Posts Tagged ‘Democratic’

You Won This Time But You Can’t Keep It Up Forever

November 17, 2012

You don’t get it, do you?

Yes, David beat Goliath.

Yes, Peter Pan beat Captain Hook.

Yes, Lawrence of Arabia beat the Ottoman Empire.

Yes, Fordham beat UMass (1971).

Yes, Stanford beat USC (2007).

Yes, the Tigers beat the Yankees.

Yes, New York City survived Superstorm Sandy.

Yes, Obama and the Democrats beat Romney and the Republicans and their billionaires’ money.

But don’t be so sure you can do it again.

This is a country that runs on information, and most of that information is transmitted via television, plus some radio. Sure, there’s the internet, but that’s really small potatoes compared with the broadcast media. To understand why, think about the numbers. Most websites, tweets, blogs, and forums on the internet get a few thouand visitors. Maybe a few hundred thousand. A really giant one will get a million visitors a month. A monster “viral” success will get two or three million visitors over its lifetime.

On television, a show that gets two million viewers is quickly canceled. At one point Rush Limbaugh had five million people listening to him every day. Every day! Sixty million people watched each of the pre-election Presidential debates. Sixty million!

TV and radio is where most voters get their information, along with word of mouth from friends, who also get their information from radio and television. If you’re’ not on TV, you’re not a viable candidate for national or even state office. And if your message, or point of view, or facts are not on TV, they literally do not find their way into the minds, hearts, and memory banks of America’s voters.

Of course, it’s easy to get on TV and radio … if you have tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on promotional efforts, message development, and … the bottom line … purchase of advertising time.

If you don’t have the big bucks, you’re not going to get on TV or radio very much. In that case, your ideas and your messages and your facts will wither on the vine. They’ll be highly appreciated by your immediate family, but not by very many more.

So this election cycle, for a variety of reasons, Obama and the Democrats beat Romney and the Republicans and their billionaires’ money. But next election cycle, some of those reasons may not be quite so vibrant and strong as they were this time. And the cycle after that, there may not be a Superstorm to focus voters’ attention of the favorable work that government can sometimes do. And the cycle after that, there may not be screaming yahoos on the Republican side mouthing nonsense and acting like clowns. And the cycle after that, Republican strategists may have learned to spend all that money sweetly wooing voters instead of insensitively pissing them off.

And when that happens the Party of the One Percenters, suitably disguised in working class clothes and skillfully uttering populist slogans and slathering those sophisticated messages all over the TV screens and radio dials of America, may sneak into a big time electoral victory.

After all, most of the time, the odds greatly favor Goliath over David, Captain Hook over Peter Pan, the Ottoman Empire over Lawrence of Arabia, UMass with Julius Erving over Fordham without him, a strong USC team over a weak Stanford team, the Yankees over the Tigers, a monster storm like Sandy over a New York City not designed for two-story high storm surges, and the Republicans’ billionaires’ money over a relatively underfunded Democratic party.

One solution would be to raise as much money as the Republicans. But that normally requires the cooperation of billionaires, and then Democrats would have to offer those billionaires basically the same paybacks as the Republicans do.

A better solution would be to finish the effort to get money out of politics, now, before money entrenches itself into politics so deeply it becomes inseparable, so we can all settle down to watching a fair fight between equally matched, equally clever politicians. And may the better party win!

Whichever party that turns out to be, the nation will be the better for it.

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The Cat’s Out Of The Bag

February 17, 2009

Now that we’ve got (we hope) law-abiding adults back in charge of our federal government, there are so many urgent and important issues deserving of public scrutiny, debate, and decision that it’s difficult to put them in priority order. Nevertheless, I’m going to try and focus on some of the bigger ones first.

Today: the question of patriotism and loyal opposition.

As you probably know, one of the big Republican/Conservative slogans during the run up to last November’s Presidential election was “Country First!” Partly intended as short-hand for the “If you don’t like the way we run things here, why don’t you go back where you came from?” sentiment that was so popular during the Nixon Administration, “Country First!” has an explicit meaning that’s difficult to mistake. Simply put, it says: “I put the welfare of my nation ahead of my own selfish interests.”

That’s a sentiment every American can appreciate and applaud.

But when used to disguise a selfish attitude, the slogan and the person spouting it are both despicable.

That’s what we’ve got with one of the country’s leading Republican/Conservative voices, Rush Limbaugh, and with all the ditto-heads who follow him, when he openly admits “I hope Obama fails.”

That’s treason, pure and simple.

He’s not saying he hopes Obama loses an election. He’s saying he hopes Obama’s policies do not work out well for the country. And his reasoning is explicit: If Obama helps Americans weather this economic storm, Democratic (not Republican/Conservative) party candidates will be rewarded with votes and election success for decades to come.

As bad a President as Bush was, I never heard anyone hope we’d lose the war in Iraq (although Republicans/Conservatives accused Liberals of that sentiment at every opportunity). I never heard anyone hope that terrorists would succeed in striking America again and killing another 3,000 innocents, or more. I never heard anyone hope that Bush’s policies would produce massive deficits, or that FEMA would be unable to rebuild New Orleans, or even that violating Americans’ basic civil liberties would fail to produce useful information. No. The Left argued that Bush’s policies and practices were wrong-headed, or criminal, or ineffective. But no one hoped they would produce extra misery for Americans to experience.

That’s a horse of a different color.

And it’s not a one-time thing. Back in 1993, David Gergen famously wrote a memo explaining to Republicans/Conservatives that they ought to oppose President Clinton’s health care reform initiative — not because it was a bad idea — but because if it improved health care for millions of Americans, the resulting happy voters would keep the Democratic Party in power far longer than if health care remained as problematic as it was — as it still is.

For their own reasons, we can see, Republicans/Conservatives root for misery, for problems, for ineffective government. That’s the opposite of what I want from a political party. How about you?

Politics is a subtle business, and it’s not always obvious who’s your friend and who’s not. So when you get a clear sign that someone is out to put a knife in your back, it’s smart to pay attention and remember what they’re up to the next time they smile and throw an arm around your shoulders.

In my view, the Republicans/Conversatives have more than obviously revealed their major agenda: grab power, even if you have to lie to the American people to get it, and then use that power not only to enrich the few at the expense of the many, but to turn the clock backwards on science, on peace-making, and on social progress.

Now that this cat is out of the bag, it seems to me, anyone who considers Republicans/Conservatives to be ordinary, patriotic Americans who simply hold a few different beliefs and values is asking for that knife in the back.