Saturday, February 21, 2009

Republican Message Mangling

One big problem Republicans face is their lack of message discipline.  That was always a key weapon of theirs, but they've long since abandoned it and go for whatever argument sounds good at the moment, even if it contradicts everything else they just said.

And we see this with the stimulus law.  Half the time they're referring to it as "Generational Theft" and the rest of the time they're talking about how they're personally paying to bailout their neighbors.  But you can't have it both ways.  Either our grandkids are paying for this, or we're paying for it.  And seeing as how we walked into this with ballooning deficits, it's quite obvious we're not paying for this and were already "stealing" from our grandkids.

And their whole point is entirely undermined by the complete lack of concern Republicans had for deficits throughout the Bush Presidency.  Their annoying "small government" rhetoric only worked when there was no real-world examples to undermine them.  Somehow, Republicans still think they can create their own reality, when there's already one in place that entirely contradicts them.  They had no problem with letting our grandkids pay for our wars in Iraq or tax cuts for our rich.  It's only when the money might do some good that they suddenly kick up a fury.

The Extremist Appeal to Moderates

And so we still seem them living in a fantasyworld where it's smart to deny unemployment benefits to your constituents and punish moderate Republicans for living in reality.  Hardline conservativism was never popular and only worked back before the moderates realized how hardline the Republican Party had become.  The political theory which stated that going extremist would pull moderates in their direction was always a completely braindead strategy that had no chance of being correct, and was only meant to appeal to far-right extremists who want to imagine they're in the majority.  

But it could only backfire because, as it turns out, most moderates aren't braindead sheep unable to make up their minds.  They're actually as firm in their moderateness as the liberals and conservatives are in their positions.  It wasn't wishy-washiness that puts them in the middle.  It's a firm belief that the middle is the place to be.  And so hardline extremism was only going to offend them.  And the further Republicans pull to the right, the more they were going to be rejected.  This was as predictable as sunrise.

And it only makes matters worse if all your arguments are counter-intuitive, anti-empirical, and contradictory.  When Republicans ascended in 1994, it was based upon a "common sense" appeal that was difficult to disprove.  Since then, Republicans have had to embrace such a tortured worldview that it's almost impossible for a non-believer to even understand what they're trying to say.  I'm quite convinced that even they don't know what their point is most of the time.  They just keep riffing on the same tired rhetoric they've been repeating for two decades and hope it's still relevant.  It's not.

Perhaps some day modern Republicans will remember why Bush originally went with the "Compassionate Conservative" schtick, before screwing things up with his "My Way or the Highway" routine.  Or perhaps they'll just continue on the road to political irrelevance.  Either way, we win.


Anonymous said...

Something about the Overton window, though, may be worth recognizing.

Anonymous said...

Some may think that we have Dick Cheney's imprimateur to put it on the tab because of his statement, "deficits don't matter." That was taken out of context, though. The full quote is "deficits don't matter when the money is used to torture and kill Muslims."

BTW, is it just me or do all the word verifications sound like they're Spanish?