Exposing the Republicans
The Con can't go on
Other than the typical stereotypes such as driving around in a Prius or planting a “Let’s Go Brandon” flag in the front yard, it is usually pretty hard to know our neighbors’ political leanings. Yet, somehow we find ourselves in a society where we Republicans and Democrats see each other as significant threats to our way of life and our view of Democracy. While even the casual observer can see that much of this has been cultivated by the efforts of a small number of influential people, it is the effectiveness of their effort and the associated difficulty in unraveling it all that is hard to comprehend.
These divisive voices have taken America to the point where our politics has devolved into resentment, instinctual rage, and even revenge. Many of us no longer care about actual policies – at best, we only care about whether policy originated from “our side” or the “other side”. American Democracy, even in the halls of our government buildings, has become gang warfare.
In terms of Left vs. Right, conservatives are taking their rhetoric to dangerous new levels by using highly inflammatory talking points against the Left such as stealing the election, wokeness, critical race theory, grooming children, supporting pedophilia, etc. There’s a big difference between thinking that a powerless group is coming after your job or wasting your tax dollars (“welfare queens”, immigrants, and other takers) vs thinking that half the population and half of our government are coming after you, your family, your religion, your democracy, and even your whiteness.
This rhetoric is repeated over and over again by conservative politicians, media, pundits, and think tanks until their base is thoroughly convinced that liberals hate them, freedom, Democracy, and God. Very bad things will happen when one of two major parties is acting like a cult and whose members believe that the other major party is a direct threat to their world.
It is important to understand that threats such as these are much worse than they appear – they are not cases of simple name-calling, they are existential threats that hit our subconscious hard and they are why many on the Right are okay with taking children from parents, book-banning, bounties against educators, attacking our Capitol, and even rising authoritarianism. A deeper look at this can be found here.
Democrats Must Own the Narrative.[this title should go in the generic dem-fix article]
The Right has spent decades slowly handing our Democracy over to the wealthy while strangling the middle/working class of their money and power. The main reason they have gotten away with it is that conservative media has provided them with both cover and scapegoats. Another reason is that mainstream media, instead of defending Democracy, is suffering from bothsidesism, fearing the “liberal media” label, and focusing on shareholder value.
Another reason that the Republicans have had their way with our country is the Democrats themselves who seem unable to reach enough Americans to put Republicans on the defensive (where they belong). If fact, the Democrats seem unwilling to even try. It’s almost as if they think we “get it” or that they are waiting for the Republicans to screw up enough for people to notice. Neither will happen because of the issues with American media pointed out above.
Worse still, the Democrats have an uncanny ability to needlessly push voters away with sloppy rhetoric while giving an endless supply of talking points to Republicans to lure voters in.
Because of all of this, conservative voters have been convinced to go along with the conservative agenda, having no clue about how harmful it has been to our country and 99% of our population. Something needs to change if we are to save Democracy
The Republicans won’t change, conservative media won’t change, and mainstream media won’t change (until it’s too late for them to save themselves from an authoritarian government). The Democrats are the only ones who can be expected to change, and change they must. They need to find ways to reduce the conservative-induced anxiety that is rampant in our society, bring folks back to the table, and help them see that they were betrayed by the Right. Only a small portion of Republican voters will be swayed, but that will be enough with so many elections often won or lost by a narrow margin.
The Republicans must be exposed for what they have done, who they represent, and what they will do to the future of all of us. Likewise, Democrats need to do a better job at explaining themselves. Both efforts need to be worded correctly or they will backfire. What follows are some thoughts and talking points on how to do this.
[Yet, the Republicans have been dangerously effective at painting Democrats as existential threats to America – we need to flip that script.]
Who do Republicans care about?
Conservative policies have caused significant harm to Americans – and we need to be reminded of this every single day. There is plenty to talk about regarding how the Republicans have made a hobby out of coddling the rich, voting against the working class, destroying the environment, etc. Yet, Republicans have been highly effective at painting Democrats as the threat to America – we need to flip that script. Some things to talk about:
- Trickledown economics is the biggest con pulled on Americans in our history and it has created significant damage to our wallets, our planet, and the future of our kids. The Republican alliance with corporations and the wealthy is ripe for attack.
- Republican tax breaks for the wealthy don’t protect our liberties
- Thanks to Republicans the wealthy get a low tax rate while we get a low minimum wage.
- Those Republican tax breaks favor the wealthy but result in government cuts that harm Americans.
- Republicans claim to have our back but they do all they can to make it possible to get ahead.
