Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Fear Sells

In another chapter in the ongoing debate about whether we will scare off moderates with strident liberal rhetoric I must note Kevin’s post on Calpundit about the marketing of ideas and the politics of fear. If you read the article by Chris Mooney to which he links you see that it is about framing ideas. It's interesting in and of itself.

But then Kevin hurls a zinger at the misplaced idea that only a positive message will work.

It's true that doom-and-gloom messages by themselves don't sell, but something similarly negative does: fear. And it sells big.

Not fear of things like eventual environmental collapse (she's right about that), but fear of people. Conservatives have very successfully gained ground by convincing moderate swing voters to be afraid of liberals: liberals "blame America first," they have contempt for traditional values, they are atheists, they're soft on child molesters, etc. etc. These are not people who should be in control of our government…

Fear sells…

I could not agree more. It works and it works well. And, there is nothing more important than taking back the realm of what is considered “normal” in political discourse in this country. "Permissive liberals” have been so successfully demonized many have actually stopped calling themselves that. They have even made us believe that our ideas are offensive.

I would once more like to point out that there is no evidence that the vast majority of Americans are as conservative as the right wing ranters like to pretend. At least by any definition of conservative I’ve ever known. For instance, this survey found that 70% of employees admit to viewing or sending adult-oriented personal e-mail at work.

According to U.S. News & World Report, March 2000, the pornography industry brought in revenues of $8,000,000,000 (8Billion) in the year 1999. That exceeds the total revenue of the Rock and Roll and Country Music Industry combined.-

The south has the highest divorce rates in the country and the highest numbers are amongst born again Christians.

ABC averaged 24.1 million viewers during the first hour of the "Bachelor" finale … opposite the controversial "Victoria's Secret" special on CBS, which drew an audience of 10.5 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Oh , and by the way, the Dixie Chicks album went from number 6 to number 4 on the Billboard chart this last week.

Popular culture tells the tale. The idea that liberalism is something confined to a few deadheads on the coasts is a shibboleth. It is a highly successful propaganda ploy that has convinced many millions of Americans that they aren’t what they are and has created a straw man in its place to conveniently set aflame. It is quite brilliant and it will not be turned around by mealy mouthed appeals to sunshine and happiness.

As for the other side, David Niewert has some words for the left on the politics of fear:

The mainstream left has been content to make jokes about the stupidity of militiamen instead of recognizing the actual threat they represent. There has been little recognition of the way the far right is able to insinuate its ideas and agendas into the mainstream; indeed, the left's dismissive attitude about right-wing extremists has only helped further their ability to penetrate broader society.

Americans aren’t radicals. The right wing of the political spectrum actually is hurtling headlong into radicalism and a lot of that is due to their acceptance of truly freaky and dangerous elements into their mainstream. The Lott affair provides a lesson. They have developed a need to be seen as not being racist. Yet, the party is crawling with confederates, anti-semites and anti-immigrant haters. They have also made common cause with a bunch of end-days fundamentalists and self-styled militia. There should be a concerted effort to make the urbanites who profess such solidarity with the pick-up truck crowd confront this and explain it.

Of course I agree that the democrats have to offer a positive agenda. But, survey after survey shows that Americans already agree with the Democratic domestic agenda. And even though I believe whole heartedly that national security is going to be the number one issue in 2004, it consistently polls lower than the economy and education, areas in which the Dems traditionally hold a large advantage, particularly when jobs aren’t plentiful. So, clearly it’s not liberal ideas per se that so-called moderates don’t like. In many ways they are quite liberal themselves, at least compared to the stereotype we are fed of the “average” American from the heartland. But, still the Republicans hold enough of an edge nationally to control the congress and (sort of) win the presidency while rendering the political opposition virtually impotent .

Fear trumps everything. They created a monster and called it “liberal” then scared everybody into believing that it is extremist and dangerous.

Nothing we say will get past that until we expose the other side. What Neiwert has pointed out in his series on Rush, Newspeak and Fascism is that something actually is happening and it’s dangerous as hell. We don’t have to make anything up. We don’t have to construct a straw man. It’s real. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing this out. Indeed, it is an obligation

Kevin said:

…we must convince the middle third of voters that they should be afraid of what extreme conservatives are doing. When they are more afraid of them than they are of extreme liberals, then the real work can start.

Yes. Playing by the old rules is going to kill us.