Thursday, August 31, 2017

Trump's Fundraising Mailers: models of political lying and they work really well

I noted in a recent column that I’m on several GOP mailing lists.  It helps me keep up with things.  A “Trump Agenda Survey” showed up several days ago, and here is what it had to say to prospective donors about the state of the nation, keeping in mind that it was sent out before Harvey hit Southeast Texas.
  • A border wall is needed to stop illegal migration
  • Obama’s executive orders were unconstitutional
  • Immigration laws have not been fully enforced (we’re being overrun)
  • Sanctuary cites should have their funding cut off
  • Our (weak) military needs to be rebuilt
  • Federal regulation is preventing economic growth
  • Lands must be opened to more carbon fuel production
  • Bad trade deals must be renegotiated to favor American jobs first
  • The inefficient federal bureaucracy needs to be shrunk, and made more accountable (to whom?)
  • A flatter, simpler tax code would be more fair to all
  • Federal spending on infrastructure should increase
  • Corporate tax rates should be reduced to increase employment
  • Government unions should be suspended by executive order
  • Federally mandated “Common Core” curricula should be eliminated
  • GOP leadership should change senate rules to overcome Dem. opposition to the Trump agenda
  • Because congressional Democrats have no intention of working in good faith with Trump
  • Mainstream media will not give Trump fair, unbiased coverage of his policies and leadership
They’re posed in the form of questions loaded with unstated assumptions and assertions leaving no doubt what the answers are supposed to be.  In fact, no one ever looks at the answers.  They only want to tell a story and get some money.  The illusion that they care what you think helps.  The point is that this “survey”, and others like it, presents rank and file GOP supporters with a grossly misleading, sometimes flat out false picture of how the nation is faring.  It’s a picture that’s widely and unshakably believed.  After all, would the Grand Old Party lie?  Heaven forbid.  Besides it confirms the story that has been told in other fund requests sent repeatedly to the same people for the last eight years.  The same thing repeated enough times becomes true in the minds of many.

To be fair, I’m also on a number of Democratic lists, and get their “surveys” also.  They too betray a bias, but in a much different way.  While their questions imply answers they hope will resonate with donors, they’re generally about issues  being honestly debated in the public arena, relate to verifiable conditions, and promote legislative solutions with some probability of success.  They don’t appeal in a way that drives into the deeply felt convictions of their base in order to elicit knee jerk responses.   In other words, they’re predictable, unexciting, and seldom stoop to fear mongering.  It could be that Democrats don’t really have the same kind of base, and, such as it is, it’s wildly diverse, made up of sharply divided opinions about what should be done, and, until recently, not emotionally up in arms.

That changed under Trump’s twitchy twitter finger, and  bloviated speechifying oozing with racism, sexism, pandering, threats of violence, and promises of more tax relief for the very wealthy.  The Democratic base may still be all over the place, but wherever they are, they’re united in emotionally charged outrage over the doors of bigotry and injustice the president has opened, and through which he has invited the worst and most dangerous of human tendencies toward racist authoritarianism.

The “Resistance”, that’s what they call it.  The thing is, resistance, by itself, seldom wins elections.  When it does, it often has no idea where to go next.  For Democrats to make it an effective political movement, resistance must be yoked to a solid, workable agenda articulating what the party is for, stated in emotionally attractive, easily understood terms aimed directly at the middle class, and those who aspire to it.  Otherwise, the  emotional energy of resistance will simply sputter out in self induced exhaustion.  

Given that, to whom do they need to appeal.  Obviously those who are emotionally outraged.  They’re first, but then who?  Not the Trump base. They’re a lost cause.  Next must be the 50-70% of registered voters who have given up voting altogether.  Finally, there are growing numbers of center-right Trump voters who now realize they’ve been scammed.  All they really want to know from Democrats is that they’re not raving, left wing socialists who will tax and regulate them out of everything.  Suspicious though they might be, they will vote for the right Democratic candidates at the state and local levels, maybe even for congress. 

We shall see what will happen. 


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