Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Republicans Seek to Fix Short-Sitedness
By Jose Antonio Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 25, 2008; Page C01
At 6:50 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6-- less than 44 hours after the GOP lost the White House and more seats in Congress -- RebuildTheParty.com went live.
Founded by two young party activists, Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn, the site proposes to start by rebuilding the often marginalized conservative blogosphere. Its mission statement, a 3,200-word, 10-point manifesto, is aimed at Republicans in general -- and more specifically at whoever takes the helm of the Republican National Committee in the next few weeks. It's signed by a Who's Who of the online conservative grass roots -- the "rightroots" -- most of them in their 20s and 30s, many frustrated by the current state of the Grand Old Party that seems just that: old and out of touch.
"2008 made one thing clear: If allowed to go unchecked, the Democrats' structural advantages, including their use of the Internet, their more than 2-to-1 advantage with young voters, their discovery of a better grassroots model -- will be as big a threat to the future of the GOP as the toxic political environment we have faced the last few years," the site proclaims.
Within a week, Ruffini and Finn say, about 4,000 people signed up on the site and endorsed the plan. Many submitted their own ideas and voted for their favorites on the site's open platform, Ideas.RebuildTheParty.com. Any day now, the site will turn into a virtual think tank, bringing together other online activists from inside and outside the Republican Party infrastructure.
Ruffini, 30, is a veteran online political operative who worked for President Bush before heading the RNC's Internet department and advising Rudy Giuliani. "Maybe I'm being too optimistic here," he says, "but I think this period we're going through right now will be seen as a reawakening of not just the rightroots but also the Republican Party."
"The Republican Party cannot reboot if it's viewed only as a party of old, crusty white guys," adds Finn, who started a Washington-based online consulting firm with Ruffini last summer. At 27, she is also a veteran online operative, having served on President Bush's eCampaign team in 2004 and supervised Mitt Romney's Web strategy. "We need to face 21st-century politics with 21st-century tools."
The right owns talk radio; the left owns the Internet.
For years, that's been the simplest way to explain the online gap between the two parties. "Of course Republicans are behind online," says Newt Gingrich, arguably the Webbiest of the party's elder statesmen. American Solutions for Winning the Future, a group Gingrich founded, uses the Internet to harness grass-roots energy on issues such as oil drilling. "When one of Obama's senior online advisers is the co-founder of Facebook, when Gore sits on the board of Google and Apple -- well, let's just say the Republicans are not in the same century yet, okay?" (Actually, Gore is a senior adviser to Google, but Gingrich's point stands.)
Examples of the gap abound. State-by-state online activism was an integral part of the Democratic National Committee's 50-state strategy, something the Republican National Committee does not have. A handful of congressional districts could have easily gone Republican, Ruffini says, if more conservative bloggers had helped to raise money and to get boots on the ground. "But as it stands, most bloggers in the right see blogging as a communications medium," Ruffini says. "Bloggers in the right need to look at what the bloggers in the left have been doing and learn to be activists, too."
Some of the bloggers Ruffini is targeting write on such sites as RedState.com and TheNextRight.com, which he co-founded. They understand where he's coming from. Many even signed up on Rebuild the Party, including Erick Erickson, RedState's managing editor. Erickson says conservative bloggers are more concerned with debating policies and ideologies than with how close "a particular race is shaping up in this or that congressional district." In the past three years, however -- especially in the six months leading up to the election -- that mindset has started to change. "There's been a real shift to not just focus on national races but local races, too," Erickson says. "But it takes awhile for the ship to turn."
It's a difference in approach.
The GOP is the talk-radio party -- for the most part, it's centralized, top-down. Even though Rush Limbaugh is "perhaps the best exponent of across-the-board conservatism," as Ruffini wrote, "he has no lists and no way to mobilize his audience directly to donate and volunteer." (But it must be noted that Limbaugh urged his Republican listeners to vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton in Indiana's open primary to prolong the Democratic duel. And Clinton won.)
The Democrats, meanwhile, are the party of the Web: decentralized, chaotic, bottom-up. The bloggers at DailyKos.com, for example, argue about policy and ideology, too. But all that blogging leads to raising money, which leads to organizing, which leads to having a say in the party. When Howard Dean, whose presidential primary campaign was largely funded by online donors, was elected DNC chairman in 2005, there was no doubt that a new Democratic era had arrived.
But clout didn't come overnight for the Democratic "netroots." In a way, its influence was predicated on being independent of the party. Says Jerome Armstrong, who created the liberal blog MyDD in 2001: "The netroots is not the DNC. The netroots challenges the DNC."
A similar dynamic needs to occur between the rightroots and the RNC, bloggers such as Ruffini and Finn say. The rightroots should push their party's leadership and entrenched consulting class the same way the netroots lashed the Democratic leadership years ago.
Ruffini is happy to start the process. Shortly after the election, some prominent conservative activists -- including Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council -- gathered to talk strategy at a weekend home in rural Virginia. The Old Dominion, once solidly Republican, will soon have two Democratic senators and has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in 44 years. Ruffini dismisses the value of the meeting.
"Whatever happened at that country estate will be irrelevant to the future of the movement. I'll bet not a single person under 40 was even at the table," Ruffini wrote on his blog. "The future will be shaped digitally . . . on blogs like this one, RedState, Save the GOP, the American Scene, and the dozens I have a feeling will be created in the wake of Tuesday's wake-up call."
Saved by Obama?
The netroots' ongoing advantage over the rightroots can be summed up in one word: Bush.
Whatever their differences -- and a quick trip to Firedoglake, Open Left and Jack & Jill Politics, some of the more influential liberal blogs, prove there are differences -- the netroots bloggers have rallied around their opposition to President Bush and the war in Iraq. Their annual blogapalooza, first called YearlyKos and now known as Netroots Nation, is basically one big let's-get-together-help-stop-the-war-and-tell-Bush-to-go-back-to-Crawford rally.
The rightroots bloggers, in contrast, haven't united over a common enemy. They've been too busy arguing among themselves.
On the right, you have blogs that focus on taxes and national security, antiabortion blogs and gun-rights blogs, blogs for social conservatives that rarely overlap with blogs for fiscal conservatives. Some of these blogs didn't know what to make of the Paulites, Ron Paul's fervent online followers. Not everyone was happily blogging about McCain during the general election, though his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as running mate galvanized hubs such as ProLifeBlogs.com. They might all call themselves Republicans, but the GOP comes in many links.
Post-Nov. 4, there's been a lot of internecine soul-searching about the state of the party.
Just visit The Next Right, which was created last May and quickly became a must-read for political junkies and Republican strategists. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who might run again in 2012, posted his thoughts on election night -- "We will be back in strength," his blog read -- while an estimated 240,000 gathered at Grant Park in Chicago to celebrate Obama's win.
The day after the GOP drubbing, Jon Henke, one of the blog's co-founders, posted a bitter tirade. It was headlined "Republicans deserved to lose."
"You earned the beating you took yesterday. You earned every bit of it. It is your fault." Henke wrote. "Democrats may or may not have deserved to win, but you deserved to lose."
You can almost hear him grinding his teeth as he typed: "Some of you will say 'Republicans need to fight/hold Democrats accountable,' as if it is sufficient to be against Democrats. The pendulum may eventually swing back to you, but you won't know what to do with it."
For many, blogging is more a voyeuristic exercise than an expressive one. They read postings and rarely, if ever, comment. Henke's posting, however, drew 145 comments. A week later, Bob Vander Plaats, the former Iowa gubernatorial candidate who chaired Huckabee's successful operation there, also caused a stir.
