As I’ve repeatedly stated in the past – Republicans are just bat-shit crazy. If you need evidence just watch some of the debates going on there now about healthcare. But as tacticians go Republicans are frighteningly successful and therefore it’s worth watching them to see why exactly they’re successful.
First: go completely overboard. Sarah Palin is a brilliant example and her ‘death panel’ meme isn’t the only one. Obama is being called a socialist, a marxist, a communist, fascist and everything else under the sun despite being more right-wing than we would in the UK. There’s a book out by Michelle Malkin on how is administration is completely corrupt – and it’s only been six months since he took power. There Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to put out these books under the genuinely corrupt Bush administration.
The point about going completely overboard is that it moves the territory somewhat in your direction. Of course most people won’t believe that Obama will create Death Panels, but they might believe there is no smoke without fire. They’ll start thinking the big fuss is there for a reason. That automatically moves the centre of debate in your favour.
Second: have complete discipline. Moderate Republicans rarely criticise their wingnut counterparts. Sure they might argue about which direction the party should go in, but when it comes to opposing a policy they’re united. And when they have a common enemy (the Democrats) the moderates will never ever ever ever criticise the loony-fringe for saying absurd things. Why? Because of the first point. It gives the moderates more of a license to push the boat out, and it makes them sound sane. Discipline also ensures you spend less time fighting each other and more time fighting the enemy.
Third: exploit the media. The media has to try and remain somewhat non-partisan and it’s driven by the chatter and whatever else everyone is talking about. Which means that if everyone is talking about Sarah Palin’s ‘death panels’ because it sounds so absurd – then it becomes part of legitimate conversation on Cable TV and then people start expounding other crazy theories. This means Democrats are constantly on the defensive and end up losing the battle. You never win on the defensive – only on the offensive.
The second part to exploiting the media is to constantly accuse it of misrepresenting you and being biased against you. It doesn’t matter what the truth is – the aim here is to build a siege / victim mentality so your followers get even more angry and take action. If they think their views are being represented in the media then they won’t do anything further.
But…. You may argue that this culture-war business is what drove the Republicans to become so small. Not exactly – there are demographic reasons for that. But the point is that for a small southern party the Republicans are still completely punching above their weight and outmaneuvering the Democrats on all fronts. If Obama makes one big mis-step then Healthcare is doomed and maybe his presidency.
These Republicans are vicious. But it’s worth learning tactics from them otherwise lefties will keep losing.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Media,Party politics