama’s defense on this one as I pointed out that the whole country, and not just Obama, is doing it wrong.

  49. 49
    MonkeyBoy says:

    @beltane:

    I never understood why Democrats didn’t use their Hollywood connections for something other than campaign contributions, like in learning to use language that appeals to the masses.

    Many years ago, George Lakoff became a darling of the progressives with his linguistic analysis of metaphors and political framing. This resulted in the Rockridge Institute (1997-2008) being founded to apply these techniques to political analysis and messaging.

    I don’t know why these ideas died out on the left. Maybe they were too intellectual. or too far left, or maybe they were treated as just a “new management theory” that didn’t give immediate results and was dropped.

    Or maybe being really good at messaging involves a bit of dishonesty which progressives abhor.

    Democrats do need professionals expert in messaging and while the techniques may seem so obvious that anybody can do it, practice shows that most politicians can’t.

  50. 50
    ellenelle says:

    @Unenthusiastic Obama voter:

    hm; rather than reading the headlines on this, i saw that obama actually noted the epa is already working on upgrading regulations, to be completed by 2013. why, he wondered, should we force small businesses to upgrade now, and then again in 2013?

    now, call me crazy, but that seems a logical position to me. best, of course, to not have to have regulations at all and operate all our consumer production plants without even a hint of pollution, but hey, this is the reality based community, right?

    i just ran across one of duncan’s brilliantly pithy eschatonisms, in which he pointed out that optimal policies are only possible in an optimal scenario, a scenario we can barely imagine right now, much less even glimpse on the distant horizon . i do not get why it is we armchair citizens are so quick to blame obama for so carefully picking his battles while giving the teatard repuglicans enough rope to hang themselves a dozen times over.

    the teatard repuglicans are all in; it’s the make or break for them, but they’re far too clueless to see their own contradictions, let alone the fact that they’re nothing more than pawns for the galtian kleptocracy. this coming election we canNOT be distracted by petty whining about each and every little obamaneuver we cynically decide destroys our last thread chance to recover our democracy.

    from where i sit, obama has a pretty damn good idea of what our democracy should look like, and it does not resemble “my way or the hiway” pseudoheroics, nor does it resemble patronizing “my dad can beat up your dad” theatrics. first, he fully recognizes the power of the executive has been hideously inflated, especially in the past decade, and has taken – at least on domestic issues – a back seat to the congress, as it should be.

    second, he recognizes fully the power of the people has been dangerously eroded in past decades, and he is actively encouraging citizens to contact their reps and make their voices heard. he’s also soliciting grass roots activism that would ideally educate our neighbors on what is really going down. teatards need to be reminded that their pockets are being picked while their overlords print all those hate- and anger-fueling posters.

    this franklinite “keeping the republic” is not that difficult – we can all agree on the moral and “do unto others” policies – but it does take diligence. not whining. before whining, consider first the consequences had obama handled anything differently (remember, as he pointed out publicly and in deep frustration, the republicans cannot say yes to anything he presents to them), and second, consider – realistically – what you might have done differently.

    seriously. and then go back to the first consideration. and then this third: whose cause does it further to blame obama when we all know who the real culprits are here? why waste one second’s energy on diverting outrage away from the real cause? it’s a bit like being furious at your hacking cough while mindlessly lighting another cigarette. or, better metaphor, while mindlessly purchasing the products from the polluting factory that manufactures them.

    you get the idea.

  51. 51
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It isn’t that Obama has suddenly and mysteriously adopted Republican framing or that his Administration is staffed with crypto-Republicans (a notion I find so absurd as to be asinine). As the Lofgren post notes, the Republicans have managed to get everyone to adopt their framing.

    Barack Obama, low-information gullible voter. Interesting take.

    Lofgren is actually talking here about Democratic politicians and the Democratic party trying to deliver a counter to the Republican framing, but being inept at it, e.g. “estate tax” vs “death tax” and so on.

    What UOv and I were bringing up is the the argument that while yes this is a problem, half the time Democrats aren’t even trying to counter anything, they’re pushing what are clearly, traditionally, and have always been, Republican policies, not Democratic.

    I agree somewhat with your description of what happened over the last few decades and that Obama didn’t take any huge right turns in principle, but he certainly did in his rhetoric (yeah I know, big boring argument there that everyone has had already ad nauseum) but it wasn’t the author’s point and in any case doesn’t make it any less depressing that here we have a Democrat acting this way.

  52. 52
    A Mom Anon says:

    @beltane: Yes. When you take the political/ideological labels off of policy,you have a much better shot at getting people to realize who has their best interests at heart. The media isn’t going to do it,it’s going to be up to us as individuals talking to our neighbors and family or whoever else we can reach.We’re also going to have to nag and bitch at our local Dems to start changing their language too.

    In that vein,I’m trying to think of a way to bring people together in my community in a VERY red county in GA. I’m not sure what to do though. If it gets labeled political or religious it’ll attract teapartiers and god botherers. I was thinking of booking time at a library conference room or community center just to discuss how to save money and deal with tough financial times by going back to some old ways of doing things(pot luck supppers,victory gardens,bartering,knowing when and where the best deals are,etc). I don’t know,any thoughts? I’m tired of being alone around here,but I know if I come across as anti GOP or non religious I may as well just sit at home. There has to be a way to reach people.

  53. 53
    Ira-NY says:

    Yes, the Right is relentlessly message. They a able to do so, as compared to the Left for two reasons.

    One, their base is twice as big. At roughly 40%, they don’t have to dilute the message as much to from a governing coalition.

    Second, over the past three decades they have built a communication infrastructure that pumps the message efficiently and relentlessly. The Left has nothing similar to rightwing radio and Fox.

  54. 54
    WereBear says:

    What an excellent article! Partner & I were talking this morning about how we poor slobs signed up for the monthly Democracy Bond when it was Howard Dean as the head of the DCCC. Because he “got it.”

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MonkeyBoy: Campaigning and governing are two different things and they require different skills. Democrats tend to be people who are interested in governing and tend to campaign only to get into government. It is not their forte. Republics have little interest in actually governing and therefore are able to concentrate purely on the campaign side of things.

  56. 56
    Xenos says:

    @Unenthusiastic Obama voter:

    The question I posed—and has remained unanswered—is why did Obama and his administration acquiesce and adopt the republicans frames? After all, the presidency does have a most prominent bully pulpit.

    Conditioning. If they do not speak within the accepted frames the message does not get out at all. People want to be heard, and so they will take a chance to speak the best spin they can come up with within the frame, rather than piss in the wind.

    Thus the need for a game-changer (I hate that term, but can’t think of something better). In English politics it was the rise of Methodism, which trained a generation of barely literate people to take the bible and read it for themselves, and to take to the pulpits and preach for social values based on the words of the bible. It was just one more generation until there was such a thing as the ‘working class’ and then the development of a political movement arising from the working class (I read E. P. Thompson 20 years ago, so I am sure I am botching the details).

    What is the ‘game-changer’ here? What can close people’s ears to one set of propaganda and open them to another set of propaganda?

    Edit: screwed up block quote

  57. 57
    JackHughes says:

    Excellent article — but the author makes clear that Republican success hinges on the explicit understanding that the voters are “low-information” morons and must be treated as such.

    The Democrats still don’t seem to comprehend this fundamental political fact.

  58. 58
    beltane says:

    Or maybe being really good at messaging involves a bit of dishonesty which progressives abhor

    .

    Don’t call it dishonesty, call it slight exaggeration in the service of a higher goal. Lakoff’s underlying point was correct, but the efforts of his proteges failed to impress me because they were too intellectual and high-minded. We need more PT Barnum and less Plato and Aristotle.

  59. 59

    Historical analysis might lead us to conclude that successful revolutions in the past were powered by what we now call the middle class.

    I’m not middle class. I’ve visited that class a few times during my life but never belonged.

    How do we get the middle class to understand the class war?

