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May 19, 2005

Why Should People Care?

-- by Dave Johnson

A Republic not a Democracy,

So that has what the United States has become. We have become a banana Republic. We are packing the courts and letting the courts pick Presidents and letting the legislature bend over backwards to suit the Presidency instead of acting as a separate representative body of government. We are producing an executive that holds secret military tribunals in extraterritorial areas to evade judicial oversight and violating legislatively ratified international treaties. We have a legislature that has proven itself incapable of restraining the executive's ability to make war, not once now but consistently over a period of many years. That we can manage to do so and manage to go against the popular will at the same time is a deep sign of the corruption and decay of the Republic.
But the question is, how do we explain this to mainstream Americans in ways they will understand and care?

What does this mean to regular people's daily lives? If it means we're going to invade more countries to take their oil, or that we're going to borrow ever more money to make the economy appear prosperous, or even persecute more minorities, I fear that the ones getting the oil and appearing to be prosperous, and doing the persecuting aren't really going to care that much, and might even enjoy it. As long as they don't think it harms them.

So, comments please. How will the end of democracy and representative government -- and that is exactly what is happening here, make no mistake about it, these people believe that democracy is an affront to rule by God's wishes -- be bad for the majority of Americans? How does it harm their interests in ways they can feel?

Update - After posting that I was driving to the office (that pesky day job thing) and a woman calls into Rush, and is CRYING about how "unfair" it is that the Democrats are obstructing this poor woman from becoming a judge! Yesterday, on the Senate floor, Senator Hutchinson was CRYING about how "unfair" it is that the Democrats are obstructing this poor woman from becoming a judge.

In other words, the Right has tested "unfair," and they know it makes an emotional connection with their target demographic. They aren't arguing details and facts and technicalities, they are making an emotional connection with the people they are targeting. Let me repeat that. They aren't arguing details and facts and technicalities, they are making an emotional connection with the people they are targeting.

They are making their audience care about this.

How do we phrase all of this in ways that connect with those parts of the public we need to reach? Comments, please.

Posted by Dave Johnson at May 19, 2005 10:06 AM

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Comments

The far right has the entire country running like a herd of sheep with a collie at their heels. The point of this whole thing about the Senate filibuster is -- the elections coming up in 2006 for the House of Representatives, lots of local and state officials, and some Senators. I'd bet my life that Bush doesn't give a damn about this handful of judicial nominations; for each one the Democrats don't want, you can count on it that Bush knows at least 50 potential nominees he'd accept and so would the Democrats. The "whining" Democrats are to be seen as blocking everything the Republicans want to do. You can see this in the way they name their plans. Frist is calling the bill to end the filibuster the "fairness" bill.

The problem is that so far we don't come up with anything but short-term reactions to each stage of their long-range strategy, and we don't have any long-range strategy of our own. It's not as though we haven't known exactly what's coming for five years now. Where are our strategists? What we're doing and the way we're reacting just isn't going to work, even though every issue we fight is valid. All we do is react to their long-term plans exactly the way they want us to react. When I was studying social psychology I learned that the most powerful tool is "disappointed expectations." We've got to give them some kind of really big shock they don't expect and get the upper hand for a change.

Posted by: MJ at May 19, 2005 10:12 AM

"...Ha! you see this?
(indicates the grafitti, 'who watches the watchmen')
I've seen that written up all during the last two weeks! they don't like us and they don't TRUST us!"
"This whole situation..it's Horrible.."
"Well me, i kinda LIKE it when things get weird, y'know? I like it when all the CARDS are on the table."
..."but this country's DISINTEGRATING. What 's happened to the American DREAM?

"It came true. You're lookin at it. Now C'MON...Let's really put these jokers through some changes"...

watch your backs indeed.

Posted by: eddie blake at May 19, 2005 8:00 PM

This is really a question of marketing. The GOP has known that for getting on 50 years. So Step One if for the Democrats to realize this. Step Two is to counter it with some marketing of their own.

We have to make our truths as snappy and memorable as their lies. It can be done -- look at the Daily Show, or Chris Rock. You have to think in terms of cappers -- that's what people remember. You can back them up with facts (i.e the setup) -- but that has to be punchy, too.

I would suggest that you transfer what it is the GOP is doing to a context people encounter in their everyday lives. For example -- picture a well-dressed woman in a supermarket checkout line. The cashier rings up, say, $250 dollars in groceries. Woman turns to the total stranger behind her in the line -- let's make him a teenager in a fast-food uniform holding a bottle of soda -- and says, "Would you mind getting this? Thanks." She immediately walks away with the groceries, while the kid calls after her, "Hey, I don't have 250 bucks-- I don't even know you! Hey! Come back here!"

Narrator, or caption: "You know this is wrong here..." Dissolve on a newspaper headline: "Bush tax cuts overwhelmingly favor the wealthy" or something comparable. Narrator, or caption: "...so why is it okay here?"

Or something like that...