"Jesus Christ, whom many Republicans claim to follow, summoned his followers to be either hot or cold toward Him, because a 'lukewarm' commitment makes Him want to vomit. I believe this accurately reflects the mood of voters in the past several elections where Republicans have witnessed consecutive defeats," Vander Plaats wrote. "We have followed the misguided advice of 'experts' to abandon our principles and move to the middle so we can supposedly win. In essence, we have become 'lukewarm' on life, on marriage, on the Second Amendment, on limited government, on balanced budgets."
To which a reader commented: "How do you get the Independents vote with rhetoric like that?"
But there's a likely glue to the ongoing division within the rightroots: Obama. Last week, Ruffini posted an item addressing one of Rebuild the Party's more ambitious goals: recruiting 5 million online activists who will work toward a common purpose. He cites the proposed auto bailout as "the first outrage of the Obama era."
Aided and prompted by the rightroots, "a functioning RNC," he wrote, "would be able to take a hard line against the bailout-of-choice for the auto industry. Or against insert-Obama-outrage-here. It doesn't really matter. We'll have plenty of issues once these guys actually get in."
It's All About a Movement
A week after the election, and five days after Rebuild the Party was introduced, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan unveiled RepublicanForAReason.com, which he describes as "a grassroots site that Republicans can use to tell us what they think of the party." He says the party has lost the trust of its members and the site "is a big part of understanding and communicating with them." He agrees with Finn that the GOP is viewed "as a party of old white guys."
"And I'm saying that as a 57-year-old white guy." He quickly adds: "But I use technology. I've got three BlackBerrys. I've got a Kindle." He promises that the RNC's Internet division -- headed by Cyrus Krohn, formerly of Microsoft and Yahoo -- will get more resources, calling it "a big priority for the RNC." There's speculation that Duncan wants to run for a second term, though he says he hasn't made up his mind.
Chip Saltsman, who served as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and managed Huckabee's presidential campaign, is also weighing a run at the RNC chairmanship. At 40, he's the youngest in the group of names that are being tossed around, which include former senator and actor Fred Thompson, 66, and Katon Dawson, 52, current head of the South Carolina GOP. Saltsman, too, agrees with Finn. "We can't afford to be looked at as the party of the rich old white guy," he says. Like Duncan, he wants to place more emphasis on the party's Web strategy. "There's still a big hole in our game plan, and that's the Internet," he says.
But the Internet is not a panacea.
"This is not just about making the Web central to your strategy. This is about ideas. This is about using the Internet to promote your ideas and build a movement," Finn says. In a span of 30 minutes, she says the word "movement" no fewer than 14 times.
"In this Internet era, it's not enough to run a campaign, you need to lead a movement -- that's what Obama did," she continues. "If you look at their site, their online videos, their online ads, everything they did, it wasn't about 'me, myself and I.' It was about 'we' and 'us.' "
From the moment Obama launched his site, Ruffini took screen shots of what he thought were interesting pages and archived them on his Flickr account. "The breadth of Obama's site was extraordinary," Ruffini says. "The Web site highlighted maybe 10 unique programs in every battleground state -- and this differed from state to state." Later, he points to Obama's record online haul during his 21-month campaign: a half-billion dollars raised from 3 million online donors, 13 million e-mail addresses collected. In a blog posting, he argues that Obama's popular-vote win is partly due to his appeal to young voters, whom he won 66 percent to 32 percent over McCain, exit polls showed.
"It was only eight years ago that Bush and Gore were tied with the youth vote," Ruffini says. "Now young voters are the backbone of Obama's grassroots support."
"And we need to win them back," Finn says. "We must. But for a lot of these young voters who grew up during the Bush era, what they've heard and what they've perceived is that the Republican Party is a party of being against things, rather than a party of solutions and inclusion, rather than a party of individual freedom. We need to correct that. We need to rebuild the party and we'll do that online."
This article speaks to the very reason I began blogging.
As a graduate student in Public Relations, it seems clear to me that the GOP's biggest problem is PR. Republicans aren't formatting their ideas in a way that's appealing to (let alone even reaching) most Americans. The GOP may have the better arguments for most issues, but that doesn't matter unless they can learn to format their message in a way that will make Americans sit up and take notice.
That's exactly what Obama did, and it’s exactly what all successful motivators must do. It didn’t matter that Obama's arguments were worse (in terms of validity and soundness) than those offered by the Republican opposition, because he ran a masterful PR campaign. In the debates and in his speeches, Obama offered very little substance and, more often than not, based his arguments on an appeal to pathos (emotion) rather than logos (logic).
But it worked! Obama focused on the packaging of his message and the management of his brand. He addressed every issue which opposed him (either directly or indirectly by silencing it), he put forth an unmatched online initiative, and he kept his messages simple and persuasive by appealing to pathos.
While Obama was promising 95% of Americans a tax cut, McCain was talking about earmarks. Most Americans don't even know what the hell an earmark is! That’s not to say that earmarks aren’t important or that McCain didn’t have the better economic plan, but the point is that McCain didn’t package his message effectively. Obama did. People glazed over when McCain spoke and gave a standing ovation when Obama blew his nose (seriously, he blew his nose at a rally and people clapped).
A successful politician must also be a good salesman.
The American people didn’t buy Obama’s liberal ideology. They bought the “Obama brand,” a brand which Obama meticulously and masterfully crafted by “rubbing raw the sores” of American discontent with George Bush.
My favorite president, Teddy Roosevelt, once said, “The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.” The only difference is that now the loudest voice = the message with the most internet traffic.
If the GOP ever wants to win back Washington, it will have to put forth a better effort on the online battlefield. It can't afford to disregard online arguments and conspiracies any more. Web-based sources have been shaping public opinion for about a decade now. The GOP is behind in the internet branding game, but it isn't too late to catch up.
If conservatives meet their opposition head on, there's a chance that they can have as strong a presence on the internet as they are perceived to have on the radio. However, if they allow the internet to fall completely into the hands of liberals, there will be no hope for the GOP to effectively shape public opinion ever again because liberals would have the majority of print media, television news networks, Hollywood, the music industry, and the all-encompassing internet.
The GOP has a packaging and branding crisis. There’s simply no denying it. It doesn't matter if republicans are right on the issues if people aren't willing to listen to them. The biggest battle in politics is the one for attention. Once you have people's attention, then you can push your message.
Hopefully, younger conservatives like those at Rebuild the Party, will continue to aid in the rapid progression of the online Republican movement. Once the GOP manages to modernize its messaging methods and its brand, America will re-embrace conservativism. But this modernization needs to happen and it needs to happen now, if it's going to have a chance to succeed.
If Republicans cannot package their platform in a way which generates excitement from more people than those who comprise their narrow base, they will forevermore fail to capture the interest and support of public opinion. As Winston Churchill once said, “There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.”
Saturday, November 22, 2008
In keeping with this two-decade old tradition, Governor Sarah Palin went to a locally-owned turkey farm in Wasilla, Alaska (her hometown) to pardon a turkey on behalf of the state of Alaska. Unfortunately for her, the liberal media pounced.
Here is MSNBC’s coverage of the story:
Apparently Governor Palin (like every other Governor in the country) pardoning a turkey is “breaking news.” Moreover, MSNBC claims to have “sanitized” the clip and “blurred out the goriest parts.” I submit to you, the unedited clip:
Yeah… the MSNBC “blur” was on the turkey’s posterior… in either case, there was no visible gore. Despite MSNBC’s tags at the bottom of the screen suggesting as much.
“GOV. PALIN PICKS WORST POSSIBLE BACKDROP FOR TV NEWS INTERVIEW”
As if she picked the backdrop… and never mind the fact that the backdrop was the very same turkey pin in which she had just pardoned one of the fowl.
