Friday, March 5, 2010

If it works, work it . . .

Yesterday I wrote about how our public school classrooms' curricula is becoming more and more politicized. Which I, personally, find terribly worrisome. To me, democracy needs the participation of curious, well-informed minds in order to function effectively. Democracies run on emotion, again in my opinion, generally run into trouble.

Last night, on the WMRA Facebook page, I posted a notice of an upcoming conversation between ATC host Michele Norris and Politico reporter Andy Barr about a leaked memo letting us know about a PowerPoint presentation of the Republican National Committee's fundraising strategy.

From within the trenches of our current ultra-partisan American politics, it's tempting to respond to this memo emotionally. Republicans and Democrats who, in their hearts, only want to defeat the Other Side, can find reason to cheer both the RNC's PowerPoint presentation, and the fact that it's been leaked to the general public. Democrats can enjoy their outrage; Republicans can enjoy the fact that even though they may publicly distance themselves from the sentiments this presentation represents, at least some of their Leadership embrace such tactics enthusiastically.

The page with  the ugly caricatures of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid is the one that seems to be generating the most cross-party-line clucking. But it has nothing on it that I have not seen in the political arena before, generating either snickers or outrage along strict party lines, keeping the simplistic flame of partisan politics burning bright.

The one that truly alarms me, however, is the slide that suggests that Republican fundraisers should encourage what they term "visceral giving" through marketing fear, extreme negativity, and "reactionary;" meaning, I guess, that donors will donate in reaction to feeling all that "fear" and "extreme" negativity.

This, in my opinion, is truly ugly, self-destructive stuff. Not so much for Republicans, as for what it reveals about what actually motivates us, the voting public, to participate in our American political system. You see, I do not for one moment think that Republican political strategists are the only ones who think in such gutter terms. They're just the ones who got caught. This time.

This morning, the papers, if they are covering this at all, are reporting Republican efforts at "damage control." The story has already slid down to the small print headlines of I would submit that the story has lost its legs because it offers us, the public, a rare, unstinting picture of how gullible we are to speak, spin, mendacity, manipulation. And we are colossally uncomfortable with what we see.

As Pogo put it, "We have met the enemy and he is us." These gutter tactics were in this leaked RNC PowerPoint only because, time and again, a lot of us voters have parked our reason, our education, and our common sense while we voted on emotion. Politicians of all stripes want votes and will use whatever works best to garner them.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Martha,
    Thanks for posting this truly disturbing glimpse into how political parties manipulate the public. Of course that can only happen if we let it, but as lone individuals it is sometimes hard to know what to do. Please keep talking about this: Seldom has it been so clearly spelled out as in that diagram you posted about their using fear to rule us.