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Barack Obama, low-information gullible voter. Interesting take.

    Not what I was saying at all. Where I was heading was closer to what Xenos said here:

    Conditioning. If they do not speak within the accepted frames the message does not get out at all. People want to be heard, and so they will take a chance to speak the best spin they can come up with within the frame, rather than piss in the wind.

  61. 61
    Kane says:

    It’s not just an Obama thing. Kerry. Gore. Clinton. Dukakis. Mondale. Carter. McGovern. Humphrey. Johnson. They have all had their share of difficulties in messaging. Not to mention the Democratic Congress.

    How is it that after all of these years, the Democratic party has been unable to convincingly highlight the differences between the two political parties and expose the GOP for who and what they represent?

  62. 62
    WereBear says:

    @beltane: By the way, I was once able to make inroads with a Teabagger by using some hardcore Marxist, class war language. If you appeal to people’s anger at the injustice of being ripped off, you can’t go wrong. The Republicans know this, and so they deflect this anger towards minority groups and liberal whites. But if you tell these same blue-collar white people “Look, while you’re screaming about Mexicans, some Wall Street pansy in a silk suit is cleaning out your bank account”, you’d be surprised at how their ears perk up.

    Me likey! I have been re-directing this for people who seem susceptible; maybe I should broaden my definition.

  63. 63

    @A Mom Anon: #51

    May I suggest a “Hard Times Club”? Sometimes, libraries can offer a discussion room. Or the Y. Or something. [Congregationalist church?]

  64. 64
    Samara Morgan says:

    @beltane: it is an unimpeachable argument.

    Conservative: we are going to create jobs with deregualtion and lower tax rates for neo-corporatists and the rich.
    Liberal: But that is empirically impossible!
    Conservative: Look! the liberals think you’re stupid!

  65. 65
    A Mom Anon says:

    @beltane: Not just too intellectual and high minded,but also more complicated than it ever needed to be. We simply have lost ground because we never invested in infrastructure and nurturing people like the rightwing has. We don’t seem to have their deep pockets either,how many liberal bloggers and pundits are well paid compared to their side?

    We have lots of catching up to do and it has to be continual,not just during presidential years. And we are going to have to invest in red states too,like it or not. The approach may have to be a bit different,but it has to happen for things to change. During the 08 election season there was NO community outreach here,NONE. And yes,this is a hostile environment(I know from experience)but there is safety in numbers,we need people here,BADLY.

  66. 66
    cathyx says:

    You all are ignoring the elephant in the room. Maybe Obama actually believes the republican framing.

  67. 67
    Kristine says:

    I live near the Wisconsin-Illinois border. Yesterday, I drove past an old, run-down house with a “Get it Done Scott Walker” sign in the front yard. All I could think was that the people in that house has freely voted for the means of their destruction. They think they voted to rein in the freeloaders of the world. They just gave them the keys to the vault.

    I don’t know what to add to the conversation, except to say that the folks listening to the R’s arguments are not blank slates. They’re primed–whether through racial animus, fear, or authoritarian bloody-mindedness–to hear it. A fair number of these people are well-off, so the fear isn’t all immediate. But the lowest common denominator has been found and worked to perfection. And LCDs are easy and they speak to the gut and the hindbrain, and it’s damned hard to stuff all that back in the cage after it’s been let out.

    And I’m speaking to the choir. I know this.

    And now that I’ve depressed myself, I’m going to go do laundry.

  68. 68
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Oooh I like that. Thank you.

  69. 69
    Samara Morgan says:

    @WereBear: doesnt work.
    because you implying they are stupid enough to get scammed.

  70. 70
    bcinaz says:

    I feel like a hostage.

  71. 71
    beltane says:

    @Linda Featheringill: The middle class will understand the class war once they hear Dame Poverty knocking at their doors. This is what is happening with the protests in Israel right now:

    Under a homemade banner saying “Walk like an Egyptian”, Ruti Hertz, 34, a journalist, said that until this summer people had been privately ashamed of their inability to make ends meet. “Each person was lonely in their situation, thinking it’s my own problem.” That had changed with the protests.

  72. 72
    SteveinSC says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Well, the first thing we have to do is call it for what it is, “stealing from the bottom to feed the rich.” If the banksters are shown to be the reason your kid can’t get a government-backed loan to go to college, that will help. If you can make Obamacare understandable to some guy that just had to take a no-benefits job at Wally World because he got laid off in some “right-sizing.” Or why you can still drive a “Heart Beat of America” Chevy truck after the repukes tried to kill the loans, you can make a start.

  73. 73
    Dennis SGMM says:

    There’s a difference between propaganda and framing you message in such a way that people can appreciate what you’re trying to accomplish for them. Would it have killed the Democrats to call the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act something simple like the “Health Care Modernization Act,” or even “Healthcare for All”? Neither name may have raised public acceptance, I doubt that either would have lowered it either. At the very least they are a lot less abstract than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

  74. 74
    Jennifer says:

    Again I say, don’t underestimate the value of pointing out to people when they’ve been played for suckers.

    Once upon a time I worked as a lobbyist representing progressive issues groups at our state legislature. One of the bills we supported was for net metering, to allow people who produced their own energy via solar or wind to return excess power to the grid and be reimbursed at the same rate they were charged when drawing from the grid.

    A year previously, the legislature had approved dereg of the electric and other power companies; this session played out as the Enron manipulation in California came to light. But at the time the legislature approved dereg, all the power company lobbyists were up there bloviating on and on about the benefits to the consumer that the competition created by deregulation would spur.

    Now, a year later, they were whining piteously that allowing a handful of folks with solar panels to get paid for the power they generated would be an unconscienable burden on them.

    So when it was my turn to address the committee, which was poised and ready to do the bidding of the energy companies, I said, “gee, I seem to recall that only a year ago, these guys were up here telling you all about all the great competition dereg would spur, and now here they are insisting they can’t “compete” against a few homeowners with solar panels. Sounds like to me that they lied to you when they said they wanted a deregulated marketplace to spur competition. Sounds like to me that they believe what you created instead was a deregulated monopoly for their benefit. Was that your understanding of what you were doing? Are you going to reward them for that? Because if you vote with them on this, you’re just telling them it’s ok for them to play you for suckers.”

    We won that vote, and the electric company lobbyist who led the charge against us never spoke to me again, but somehow I managed to soldier on. We won because none of the guys on that committee could have lived down voting against us after what I said appeared in the statewide paper.

    Shame is a valuable tool, one that we use too infrequently.

  75. 75
    boss bitch says:

    It is to laugh. Obama shouldn’t use right wing framing to his advantage but he should use right wing tactics to win over voters? Yeah, I’ve witnessed a few times Democrats did that and the liberal blogosphere was just aghast! You ask for it you better be able to deal with it.

    @Jennifer: that response was way too long for someone who just shouts, “Baby Killer!”

    @beltane: I like your idea of pointing out “who’s zoomin’ who” but I would use Republican pols more often as an example. Just look at Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and Michelle Bachmann who decry government help but have no shame in taking full advantage of it themselves.

    Another problem is that some of these Republican voters somehow feel they are excluded when Repubs talk about taking away social programs and benefits. Some Union members in Wisconsin learned that the hard way. I would like Democrats to point out that Repubs aren’t just aiming their guns at Bonquisha and Pedro.

  76. 76
    Davis X. Machina says:

    If the phenomenon described weren’t happening in every developed country, over a period of three, going on four, decades, in wildly differing political cultures, I’d be more inclined to buy its description of causes and remedies.

    Donald Sassoon: One Hundred Years of Socia1ism(PDF review from Socia1ist Register)
    Tony Judt: Ill Fares the Land (Judt’s own piece from NYRB)
    Gregory Elliot:
    Labourism and the English genius: the strange death of labour England? (three link limit).

    Obama didn’t do it. Electing Obama didn’t do it. Electing Obama didn’t end it. Not electing Obama won’t end it. Electing Obama won’t end it.