“TURKEYS DIE AS GOVERNOR PALIN TAKES QUESTIONS FROM MEDIA”
I’m pretty sure turkeys die every day, especially right before Thanksgiving, independent of Palin’s media endeavors.
“GOV. SARAH PALIN KEEPS TALKING WHILE TURKEYS GET SLAUGHTERED BEHIND HER”
“Slaughtered?” Really? Where is this supposed “gore?” And why does the turkey guy keep looking over his shoulder at Palin? Are they playing a prank on her? It’s not like she suggested that they behead turkeys behind her for the interview – though that’s what MSNBC would have you believe. Boy wouldn’t they be happy if they could convince people 1) that when Palin speaks animals die 2) she’s an oblivious idiot?
Yes, that might just send another tingle up the leg of Chris Matthews; hence why they covered this story in the way that they did. Read between the lines here folks.
“GOV. PALIN APPARENTLY OBLIVIOUS TO TURKEY CARNAGE OVER HER SHOULDER"
“Carnage,” seriously? Even if there had been visible gore behind Palin (which doesn’t appear to be the case), it’s a turkey… at a turkey farm. Turkey’s are killed at turkey farms. That’s how we come to have turkey on our plates on Thanksgiving Day. I fail to see how the killing poultry at a turkey farm constitutes “carnage.” The lack of journalistic integrity here is disgusting.
“GOV. PALIN NOT REALIZING INCONGRUITY OF HER WORDS VERSUS HER BACKDROP”
How could she? It’s apparent no one told her what the idiot behind her was doing or that he was in the frame of the shot – though it seems clear that he realized he shouldn’t be there. Set up anyone?
“TURKEY-KILLING FOWLS PALIN NEWS CONFERENCE”
I wonder if any other governor turkey pardon has ever gotten this much news coverage…
Is this even really a "news story?" A turkey is a bird... that we eat... at Thanksgiving.
Yes it's ironic that she would pardon a turkey and then stand in front of a scene like that, but really, who cares? If not for the fact that this happened to Sarah Palin, this story never would have seen the light of day on MSNBC. Their continued attempts to assassinate Palin's character and credibility are transparent and ridiculous. "See, see! She IS a heartless idiot!"
Palin standing where she dide, didn't diminish or increase the ratio of slaughtered turkeys at that farm or any other. The whole point of her being at that farm was for her to save one of the turkeys, but the liberal media simply couldn’t resist an opportunity to deride her.
It's unfortunate that the idiot behind her didn't have the common sense to wait until she was finished to continue doing what he was doing. But really, unless one happens to be a devout vegan or vegetarian, what's the big deal?
I still intend to gobble up some turkey on Thanksgiving Day and I'm not so sensitive or naive as to think that the sliced turkey on my plate wasn't put there by virtually the same process as the one shown behind Palin.
And why does the guy keep looking back at her? Was he trying to kill those turkeys without her noticing?
The conveniently ironic line of questioning, the mischievous smile on the guy's face as he tinkered around with the turkey behind her, and the false MSNBC claims of "gore" suggest to me that this story is both fabricated and a set up.
Coming from the people who bought the “Eisenstadt” hoax, what do you expect? MSNBC eagerly jumps at any opportunity to push liberal talking points and completely disregards any semblance of real journalistic ethics.
Regardless, this story is about as immaterial as the "wardrobe controversy."
"Good lord, the GOP legally purchased Palin and her family some nice clothes because she couldn't afford to do it herself. Quick, spin it into a controversy! We can’t manipulate public opinion if we aren’t the first to report it!”
Add this turkey tale to the vast analogs of reasons never to listen to MSNBC. If you want to know what they’re going to say, go to The Huffington Post or the Daily Kos. They’re all liberal spin machines, but at least the blogs don’t parade around pretending to be news organizations.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
.:Traditional News Media (Television and Print):.
In my post regarding the various reasons why NOT to elect Barack Obama, I offered some solid statistics and information regarding the liberal news media’s preferential treatment of Obama during the election and some charts showing how that treatment directly correlated to public opinion. Polls and studies done after the election or close to its end, even by the most liberal of sources, seem to coincide with my findings.
* Rasmussen Reports: Majority Say Reporters Tried To Help Obama
* Project for Excellence in Journalism: How the Press Reported the 2008 General Election
* Advertising Age: How Obama Killed 'Election Day' and Became President
* Washington Post: An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage
* Washington Times: Wash Post concedes bias for Obama
* New York Times: MSNBC Takes Incendiary Hosts (Olbermann and Matthews) From Anchor Seat
* Newsmax.com: Chris Matthews Admits Bias
* Rasmussen Reports: 55% Say Media More Biased This Year in Campaign Coverage
By the way, this ^ study also showed that FOX News was actually perceived as offering the least biased campaign coverage. 51% of people said MSNBC was biased, 46% said CNN was biased, just 39% said FOX News was biased.
Project for Excellence in Journalism: How Different Media Have Covered the General Election
Statistically speaking, FOX News actually did offer the fairest election coverage.
(Click to enlarge)
The Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism found that 40% of the Obama stories FOX News did during the election were negative. Similarly, FOX News (the “conservative network”) also gave 40% of its McCain stories a negative spin. That's right folks; FOX gave equal negative coverage to Obama AND McCain. On the flip side, 25% of FOX News’ stories about obama were positive, and just 22% of McCain were positive. That means that even the “conservative” network was favoring Obama. MSNBC stood out for having less negative coverage of Obama than any other network. 14% of their stories were negative for Obama. For McCain, 73% of its coverage was negative. That's about 5:1 in favor of Obama.CNN was more balanced than MSNBC, but still showed a very markable liberal lean. 39% of its stories about Obama were negative. 61% of its stories about McCain were negative. That's nearly 3:2 in favor of Obama.
While the FOX News Channel gets the most viewership of the cable networks (25%), all the liberal networks combined take up nearly all of the rest of the viewership.
Of course, none of this is new. The media was “in the tank for Obama” in the primaries as well (Source).
Though, liberal media bias isn’t exactly unique to Obama. A joint survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy — two very liberal leaning organizations — found that the media are sympathetic to Democrats and hostile to Republicans (IBD editorials: Even Harvard Finds The Media Biased). Within this same survey, they found that even within the liberal media bias, Obama was favored above everyone else.
Another study done by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press agreed with the idea of a liberal media, noting that a majority of journalists identified themselves as being liberal. The study says:
“The fact that journalists--especially national journalists--are more likely than in the past to describe themselves as liberal reinforces the findings of the major academic study on this question, namely that of David H. Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit, in their series of books ‘The American Journalist.’”
Even the media admits its own liberal bias.
Heck, as many as 133 newspapers publically endorsed Obama (Source)
So the media, who already favors democrats, favored Obama to an exceptional extreme in both the primaries and in the general election. This is an undisputable FACT. Liberals are squirming because they feel that this fact illegitimizes their “victory,” and, in part, they’re right.
The media’s “Obama fever” had a direct effect on public opinion. And if we can prove that, then we can also say that the people voted, in large part, because of media influence and not because of some innate compulsory adoration for Obama’s policies.
This is an idea which liberals simply cannot let get into mainstream discussion. If the people realize that they were manipulated into voting for Obama, the Democrats in Washington might find their stays cut short. Therefore, liberals deny a liberal media bias because it serves their purposes to do so.
This study, done by the independent and objective organization - Media Tenor International, found that despite the fact that McCain was perceived as being better on nearly every policy issue (even by the media), the Media continued to focus on Obama’s positive “image” and the “horse race.”
