It never ceases to confound me, dear readers, how on earth Republicans keep losing America’s propaganda war.
How do we know they’re losing in the public’s perception? Easy.
Ask yourself: when was the last time you freely discussed any conservative or even moderate political view with friends at work, or on campus, or in public, or at a large social gathering — without hedging your every word? When? Can you identify a single recent instance when you felt your conservative or even moderate views would be tolerated without provoking name-calling or public shaming into the nearest corner of societal oblivion?
Everywhere one goes, save conservative websites, Republicans are widely connoted with tinges of racism, hate, selfishness, greed, war-mongering, and conspiratorial theocratic designs against democracy. Fox News has some opinion shows that try to give an ounce of conservative balance to the airwaves and they’ve paid for it with an all out war declared against them by leftist activists.
And, honey, any way one chooses to slice, dice, puree, or grind to bits this reality, it spells one thing for the Democrats: VICTORY.
Democrats are nearly ubiquitously perceived – key word, “perceived” — as anti-racist, loving, un-selfish, generous, peace-making and unfailingly tolerant of all religions and all cultures. When conservatives outnumber liberals 2 to 1 among the electorate, and yet liberal views have achieved such dominance that they are perceived as dominant even in private settings, then Republicans are not only losing the propaganda war, they are all but missing in action.
How to fix this? First, fully identify the problem.
Towards that goal, here is my top-5 list of why Republicans keep losing the propaganda war.
5. Modern media favors perception over reality, charisma over intelligence, and personality over character. Republicans remain the party dominated by reality, intelligent reason, and high character; they lose.
While many conservatives tend to focus entirely on leftist media bias as the primary reason Republicans lose so many public-perception contests, this is actually only a fraction of the far more serious problem.
The bedrock problem isn’t bias. Opinion research demonstrates again and again that Americans have been exceptionally resilient against vigorous liberal indoctrination on some fundamental issues. With a near-complete media bias promoting abortion “rights,” the American public remains a nation favoring legalized abortion only under certain circumstances or not at all. With a 150-year bombardment by academia promoting the theory of godless evolution — pure Darwinism — Americans are defiantly pro-God as the divine “designer.” With a 40-year attack on the institution of marriage, a bare majority of voters in the past few years has come to favor same-sex unions sanctioned by the state. Christianity is routinely bashed in liberal media, yet 78.4% of Americans still self-identify as Christian. Bias isn’t winning nearly as many arguments as is widely assumed.
It isn’t merely liberal bias that’s helping Democrats but the very medium in which ideas are spread to vast numbers of Americans. Whether it is television news or entertainment, or whether movies or music or even the magazine format, national arguments take place more and more impersonally in formats given to dramatic license. Today there is less and less face-to-face among friends and family. The more we have shifted as a society towards mass media, the more politics has become a popularity contest instead of a fair fight of ideas.
Democrats first recognized the power of the medium when young, charismatic John F. Kennedy debated old, gnarly Richard Nixon on television in 1960. Since that very day, it has been entirely necessary for Republicans to field candidates with not only real substance, intelligence, and character, but also the hard-to-define charisma that translates to popular appeal. But Republicans often ignore this essential demand of the modern era and put forth candidates who don’t stand a chance in the media spotlight.
It is simply no longer enough to be reality-based, intelligent, and moral. To win, modern Republicans must have it all, including media presence and charisma.
But liberal bias does stack the deck profoundly towards Democrats being able to field candidates with none of the essential reality, intelligence, and high character, as long as they possess the façade of charisma. Hence, we have President Barack Obama, in large part because his opponent possessed no media skills whatsoever.
This is reality. And Republicans must adhere to it or perish.
4. When openly mocked and ridiculed, Republicans are stymied.
The most shocking example of Republican ignorance I’ve ever seen occurred in September 2008 in an exchange between candidate John McCain and Whoopi Goldberg on The View. McCain wasn’t doing too badly — not well, but not horribly – until Goldberg, with theatrical hyperventilation, fanning the sudden sweat from her frightened face, asked candidate McCain if his nominating strict Constitutionalist judges to the Supreme Court would mean that she should start worrying about having to be a slave again.
McCain got that sickening caught-with-my-pants-down look on his face and mumbled something about understanding why such a thought would frighten Ms. Goldberg…the interview was then abruptly ended with McCain still looking like the loser he was.
So, why wasn’t McCain quick enough on his feet to respond in an amiable manner with something like this:
Ms. Goldberg, you can’t possibly be that ignorant regarding the U.S. Constitution. Surely, you remember your 7th grade civics well enough to know that all amendments to our constitution have absolutely equal weight with the original document itself and that the 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, bars all forms of slavery. I understand that as a comedienne it is your habit to make jokes, but do you really think it is wise to mock our constitution and spread falsehood and fear on national television — especially at an hour when children could indeed be watching?
Instead, McCain’s pitiful surrender to Goldberg’s propaganda ploy allowed the audience to conflate the original topic of Roe v. Wade (a Supreme Court decision) with a ratified amendment to the constitution. It was a moment that will live in American civics infamy.
Until Republicans understand that that the Left lies with full intent to destroy America as we know it, the GOP will remain rhetorical road kill.
3. Many Republicans don’t understand the Left’s value system and make the horrible mistake of projecting their own conservative values onto their opponents.
In modern America liberals and conservatives hold to vastly different value systems. This fact is borne out by the General Social Survey (GSS). The study has been conducted yearly since 1972 by the National Opinion Research Center, founded in 1941 and headquartered at the University of Chicago. The GSS is the largest project funded by the Sociology Program of the National Science Foundation. Except for the U.S. Census, the GSS is the most frequently analyzed source of information in the social sciences.
