Having grown up in rural Indiana followed by Arizona (two red states – some of my best friends and family are right-wing nuts), I’ve noticed that liberals often misunderstand why there are so many red states. They’re always particularly baffled about why poor and working class people would vote republican. And as I was watching a poorly done documentary about Fox News, it occurred to me that as a former insider, I could clear up some of those misunderstandings and then perhaps we could work a little smarter and get some Democrats elected this November (and in 2008) for a change.
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, directed by Robert Greenwald (director of the well-made and compelling Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price), is the result of the collaboration of a group of liberals at their most ineffective and pathetic. It even tops the “vote for anyone but Bush… even namby pamby John Kerry” fiasco of 2004, if you can imagine. The documentary tells the tale of a few disgruntled reporters who claim that Fox News has a clear and direct conservative bias. Sure, and that's news to whom?
Fox News is complete propaganda, but is there really anyone who doesn’t know that? They’re given too much credit when someone assumes that they’re creating public opinion, and their viewers don’t receive enough credit when they’re dismissed as idiots. There are a lot of conservative people out there, even some who are smart and some who are educated. They watch Fox News because it’s entertaining, and because it affirms what they already believe.
Actually, I enjoy watching a little Fox News myself. It’s amusing and absurd, and I find it hard to believe that very many people don’t know that. But I’m not really offended by it. I know when I turn it on that I’m going to see a glowing report of George Bush, and likewise I know that when I read Mother Jones Journal I’m going to read negative press about him. I like to read Mother Jones for the same reason a conservative person likes to watch Fox News, because I often nod my head in agreement or learn something I didn’t already know that seems perfectly reasonable. Not because I need to be told what to think.
Unless the liberal and leftist press and ideas are somehow being suppressed (and evidently they’re not – enter Greenwald's useless, sniveling DVD about the evil Rupert Murdoch) the Democrats who want to win elections could perhaps take a lesson or two from what the Republicans and Fox News are doing right, whether they like what they’re doing or not.
Here are a few highlights of what they might learn:
Bumper stickers that say, “Vote Republican it’s easier than thinking,” are not helpful. They only reinforce Rush Limbaugh (king of “overstating the case”) as he routinely informs his listeners about how dumb they’re perceived to be by the “elitist left.”
When discussing homosexuality, you’ll find most rural and working class folks firmly in the “mind your own business” camp. But suggest the public schools use their tax money to “educate” their children about it, and I’m afraid all bets are off. A good article in the New York Times recently discussed how social liberals have taken over the Democratic party and alienated blocks of voters. These social issues are important, but they’re not necessarily popular; so to champion them at the expense of your core constituents may be noble, but it certainly isn’t smart.
Wondering aloud why those poor, stupid, rural people “vote against their economic interests” is not useful. I’ve never met a rural or working class person who doesn’t know that Republicans cater to rich conservatives. But what they also know (and evidently liberal journalists do not) is that the Democratic party caters to rich liberals. It is insulting to assume that because people aren’t wealthy, they don’t recognize this. No one is more acutely aware of the iniquity of the distribution of wealth than the people with the short end of the stick. But while the Democrats are making them feel like helpless, lazy idiots, the Republicans are building them up as the backbone of America. Conservatives are appealing to their sense of dignity and pride. And that’s why they’re winning elections. The Democrats would do well to make a note of it.
It’s not a good idea to assume that all of the “poor, uneducated people” who don’t agree with the liberal party line are obviously just sheep swallowing Republican nonsense. I’m sorry, but people don’t conform to the liberal agenda just so they can be considered as smart and enlightened as Al Franken or Michael Moore. As if there are no liberal “sheep.” Please.
This is who Americans like to vote for: the strong guy who says, “I’ve got things under control, everything is going to be fine.” Did we not learn anything from Jimmy Carter’s presidency? People don’t want to see Jimmy Carter sitting in his sweater turning the thermostat down to sixty-eight degrees while he whinges on and on about the gloom and doom of the energy crisis. They want to hear Ronald Reagan say, “America is wonderful, Americans are great, the economy is fine, so fine in fact, I think I’ll take a vacation.”
Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but there it is. Put it to good use.
If your competitor is excelling at something, do learn from them, go forth and do likewise. Don't make a worthless, whiney documentary about how mean you think they are.
Finally (and most importantly), choose a good candidate. The emasculated John Kerry? Not going to work. And that wife of his? Sweet Jesus, if he didn’t already seem sissified enough, she pretty much finished it off. And begging people to vote for some weak Democrat just because he’s not George Bush? Listen, I’m liberal from the word go, but I’m not an idiot.