(Click to enlarge)
Now why would the media want to focus on the only two areas of the election in which Obama was leading? Well…
Click to enlarge)
As this ^ chart shows, the more the media gave Obama favorable coverage, the more the public favored him. Therefore, in order to achieve the best result for Obama, the media covered the best aspects of his campaign – his positive image as perceived by the public and his lead in the polls (essentially the same thing as his image as perceived by the public).
More Americans identify themselves as conservative (34%) than do ones whom identify themselves as liberals (21%). These figures are identical to 2004 (2004 Statistics 2008 Statistics).
The media knew that America was center-right (I’ve previously posted the maps showing that most American counties voted for McCain as well), and so instead of talking about the issues (upon which most Americans lean right – I reference California’s prop. 8) the media focused on Obama’s “image,” his “vision” and his lead in the polls – a lead they, themselves, were creating.
How ironic that the public would favor Obama because the media tells them they are already favoring Obama… self-fulfilled prophecy, no?
Robert K. Merton defined the term in his book “Social Theory and Social Structure” as meaning:
“The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come 'true'. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning”
How relevant to our recent media situation, is it not?
So we can easily say the news media favored Obama and public opinion followed their favoritism. It was not, as liberals try in vain to assert, that the media merely reported a pre-existing condition.
But there is so much more to media influence than just traditional news media. There’s the internet, the music industry, the movie industry, and radio to consider as well.
Conventional wisdom says that conservatives dominate the radio, and I’m inclined to agree. That's the way it's always seemed to me, at least.
According to The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press : News Audiences Increasingly Politicized, just 4 out of every 10 Americans listen to radio news and just 17% listen to talk radio. However, of the people who listen to talk radio, over 94% regularly listen to NPR.
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR): How Public Is Public Radio? argues that NPR is actually right-leaning (despite seemingly wide-spread acceptance that it is liberal), saying that roughly 61% of NPR sources are Republican.
Another study done at about the same time by UCLA: Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist, argued just the opposite, saying:
"By our estimate, NPR hardly differs from the average mainstream news outlet," Groseclose said. "Its score is approximately equal to those of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report and its score is slightly more conservative than The Washington Post's. If anything, government‑funded outlets in our sample have a slightly lower average ADA score (61), than the private outlets in our sample (62.8)."
Roger Rick: NPR Sucks also makes a lot of good arguments to say that NPR is liberal, though I would hardly cite him as an objective news source. He makes the point:
“For Brook Gladstone, host of NPR's On The Media, the question of whether the network is biased is no question at all. According to her, the people of NPR remained steadfastly in the center, while the public at large drifted slowly to the right, beginning with the Nixon years.
It's the public that is biased, stupid!
Indeed, it may be the case that we all kept drifting while Gladstone and her colleagues at NPR stayed true to the old religion. But, regardless who has changed, this still places the network somewhere out in the left field, viewed from where the rest of us are standing.
The liberal bias of the media is not surprising, considering that in a survey, jointly conducted by the Freedom Forum and the Roper Center, 89% of Washington's bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents voted for Clinton in the '96 presidential election. I am not aware of a poll of the people at NPR, but I would be surprised if their score was anything but a perfect 100%.“
He even makes a direct argument against the study offered by FAIR which I previously referenced by saying:
“I received several letters from people who argued that NPR is a right wing news organization as shown by a recent FAIR study. Of course, people who take FAIR seriously probably believe that Michael Moore is a documentary film maker rather than the clever agit-prop artist that he truly is.”
Suffice it to say, the NPR's bias is debatable. Even if we were to discount the views of Roger Rick and UCLA, and take FAIR at their word, the most we could say is that, of the 16% of Americans who listen to NPR (which, according to the study done by PEW would come out to rought 94% of all talk radio listeners), 61% of their news is sourced by Republicans. This would mean that just 9.76% of Americans would be subject to Republican-sourced talk radio news.
Hardly an impressive stat, wouldn’t you say?
But most of these studies are dated by about four years.
A more recent study was done by The Center for American Progress (CAP): The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio, an openly leftist “research” group whose President and CEO is none other than John Podesta - the former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton. With leadership such as Podesta, it no surprise that this study suggests a far more conservative dynamic in talk radio than previously mentioned. The study found:
* “Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.
* Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.
* A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.”
And while the Center is openly “progressive,” they aren’t quite as forthright with their political agenda. In addition to their Clintonian CEO:
The Executive Vice President for Management is Sarah Rosen, who was also a member of the Clinton administration.
Senior Vice President for Development Debbie Goldberg worked for the Clinton campaign.
Senior Vice President and Director David Halperin was a speech writer for President Clinton.
Vice President of Communications Jennifer Palmieri was Clinton’s White House Deputy Press Secretary.
Senior Vice President for External Affairs Winnie Stachelberg worked at the Office of Management and Budget under Clinton.
Vice President of Finance and Operations Brad Kiley worked for the Clinton administration.
Other Members of CAP staff who worked for Clinton: Peter Rundlet, Anna Soellner, Debbie Fine, and Michelle Jolin.
Clearly, this “research” group, has an agenda. Let it not go understated that this “report” conveniently came out in 2007, just in time for the 2008 elections.
But let us look at their figures, nonetheless. It's not neccessarilly true that a bias source is incorrect just by virtue of it being bias.
Unfortunately for the Liberal think tank, they refrained from mentioning the importance of market share in their study and they seem to have left a vast majority of the liberal/ progressive stations out of their study. Steve Newton: If you're talking about Talk Radio, better be sure you have your facts correct points out:
“Contrary to the Center for American Progress report, there are not four talk or news/talk format radio stations impacting the Philadelphia market, but seven. In other words, the CAP report ignored 43% of the talk radio stations in the market in asserting that conservative talk dominates the market. This seems a little problematic, and it gets worse when you actually look at the stations--both included and excluded
So, first let's note that political talk radio, while it is a big format, it's not exactly dominating the radio airwaves. Combined, talk and news/talk radio stations in Philadelphia at its best has only a 9.7% market share in the City of Brotherly Love. Which means that 90.3% of all radio listeners ARE NOT LISTENING to any talk radio of any kind.”
9.7%. Does that stat seem familiar? It should, because it’s roughly the same figure I came up with in my estimate of conservative talk radio market share. Newton goes on to conclude:
“In other words, the CAP study suggesting that the dominance of Conservative Talk Radio in the Philly market is 100%-0.0% is (to use a technical term) full of shit if not an outright conscious distortion of the facts.”
I highly doubt that the errors of the CAP report are limited to the Philadelphia Market. In either case, even if we take the CAP at their word, we’re looking at an estimated market share of less than 10% for all of talk radio. Even if conservatives had 100% of that, it isn’t an impressive figure, not when weighed against the fact that all other forms of news media lean left.
The most we can say is that the news medium, which most people identify as belonging to conservatives (talk radio), only accounts for a very small portion of all news media – and that’s with the most generous of estimates. So, when you hear people respond to claims of a liberal media by saying, “Yeah, but conservatives have talk radio…” feel free to tell them that their argument is a bad one.
The internet is perhaps the most free form of information. Anyone with an internet connection can upload a picture, sound bite or video, and share it with the world. Print media finds itself confronted with the cold hard fact that it no longer has a monopoly on the written word.
Perhaps this accounts for the recent swing in printed partisanship – newspapers have had to increase the level to which they pander to their demographics to keep them reading. Even still, papers like the New York (Obama) Times are losing money hand over fist (Associated Press: New York Times Company Profits Plummet, 82% Drop In One Year) because consumers are simply unwilling to pay for their propaganda.
Yet, even the internet favored Obama, according to polling done by MySpace - the largest online networking community in the world (Yahoo! Tech: MySpace poll shows Internet generation favors Barack Obama (AFP)) :
“Survey data collected during a year of unprecedented online political campaigning and discourse shows that 60 percent of the millions of eligible voters on MySpace prefer Democratic candidate Obama.
