Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Propaganda War

Much analysis is going on around both sides of the Blog World. Why who won, how could they have lost, etc. It is an interesting, yet crucial debrief of the events over the last year or so.

Chris Dykstra, over at New Patriot, has a GREAT screed (longish, but well worth) on the propaganda machine of the Right, and how the left can take note, and learn from those who we lost to again. Here's a snippet:
America means freedom, by God. But that's just my idea of America. The day after the election of George W. Bush to his second term, that idea seems quaint. America the idea might mean freedom to me, but it is perfectly obvious to me that 51% of America has a substantially different view of America. Why is that? When the vision for America is laid out so clearly in our founding documents, has been developed over 224 years of history prior to the Bush Presidency, has been codified in 224 years of judicial decisions, why have an electoral majority of people in this country suddenly veered to the right and up the authoritarian scale? Two words:

Propaganda Machine.

In order to re-define America as a tax-free, liberal hating, Christian-Capitalist theme park in which it is perfectly acceptable to use biblical arguments in support of public policy, arrest suspects and hold them indefinitely without charging them, limit speech, control the media through the FCC, wage indefinite war (badly) against undetermined enemies, attempt to constitutionally limit the rights of millions of citizens, disenfranchise a growing class of have-nots, re-write legislative processes to favor the controlling party with the idea that the controlling party will not relinquish power, alienate nearly all of the world and generally shield the activities of the government from the scrutiny of the press and the people - in order for this agenda to be approved by the people these ideas had to be sold.

Now, that represents a real challenge. In their raw form, these ideas are generally unattractive to most Americans. So they have to be gussied up. The dress of thought, so to speak, comes in the form of packaging. Radical Legislation is gilded with emotional titles, such as "Patriot Act" for example, or "Clear Skies." The justification for war is simplified and reduced to words a child would understand and repeat. Why do they hate us? "They hate us for our freedom."

A common, tested vocabulary is established and relentlessly used by everyone on the team. Positive, sunny words related to the lives of voters are used to communicate vision when speaking about initiatives. All negative consequences are stripped from all conversation when referring to yourself, your initiatives and your party. Can you say, "Tax Relief?" Just feel the stress ease out of your body. Go ahead, say it again, "Tax Relief." There you go. Now say, "Culture of Life." Ahhhh. "Culture of Life." On the other hand, all positive references to your opponent, his initiatives, his party are removed. How about "flip-flopper" or "Liberals in Congress" or "Tax and spend Liberal" Or Big Government Program" or "Pro-Abortion" or "Activist Judges." Newt Gingrich first codified this concept (at least in US politics) in his 1994 Magnum Opus: "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control"
He missed one, which I witness the failure of many times over, The No Child Left Behind Act. That flawed piece of legislation is doing nothing but leaving children behind, but you'd be amazed at how many people don't realize that.

Read the whole thing, it is worth it.


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