Most days it feels like the entire GOP strategy is to negate the Democrats rather than make a case for themselves. This has pretty much been the case since Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich completely took over the messaging for the party in 1994 after they won back the Congress for the first time in 40 years. To be fair, it was miraculous. 1994 was the first and only time that Americans self-identified as Republicans in commensurate numbers to Democrats. And since then they’ve convinced everyone who doesn’t actually read polls that more people are conservative and there are more Red Team members than Blue Team members (and that’s the way it ought to be by the grace of God).
But Jesus, they didn’t do it the age old way of creating loyal Republicans by creating programs and policies that served people and made those people into grateful lifelong Republicans. No, the Luntz/Gingrich way was to puff ones self up as defenders of western civilization and the American way while denigrating the other side as “bizarre, demented, unAmerican, savages” – actual poll tested terms they used over and over again to characterize Democrats.
The actual nuts and bolts of utilizing this language was to take something a Democrat said – whether it’s an actual office holder or just a civilian supporter, whether the thing said is actually a meaty policy pronouncement or just an off the cuff remark – and then comment on what was said as if it was a totally outrageous thing to say that should be apologized for by the speaker and denounced by other Democrats in no uncertain terms.
It’s a pretty straightforwardly manipulative political strategy that got them great traction for 30 years. When utilized by a master of bullshit like Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh it can even be effective in massaging the debate for the low information voter, and the low information media for that matter.
But it’s lead them down a rabbit hole where the new generation of Republicans that have grown up thinking this is how politics should be have substituted this strategy of concocting outrage over actual public service.
So elected officials all over the country are engaging in this kind of waste of time bullshit:
Colorado Dems endorse welfare recipients using their EBT cards to buy pot. You can’t use welfare or food stamps to buy pot. Nobody thinks that would be a good idea. It’s a silly assertion. But a Republican heard somewhere that people were doing this, was outraged, and decided that legislation was in order – at the very least to make anybody against such legislation look like “bizarre, demented, unAmerican, savages”.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of NY essentially says that the kind of extreme conservative candidates that could win races in other states could not win in NY and the mighty bullshit Wurlitzer spins that to “conservatives should leave New York” and a week of conservative outrage. Sean Hannity says he might leave NY. It’s all about what they said he said, not what he actually said.
Hilariously, Cal Thomas, one of the whitest and angriest of the legion of angry white males said this in his denunciation of what they believe Cuomo said:
If either of these statements had been made by a Republican, the reaction from the left would be predictable. There isn’t enough space to list the names that Republicans would be called. At a minimum, there would be demands for an apology and at a maximum calls to resign from office…
During the Vietnam anti-war protests, conservatives developed a slogan that appeared on some car bumpers: “America: Love it or leave it.” Liberals responded that loving America also meant opposing policies of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, which they believed harmed the country. They were right.
Conservatives were wrong then to suggest people who disagreed with them should leave America and Gov. Cuomo is wrong now when he says — in or out of “context” — there is no place in New York for conservatives who oppose his social and political positions.
So add that to the parade of “things conservatives admit they were wrong about 20 years later, while asserting new things they will have to admit they were wrong about 20 years from now.”