The survey, which has a three percent margin of error, shows that only 34 percent of MySpace users said they were likely to vote for Republican candidate John McCain.”
What accounts for this?
“The younger the MySpace user the more likely he or she was to be pro-Obama, with his support rising from 53 percent of those 35 years of age or older to 62 percent of those between 18 and 24, results showed.”
Ah… there we have it.
Perhaps it would be important, then, to look at the demographics of internet users.
Pew Internet & American Life Project Tracking surveys (March 2000 – May 2008) show that 70% of Americans use the internet, but just 39% of the American internet users get their daily news from an online source.
Of the Americans using the internet, here’s an age break down of those who use MySpace, courtesy of RL Digital: MySpace Age and Gender Demographics:
(Click to enlarge)
In that same report, Rober of RL Digital goes on to say:
“MySpace users are concentrated in the under 40 age group heavy skewed toward the 20ish crowd.”
Well, that explains a lot doesn’t it? The MySpace poll just so happened to tap the same age demographic which typically supports the democratic ticket. I think it goes without saying that the younger generations tend to be more tech savvy, and so internet forms of communication are going to reflect the type of people generating them. Therefore, it seems reasonable to suggest that internet media would also lean left. If a majority of online users are younger, and a majority of younger Americans vote democratic, then it stands to reason that a majority of online content would favor the democratic agenda. So, it also stands to reason that the internet favored Obama – a fact of which he is well aware.
A large portion of his funding was coordinated online, and he’s made it known that he wants to use his campaign networking to bypass the media and “speak directly to the American people.” He has even promised a weekly youtube video, while in the White House. It’s no shocker, then, that he also plans to nationalize broadband internet access.
And if you don’t think he had a concerted campaign effort to up-grade youtube videos that favored him, down-grade videos that didn’t, and post responses to public blogs, you’re clearly out of touch.
If you go to youtube a search “John McCain,” you’ll find that nearly all of the results are negative about John McCain (except for sponsored channels which appear at the top with a different color background). This isn’t because there is some "mysterious" lack of pro-McCain videos available; it’s because there was a concerted effort to down-rate videos that supported him. Want proof? Search “John McCain American Hero.” Suddenly, some positive McCain videos start to appear! There are thousands of videos on youtube supporting John McCain, but you have to be a real sleuth to find them – and that was by design folks!
Conversely, if you search for “Barack Obama,” you’ll find that all of the first results are relatively positive for Obama. Again, not a coincidence. Moreover, as with the horserace reporting of the media, this is a phenomenon which perpetuates itself or – in internet speak – goes viral. Once video’s start getting a lot of views, they get more views. Once they start getting attacked, they get hit with more attacks.
Though, to be fair, I’ve seen quite a few conservative radicals on youtube as well… though their ignorance often seems so stereotypical that I can’t help but wonder if their remarks have been orchestrated to paint conservatives in a "particular light." What better way to make conservatives look stupid than to post something stupid under the guise of a conservative? Seem far-fetched?
If you were running a presidential campaign and had an online network of over 10 million people, what would you do? Especially when people can make up names and post anonymously for FREE…
That said, the online age divide is decreasing and a conservative internet presence is growing in correlation. The percentage of older online users has practically doubled in the past few years. However, if the GOP wants to stand a chance in future elections, they'll have to seriously ramp up their internet efforts.
.:Movie and Television Industry; aka "Hollywood":.
In regards to the movie and television industry (independent of the news networks previously mentioned), it’s no secret that they have always been liberal. Hollywood has been perhaps the most powerful steward of the liberal cause since they put those nine letters on that hill. Here is a list of roughly 300 "Hollywood" celebrities who openly supported Obama. I don't know if each of these names are true, but a quick glance at them combined with what I already know, seems to suggest relative accuracy.
In addition, there have been a plethora of recent liberal “docu-ganda” films like:
Fahrenheit 9/11 (anti-bush/ Republican)
Death of a President (anti-Bush)
Lions for Lambs (anti-Republican)
There Will Be Blood (anti-oil)
Blue State (Anti Republican)
American Beauty (anti-establishment)
The Life of David Gale (anti-death penalty)
John Q (universal healthcare)
Crash (everyone’s a racist)
On Deadly Ground (anti-oil)
SICKO (universal Healthcare)
Let us not forget that Obama has written two memoirs which were best sellers (making him a celebrity in his own right), but only managed to cook up one national bill that got passed into law.
.:The Music Industry:.
The music industry (excluding perhaps a portion of some country music) has also historically touted the liberal agenda. Here’s a list of just a few of the pro-Obama songs:
Ludacris: "Politics as Usual
Malik Yusef [FT. Kanyer West and Adam Levine: "Promised Land"
The Mountain Goats: "Down to the Ark"
Big Boi [FT. Mary J. Blige]: "Something’s Gotta Give"
Young Jeezy [FT. Nas]: "My President"
Jay-Z: "A Billi"
Nas: "Black President"
V.I.C.: “Get Silly”
Common "The People"
Kidz in the Hall [FT. Talib Kweli and Bun B]: “Work to Do”
Nas's DJ Green Lantern: “Black President”
To tie in the internet bias with the music industry bias, the youtube profile "Obamasongs" has over 1,200 pro-Obama songs uploaded on their account from across the world. Twelve hundred…
What did the Music Industry for John McCain? I can think of two country songs:
John Rich: “Raising McCain”
Hank Williams Jr.: “Family Tradition [Remake]”
And… yep, I think that’s about it.
And as if it wasn’t hard enough for the GOP to appeal to younger voters, there were several musicians who wouldn't even allow McCain to play their music at his events:
The Foo Fighters
Half of Van Halen
- To name a few. And to think... he fought in a war defending their freedom so that they could deny him the "privilege" of playing their music at his rallies. Boy, half a decade as a prisoner of war really seems worth it now, doesn't it?
(I'm being facieses, of course.)
With so many celebs backing Obama and using their various forms of media and/or their reputations to propagate for him, it’s no wonder the youth were so successfully wooed. In fact, when you look closely at American Media, you would begin to wonder if we even had conservatives in this country. Yet, again, there are more self-professed conservatives in this country than liberals.
It makes you wonder… what would happen to the democrats if the media weren’t there to get them into office?
(Click to enlarge)
When you hear conservatives ranting about indoctrination and liberal media, maybe now you have a sense of what they mean. Maybe now you’ll see why conservatives aren’t happy with the consolation prizes of FOX News, talk radio, and a few second tier newspapers (all of whom are fine newspapers but have larger, liberal counterparts within the same market except for perhaps The Wall Street Journal).
But let me say this: the same internet fervor that helped bring Obama and the democrats into office can also be their undoing. When the rest of America gets online and begins getting their information for free, the traditional liberal media will find their puppet strings on public opinion severed - or at least contorted dramatically.
The real question is: who will win the battle to control the political tenor of the internet? Whoever does that, will find victory. If you need proof, look at the guy heading for the White House on January20th. That’s a man who understands the power of media and, more specifically, new media.
Friday, November 14, 2008
In the passing years of the War on Terror, liberals have established a dialog by which any discussion over the validity of the American purpose in the Middle East is regarded as "fear mongering." The MSM did the same thing regarding Obama. Any attempt to talk about an issue not favorable to Obama's cause was instantly dismissed as "negative campaigning" and "fear mongering." Recently, as indicated by the election of Barack Obama, the MSM have been successful in squelching serious discussion about substantive issues.
One such issue, is the matter of indoctrinating young children. Before we discuss liberal indoctrination, let's provide some context...
