Monday, July 25, 2005

Issues vs. Image

Thomas Frank, the author of What's the Matter With Kansas?, is a guest at the TPM Cafe. It is a wonderful book that explains why people consider Democrats "elitists" out of touch with the needs of the "normal people".

James J. Kroeger wrote the essay, The Republican Nemesis. It is another good read. Here is the first paragraph:

When historians look back on the current era in American politics it will likely stand out as the period when Republican cunning & marketing savvy completely dominated the political landscape. Obliging Democrats have thrown themselves into the fray with enthusiasm, armed with idealistic visions of civil “discourse”, only to be humbled repeatedly by their political masters. Republican strategists have been able to blend their astute grasp of marketing principles & human nature & social psychology into a formula that delivers almost guaranteed success at the polls. While Democrats knock themselves out every election cycle trying to talk to Swing Voters about The Issues, Republicans have calmly focused their attention on winning THE Image Campaign. Quite simply: Democrats lose because they don’t understand what moves their target audience.
Mr. Kroeger also wrote about The Emotional Element & Respect and Fear. He ended his essay with the following paragraph:
The problem with fear is not that politicians use to inspire voters; the problem is that some politicians create fears that are irrational or unjustified or exaggerated. When such fears are used to intentionally mislead citizens into voting against their own best interests, then the use of fear is unethical. In contrast, if the fear that politicians inspire is legitimate—and their intention is to alert voters to a danger that they can protect themselves from—then the use of fear is virtuous. What Democrats need to understand clearly is that Swing Voters can be persuaded to fear either party. Right now, too many of them fear The Democrats more than they fear The Republicans. They will return to their identification with the Democratic Party only after they have been persuaded that it is The Republicans whom they ought to fear, not the Democrats. It is the Republicans who are not like them, who are simply looking for yet another opportunity to play them for fools.
Together they are a strong message -- a wake up call for Party leaders to start paying attention. Nothing else is working.

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