Year after year, the GSS confirms that by and large modern liberals are less charitable, less honest, less hard-working, and less reliable to their friends, families, and co-workers. By the same token, liberals are far more likely to believe that success is the product of luck rather than work and personal sacrifice. Liberals are far more focused on money than conservatives and the liberal focus on others’ perceived greed is a reflection of their own envy. Liberals are far less likely to volunteer their time to help others, in both public and in private among family. Liberals lie, cheat, and steal at far higher rates than conservatives and tend to excuse themselves with bad-luck or rigged-system arguments.
These widely varied value systems among liberals and conservatives seem to stem from a few very basic internalized attitudes towards life, especially concerning good and evil.
From Peter Schweizer’s book Makers and Takers, which heavily relies on the GSS, we glean this fundamental difference between the modern liberal and his conservative counterpart:
Only 23 percent of those who call themselves “very liberal” say that there are objective guidelines about what is good and evil, compared with 62 percent of conservatives. Only 40 percent of liberals consider God very important in their lives, compared with 70 percent of conservatives.
From Arthur C. Brooks’ book Who Really Cares, which also draws on the GSS, we learn that conservatives — regardless of income or education — are far more likely to give both their money and time to charitable causes. Using GSS data, Brooks was able to pin down the two basic definitive differences that lay the foundation for generous charitable giving: going to church every week and believing in one’s personal responsibility (as opposed to the government’s) to help the needy.
In other words, for liberals the state is their church substitute. As they are inclined towards rejecting set guidelines of good and evil, they generally feel satisfied with themselves if they verbally and electorally support government “charity” as opposed to actually giving it themselves.
When a Republican argues with reason against government waste and profligacy, he has both feet planted in civics, while his Democrat opponent thinks he is arguing from the secular equivalent of a church pulpit.
Without knowing these fundamental differences between liberal values and conservative values, Republicans are always on the losing end of every rhetorical battle.
2. Republicans don’t know how to use their yang in the Democrats’ yin-dominated politics. When hit with a Democrat hissy-fit, Republicans cower like whipped dogs.
The overt feminization of the Democratic Party over the past 40 years has resulted in a politics dominated by emotionalism. The emotional tactics used by modern Democrats in the political arena have been developed by women over millennia in the battle between the sexes.
Faced with brutish environments, where brawn was the chief bargainer in all realms, females learned to use what they had to get their own way. Since fighting it out physically was an always-losing proposition for women, they developed emotional tactics to leverage power. A great deal of what aware conservatives recognize as Alinskyite methodology is actually just a new spin on old-as-the-hills female wiles.
Alinsky tactics rule #3: Wherever possible, go outside the experience of the enemy.
American civics has traditionally been dominated by reason and rational argument, minus an emotional component. This, then, defines the political experience realm. Reason absent emotion is still a realm we more often associate with men than with women.
All male readers who have ever been in a cohabitating relationship with a woman should recognize this power tactic:
Man to woman: “Sweetheart, I understand you really want the $5,000 sofa, but we simply can’t afford it. You know that. We need to find an $800 sofa so we can still pay for the food.”
Woman to man: “You don’t really love me.”
He’s using the facts; she is using emotion. This emotional tactic throws the argument into another realm entirely, confuses the man, and often leaves the woman walking out of the store with the $5,000 sofa, while the man is scratching his head wondering how in the heck they are going to pay the credit card bill and still feed themselves.
This same scenario gets played out ad nauseum in our modern political arguments over government budgets. Because American political wars are fought with words, not fists, age-old female power tactics have enormous power.
Paul Ryan, the Republican, sees the coming debt train wreck and uses logic to draw up a real plan and publicly goes to bat for it. In response, the liberal group, Agenda Project, ran ads showing a Paul Ryan lookalike pushing granny over a cliff in a wheelchair.
Same argument. Same female tactic.
When faced with unpleasant numerical facts, Democrats employ emotional blackmail. Republicans throw their hands up in the air. Decades of this hissy-fit budget bashing have got us where we are today.
Winning these fights requires shaming the emotional blackmailers for their underhanded, deceptive tactics. Republicans don’t even know how they’re being confused, much less how to shame their enemies.
1. Many Republicans have undiagnosed Stockholm Syndrome.
In the mouths of modern Democrats, words have become the rhetorical equivalent of cattle prods.
When push comes to shove and Democrats are losing, they inevitably pick up the nearest rhetorical cattle prod and aim it at their victims: Racist! War-monger! Selfish beast! Homophobe! Misogynist! Islamophobe! Child-hater! Ignoramus! Science-hating-idiot! Religious nutcase! Redneck!…you know these cattle prods, dear readers, and see them in constant use not only in public on the airwaves but in private conservations with liberal friends, co-workers, and family members.
When one side of a philosophical divide is willing to employ such bully tactics with ferocious tenacity, the other side understandably — quite humanly — begins to psychologically identify with their abusers, just as hostages come to identify with their kidnappers and abused spouses come to identify with their abuser. This phenomenon, called Stockholm Syndrome, now afflicts many Republicans and forces them into a defensive, fetal-like position more often than we would ever like to admit.
These rhetorical cattle prods have been so successful in reducing Republicans to psychological mincemeat that they even resulted in the Bush-ordained “compassionate conservatism,” which nearly killed off fiscal reason. An entire political platform and the wild government spending spree that sprang from it was built around conservatives’ massive case of Stockholm Syndrome. Republicans have begun to believe that the Democrats are right about conservatives and many of them will go to outlandish lengths to show solidarity with the abusers’ aims.
Until Republicans can self-diagnose this widespread disorder, they will continue to be bullied in the propaganda war.
And recognizing the problem, as psychologists tell us, is the first step on the road to recovery.