Sat 8 Dec, 2012 01:55 am
I ran across a Man in The Street YouTube video today wherein someone was asking (seemingly) random people questions about the economy and the "fiscal cliff."
The point of the exercise was obvious in the fact that only people who declared themselves to be Democrats were featured, and only those who gave answers that were far more like a Republican's than those expected of a proud Obama voter.
At the end of each interview, the "reporter" told the person on the street that their answers made them Republicans. In each case the person interviewed was stunned, puzzled and disturbed. One young woman responded "I take it all back."
That response is what is wrong with the Republican brand.
Here was a woman who provided straight forward responses without any waffling; leading one to assume she truly believes what she said, but as soon as she was told that her positions were "Republican," she wanted to flee from them.
What does being a Republican mean to this woman that she would trade her reason for a label?
Being a conservative who votes Republican I have always laughed at the propaganda that either demonizes or ridicules Republicans and that flows from the largest segment of American media. Being one of these ridiculous demons and knowing and caring for many others, I've always thought "Surely people with any sense know this can't be the truth."
Clearly I've been wrong.
We live in a time when being thought of as cool (including self-identification) is hugely important. Democrats are cool and Republicans are not.
Conservatives (myself included) like to blame the NY Times and other left-wing news media, but this is simply wrong. Only a small percentage of the people who voted for Obama and wouldn't be caught dead voting for a Republican read the NY Times or know who the hell David Corn or Katrina vanden Heuvel are.
Jonathan Stewart on the other hand is a far greater shaper of opinions than E.J. Dionne, Paul Krugman, or Maureen Dowd.
Stewart is cool, he's funny and he provides a segment of the populace who are actually interested in what's happening around them, but only in an entertaining format, with their "news."
While he will, on occasion, mock Democrats, he will always portray Republicans as the antithesis of cool.
Now throw into the mix other cool people like George Clooney, Chris Rock, Jay Z, Matt Damon, Eva Longoria, Kanye West et al who tell us Democrats are good and Republicans are bad and you can see that a wave has been built.
Cool is a silly, albeit powerful designation. Personally I think Gary Oldman, Denzel Washington, Matthew McConaughey and Clint Eastwood are infinitely cooler than the people I've cited above and part of the reason is that, with the exception of Eastwood, most people don't know that they are conservative/Republicans. Hell, irrespective of ideology or party affiliations, these guys are way cooler than Clooney & Co.
Interesting to note that as soon as Eastwood made his politics very clear by speaking the Republican convention, he was lambasted and ridiculed by the Media.
This is one of the reasons cool conservatives keep their politics to themselves. They make their money on public opinion and knowing how they will be raked over the coals by the Entertainment Establishment, they stay cool on the subject.
Never-the-less, Democrats have, thus far, won the Cool War.
This is due in very large measure to American Media, but it is due to the Republican Party as well.
There is nothing intrinsecly cool about liberal ideology. In the hands of a masterful propagandist, conservative ideology could be made to seem cool. (The Democrats have done just that) The Republican Party, as currently constructed, won't or can't confront Democrats on this field.
Maybe there are too many old white men running the Republican Party, but there are plenty of old white men holding the reins of the Democrat Party and they don't have the same problem.
As well, the Republican Party has set itself up for demonizing cartoons by failing to remain true to some of its core principles.
Irrespective of what one believes about the so-called social issues, the Republican position should be that they are best decided at the State level. It's damn tough to argue that the federal government has too much power when you want it to rule on whether two gays can marry or if a woman can have an abortion whenever she pleases.
Not only do federal solutions to pet causes erode the conservative message, they enable the Democrats to go crazy with fear mongering. It's a lose-lose proposition.
I'm not at all OK with the notion that experienced people with the wisdom of age should be shunted to the side because of a youth obsessed populace, but I am less OK with Democrat Rock Stars like Obama being elected and re-elected. Folks like John McCain need to be the influential advisors ( al a Clark Clifford) and not the face of the Republican Party.
The Republican Party needs a face lift, and the surgical technique is libertarianism. This is a way of thinking that appeals to the young, and is a whole lot more in sync with classical conservative principles than leftist statism.
How did a crazy old loon like Ron Paul generate so much enthusiasm on the college campuses of America? It certainly wasn't by employing the Democrat's model of cool which relies on celebrity more than anything else.
The Republican Party has the better of the argument, it just does a horrible job in delivering it.
I don't ever hope to see a day when some young leftist will run from his or her actual beliefs because they are associated with the Democrat Party, but we have to be in a position wherein people with conservative values shrink from them because of the cool factor.