    I believe the traditional reference is to a drunk looking for his car keys under the street light…

  77. 77
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Linda Featheringill: the middle class is being outsourced out of existence. We’re getting to the point now where almost everyone who isn’t rich knows someone who is struggling via a job loss or 401K that is empty or some other financial disaster. We’re going to almost or even literally get people to sit down at the kitchen table and TALK about reality.What really happened to our economy,just name the policies,not the specific people at first. What works to bring economies back and what doesn’t. Show them the taxes that corporations are not paying,where the jobs went.How long those tax cuts have been there,that they haven’t kept jobs here. Without naming names,initially. Alot of folks will figure it out if the information is presented without telling them they did it by voting for professional pick pockets.

  78. 78
    Cain says:

    @Kane:

    Messaging of the Obama administration and the Democratic party borders on political malpractice. When the majority of voters are unaware that 98% of working families and individuals received a tax cut, then something is wrong.

    part is that is because the media is not focusing on any that. Since we have switched to news-entertainment, Democrats need to put everything into a package of sound bites. The problem is that they are not adjusting to this new reality.

    In fact, I have no idea who they seem to have as advisors in the party. They must be old codgers who have no idea what the internet is or something. It’s like they are stuck in 1993 or something.

    That said, the media is in bed with Republicans more than Democrats precisely because they know how to package their talking points. Republicans know how to generate hits. That’s why all framing is done on a conservative manner. It also helps that they have an entire news organization dedicated to conservative talking points and a captured audience.

    I have no idea how to break this cycle. Ideas?

  79. 79
    doofus says:

    @cathyx: So are you saying that Obama chose the names “Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act” and “Stimulus Bill”? Or to use the word “Entitlements”? Those were the examples of bad phrasing in the quoted article.

  80. 80
    Keith G says:

    @Samara Morgan: Oh fuck! You said something that made sense.

  81. 81
    boss bitch says:

    @cathyx:

    You all are ignoring the elephant in the room. Maybe Obama actually believes the republican framing.
    Reply

    No. that Obama is some secret Republican is a lie being pushed from parts of the left.

  82. 82
    Davis X. Machina says:

    If the phenomenon described weren’t happening in every developed country, over a period of three, going on four, decades, in wildly differing political cultures, I’d be more inclined to buy its description of causes and remedies.

    Donald Sassoon: One Hundred Years of Socia1ism (PDF review from Socia1ist Register)

    Tony Judt: Ill Fares the Land (Judt’s own piece from NYRB)

    Gregory Elliot: Labourism and the English genius: the strange death of labour England? (three link limit).

    Obama didn’t do it. Electing Obama didn’t do it. Electing Obama didn’t end it. Not electing Obama won’t end it. Electing Obama won’t end it.

    I believe the traditional reference is to a drunk looking for his car keys under the street light…

  83. 83
    J says:

    @Jennifer: Amen! One thing that’s been obvious for a long time to those with eyes to see is that the Republicans despise the people who vote for them. This is a good way to make this fact clearer to the people who need to understand that they are being used.

  84. 84
    beltane says:

    As a non-believer, I also feel we should be utterly shameless in using the words of Jesus to help make our point. The wingnuts will counter this, of course, but then they will be the ones arguing about context and nuance and all that. I once read an article about the Sandinistas in the NYRB which explained that the Marxists were drawn from the pool of young people who actually paid attention in religion class.

  85. 85
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    How do we get the middle class to understand the class war?

    The middle class doesn’t understand class. The whole point of the middle class is to make class disappear.

  86. 86
    cathyx says:

    @doofus: No. What I’m saying is maybe he thinks earned benefits are entitlements. Maybe he thinks that we all have to sacrifice equally. Maybe he thinks that deficits do matter and the government does need to tighten it’s belt just like homeowners do when facing hard economic times.

  87. 87
    boss bitch says:

    @doofus:

    I think she’s talking about Obama using the household analogy to explain why you can’t just make cuts in your budget but you have to raise revenue and make investments as well. At least that’s what I hear when he uses it. Left critics just hear a Republican talking and often point out that it doesn’t make sense.

    And of course it doesn’t make sense if you sat down and looked at the gov’t vs. household budget, but it worked.

  88. 88
    doofus says:

    @cathyx: Ahh, so you’re commenting about Obama’s true feelings and not commenting about the Democratic inability to come up with snappy and intuitive labels for things. And here I thought you were commenting on the topic of the post. Good to know that you are not.

  89. 89
    rikyrah says:

    the Democrats gave up the field?

    really?

    not that the Democrats are strong fighters, but here’s the thing.

    Poor and Working Class White Folks have been voting against their interests —

    FOR GENERATIONS.

    they were wrapped up in their ‘ Whiteness’.

    sure, things are bad, but at least I’m not a Nigger.

    they’ve been fed that for generations, and still lap it up.

    finding excuse upon excuse for first Southern Democrats, then when they turned into Republicans, Republicans.

    now, we’re at the point – in some places – where the obviousness of the GOP is just slapping them in the face, and they’re FINALLY CATCHING A CLUE, that the GOP has ALWAYS included their asses in talking about ‘ those people’.

    they thought ‘ those people’ meant Black and Brown people.

    now, that some realize IT’S THEM, they don’t know what to do.

    as I said before, when someone brought this up, and why the left doesn’t always get those folks, because they don’t show ‘ sympathy’ to them..

    that they caught a ‘clue’….what…they’re supposed to be coddled?

    fuck them. it’s because of their stupid asses voting for those sociopaths, time after time, that this country is in the shape that it is.

    THEY should be apologizing to US.

  90. 90
    The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    @doofus:

    I think the problem cathyx is getting at is that way too many of our leaders don’t seem interested in pushing new labels or trying to market their words better is that they actually do, in the bottom of their hearts, believe in the frames and rhetoric of the GOP. I’m not sure Obama is one of them, but he sure as hell is one of them who’s accepted it and internalized it enough to repeat it on a political level.

    I don’t know how the fuck we actually change this when it feels like 75% of those who represent the country flat out agrees with the right-wing frames, and the other 25% are just essentially there for scapegoating when the policies born out of those frames fail miserably.

  91. 91
    boss bitch says:

    @cathyx:

    No. What I’m saying is maybe he thinks earned benefits are entitlements. Maybe he thinks that we all have to sacrifice equally. Maybe he thinks that deficits do matter and the government does need to tighten it’s belt just like homeowners do when facing hard economic times.

    earned benefits or entitlements – no matter what words he uses he believes we deserve them and that they should remain in place. Obama doesn’t say “sacrifice equally”. He uses the words “fair share” or “shared sacrifice”. Yes, he believes deficits matter. He’s told Progressives repeatedly that if they want to see their agenda fulfilled they must convince Americans that they can be paid for or that they are responsible w/money. Republicans say deficits matter so that’s why they have to abolish all social programs forever. And he’s using the household budget to sell spending as well as cuts. Republicans do not use it the same way.

  92. 92
    aisce says:

    @ xenos

    What is the ‘game-changer’ here? What can close people’s ears to one set of propaganda and open them to another set of propaganda?

    i was gonna say 20% unemployment, but they have that in spain and that doesn’t seem to be too agitating a prospect at the moment. plus, in this country, that 20% would be mostly blacks and hispanics anyway, so fuck ’em, right?

    so, realistically, 40-50% unemployment is probably the threshold.

    @ kane

    How is it that after all of these years, the Democratic party has been unable to convincingly highlight the differences between the two political parties and expose the GOP for who and what they represent?

    they thought high finance was super neato too, remember? not for the same reasons republicans did, i suppose. they didn’t see it as “doing god’s work.” but democrats did secretly find it noble work all the same. you get to wear nice suits and work really hard and buy nice things. you get to go to swanky cocktail parties with famous people and attend primo charity galas. and those bankers were just so good at math. and liberal humanities majors aren’t so good at math.

    also, too, you need ten fucking million dollars minimum these days to run for senator in lowly montana, so…there’s that.