Aside from selling young girls into slavery (disguised as marriage) and denying them the right to educate themselves, radical Islamic culture indoctrinates very young children, toddlers even. That is not to say all Islam supports this practice. On the contrary, most of Islam denounces such radical efforts, but they do so silently. Their silence is one brought about by fear from retribution should they speak out against what is, in actuality, only a minor portion of their religion.
A conservative in America might draw parallels between this brand of coerced silence and the silence forced on conservatives regarding a whole host of issues (global warming, gay marriage, poverty, etc.) In being forced into silence by the loudest amongst us, we rob our democracy of the necessary discussions for growth, advancements and understanding. America should note the coercion of the silent majority and learn from it. If this election is any indication, we can safely say that a silent majority is ineffective in defeating radicalism.
Let us look at the aforementioned indoctrination of the Muslim youth. Here is a report from Memri TV:
But the indoctrination of the Muslim Youth goes far beyond internet and television programming. Indoctrination has had a steady presence in the schooling of Muslim children as well:
Here is another report offered by the BBC Part 1, Part 2
And this indoctrination starts at birth. The child in the video below is just two years old:
Now, maybe you’re willing to accept that there are some instances of indoctrination in the Middle East. If you’re up on your history, maybe you’re similarly aware that Hitler used youth camps and schools to indoctrinate the children of his time in an attempt to create what was referred to as the Hitler Youth:
Here’s a little ditty supporting Obama produced by 22 children (ages 5-12) from California:
Maybe the baby blue t-shirts and choreography threw you off. Let’s set this music to a more alarming visual - see if you still think the Obama song is cute when produced by the Hitler Youth:
Still cute? As Adolf Hitler said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
Let us also not forget Obama’s support for “age appropriate” comprehensive sex education (which I have discussed previously on this blog) or his plan to initiate “mandatory” community service from our youth in his proposed "Civilian National Security Force."
Yes, indoctrination even takes place in “the land of the free.” But what happens when we rub against the grain of liberal indoctrination?
I also experienced similar “teaching” when I was a child. Technically, I was allowed to be, do, think or like anything I wanted (within the rules of course). I just had to be willing to suffer the backlash of social ostracization. What child is willing to do that? Surely not one who wants to enjoy his time in school.
For example, a Lesbian teacher from California recently brought her 1st grade students (during class time) to city hall to witness and take part in her homosexual wedding ceremony. Her defense of the act was to say that the students whose parents did not want their children attending could withhold their children from the event. So when the entire class comes back from the “field trip” where they learned “you must accept homosexuality or you’re not a good person,” the few students whose parents had the intestinal fortitude to stand by their morals will be mocked and ridiculed for not having the values of the teacher and her political supporters? Nice.
And, let’s be honest, colleges are far worse than any elementary, middle or high school because, in colleges, educators generally don’t have to worry about angry parents storming in to defend the rights of their children to form their own opinions. Instead, most college students welcome the liberal indoctrination as "liberating." How ironic…
Here are the other parts of the above documentary: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10
I highly recommend that you watch this whole documentary when you have the time.
And the brain washing doesn’t stop with the youth. It’s deeply seeded in the media. The sources on which we almost exclusively rely for information have a vested interest in swaying opinion in one direction or the other because they are, at their root, businesses run on profit. The media are the proverbial car salesmen of news. Each of them report exactly and only what they must to improve their profit.
The “silent majority” can no longer afford to be silent. Our youth are being brainwashed. The youth of our enemy are being brainwashed. We, ourselves, are being brainwashed.
Indoctrination is one of the world’s greatest threats to freedom. To fight it, you must first be able to identify it. So identify, and then make every effort to dismantle. For as long as indoctrination endures, its victims will remain slaves to the wills of the indoctrinators.
Lest we forget who and what it is we're fighting, allow me to remind you of the type of radical culture we're up against:
CNN did two very powerful documentaries on the lives of women in Afghanistan. Here is a brief clip from the second documentary:
Sold as a Child Bride, Many Women Burn Themselves to Escape, and Conditions for Women are Often Bleak were other sections in the second CNN documentary.
VOA did a similar story:
So did AlJazeera - English:
I worked for CNN as an intern two summers ago. I've seen the unedited film of the second CNN "Lifting the Veil" documentary... the unedited raw footage of the women who had burned themselves alive in hopes that they would die before anyone put the flames out - because incinerating themselves, to these poor women, was a welcomed release to the type of life forced upon them by the Taliban.
There are no words I can use to describe the sadness that filled my heart when I saw this footage. It was at this point that I, as an undergraduate student, realized the greater purpose of our wars abroad. Suddenly, it didn't feel cool any more to mock the War on Terror. I didn't feel noble anymore when I argued for the cause of peace... not when there were human beings being treated like this; not when I have it so good relative to those who have it so very bad.
There IS hope for these women, but this hope entails that America stays in the Middle East and finishes the War on Terror. I’ve discussed Bush’s war cassius belli before on this blog, and I won’t reiterate here, but suffice it to say that if you believe in nothing else, believe that we can NOT leave until we COMPLETELY remove the oppressive terrorist regimes from Afghanistan and Iraq and help those countries build up their own security to a point where our assistance is no longer required.
Let’s hope that that these desired results are reaped as soon as possible, let’s hope that we can minimize the loss of life in the process, but let us not hope (just for the sake of hoping) that these problems will fix themselves. Instead, let’s “hope” that we “be the ‘change’ we desire in the world.” Let’s hope that, when we do leave the Middle East, it looks a lot less like what you saw above, and at least a little more like the scene you see in this school yard:
While this school is a perfect example of progress experienced in Afghanistan since the war against the Taliban began, it is just one of a very few safe havens for young girls seeking education in Afghanistan. As the end of this last clip shows, there is still a strong resistance to equality in the culture. We cannot force Afghanistan to model their culture after our own in every respect, nor should we. But what we can do, what we've been doing, and what I pray to God we are allowed to finish doing, is eliminate the terrorist regimes and return the direction of the culture to the people. We can't solve all of the world's problems, but when there's an identifiable enemy waging war on basic human rights, we should fight that enemy by any reasonable means.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
By DAVID BAUDER – 15 hours ago
NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC was the victim of a hoax when it reported that an adviser to John McCain had identified himself as the source of an embarrassing story about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the network said Wednesday.
David Shuster, an anchor for the cable news network, said on air Monday that Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, had come forth and identified himself as the source of a Fox News Channel story saying Palin had mistakenly believed Africa was a country instead of a continent.
Eisenstadt identifies himself on a blog as a senior fellow at the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy. Yet neither he nor the institute exist; each is part of a hoax dreamed up by a filmmaker named Eitan Gorlin and his partner, Dan Mirvish, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
The Eisenstadt claim had mistakenly been delivered to Shuster by a producer and was used in a political discussion Monday afternoon, MSNBC said.
"The story was not properly vetted and should not have made air," said Jeremy Gaines, network spokesman. "We recognized the error almost immediately and ran a correction on air within minutes."
Gaines told the Times that someone in the network's newsroom had presumed the information solid because it was passed along in an e-mail from a colleague.
The hoax was limited to the identity of the source in the story about Palin — not the Fox News story itself. While Palin has denied that she mistook Africa for a country, the veracity of that report was not put in question by the revelation that Eisenstadt is a phony.
Eisenstadt's "work" had been quoted and debunked before. The Huffington Post said it had cited Eisenstadt in July on a story regarding the Hilton family and McCain.
Among the other victims were political blogs for the Los Angeles Times and The New Republic, each of which referenced false material from Eisenstadt's blog.
And in July, Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones magazine blogged an item about Eisenstadt speaking on Iraqi television about a casino in Baghdad's "Green Zone."
