After Magritte

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We sold our souls for $300.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night

There is a race on to explain the Bush administration. Now, everyone will acknowledge that it has been an unmitigated disaster and the only remaining question is was Bush II the worst president ever, or does that distinction still rest with Sideburns T. Muttonchop from the 1830s? The right would like you to believe that this is not a failing of conservatism, per see, but of specific individuals (too many to list here). We all know that is not true. See Hunter’s fabulous Great Conservative Walkback for details (can't find Kos Link, sorry).

A critical concept of marketing is that it is incredibly difficult to change someone’s worldview. To simplify life, we all have stories to keep things in order. These stories provide a frame that helps us understand the world. When we get new information, often we jam it into our story. Case in point, if I want to buy a car, I will only look at Honda’s and Toyota’s. In my mind, I have a narrative that American cars used to be good, then got crappy. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. I don’t have time to read Consumer Reports to see if that is true or not. Now that Toyota has a hybrid drive, do I think: Oh this is new technology that might be buggy, maybe it will have mechanical problems. Nope, doesn’t fit my story. I just assume it will work great. Another example, how many planets are there. Now we have evidence that Pluto is not a planet or some extra hunks of ice are planets – but you don’t care about that, you said 9. That’s been the story since 4th grade and it ain’t changing.

It is critical for the future of the county that we develop a story that explains the Bush administration and that all of their screw-ups (too many to list here) are inherent in conservatism and republican taliban. A story has to be easy to understand and short and easy to tell others – that is how it spreads. Once the lazy media latches onto a story, they will never let it go. That is how we drive a stake into the heart of conservatism and cut off the head and set it on fire and shoot it a few times. Hey, I have seen Friday the 13th and I am not turning my back on these guys.

So, how does the story go? Here’s a start.

Conservatism is failed idea. Cutting taxes for the rich does not create jobs in the global economy. It just gives money to rich people and runs up huge deficits that our children have to pay. The corporate lobbyists – like Jack Ambramoff - will not let the republicans shrink the government when it comes to their pork projects and earmarks. No, the only thing the Republicans will shrink will be things like student loans, FEMA and care for veterans. People who don’t have K-street lobbyists. The only shrinking of the government they will do will be to gut consumer protections and environmental laws. Just doing the lobbyists bidding.

Conservatives don’t believe in the power of government to help the American people. That is why they are so bad at governing. Katrina and Iraq were not accidents. What would you expect from people who don’t believe the government can or should govern? Conservatives are out
of touch. They are faith based ideologues; they are not practical. Conservatives believe in theories. Democrats believe in rolling up your sleeves and solving problems.

The story is general, not specific. This is not about Rumsfeld or Bush or Brown. It is about conservatives. Everything a republican ever says should get slotted into this story. John McCain wants to reform social security – why? What special interest contributor is going to benefit – oh, the Wall Street firms. Faith Based initiatives – the megachurches profit. Stem cell research – all faith, no reality. If you repeat the story enough, eventually the media will do it for you.

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