  93. 93
    boss bitch says:

    @rikyrah:

    What you said. Especially THIS:

    now, we’re at the point – in some places – where the obviousness of the GOP is just slapping them in the face, and they’re FINALLY CATCHING A CLUE, that the GOP has ALWAYS included their asses in talking about ’ those people’.

    they thought ’ those people’ meant Black and Brown people.

    now, that some realize IT’S THEM, they don’t know what to do.

  94. 94
    boss bitch says:

    I will say this. I don’t want Democrats taking advice from Liberals on how to frame anything or how to appeal to low-info voters because ya’ll are even worse at it than they are.

  95. 95
    Kane says:

    @Cain: The MSM certainly shares in the blame. They are far more likely to present the Republican perspective and repeat the Republican talking points.

    There were more than 400 protests in the month of August around the country, protests primarily focused towards Republican senators and congress members on their inaction of providing jobs. While the events received local media coverage, the story is not national news, which is mind-boggling considering the non-stop national media coverage of the tea party events. Imagine if those jobs protests were directed towards Obama and Democrats.

    As to ideas on how to break this cycle. I have no idea.

  96. 96
    Linnaeus says:

    I like to sum up the Republican vision for America in one word: neofeudalism.

    As political rhetoric, it’s not the most effective term, so I wouldn’t expect it to be used in campaigns or anything like that. But I think it describes best what the Republicans want.

  97. 97
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @aisce:

    so, realistically, 40-50% unemployment is probably the threshold.

    U6, the most comprehensive measure of un- and underemployment, was pushing those levels in the early 1930’s, so I would tend to concur.

    Even then, though, the US, France, Scandanavia, and the UK emerged from the 1930’s with substantially the same political system as they entered them — parliamentary democracy, (significantly chastened ) capitalism, and fundamental organic law modified but not replaced. Spain, and Germany, no.

    So even that level of immiseration isn’t a lock to bring on The Revolution. (Why some theories posit a need for a Vanguard Party isn’t hard to see.)

  98. 98
    doofus says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik: I find it hard to believe that Democrats spent the better portion of a year implementing Health Care Reform but so secretly hated the idea of it that they gave it a stupid name that doesn’t sell well.

  99. 99
    A Mom Anon says:

    @boss bitch: The main issue I have with saying “fuck them” is that this is exactly what Dems have done to other Dems in the south. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard people who are left of center say “fuck the South,let em go to hell” or words to that effect. Problem is,alot of us are in the South because we moved here for work back in the 80’s. I had a job in the auto industry,a good union job and it went to another country. The area STILL hasn’t recovered(SE Ohio)30 yrs later. You have a whole generation of young people living in poverty with no way out,there are no jobs within 100 miles. I left because I knew what was coming.Now the same thing is happening here and I cannot leave because I cannot sell my house and there are no jobs anywhere else. So,I am stuck. And now I feel like I cannot be alienated from my community anymore. There HAS to be a way in,to find common ground with people who are hurting too. Writing off people who have been decieved isn’t going to fix things. Writing off people who moved to find a better life isn’t helpful either. I am a proud liberal,but I’m also smart enough to know if I run over people with that I’m going to either get my ass kicked or be ostracized. There has to be a better way than just saying fuck you. Some people can’t be reached,but some can,that’s who I want to focus on.

  100. 100
    beltane says:

    @Kane: A viral campaign to delegitimize the US media? Chain emails vilifying well-known TV news bobbleheads, including mention of their outrageous salaries, profligate lifestyles and endemic fraternization with corrupt, foreign-owned lobbyists? Our side needs some creative nastiness.

  101. 101
    Baud says:

    @boss bitch: Exactly! I also find it amusing that this whole thread is based upon the supposed excellence in framing of Republicans, who are among the most despised group of people in the country right now.

  102. 102
    Chris says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    So even that level of immiseration isn’t a lock to bring on The Revolution. (Why some theories posit a need for a Vanguard Party isn’t hard to see.)

    No, but it was enough to bring on a “game-changer,” “opening people’s ears to one set of propaganda and closing it to the other” in the United States. Democracy and capitalism survived the Great Depression, but with the addition of a welfare state, strong regulations, and strong labor unions, which laid the foundation for the modern state the GOP’s been picking away at for the last thirty years.

    But I agree that it’s hit or miss, and the German and Italian examples demonstrate why.

  103. 103
    PeakVT says:

    How is it that after all of these years, the Democratic party has been unable to convincingly highlight the differences between the two political parties and expose the GOP for who and what they represent?

    [Insert Will Roger’s quip here.]

    As long as the Democratic Party honchos don’t enforce some discipline on its rightmost members, the Democratic Party won’t have a unified message. And the honchos won’t enforce discipline because they never think about more than winning the next election.

  104. 104
    Mark S. says:

    Wow, that entire article is awesome. I encourage everyone to read it.

  105. 105
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Chris: We’ve got only approximately half the level of immiseration you need, deep racial, religious and regional divides, and cable television.

    The US is the Saudi Arabia of false consciousness. World’s largest producer, world’s largest proven reserves — and unlike the House of Saud, we can pump more.

  106. 106
    beltane says:

    @A Mom Anon: I’ve actually thought about starting a blog called “The Austerity Cafe” where people can bitch about the high cost of food (Not discussed enough by progressives) and heating oil, etc. Outside of the upper-middle-class and above, most people are hurting right now, but people are keeping their pain to themselves mostly. An airing of grievances is the first step towards remedying these grievances.

    Of course, I’ll never get around to starting such a blog but it would be a great idea for someone with more skill than myself.

  107. 107
    Samara Morgan says:

    look Juicers….all the messaging in the world is not going to solve the problem.
    The problem is the demographic timer.
    and the conservatives won’t explain that to their base, trust me.
    and the punditocracy is not going to say much either, because the demographic evolution of the electorate is going to ruin their horseracing forever.

    what democrats need to do is turn out their base, stop republican efforts to disenfranchise youth and minority voters, and give Obama campaign contributions to counteract conservative disinformation campaigns on the terebi..

  108. 108
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @beltane:

    A viral campaign to delegitimize the US media?

    They got there first. Fox News Channel is a viral-media campaign to delegitimize the US media.

    The idea that there is no truth, just partisan positioning, is already out there.

  109. 109
    Samara Morgan says:

    The basic problem is that BOTH SIDES ARE NOT THE SAME.
    50 years of race-baiting and IQ-baiting and red/blue genetics has seen to that.

  110. 110
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Davis X. Machina: that is the eumeme that both sides are the same.
    not any more.

  111. 111
    A Mom Anon says:

    @beltane: Another good idea. I may steal that name,if I can find a meeting place and a way to advertise the idea that doesn’t cost me much. Something has to give here,I just don’t know what the hell I’m doing,lol. Or how to do it. My local Dems are useless,and I want to keep partisan politics out of it anyway,it won’t help.

  112. 112
    Sly says:

    There was a biopic made about ten years ago about Abbie Hoffman called Steal This Movie, and there is a scene where Hoffman (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) is living in upstate New York during his period of hiding (around the late 70s, I think) and he comes across a meeting of somewhat well-to-do environmentalists who want to prevent further development along the St. Lawrence River. The group’s name was something ceaselessly technocratic, like “Committee for the Ecological Preservation of the Upper St. Lawrence River.”

    So the meeting ends, and the group’s leader asks for input from the audience. Hoffman, living as Barry Freed, stands up and says that the first thing they should do is change the group’s name to “Save the River,” because it’s simple and engages other members of the community who are not activists. Why does the river need saving? Who’s hurting the river? How can I help to save it? They had to personalize the activism, make it important to people who were often disengaged and didn’t know all the details about problems in their community.

    Save the River went on to be one of the most successful local environmental groups of the all time and is still in operation.