- Republicans just recently voted against policies that help Americans including oil and gas price gouging, reducing insulin costs, veterans benefits, baby formula supply, COVID vaccine replenishment, etc.
- Republicans have a long history of blocking and even undoing progress on climate change, trying to take away our healthcare, keeping our minimum wage low, etc.
- [Understand and point out the Republican attacks on rural hospitals, rural senior care, etc.]
The Republican “do-nothing” party
The Republicans are highly efficient, organized, and walk in lockstep when it comes to giving the wealthy whatever they want. Likewise, the Republicans are highly efficient, organized, and walk in lockstep when it comes to denying the public what they desperately need.
- Republicans have no interest in leading the country forward or maintaining a level playing field for Americans – they only want power and money.
- We are dealing with climate change, a pandemic, authoritarianism, and war – we don’t need any more Republican obstruction
- The Republicans vote against Americans for the sole purpose of trying to keep Democrats from from helping us
- It’s not “Republicans want Democrats to fail”, it’s “Republicans want Democrats to fail at helping working Americans”
- The words of the GOP divide us while the actions of the GOP serve the 1%
- Republicans return to their states to take credit for Democratic policies that they voted against.
- Republicans rigged the economy in favor of the wealthy and now they are doing the same thing to elections.
- Once some of us lose voting power, we all can
Patriots vs. Traitors
Republicans have long anointed themselves as the only party that is strong enough and serious enough to protect American Democracy. But now, with their authoritarian leanings, they are taking us to a very dangerous place – explain what that will mean for all of us – explain it often. Keep in mind that activities such as fighting the January 6th investigation, minority rule, removing voting rights, attacking personal rights, pushing conspiracy theories, book banning, etc. are perfectly fine with some people so, depending on demographics, specific topics such as these might be good to avoid.
- It needs to be explained that everyone eventually loses under Authoritarianism – while initially appealing to many, it expands its control over more and more people – it always has and it always will – that is what it does.
- Republicans rigged the economy in favor of the wealthy and now they are doing the same thing to elections.
- Once some of us lose voting power, we all can
- Remind folks that the selective application of law will eventually reach them.
- In too many cases, the Right has gone soft on Russia, even as it attacks our Democracy. Remind folks of what Putin is, what he did, and the reach of his money and control in our country – explain that giving Republicans power will give Putin an advantage
- Now we all know why we have NATO – and why Trump wanted us out…
- Trump respects our troops as much as Putin respects Russian troops
- Reminders of KY Senator McConnell and Paul’s business dealings with Oligarchs and the associated resistance to sanctions in 2019
- Republicans are no longer in government to lead – they don’t know how to protect us against threats from Russia and China
- Republicans only want power and they take all the help from Russia that they can get. They help Russia in return.
- Republicans continue to vote against support for veterans
- There needs to be pushback against the “socialism” claims from the Right. Likewise, the Left needs to stop embracing aspects of it. At one point, Democracy and capitalism were working just fine for the middle class – before conservatives and corporatists broke it – that’s the message. Why push for something new when we can point out that we had it right until the conservatives took over.
- America had some serious mojo before the Republicans let corporations control our government
- A government that protects its people from profiteering and pollution is not Socialism… its’ Democracy
- Wanting a government that represents the will of the people is not Socialism… it’s Democracy
- Who doesn’t like patriotism? Many people think Democrats don’t like patriotism. It’s ok to wrap Democratic policies and ideas in Patriotism
- Restoring jobs in Rural America and on Main Street is patriotic – and that’s what we’re gonna do
- There is nothing more patriotic than getting money out off politics.
- Republicans don’t protect the Constitution for you, they exploit it for billionaires.
Use more emotion/passion when discussing policy and especially when pointing out the damage caused by Republicans. Wrap Democratic policies and ideals in patriotism (reminder: this does not include discussions about an inclusive society – not at this point). Democrats need to (continuously) use what the GOP gives them:
A recent example of the above is the sudden Republican about-face and vote against the PACT Act for Veterans (along with their idiotic fist bump). The Left was relentless in shaming what the Right had done and exposed the lies used to justify their action. A few days later there was a revote and the Republicans caved. Do that again, Democrats…
If the Democrats want to pull voters back from the Right or engage frustrated voters then they need to show that there is a way out of this mess. Democrats need to not only say, but show, that they are willing to take on the Republican/corporate alliance – some thoughts:
- Americans hate corruption. While corruption influences both Democrats and Republicans, voters need to be reminded that conservatives “live corruption” and their stacked Supreme Court have enabled much of it.
