Thursday, March 28, 2013


Jonathan Bernstein ponders those polls showing 90% support for universal background checks and explains why they're not spurring action:
See, the problem here is equating "90 percent in the polls" with "calling for change." Sure, 90 percent of citizens, or registered voters, or whoever it is will answer in the affirmative if they're asked by a pollster about this policy. But that's not at all the same as "calling for change." It's more like...well, it is receiving a call. Not calling.

... it's perfectly understandable why most of us, on most issues, barely have opinions, let alone take action. Action is hard! Action can be painful. Action is risky. Action is unpredictable. We all have plenty of other things to do, after all.... It's almost impossible to manufacture that artificially....
Actually, it's not "almost impossible to manufacture that artificially." In fact, we know exactly how to do it: just do exactly what the right has done for past thirty years. Develop media that politicize citizens with propaganda and get those citizens to seek out that propaganda day in and day out, as entertainment. Pay lots of people lots of money to make that audience increasingly paranoid about their imminent loss of freedom, autonomy, and money because of what the evil bastards on the other side are doing. Repeat as necessary.

Fox News and talk radio have been doing this for decades. So have organizations like the NRA on individual issues. They've learned how to prime people to take action (at least we assume fired-up right-wingers will take action, if only at the polls, and that threat is enough to make us take right-wingers' opinions seriously).

The Obama campaign got the Democratic voter base fired up about a lot of issues -- the availability of birth control, for instance. It gave voters a plan of action -- vote Obama -- and they took action.

But right-wingers do this every day of every year, in election season and out. The way Democrats get voters fired up for a presidential election, the right gets its base fired up for everything. That's why Democrats are competitive in presidential elections, but overmatched between them.


Victor said...

President Obama said that OFA - "Obama For America," would keep major issues fresh in voters minds across the country f0r 2014 and 2016.

I'm waiting...

longwalkdownlyndale said...

I'm not so sure this is right. Looking back on the Bush years what I see is a trend where the White House would roll out a course of action and talking points to back it up and all of the right wing press would just echo it. But this is the exact opposite of a dynamic like Obama and marriage equality where a lot of political actors wanted the President to do something and after awhile and a lot of hard work he eventually came around.

Indeed the conservative movement historically thought there shouldn't even be a Department of Education, for a variety of reasons Bush decided to pursue No Child Left Behind, a massive expansion of Federal involvement in education, and the mighty right wing media wasn't able to stop him. The same thing happened with the 2003 Medicare law. What I see isn't some powerful conservative movement goaded by Fox News et al into working it's will on Washington. What I see is Republican leaders making decisions and conservatives following, until that leader falls from grace and then everyone declares they "weren't a real conservative."