    So, yeah, what you call something matters. Would have renaming PPACA to something like “The Care Act” or ARRA to “The Jobs Act” made campaigning in 2010 easier? Probably. Would it have reduced opposition within Congress? Perhaps among the respective Democratic Caucuses of the House and Senate, but then you’re only looking at marginal improvements in what the left has come to view as fatally flawed policies.

    @beltane:

    We need more PT Barnum and less Plato and Aristotle.

    We don’t actually need either of those. The Democratic Party has plenty of loud backbenchers and plenty of high-minded but soft-spoken technocrats. What we need, when you get right down to it, is a middle-class version of something like ACORN.

    @Linda Featheringill:

    How do we get the middle class to understand the class war?

    Speak a language they understand. Middle-class status is, fundamentally, about security. Not just financial security, but psychological security (particularly with regard to the expected success of their children). Basically, you want to take this lecture given by Elizabeth Warren and personalize it as much you can. Middle-class people know what their problems are; they know they have to spend more money than they make to live the same lifestyle status as their parents. They know that they’re eventually going to be a financial liability for their children because of their negative savings and meager 401k that they have to constantly borrow against to make ends meet. Their one remaining hope for the past two decades was home equity, and now even that is disappearing.

    They feel like they’re on the edge of a cliff, and they’re right. You want to win over middle-class voters? Convince them that you’re on their side. You don’t even need conventional class-conscious rhetoric to do this (in some respect, it might actually hurt). Middle-class people generally won’t hate on someone making ten million dollars a year. Who they will hate on, because they get letters from them every week, are bill collectors and creditors.

  113. 113
    Chris says:

    @A Mom Anon:

    What a lot of liberals keep coming back to is that a huge majority of white Southerners and pretty large numbers of people in the rest of the country hated their fellow Americans so much that they were willing to torpedo their own children’s future by handing the Randroids the keys to the government, just so they could “get back” at those despised Other People.

    I’d never advise Democrats or liberals to stop outreach. But I don’t think the bitterness is unwarranted given the level of sheer unfiltered hate we’ve been dealing with for all this time. And neither is the skepticism about whether we can reach them. The last time one part of the country hated the other this much, they started a civil war. I don’t know what Lincoln could have done to reach them, and I think our job’s about as hard as his would’ve been back then.

  114. 114
    Jim Pharo says:

    Was this supposed to be some sort of revelation? I think Chris Hedges nailed this to the floor in the Collapse of Liberal Class (or whatever the exact title was).

    The Democrats are engaged in an endless game of “who’s got the greatest member,” supposing that it is measured by brain power. While not overtly destructive in the sense that the GOP is overtly destructive, it is as pointless as can be and ultimately enables the GOP rampage.

    Kos is right: more and BETTER Democrats, assuming of course that it isn’t already far too late (which is my own view).

  115. 115
    boss bitch says:

    @A Mom Anon:

    I hear you, but the ‘fuck them’ feeling is still there. I can’t help it.

  116. 116
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Chris: It doesn’t even have to be explicit racism.

    Religion will do. Everybody in Ulster is white — give or take. (Footballers, Queen’s College Belfast exchange students, restauranteurs, etc.. excepted.) And since the UDF and the Real IRA are neither of them clogging the pews, you don’t have the burden of actual attendance. In this country, the religious divide is basically some v. none.

    That’s the beauty of it — there’s so much to work with. Anything will do — all the crabs in the bucket can be the same color.

    And a political party that is predicated on appealing to the worst in people begins every election cycle half a lap ahead.

  117. 117
    gogol's wife says:

    @Cain:

    You wrote, “That said, the media is in bed with Republicans more than Democrats precisely because they know how to package their talking points.” That is not the reason. The reason is that the Republican program suits the economic interests of the people who own the means of communication. The Democrats have had many talking points over the years, but they do not get parroted 5000 times a day because they don’t suit the masters.

  118. 118
    boss bitch says:

    @PeakVT:

    As long as the Democratic Party honchos don’t enforce some discipline on its rightmost members, the Democratic Party won’t have a unified message. And the honchos won’t enforce discipline because they never think about more than winning the next election.

    If you want to maintain a majority in order to push your party’s agenda then you better win the next election and the one after that and the one after that……. And that means putting up with some bullshit from your own party. And if you believe Will Rogers then I don’t see how party “honchos” can do anything.

  119. 119
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Xenos:

    Conditioning. If they do not speak within the accepted frames the message does not get out at all. People want to be heard, and so they will take a chance to speak the best spin they can come up with within the frame, rather than piss in the wind.

    Maybe. OTOH, adopting Republican framing further erodes the perceived differences between the two parties and it feeds, although obliquely, into the meme that “both sides do it.” That may be more harmful than staying with our framing until it sticks.

  120. 120
    Corner Stone says:

    @Baud:

    I also find it amusing that this whole thread is based upon the supposed excellence in framing of Republicans, who are among the most despised group of people in the country right now.

    Assuming your premise is true, what does that say about the current state of the nation that practically every major policy discussion starts on the Republican end of the field?

  121. 121
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Chris: I hear you. I live in the middle of people who can’t stand my politics or the fact that my family is “different”. I’ve spent alot of years dealing with that unfiltered hate. And being really pissed off and resentful about it. Which has changed precisely nothing. I also harbor no ideas of unicorns farting glitter that I can reach everyone. Not gonna happen,in fact I have a rather long list of people I wouldn’t even approach. But I think there’s alot of folks suffering in silence here. Scared to speak out(and that fear is justified,I know from experience),really misinformed but still reachable(I think my sister is one of these,she listens to my wingnut parents,but is open to me,IF I can provide proof they’re wrong),and financially drained and scared. I think if they realize it’s not ME or you or anyone they see in their commiunity they need to be scared of,things have a shot at changing. Slowly,but I’ll take that over not at all.

  122. 122
    dogwood says:

    @ellenelle:

    whose cause does it further to blame obama when we all know who the real culprits are here? why waste one second’s energy on diverting outrage away from the real cause?

    Political patterns of language and behavior have been developed and solidified over the last 40 years. I don’t have the time, interest or inclination to bash the president when I’m smart enough to know who the enemy is, and he ain’t it. I get the frustration of those who want the pres. to quit using Republican frames, but but i also recognize the irony that they use Republican frames when they speak of him. However, I’ve noticed when Obama does change language, no one on the left picks up on it. A month or so ago I saw him at an event making fun of the Republican pejorative “Obamacare”. He said he liked the term, because it speaks to the truth that Democrats “care” about health care. A bit hokey, but the crowd loved it. If a Rep. pres. signaled that frame it would have spread like wildfire. And that’s the problem. Pundits, columnists, bloggers etc. are writing to impress their peers. Republican writers get positive reinforcement for towing the party line. Democratic writers get attention for being smart, clever and taking it to their own side. Think of some of those pro Obama websites that Democrats make fun of. If they were Republican sites, those bloggers would have a TV gig. You can’t disdain that kind of stuff and hope to appeal to enough voters to forge a majority.

  123. 123
    boss bitch says:

    If the media just did its fucking job, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about messaging. But the media doesn’t even see itself as part of the problem. Call one of them out on Twitter and they get very defensive.

  124. 124
    Baud says:

    @Corner Stone:

    what does that say about the current state of the nation that practically every major policy discussion starts on the Republican end of the field?

    It says that the people who believe that are politically insecure and prone to hyperbole.

  125. 125
    gravie says:

    I’ve been fighting the “entitlement” designation for quite some time now. It’s nice to hear someone else make the case against using it if you believe in those programs.

  126. 126
    agrippa says:

    That article does a good job of describing GOP pattern and practice. It is what the GOP does.
    At the end of the day, that should not matter.
    The Democrats have to get out the vote. Bottom line.

  127. 127
    PeakVT says:

    @boss bitch: And it’s hard to maintain a majority, or get anything done, if 20% of a caucus badmouths the leaders, or votes with the other side, or forces key bills to be watered down to the point of that they’re only marginally effective.

