The incoherent whisper that epitomizes ‘messaging’ from the Obama Administration is profound political malpractice. It would not be so remarkable if there were not, on the other side of things, a malignant political force that celebrates greed, ignorance and war. That political force has already done near irreversible damage to the nation’s economy, its ecology and its culture. Now, it promises to do much, much more.
The Obama Campaign had the GOP in full retreat in 2008. The opportunity was there, in the first months of a new administration, to seize the initiative, control the narrative and to compel a chastened Republican Party to do what had to be done to heal a nation scarred by years of misrule. It was in those months that a victorious party abandoned the political battlefield to a tattered enemy and looked the other way as that enemy regrouped, refitted and rearmed. There are, of course, historical parallels.
Emboldened by an adversary’s inattention, Republicans seized messaging control and took to the offense, convincing half the nation that radical spending cuts, massive tax breaks for the wealthy and lax regulation were the answers to the economic crisis. The very extremist policies that blew the national economy apart. They hurled charges of Socialism, Fascism, Islamism, Kenyanism, Birtherism and every other ‘ism’ at a bemused president.
Brazen, incessant lying persuaded a bloated, imbecilic media that there must be truth in what was said. Because lies must be truth when they are told with such gusto. The people too have come to believe the lies … not only because they are told with shameless enthusiasm, but because no one from the opposing party seemed inclined or disposed to rebut them. Lies unchallenged become truth.
While the presidential campaign may have ended in 2008, the political campaign was just beginning. Political power, simply put, is the ability to influence others to do what you need them to do … allies, potential allies and enemies alike. That does not happen by itself. It happens through relentless educating, persuading and cajoling. It happens by framing an argument and by characterizing an opponent. A political campaign, like any other, should be waged with dogged determination and ruthless efficiency. Concern for moral and ethical campaigning does not preclude aggression.
The political party with positive ideas and policy but no ability to advocate for them is as a body without a soul, an empty vessel. It will inevitably lose its influence and soon thereafter lose its power. More disturbing, it is a party contributing to the ignorance of the citizenry by passive acquiescence.
The Democratic Party has no apparent political arm tasked with aggressive messaging nor does it seem to have the stomach for it. The results have been galling … lukewarm and watered down initiatives (i.e. health care and financial reform) and a massive, unnecessary electoral defeat in 2010. You see, bad politics inevitably end in bad policy and in lost elections.
“Good policy leads to good politics”. That sounds erudite Mr. President, but it is hopelessly naive. One, of course, does not exist without the other. If Democrats do not get the politics right soon, they can kiss their policies good bye.
It is a cruel irony that in America today there exists one party skilled in politics and wretched in government and another party skilled in government and wretched in politics. Should this paradigm persist, some will surely wonder whether a third party should be born.