Sunday, September 28, 2014

Them durned liberals

One of the most effective public relations campaigns ever waged was to convince the American public that "liberal" is a dirty word, even though polling data indicates most Americans are liberal when polled issue by issue.

They've been convinced that Obamacare is a Marxist plot, even though they like many of its specific provisions and presuppositions:  No one should be denied medical care because they can't afford it, nobody should be denied health care because they lost a job, nobody should be denied health care because of a pre-existing condition, and students should be able to stay on their parents' health care plan if they can't afford their own.

Americans like strong public schools, federal money for medical research, solid infrastructure, and abortion rights.  They've generally come around on gay marriage.  They want social security to be there to take care of them in their old age.  They like breathing unpolluted air and drinking uncontaminated water.  They understand that people who have done well should pay it forward so other people can do well too.  And none of those are the conservative positions.

So why, then, did so many Americans become convinced that liberalism is a bad thing, even as they themselves agree with the liberal view on issue after issue after issue?

It's all in the marketing.  Or, to put it another way, in politics perception is far more important than reality.

It is in the best interests of one of our political parties -- I'm not going to say which one -- to have people believe that liberals are evil and un-American and completely out of step with American values.  Liberalism, like every other belief system, has its liberal fringe that is easy to parody, and parody they did.  And if you want to know how we arrived at a situation in which a political party so completely out of touch with the pulse of the average American voter managed to acquire and keep such a disproportionate amount of political power and influence, that's it.  Tell people over and over and over again that liberals are stupid and evil, and they'll start to believe it, even if they themselves have liberal leanings.

While appalled at the results, I have to admire the artisanship of it.  It was a brilliant strategy.  Unfortunately it worked.

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