  128. 128
    A Mom Anon says:

    @boss bitch: I said in the run up to the Iraq war that the protests should have been directed at media outlets rather than DC. The politicians get away with their shit because the media enables them. I still believe there should be a shift in activism towards media until shit changes.Yes the corporate overlords hold the pursestrings,but they need to be scared of the people when they lie to us,and they won’t be until we visibly react. Consistantly and regularly.

  129. 129
    Brachiator says:

    A former Republican staffer on the House and Senate budget committees explains how the modern Republican party co-opted low-information white voters who should want to vote for Democrats:

    Apart from the continued insipid snobbery of the supposed “low information voter,” the article misses some key points. The Democrats haven’t just ceded the ground to Republicans, they are not very good at delivering their own message; heck, the Democrats don’t even have a clear message anymore, with some Democrats in Congress opposing the president, or even agreeing with some GOP stances.

    And like it or not, some voters don’t consider abortion and gay marriage and immigration to be side issues. It is odd that the article doesn’t have a clear idea about how this battle is now being fought on the state level, to the Republican’s delight on those states where rights are being rolled back.

    It should be obvious that voters today are not dumber than voters in the past, who supposedly had a clear idea of who the bad guys are. There seems to be a lot of fear and selfishness at play. There are people who eagerly seek out and cling to Fox News and Limbaugh to validate their view of the world.

    Along with all the economic problems we are having, there seems to be an ugly cultural civil war going on.

  130. 130
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @A Mom Anon: Hurling a few trashcans through the windows of those mobile satellite remote trucks, instead of through the windows of the local Starbucks’, or an Abercrombie and Fitch store, wouldn’t hurt.

    Anarchists — can’t even organize the anarchy.

  131. 131
    Bruce S says:

    The “framing” and “better messaging” arguments miss, in my view, the fact that there ARE good Democrats that can do this, but they’re in a minority. It’s not like the language doesn’t exist. It’s the will to use it – or more to the point, actually believing in it.

    The Democrats who actually believe in carrying a fight can do both the talk and the walk. The problem IMHO is that the Democratic Party is a coalition of moderate conservatives (in a time when there is no room for anyone of moderate inclinations in the GOP), of moderate liberals and of authentic liberals. There’s a reason Bernie Sanders, Al Franken or quite a few folks in Congress are effective in putting out a strong message. They actually believe in it. A lot of Democrats don’t. If you want a good example of down-to-earth, aggressive Democratic populism watch the Ed Show. It’s there. Not everyone’s taste – I happen to like O’Donnell and Maddow more – but Ed Schultz is the epitome of what Democrats tend to lack. A guy who could go down to a local bar in Des Moines and hold his own because 45 minutes of talk about hunting and fishing wouldn’t make him uncomfortable, before the issue of government spending or whatever came up.

    Given the current climate, the social fragmentation and precarious fundamentals of the economy, the cultural shifts – decades of deindustrializtion, etc. I don’t think the makeup of the Democratic Party is a “bad thing.” And I’m not making this critque of the Democratic Party as someone from the Left – although I’m strongly liberal on the issues – who imagines we can change the facts of political life in this country by having better consultants.

    We need better consultants and optimal messages, but if we’ve learned anything from the Obama presidency it’s that we shouldn’t imprint our desires on political candidates and imagine they’ll do our work for us, nor should we assume that we are in for anything less than a long struggle to build strength for a liberal agenda from the grassroots, generating a field of stronger congressional candidates by getting experience in local races, making headway where its been lost in “purple” and vulnerable “red” regions, engaging primarily in something other than armchair quarterbacking of whether the President is abiding by our personal agenda rather than accommodating himself to the center-right to center-left coalition that elected him.

    The “problem” of the Democratic party is that it is a very contradictory coalition – which is it’s strength, in that it allows the party to periodically get (weak) majorities in this current climate. The problem is deeper than messaging.

    I honestly think we’ve got to initiate some grass-roots movements around broad liberal fundamentals, with extending electoral victories the goal in the near-term. I had hoped we’d see this energy in the wake of Obama’s election, but OFA was put on a DNC leash. Total missed opportunity. There was no “Organizing for America” that wasn’t place-keeping for the campaign structure needed in 2012. Their right, and the thing was the brainchild of campaign operatives, but I did find the BS facade to be offensive in contacts with them.

    More recently I’ve sat in some meetings for “Rebuild the Dream” and most of the discussion centered around trying to rewrite the agenda in Lakoffian terms, with zip about discussing any creative organizing strategies that could broaden the movement. Again, I’m not expecting much other than a recycling of what hasn’t worked in the past. And not because of “messaging” but of habits and demographics among left-liberals.

    Assuming that better language will solve the problem is questionable, when a bunch of crazy people (with “astroturf” assistance) were able to dominate the media stream for the year-and-a-half leading up to the last election with the worst sort of “messaging” skills. What they had was the gumption to get up off their asses – for which I give them credit. It makes me wonder if, once more, we liberals are living in our heads, trying to think our way out of a problem when the path – nitty-gritty stuff at the local level which is hard work and no fun – is pretty clear.

    I have trouble believing that there aren’t enough issues and anger out there for us to start stirring things up a bit. I feel frustrated because I don’t see any real attempts to do it that aren’t predicated on re-shuffling the existing liberal activist deck with a “rebranding” or imagining there is some gimmick that can make it easier.

    I was very engaged in OFA during ’07 & ’08, and actually believed some social movements would emerge from that. I’m more disappointed in the failure to build from that energy on the ground than I am by what comes out of the White House. The White House beat is not much of a mystery and not worth umbrage or personal rancor. (In fact, most of the stuff that Obama does that I object to in terms of my personal values has been done to placate conservative Democrats in the party coalition. Yes, he has fallen into some rhetorical traps, but I don’t think this is new for him to not depart from the stereotypical rhetoric on basic agenda issues. I think some folks might have thought that because he’s good at “story” and “inspiration” he was some refreshingly singular voice in our politics. But when he talked about stuff like Social Security, he was actually pretty mundane and predictable as a moderately liberal Democrat trying to parse ingrained perceptions rather than challenge them.)

    Although it’s not couched explicitly as such and sounds like I’m pontificating – please treat these comments as a set of questions. I’m trying to figure out how best to use my own energy right now.

  132. 132
    TheWorstPersonInTheWorld says:

    @cathyx:

    You all are ignoring the elephant in the room. Maybe Obama actually believes the republican framing.

    This.

  133. 133
    TheWorstPersonInTheWorld says:

    @boss bitch:

    No. that Obama is some secret Republican is a lie being pushed from parts of the left.

    Hard to argue with the evidence, though.

  134. 134
    Corner Stone says:

    @Baud:

    It says that the people who believe that are politically insecure and prone to hyperbole.

    I’d like to be clear, you’re suggesting the year+ long focus on the deficit, during a stalled recovery, by politicians of both sides is a Democratic platform initiative?

  135. 135
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Bruce S:

    In fact, most of the stuff that Obama does that I object to in terms of my personal values has been done to placate conservative Democrats in the party coalition.

    The next Senate is 51 D+I – 49 R and that 51st senator is Joe “Nighthorse’ Manchin.

    Highly probable. Now what do you do? You don’t have even to be of voting age to recognize the name “Jim Jeffords.”

    I presume the consensus answer is to tell him to fuck off, and go into the righteous minority and use the filibuster….

    Oops — there is no filibuster any more.

  136. 136
    cleek says:

    yay, it’s DOOM & DESPAIR time again!

    one can always count on lefties to fling themselves into bottomless pools of woe-is-us, whenever things get tough.

    if the GOP are such masters of messaging and debate control, how did they manage to lose the Presidency last time round, and why didn’t they win the Senate ? and why are they still fighting the same battles they’ve been fighting for the past 50 years? you’d think such a masterful message machine would have been able to achieve at least some of their goals, in that time. no?