Stein later realized he'd been had.
"Kudos to the inventor of this whole thing," Stein wrote. "My only consolation is that if I had as much time on my hands as he clearly does, I probably would have figured this out and saved myself a fair amount of embarrassment."
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
By comparison, here is Newsmax.com's break down from 2004, and here is their break break down from 2000.
These findings aren't exclusive to Newsmax.com. Even the The Washington Post, who endorsed Obama, released a very similar map about a week ago.
From these maps we can derive two very simple concepts.
First, is the very simple and undeniable fact that The New York (Obama) Times will do everything in its power to aid the liberal cause. Their map (which was released at the same time as The Washington Post map) looked like this:
Clearly, The New York (Obama) Times' credibility has gone down the drain because of their persistent efforts to serve as Obama's personal publicity outfit. While this map was “supposed” to be a simple indication of voter "shifts" from 2004 to 2008, it got full exposure in the print version of The New York (Obama) Times, in the hopes that people would see it and be leap to the conclusion that America had somehow pulled a political 180.
It's an old rule of advertising that when pitching an idea, you want to make your general concept easy to grasp because most readers only glance at each page. It's very doubtful that people would see the NYT blue map and take the extra effort to read the fine print explaining why it was blue. The NYT knows this, and that's why they gave their blue map half a page of space.
Sometimes media bias is less explicit than many people realize. Imagery can and does play a major role in shaping opinion because it's the easiest medium to absorb. All a person had to do is walk by someone reading this copy of the NYT, and they would have caught a glimpse of this blue map and walked off with the false conclusion that America had turned blue in the 2008 election. This was precisely the effect The New York (Obama) Times sought. The Democratic Party couldn't have purchased better advertising.
The map was then lauded by Chris Matthews on MSNBC as "exciting" and he said, "This is maybe the best map ever seen!"
Clearly, Matthews and the NYT WANT America to be blue, and they want people to THINK that it is blue; but despite their efforts to spin the facts in their favor, America remains a red country.
The second concept we can derive from these maps (excluding the abhorrently false map issued by NYT) is that nothing significant has changed when it comes to voter demographics. With a few exceptions, densely populated cities have historically voted for democrats. All that has changed is that there are now more densely populated cities. It's called urban sprawl, and it's progressing at a rapid rate.
What does this entail for the GOP?
Manifest Destiny is over. America isn’t getting any more land. Instead, we will see a steady increase in number and growth of large cities. This means that the GOP will have to find a way to appeal to urban settings, or it's going to find itself fighting a losing battle for years to come.
His underlying intention is to shape the terms of the debate regarding the future of the GOP. His hope (no pun intended) is that the readers of his article walk away thinking the GOP consists of just two types of politicians: “backward-thinking,” “out-of-touch,” conservatives and “forward-thinking” “reformers.” His synopsis being: conservativism = bad and liberalism = good.
His article is nothing more than a transparent attempt to kick the GOP while it’s down and convince people that it was conservativism, the core ideology of republicans, which failed in this most recent election and not the individual republicans who ran. If the GOP were to agree with Mr. Brooks’ conclusions, it would reduce itself to nothing more than a slightly watered-down version of the Democratic Party.
Sarah Palin was not and is not considered a reformer because she “reformed” her stances to the model of liberalism. She was a reformer because America, in recent years, has observed a steady growth of federal oversight, influence, and power and she, as a state official, has taken efforts to return some of the decision making to the hands of the people whom she represents. To re-form means to change, it doesn’t mean to move it to the left, Mr. Brooks.
That aside, I don't think the two factions in the party are “reformers” and “conservatives.” I think the two factions are the conservatives and the "democrat lights" (as Sean Hannity calls them). The “Democrat Lights” are the people who have tried so hard to be “bipartisan” that they betray their own party’s ideals. What’s the point in having a Republican Party if the best it can offer is a watered down version of what the Democrats are offering? There isn’t one, and Mr. Brooks knows this; hence why he suggests that the GOP continue to move to the left, because doing so would render the Republican Party obsolete and leave the Democratic Party to rule unfettered. I’m sure such a chain reaction would be good for NYT profit margins (which have declined steadily since their decision to completely divert from objective journalism). But I digress…
The last Republican congress was not fiscally conservative. Bush was not fiscally conservative. Both expanded the role, power, and influence of the federal government. Obama's election was not the result of failed conservativism. It was the result of failed attempts at bipartisanship by the Bush administration and “modern-thinking” republicans.
For those who are old enough to remember, Bush didn’t run in 2000 under a banner of staunch conservativism. He ran under a “reforming bipartisan” initiative. And for his own part, his cabinet and administration has consisted of much diversity (of thought and kind). And while the Bush administration might have pushed back on issues like gay marriage, drilling, and stem cell research we saw a government expansion under his watch that would have given Reagan a heart attack. I will even go so far as to suggest that if Bush had done in the 1970s what he did in the 2000s, there wouldn’t have been a single Republican (including his own father) who would have supported him the way our Republican congress did from 2000-2006.
No, I dare say the New York (Obama) Times wants conservatives to think there is a difference between conservatives and reformers. Mr. Brooks wants us to think that we have two options: progression or regression. Instead, we should realize that it is the conservatives we need to reform the GOP - to bring back the policy ideas for Reaganomics and downsizing the federal government. What Mr. Brooks is trying to blind us from, is that conservativism is reform at this stage in American politics. It’s the exact type of reform the GOP needs to get back on top, and he’s doing everything in his power to steer us away from this truism.
Mr. Brooks, conservativism is not limited to the idea that we need to run government in the ways that it was run in the past. Nor does it entail that modernization or forward thinking cannot take place. Obviously, the government will gradually expand and change to meet new and evolving needs of the American people. No reasonable conservative would argue otherwise. What a conservative would argue is that our problem is not that people are taxed too little, but that our government spends too much; that when you start excessively punishing success you remove the will to succeed; that when you make it too expensive for a business to function in America, it won’t; that when you hand someone cash instead of leading them to a job, they have absolutely no incentive to work; that the government of an individual community or state can better adapt to (and account for) the needs and desires of its specific populous than can the federal government which oversees the most diverse collection of 300 million people on the planet.
To be fair, I’m sure that Mr. Brooks has merely caught a spell of Obama-fever. I’m sure he got a “tingle up his leg,” when he realized that democrats had the White House and large majorities in both the House and Senate. I’m sure he feels, as Chris Mathews does, that he needs to do "everything in his power to make Obama’s presidency a success." But that’s no reason for level-headed people to read his propaganda and believe it. See it for what it is: an attempt to establish a dialogue by which conservativism is denounced as backward-thinking. Conservativism as a political theory is nothing of the sort, Mr. Brooks just wants you to think that it is because as soon as conservatives acquiesce to the suggestion that liberals are forward-thinking and conservatives need to modernize – every conservative argument that might follow would be automatically discredited. Don’t let him do it. Don’t let him, and others like him, form the debate on these terms.
This is the same thing liberals have done with “Gay Rights.” They coined the term and so now everyone’s knee-jerk response is to the issue is: “Well, all American citizens should have equal rights.” Gee-wiz and golly-gee-willackers, you think? Too bad that’s not what’s at risk with the gay marriage debate. There’s no “right” being denied to gays that is currently guaranteed to American citizens in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. No, the debate of gay marriage is one of definition and benefits, not rights. Benefits, unlike rights, are NOT guaranteed to all citizens. If the population of a state doesn’t want to give tax cuts to a certain project, a certain government initiative, or to a certain group of people, they don’t have too. It's their money, they can vote to do with it as they please. But, in an attempt to brow beat Americans with this liberal ideology that everyone has a "right" to equal possession of goods and wealth, liberals have molded the terms of the debate by labeling it as being about “gay rights.”