- Always use emotion and patriotism when talking about how corporate America is attacking us and exploiting our wallets, our health, and our planet.
- Hold public hearings – pull in corporate execs and lower-level corporate managers. Go after price gouging, health insurance costs, pollution, monopolies, sending jobs overseas
- Pass legislation to go after corporatism – it doesn’t matter if won’t pass in the Senate – make the Republicans continue to vote against Americans (and make sure Americans know about it – over and over and over again).
- We need two “moon shots” – America needs to take an obvious leadership position on fighting climate change and creating a truly biodegradable “plastic”. Don’t bury these in legislation – bring them out front and center for everyone to see.
It’s ok to stoke fear and anger, not only because this will drive voters to get out and vote, but because there really is plenty to be fearful and angry about. Especially make the fear and anger about things that purple-district voters care about and can relate to. Don’t make anything up – there’s no need to.
Speaking of fear, climate change should be discussed more often. Many red states and rural areas have been hit hard by extreme weather or droughts in recent years and there are plenty of local climate-related disasters for all people to commiserate about and hopefully vote to fix. Climate Change may not poll all that high at the moment, but that could be because it is not getting the steady drum beat from Democrats and mainstream media that it deserves. Either way, it is on the minds of most of us, whether we realize it or not…
It’s important to understand that Conservatives are comforted by heritage and tradition and they feel safer in a system of patriarchal and hierarchical authority. Because of this, they are less comfortable with change. Conversely, Liberal candidates and politicians, especially Progressives, embrace and push for “big ideas” or “transformative changes” and the “Progressive Agenda.” While there may be nothing inherently wrong with sweeping changes, they are extremely intimidating to many Conservatives at a subconscious level. At the same time, they are not legislatively realistic goals for the Left to pursue and are usually only added to the pile of unkept promises. It is important to remember that fear beats reason almost every time so explaining why a “sweeping change” is needed will fall on deaf ears. Different wording is required to prevent Conservatives from thinking the Liberals want to chuck everything out the window.
- Don’t simply tell folks that we need change, instead, remind folks that America is always changing and adapting and that is why we have always been strong:
- America has a long history of getting things right and making things better.
- We didn’t become the greatest Democracy in history by sitting on our hands and letting other countries pass us by. America has always been ahead of the curve.
- We led the industrial revolution, we saved the world from Fascism in WWII, we were the first to the moon, and now we are going to lead the effort to save our planet.
- Avoid threatening and unachievable policy rhetoric such as “free education for all”
- Reframe policies as efforts to continue our traditions and heritage as leaders in a changing world:
- We’ve led the world for many generations and this Green Energy bill will keep us in the driver’s seat where we belong.
- We have worked hard to create the best medical technology in the world – now it’s time that all of us get to benefit from it.
- Avoid words that imply sudden and significant change as they will create a vision of a future that is unfamiliar and undefined in many people’s minds. Don’t convince people that you are trying to change their world:
- We can do this differently for different regions of the country – whatever makes sense for folks
- We’re gonna roll this out over ten years
Democrats often make things worse as their campaign rhetoric and policy descriptions can often unnecessarily activate conservative fear-triggers, pushing them away. This, of course, is also turned into soundbites by conservatives to further the damage. Even by simply providing countering facts, challenging beliefs, or pointing out the failings of adored leaders we can easily make people dig in their heels and increase our divide.
For the near term, talking to the Right about things such as abortion and immigration won’t change anyone’s mind – their minds are made up so there is nothing to gain but there is plenty to lose through triggering. This does not mean to imply that these topics are unimportant, but depending on the demographics of the audience some things are best to avoid. If the polls are correct, then abortion can be a safe topic when discussed within a context that has broader appeal: health of the mother, rape, incest, increasingly losing our rights, etc. Again, there is much more to the issue of abortion (a woman’s control of her own body), but all of this is about easing (not forcing) more people back to the table. Once this is done then topics such as abortion and an inclusive society can get the level of discussion and action that they so rightly deserve.
These are just a few of many resources available to learn more about our psychology and our politics
- A very good starting place
- The physiology of anxiety
- By using our fear of death, psychologists can predictably control who we will vote for
- A significant number of interviews with thought leaders provided by the Hub of New Ideas (Especially Episode 2 on Bigotry and Episode 12 on Self-Esteem)
- How fear increases climate denial
- A deep dive into our Fears and how it controls us
- A random sampling of the many articles on the web
- Eric Hoffer quotations
- One of many examples of cultivating fear
- This has all happened before
- And it is happening again…