  137. 137
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Yep,sort of. It wouldn’t hurt for some of these assholes on the “news”to be confronted in real life,at the coffee shop or wherever,to stop the damned lying. But in doing that,one needs to have a set of their lies and the facts handy. Just busting shit up makes them sympathetic to the public.Flood their damned switchboards,social media,websites etc with facts,tell them over and over to stop the lying,we KNOW they’re lying. I know some of the higher paid fucks,like Limbaugh and Hannity probably never go anywhere they might even have to encounter regular people,but your local newsheads do. It can be done without ending up in jail too,we have to be clever and smart about it,not random and stupid. You Tube videos of confrontations and other acts wouldn’t hurt either.

  138. 138
    A Mom Anon says:

    @cleek: Not me,I’m a happy clappy liberal,lol. I want to do stuff,not be miserable.

  139. 139
    Baud says:

    @Corner Stone: The Democratic platform issue is that government should function and not induce catastrophic economic collapse during a recession. The Democratic platform is also that Democrats are more responsible when dealing with the deficit than Republicans are. I happen to agree with these views. I admit not everyone does.

  140. 140
    Hal says:

    @TheWorstPersonInTheWorld:

    Hard to argue with the evidence, though.

    And isn’t this completely ignoring all of the utterly non-republican things Obama has done, or endorses?

  141. 141
    MonkeyBoy says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    The middle class doesn’t understand class. The whole point of the middle class is to make class disappear.

    That is the modern consumerist version of the middle class which now seems to be defined in terms of big-ticket possessions such as a washing machine, car, or big-screen TV. The latter may be why people on welfare who have TVs so infuriate the “middle class” because it breaks down class distinctions.

    The traditional definition of middle class were those families wealthy enough to have servants. My grandmother, as a Southern Lady, never did a lick of housework in her life – that is what negros were for. This notion of middle class pretty much died with the civil rights movement though it still exists in the vestigial sense of employing cleaning ladies who visit weekly.

    The old middle class was very class conscious because they needed a servant class. The new middle class is much more inclusive of all but the very poor, but it still seems to need some class to look down on but no longer finds that class useful as servants.

    These notions may upset some people when they realize that their ancestors were not really middle class in the sense of the term that was being used at their times.

    There still are people who employ servants today though if “middle class” was restricted to them then we would observe that the middle class has dramatically shrunk and that most Americans who are proud to be middle class are actually lower class.

  142. 142
    Corner Stone says:

    @cleek:

    how did they manage to lose the Presidency last time round, and why didn’t they win the Senate ?

    They didn’t win the presidency because of Bush fatigue and Obama was a significantly better campaigner than McCain. They didn’t win the Senate because the wingnuts don’t care about taking a couple losses if it moves their larger goal forward. So losing wingnut campaigns in NV and DE for the Senate do not bother them.
    They know they will primary and oust Hatch in UT and win the Senate overall in 2012.
    That’s not gloom and doom, that’s The Math.

  143. 143
    boss bitch says:

    @PeakVT:

    We need them to maintain a majority. I would love to have them neutralized by getting a larger majority in the Senate but I don’t see that happening. Even if they cause problems, they are a thousand times better than a Republican Senate. We’ve seen what happens when Blue Dogs got kicked out of the House.

  144. 144
    Corner Stone says:

    @Baud: I see.

  145. 145
    boss bitch says:

    @TheWorstPersonInTheWorld:

    Hard to argue with the evidence, though.

    No, its not hard to argue with easily debunked lies.

  146. 146
    Davis X. Machina says:

    For most of recorded time, almost to within living memory in the developed world, the middle class, such as it was, was a thin layer of licensed professionals and skilled craftsmen tasked with keeping the upper class rich enough, solvent enough, holy enough, healthy enough, and diverted enough, to rise to their task, every morning — putting the boot to the vast, vast majority of the nation.

    As we use the term, it dates from 1911.

    There’s no necessary reason why we shouldn’t revert to that state of play.

  147. 147
  148. 148
    Corner Stone says:

    @Davis X. Machina: I hadn’t counted on any one challenger. I still lay 75/25 Hatch isn’t the Rep Senate candidate for UT in the 2012 election.

  149. 149
    boss bitch says:

    @A Mom Anon:

    Have you seen this article and video?

    Why Political Coverage is Broken – http://pressthink.org/2011/08/.....is-broken/

  150. 150
    Xenos says:

    @Davis X. Machina: that definition fits the American experience pretty well, but keep in mind the long history of bourgeois struggle against upper classes aligned with a sizable chunk of the poor who are influenced and mobilized by religious authorities. See, eg. St. Bartholemew’s Day massacre.

    We are seeing much older social forms and relationships reasserting themselves.

  151. 151
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @cleek:

    if the GOP are such masters of messaging and debate control, how did they manage to lose the Presidency last time round, and why didn’t they win the Senate ? and why are they still fighting the same battles they’ve been fighting for the past 50 years?

    Here’s the answer to the Senate piece of your question from Wikipedia:

    As in most midterm elections, the party not controlling the White House gained ground. Republicans defeated two Democratic incumbents: Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin; they also won open seats in Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. This was the largest number of Senate gains for the party since the 1994 election and also the first time since that election that they successfully defended all of their own seats. However, Democrats retained a 53-47 majority.

    and why are they still fighting the same battles they’ve been fighting for the past 50 years?

    Because they’re winning those battles? Chip away at the social safety net a little bit here and a little bit there until it’s gone. Make ludicrous compromises on tax policy the price of helping those most affected by the economic crash and then make something as obviously necessary (And usually as mundane) as raising the debt ceiling into a tool for extracting more compromises. It would definitely be wise of them to abandon those 50 year old fights now.

  152. 152
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Bruce S: like i said, GOTV, donate to O’s campaign, fight hard against repub attempts to disenfranchise youth and majority voters.
    nothing else will do a damn bit of good, because of the biology of belief and the genetic and memetic evolution of the GOP.
    the good thing i am starting to believe is that the GOP can nver win another white house.
    do you think the GOP can win a general election without American cities?

  153. 153
    Joel says:

    While this makes the point for populism on some level, you have to consider that a large number of Democratic voters are for stability and the status quo. That means double for the donors. A lot of people out there are mild-tempered, gainfully employed, middle-class people who chafe at borderline violent populist rhetoric. Hell, there are lot of not-employed, not middle-class people, who don’t like scary populist rhetoric, too. These people, the silent majority of sorts, don’t want to roll out the guillotines and they don’t want the left-wing version of McCarthyism.

  154. 154
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Corner Stone: I’ll buy all your Hatches, and at the market.

  155. 155
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Sly: man you are superthick.
    there is no common language they can understand…they dont have the substrate.
    correction of eumemes just increases the salience, because of religiosity, right wing authority tendency, and low information (read low IQ) conservative base members.
    Backfire effect IS ONLY OBSERVED IN CONSERVATIVES.

  156. 156
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Joel: Hence the need for a U6 north of 40% if you want an actual revolution. The level of immiseration needed is hard to imagine in a peacetime, un-invaded, Western capitalist state.

  157. 157
    Samara Morgan says:

    you juicers want to believe that political affiliation is as plastic as your shibboleth version of IQ.
    boo-fucking-hoo.
    it ain’t.

  158. 158
    Corner Stone says:

    @Davis X. Machina: He ain’t making it. They want him gone.

  159. 159
    Corner Stone says:

    @Samara Morgan: Do you ever converse with real people? In actual real life? Like at a grocery store, or coffee shop?

  160. 160
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: She doesn’t converse with people online either.

  161. 161
    karen marie says:

    @Kane: As Lofgren stated, the problem is calling it a “stimulus” bill instead of a “jobs” bill. When you have to explain it, you have a problem.

