Universal Translator

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Some Unsolicited Campaign Advice for Democrats

As a general rule, Republicans are very good at devising smart, pithy ways to encapsulate or, more frequently, obfuscate their policy goals. Of course, they have the advantage over Democrats in that a lot of their policy goals are so simplistic that they can be reduced to slogans and bumper stickers.

For example, "Drill, Baby, Drill!" is a bad idea for a lot of reasons, but I'm not going to get into them here because that isn't the point of this post and because explaining why this is a bad idea would take too long. And, of course, this is why "Drill, Baby, Drill!" is a bad idea but a great slogan. In three words it sums up the Republican energy policy, it does so energetically and enthusiastically, and anybody who wants to explain why it is a bad idea has to drone on and on about how more drilling wouldn't substantially affect oil prices, wouldn't result in substantially more oil on the market, wouldn't have any effect at all for at least a deade, does result in further taxpayer giveaways to large oil companies, does carry the potential for further devastating ecological damage . . . .

And did you see what just happened there? I said I wouldn't list all the things wrong with the idea, but it is so stupid for so many reasons I went ahead and did that anyway. My response is much, much longer than the three word slogan that provoked it, and an explanation as to why any of these listed objections is true would be longer still. Republicans know that something like 30% of everybody who picks up a newspaper don't read much beyond the headlines, and they realize that you can win public debate if you can distill your message until it is nothing but a headline.

At least "Drill, Baby, Drill!" has the virtue of accurately describing the Republicans' position. Too often during Bush, Jr.'s reign we were saddled things like "The Clear Skies Act," which allowed for increased air pollution, or "The Healthy Forests Act," which gave away huge logging concessions on public land to well-connected private companies. (And don't even get me started on the Republicans' recent effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which they titled "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.")

Quite simply, Republicans understand the importance of concise, simple, one-sentence messages. While Democrats fidget and twist to make sure that every nuance and policy permutation is explained accurately, Republicans understand that elections can be won or lost based on nothing more than a catchy phrase.

With that in mind, let me suggest to the Democrats that they abandon attacking Republicans for their support of "the Ryan Plan," or "the Ryan Budget." Don't get me wrong -- they should not stop attacking Republicans for supporting this atrocity. Eliminating Medicare is a political no-go in America, as the recent Dem win in NY-26 (an extremely conservative district that hasn't elected a Democratic Representative in more than 40 years) proved.

But continuing to refer to this abomination as "the Ryan Plan" or "the Ryan Budget" makes it sound like this is the idea of one guy -- Paul Ryan. And the Dems' goal for 2012 has got to be more than holding on to the White Housee and the Senate; they've got to get the House back too. Otherwise we'll be saddled with two more years of what we are experiencing right now: a total and complete inability to move foward significantly on the economy, in a climate where significant economic, job-creating action is a necessity.

Which means that the Dems can't be seen to be running against only one guy's idea. If Dems want to hang this piece of shit around the collective neck of the Republican party, then they've got to start referring to it as "the Republican Plan," and "the Republican Budget," and -- most importantly -- as "the Republican Plan to Destroy Medicare."

This isn't even disingenuous. Every single Republican in the House voted in favor of this piece of shit, and every single Republican Senater except five voted in favor of it as well. This is no longer a "proposal" put forth by Ryan to "get the ball rolling" or to "start a conversation" (which increasingly is how Republican apologists in the media are characterizing it, now that its intense unpopularity has become apparent).

This unpopular dog turd is what the Republicans voted for. When Newt GinGrinch described it on Meet the Press as radical social engineering the Republican leaders (no, not Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell or John Boehner -- I'm talking about Rush Limbaugh and Fox News) required a week's worth of groveling by GinGrinch before he would once more be allowed into the fold, and that only grudgingly. This thing is what Republicans want, and the public hates them for it.

So please, Dems . . . for the love of all that is Holy and for your own election chances, stop calling it "the Ryan [whatever]." This is the Republican Plan to Destroy Medicare; hang 'em with it.

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