I'd like to see Democratic Party infomercials. I saw someone hawking a book of alternative medicines where they savaged the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA for being in bed together. That's more real policy than you see brought up on CNN. So why not buy 30 minutes to showcase Howard Dean -- he's charming, articulate, informed. But to a lot of America, he's that guy that screamed.

This is not to say we become glib and flashy. There still needs to be substance behind everything we say or do. We have plenty of steak. What we're missing is sizzle. There is nothing wrong with our policies. Most people, apparently, agree with them. But they don't know they agree with them because they never hear about them.

We have to stop thinking in terms of elections and campaigns. That's not where the game is played anymore. The GOP is at least 20 years ahead of us on this. We can catch up, but to do that, we have to get started

Posted by: Roddy McCorley at May 20, 2005 9:19 AM

I care, and it doesn't take a radio jockey or a preacher to make me care. My son just spent a year in Iraq- so yea I care on a gut level. I care because now I don't dare change jobs for fear of losing health insurance- can't afford to go bankrupt over a medical bill, I care because my government quietly has started killing the wild horses instead of adopting them out, I care because I do not want to see the Valle Vidal drilled or Anwar drilled, I care because I think I have a right to go to court and sue for damages and that a corporation's insurance cost is an issue between them and their insurance industry, not a reason to abridge my rights as an individual, I care because I watched Now on PBS and now it's 5 million for the WSJ editorial ( old dried up rich white boy club)board, I care because my tax dollars go to pay for the president's Social security tour to handpicked cheerleaders( what a damn coward), I care because now they are passing a law to discriminate against women in the military and keep them from jobs they already have, I care because I have read that Priscilla Owen ruled for the corporations each and every time in 176 cases, I care because Janice Brown does not believe in judicial precedent or the supremacy clause, I care because I know the judicial nominee fillibuster is only the first to go-just wait, I care because we have no idea if our votes are counted or not and no way to audit the process, I care because I know there is not a network of progressive institutes foundations funded royally by a billionaires club, I care because I am not a fundamentalist and do not wish to ruled by such, I care because I don't believe that personhood begins at conception( and I defy anyone to prove it doesi.e. it is about belief not scientific fact), I care because I need for social security to be there(intact) and so do my children and pension obligations should not be a disposable commodity, I care because privatization of all public functions is a total disaster, government is not business and never will be, I care because I refuse to be the "3 little monkeys"-I don't like being treated as if I am a stupid moron by my government and I don't need them to tell me what, how when and where to jump, I don't need to have a "strong" leader because I am so afraid. The last thing I am afraid of is terrorists--but bible thumping legislatures are a scary sight to behold. That's why I care. My parents had a sane America- I live in a zoo where there is no common sense.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 20, 2005 1:28 PM

Dave, I agree that people have to be hit on an emotional level. The Republicans have been doing this all along using fear, distrust and the illusion of patriotism. How about we use some truth. How about if we start fighting fire with fire. They have been demonizing the Democrats, questioning their patriotism, calling them terrorists, cowards, etc. Why don't we use their tactics by stating how Bush must think the people so stupid not to realize how he lied to them. Point out that 9/11 happened ON HIS WATCH and that not one person has been held accountable for the blunders that allowed this to happen in the first place. Point out that he felt it was more important to complete his photo op at the school than to take action on 9/11. How about the fact that he sent people back into the area without checking out the safety which resulted in many people becoming sick (and they are still sick). How about that he has been good friends with the bin Laden family and when planes were not allowed to fly, arrangements were made to fly over 100 members of the bin Laden family out of the country BEFORE THEY COULD BE QUESTIONED. How about confronting the fact that we are now holding and torturing American citizens without charges and without access to legal counsel which is against the Constitution. How about hitting him with the fact of the blatent illegalities performed by the Republican party during the elections in 2000 and again in 2004. There are so many things that have never been confronted or investigated honestly. Why not?? We certainly can't depend on the corporate news media who are owned by the same large corporations that backed Bush. We can't even count on many of the Democrats in Congress who have been cowed by the Republicans. There are some true investigators left such as Amy Goodman at Democracy Now which can be seen on Free Speech TV but not many people even know about her. There is Greg Palast who cannot get his investigative reports printed in the US and has since moved to BBC in order to report the real news. The problem is that Bush is responsible for 9/11 but instead of taking the responsibility he has used 9/11 to terrify the public into following him agenda. This has to be brought out. Let the people know that that little smirk that is always on his face is there because he knows he is fooling most of the people all of the time. Change the terror that people are living under into anger at Bush and his cronies. Hit him hard and hit him often because we need to go after the administration as well as most of the news media and especially FOX. Once we change the fear to righteous anger and indignation, they won't be able to get away with another election where people are "purged", voting machines made by Republican supporters, Republicans interferring with the counting of the votes or having too few machines in Democratic areas. Fearful people put up with that, angry people won't.

Posted by: Jane Algozzini at May 23, 2005 10:55 AM

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