The same thing is happening here. Look at the language Mr. Brooks used here. Liberals are “modernists” and conservatives are “traditionalists.” Hint being: democrats know what’s best for the future, and we should all just try to accept that and move more towards the left because that’s what Europe has done. Brooks fails to mention of course that it was the more liberal of Bush’s economic policies that failed and that liberalism is falling on its face in Europe. The other suggestion of his is that “reform” = moving to the left, when in actuality reform = changing the status quo. But what do you expect from the New York (Obama) Times?
He even tries to threaten conservatives by saying that until the GOP moves to the left, it will “suffer more defeats.” The propaganda and spin in Brooks' article is so transparent it’s disgusting.
Though, there is something to the idea that there is an old school nature to much of the Conservative culture, which seems resistant to change in campaign tactics. What I mean by this is that the GOP was slow off the ball when hopping on the new media train, and I think we all saw the effect that had in this past election. For example, the GOP candidates for president consistently drug their feet and resisted CNN's youtube primary debates. They thought it was "silly" to have to answer questions submitted by average people through an online video format. Another example would be the youtube Obama warriors. I'm talking about the people who spent hours online downgrading pro-McCain videos and upgrading pro-Obama videos so that when you searched "Obama" or "McCain" on youtube, you got the overwhelming sense that there weren't many positive videos out there for McCain. This is, of course, false, but the McCain campaign lost the youtube war and if the GOP doesn't come to terms with the importance of online media like youtube, blogs, podcasts, facebook, myspace, etc. they're dead in the water in future campaigns. Nothing is more viral, more effective, than internet fodder. Effective videos, articles, and images are e-mailed by the millions in a matter of minutes. And it's FREE publicity!
In this sense, yeah, "conservativism" needs a tactics reform. But politically speaking, the conservatives are the reformers the GOP needs.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
What does the GOP need to do to regain power? This question is plastered on nearly every conservative blog, discussed on conservative talk radio, and flaunted by liberal television as a means to further discredit republicans and the Bush administration. It’s virtually the only issue, besides the purported “finger pointing” at Sarah Palin, that the media want to discuss.
So, let’s discuss it.
I’ve heard some republicans claim that the party needs to get back to its roots. Some have said that with the appointment of Bush as the presidential nominee, the party went too far to the right. I’ve heard suggestions that there was “too much” cooperation with the democrats, which lead to a dilution of Republican values. Others have simply shifted the blame to the Bush administration, and there are also the typical attempts to convince people that the democrats are responsible for all of our problems.
All of these excuses fail to get to the heart of the problem, and the fact that Republicans are citing these as the reasons for their graceless fall from power is more of an indication of the problem itself than anything else.
The problem is that Americans aren’t American anymore. That’s not to say, of course, that only republicans are American, or that only conservative values are American values. No, the point is that there has been a paradigm shift in American perspective. This shift has been taking place since World War I, when American soldiers came back to the puritan-founded US of A with European flights of fancy. This isn’t to suggest that the growing relationship between European countries and America (or America and the rest of the world), hasn’t brought about a plethora of advancements, because it has.
No, what we’re talking about here is a shift of foundation. Because America was founded at a time where most of the western world had already established itself, America flourished because it had the benefit of hindsight. The monarchies and oligarchies of Europe were oppressive to the natural rights of the people, and so we established the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to serve as the supreme laws of the land, to supersede any type of leadership – the ultimate check and balance, if you will.
Like most political systems, our constitutional republic looked perfect on paper. Ours was a system where individual rights were enumerated, and the people had a voice through elected representatives.
You know this. I know this. Anyone who knows anything about the American system of government knows this.
What most people overlook, however, is that our laws and system of government were not just meant to protect the rights of the individual. They were also established, such as they were, to protect our government from the individuals.
We often hear people say, “Our founding fathers never intended for…” Such avowals simply go in one ear and out there other of most people in this day and age. THAT is the reason republicans have fallen from grace. The entire party seems to fail to grasp what it is that motivates Americans.
The instant America became a secular, hedonistic country where the benefits of the individual began to supersede his/her rights, is the instant Americans stopped caring about why our government was established in the way that it was and the instant America lost its way.
JFK once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.” Apparently, Americans interpreted that to mean, “Ask what you can do TO your country, to make your country do FOR you.”
The dream of America, to provide all of its citizens equal rights and opportunity, has been perverted into a benefits free for all, where special interests are ends, and government is merely the means. Sadly, Americans will not likely denounce such egocentricity until they are given a reason to do so. A popular school of philosophy suggests that humans are incapable of acting independent of their personal interests. What this means for America is that her citizens won’t feel compelled to return to their foundational roots until they think that doing so will benefit them directly.
So I return to my premise: What does the GOP need to do to regain power? Simply put, they need to remind Americans why it is that our government is one of laws and rights, and not emotion and benefits. This is the sole purpose and entire extent of government’s role in America.
You hear democrats say, “I don’t understand why the working class consistently votes against their interests by supporting republicans.” There’s a very sinister suggestion there in the undertones of this statement: that Americans should vote according to their personal interests. The logical conclusion of this is that votes can be bought if the masses are temporarily appeased (tax cuts for 95% of Americans anyone?). Previously, Americans understood that the federal government was supposed to play a minimal roll in our lives, and so voting for the candidates who had the best interest of the entire country in mind came hand in hand because the candidates, at that point in time, lacked the power to directly benefit individuals. With the expanding roll and influence of our federal government has come an expanding capacity for federal candidates to pander to the interests of the masses – a dangerous trend from which “our founding fathers” tried to protect us.
So what we have now is a situation in which the GOP can’t and won’t regain prominence until America realizes it needs it – just as America did in the face of the looming threat from the Middle East when George Bush was elected. Regrettably, this is almost always reactionary in that America waits until it’s sick before it calls for the doctor; whereas, if it would just see the doctor regularly, he would play a diminished role over time.
So, in short, if the GOP wants the white house in 2012, or a bigger piece of the congressional pie in 2010, one of two things is going to have to happen: 1) Major disaster resulting from democratic policies 2) Republicans convince Americans to go against their compulsory human nature. As frightening as it seems, the first option is almost inevitable and the second is almost impossible.
All of the other facets of Obama’s victory are relevant (the media bias, the hatred for the war on terror, the failure of Republicans to stick to their fundamental fiscal principles, etc.) but they are the symptoms, not the disease. The diseases are egocentricity and shortsightedness.
Americans lack the ability to look forward or backward. They’re egocentric first and reactionary second. This isn’t exclusive to America – it’s a human affliction.
But fear not my conservative comrades! We all know that the liberal agenda is a flawed one, doomed to failure from the start. So it’s only a matter of time until the reactionary nature of Americans kicks in, and they realize that it is in their immediate interest to restore republicans to the congress and White House. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope that the damage done by Reid, Pelosi and Obama to this great country is not irreversible. Until they foul up – and they will foul up- the GOP needs to set a shining example of fiscal responsibility, social conservativism, and international wisdom.
There’s no substantial “winning” when a liberal gets elected. Some campaign promises are delivered to pay off those who put them in office, but ultimately everyone will suffer. The best conservatives can do is keep a watchful eye on the liberal miscreants in Washington, and make every attempt to keep the American public informed as to why the efforts of the democratic politicians are counterproductive to the interests of Americans. Eventually the scales will shift, and the democrats will not sit long in their positions of power.
Let us just hope this realization comes sooner rather than later, and that it’s bred of logic rather than reactionary self-interest. That’s a lot to ask for, but perhaps the GOP can help expedite the process before it’s too late… for the sake of the country as well as the party.
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