  162. 162
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Corner Stone: i asked one of my conservative relatives on the western slope why she disliked Obama so much.
    She said it was “because she didnt like the way he was taking the country”.
    I said….what way is that?
    She said, he is against the constitution.
    I said, how exactly?
    what part of the constitution is he against?
    she said he JUST IS.
    end of convo

  163. 163
    Catsy says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    i stand by my prediction.
    Perry/Palin 2012

    We should be so lucky.

    It will never happen.

  164. 164
    ornery says:

    Pretty sure this is Ralph Nader’s fault.

  165. 165
    Sly says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    @Sly: man you are superthick.
    there is no common language they can understand…they dont have the substrate.
    correction of eumemes just increases the salience, because of religiosity, right wing authority tendency, and low information (read low IQ) conservative base members.

    Get the fuck out of an evolutionary psychology classroom and into the real world, for Allah’s sake.

  166. 166
    cleek says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Chip away at the social safety net a little bit here and a little bit there until it’s gone.

    hyperbole doesn’t help.
    it really doesn’t.

  167. 167
    Tonal Crow says:

    Oh noes! Someone’s pointing out that Democratic rhetoric bites Afghan goats! Pillory him, quick!

  168. 168
    Corner Stone says:

    @cleek: You’re an idiot if you can’t see the truth of what Dennis SGMM is saying.
    Fuck you cleek.

  169. 169
    AxelFoley says:

    @ellenelle:

    and then this third: whose cause does it further to blame obama when we all know who the real culprits are here?

    Thank you.

  170. 170
    Yutsano says:

    @Sly:

    Get the fuck out of an evolutionary psychology classroom and into the real world, for Allah’s sake

    I saw what you did there.

  171. 171
    Mnemosyne says:

    I have to admit, I don’t get why calling something the Patient Protection Act is so awful and so hard to defend but Republicans calling it “Obamacare” was, like, totally a stroke of rhetorical genius. Particularly since they recycled it from 1993 (or am I the only one who remembers the Republicans called that Democratic plan “Hillarycare”?)

    You know what the Republicans did to win? They lied. They lied over and over and over again. They said there were “death panels” and that it was a government takeover of healthcare that was going to cut off Grandma’s Medicare, and they got a bunch of terrified seniors to vote them in because of how shamelessly they lied.

    And people here think that giving it a punchier name would have magically immunized it against Republicans lying about it?

    Though I have to agree with dogwood — I think that calling it Obamacare is going to end up biting Republicans in the ass as the PPACA helps more and more people and they start thinking, “Hey, that Obamacare stuff is actually pretty good.”

  172. 172
    Kathleen says:

    @John Weiss: Agree, but I’d take it a step further. They’re willing to pander to hatred and fear and many Americans eat it up. It doesn’t take a genius to do that. Just a very evil gang of bullies.

  173. 173
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You know what the Republicans did to win? They lied. They lied over and over and over again.

    Well. It’s a god damned shame no one ever expected that!

  174. 174
    Mnemosyne says:

    Shorter me: the problem wasn’t that the name was “the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009” — the problem was that the Democrats in Congress passed it and then promptly ran away from it as fast as they could rather than defending it.

  175. 175
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I think that calling it Obamacare is going to end up biting Republicans in the ass as the PPACA helps more and more people and they start thinking, “Hey, that Obamacare stuff is actually pretty good.”

    Ask anyone with a child under 26 who can put their kid on their insurance. Making that go into effect immediately was a master stroke.

  176. 176
    AxelFoley says:

    @rikyrah:

    the Democrats gave up the field?
    really?
    not that the Democrats are strong fighters, but here’s the thing.
    Poor and Working Class White Folks have been voting against their interests—-FOR GENERATIONS.
    they were wrapped up in their ’ Whiteness’.
    sure, things are bad, but at least I’m not a Nigger.
    they’ve been fed that for generations, and still lap it up.
    finding excuse upon excuse for first Southern Democrats, then when they turned into Republicans, Republicans.
    now, we’re at the point – in some places – where the obviousness of the GOP is just slapping them in the face, and they’re FINALLY CATCHING A CLUE, that the GOP has ALWAYS included their asses in talking about ’ those people’.
    they thought ’ those people’ meant Black and Brown people.
    now, that some realize IT’S THEM, they don’t know what to do.
    as I said before, when someone brought this up, and why the left doesn’t always get those folks, because they don’t show ’ sympathy’ to them..
    that they caught a ‘clue’….what…they’re supposed to be coddled?
    fuck them. it’s because of their stupid asses voting for those sociopaths, time after time, that this country is in the shape that it is.
    THEY should be apologizing to US.

    Nothing more needs to be said.

  177. 177
    Bruce S says:

    Nothing more needs to be said.

    Other than that “fuck them” comes off like the definition of “giving up the field.”

  178. 178
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bruce S: AxelFoley has only one candidate come 2012.

  179. 179
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Sly: actually that is from theoretical population genetics, cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology.
    the conservative base does not have the substrate to be able to understand liberal argument, or indeed, any empirical argument from observed data. That is why the republican base is wholly made up of white christian nativists who are creationists and AGW denialists….
    you are wasting your time.

  180. 180
    grandpajohn says:

    @SteveinSC: Amen brother

  181. 181
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Catsy: it might.
    or she might start a 3rd party run.

  182. 182
    Cain says:

    @beltane:

    @Kane: A viral campaign to delegitimize the US media? Chain emails vilifying well-known TV news bobbleheads, including mention of their outrageous salaries, profligate lifestyles and endemic fraternization with corrupt, foreign-owned lobbyists? Our side needs some creative nastiness.

    Seriously, the media should be our target. It would make them squirm. When they start being the news themselves that would be interesting.. take camera pics of them having cocktails and then blog about it. It would be awesome.

  183. 183
    TenguPhule says:

    You know what the Republicans did to win? They lied. They lied over and over and over again. They said there were “death panels” and that it was a government takeover of healthcare that was going to cut off Grandma’s Medicare, and they got a bunch of terrified seniors to vote them in because of how shamelessly they lied.

    Once upon a time we shot fuckers like them for lies less blatent then that.

  184. 184
    AxelFoley says:

    @dogwood:

    Political patterns of language and behavior have been developed and solidified over the last 40 years. I don’t have the time, interest or inclination to bash the president when I’m smart enough to know who the enemy is, and he ain’t it. I get the frustration of those who want the pres. to quit using Republican frames, but but i also recognize the irony that they use Republican frames when they speak of him. However, I’ve noticed when Obama does change language, no one on the left picks up on it. A month or so ago I saw him at an event making fun of the Republican pejorative “Obamacare”. He said he liked the term, because it speaks to the truth that Democrats “care” about health care. A bit hokey, but the crowd loved it. If a Rep. pres. signaled that frame it would have spread like wildfire. And that’s the problem. Pundits, columnists, bloggers etc. are writing to impress their peers. Republican writers get positive reinforcement for towing the party line. Democratic writers get attention for being smart, clever and taking it to their own side. Think of some of those pro Obama websites that Democrats make fun of. If they were Republican sites, those bloggers would have a TV gig. You can’t disdain that kind of stuff and hope to appeal to enough voters to forge a majority.

    This.

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    AxelFoley says:

    @Corner Stone:

    @Bruce S: AxelFoley has only one candidate come 2012.

    Aw, you still love me.

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    ellenelle says:

    @dogwood:

    could not agree more; hard to win against the propaganda machinery in place, led by fox but followed by a cowering lamestream (hate to pick up on palinisms, but this one fits), “liberal” media.

    yet another reason to quit blaming obama; hoping the media get it and run with it is like hoping justice will be served a black man in a mississippi newspaper and courtroom in 1950 – ain’t gonna happen.

  187. 187
    sherparick says:

    A terrific article. Also, one has to wonder if the Republicans win the Presidency and the Congress in 2012 if that will are last sorta free election. I would expect a full bore effort to disenfranchise as many potential Democratic voters as possible while seeking to blame all economic problems on the “Others.”

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