Monday, August 07, 2006

Gnawed by Sound Bites!

...and swamped by slogans...

Hey, lefties, progressives and pinkos. Right-wing sloganeering has gotten absurd. The simple-minded catchphrases and war cries of the Dark Side are illogical, dishonest, dishonorable, and damned effective.

We can continue to hold ourselves above it as we come into primary and general elections, but at our peril. Individual candidates, local, state and national political party poo-bahs, and of course, MSM writers and bloggers can wave our hankies in dismay. We could also step down into the mire and muck and murk of the right-wingers. Lastly, we might add smaller, sharper arrows to our quivers to combat the low-brow chants.

We don't have to listen or read very widely to see the biggest left/right political-season distinction. We pinkos need to convince and explain. We tend to see the large issues in all their complexity. We don't expect citizens to vote our positions unless they understand the superiority of our arguments. So we stand attentively like so many shopping-mall information-booth attendants, every ready to elucidate and thereby make others' lives better.

What is the other side doing? Well, in Massachusetts, the clearest example is the basest emotional call. "LET THE PEOPLE VOTE!" read the mass-produced signs of the anti-same-sex-marriage gangs.

They can bus 'em in from Jersey. The silver-topped protesters may not even understand the rudiments of the amendment in question. No matter. That slogan is all they want, all they need, and all they say.

Forget for the moment that the slogan is meant to deceive and to turn a civil-rights issue into an emotional joke. It serves the need of the moment. As cynical and manipulative -- and as disrespectful of the poor suckers propping up those signs -- as it is, the slogan beats the droning, long-winded arguments on the other side in a visceral way.

Even the tersest left-wing slogans at last month's State House demonstrations lack punch. For example, sushiesque's pic of a UU's Beacon Press placard illustrates the basic issue. No Discrimination in the Constitution with the self-serving subhead of Beacon Press supports same-sex marriage is at once accurate, precise and nearly powerless.

This is under the name of the UUA, whose headquarters abuts the State House and where the Democratic General Court leaders and members held their strategy meeting hours before. Many Unitarians are invested in equality and civil rights, including SSM. Yet, their approach is often heavy on droning explanations and light on sound bites.

Disclaimer: I am a UU and prejudiced in favor of the UUA's positions, and even admire the content of the punchless slogans.

I call here for a discussion. Do we add socko slogans for the simple, while keeping our attack on the complex roots of big issues? Do we hold to the possibly arrogant belief that (all) our voters want to understand and vote educated? Do we write off the dittoheads and emotional voters who like to hear lies in monosyllabic slogan form?

Immediately to the point, are there lefty counter-slogans and comebacks to such as:
  • Let the people vote!
  • Liberal media!
  • Activist judges!
  • Tax-and-spend Democrats!
  • Support our troops!
  • Support Bush or the terrorists have won!
We use the accurate borrow-and-spend Republicans. We've heard many times the addendum of Support our troops -- Bring them home!. The latter is a good bumper sticker, if a bit wordy for the sound-bite crowd.

We can enjoy, but not satisfy ourselves, with such insight as in The Nation's blog post Republican Dictionary. It includes:
        v. Repeating the same lie over and over again.
The right's version of clarifying too often is just that -- the dishonest, simplistic slogan. The left's seems to need broadening to include versions for different types of voters.

Likewise, in January, Watching the Watchers had a piece on the Republican bumper-sticker strategy. Many GOP voters don't seem at all offended by this, any more than the Rush Limbaugh listeners mind his patronizing dittohead epithet for them. They just want a short, simple truth to repeat, what he said, ditto.

The blog quotes GOP strategist Ed Rogers on wiretapping citizens:
In Washington, we always say, a bumper sticker beats an essay. Right now the Republicans have a bumper sticker. The Democrats have a convoluted essay, and the degree to which the election is going to be about who is tougher on terror and who is not, that's a clear Republican advantage.
Back in Boston, let the people vote is a lie. This is not about democracy. It's a civil-rights issue. Yet the slogan has power, because after all, shouldn't be have democratic decisions?

Ironically of course, the same people who would put gay couples' rights up to a plebiscite for pseudo-democratic reasons are those who embrace the Bush Administration's usurping of democracy and squelching of the separation of powers in spying on citizens and imprisoning Americans and others down in our Cuban base. Also and perhaps worst, the hundreds of Bush signing statements spit on the democratically passed laws of the land.

Can and should we out-slogan the Dark Side? Might a good drinking bout or coffee klatch generate one, two or three slogans for the issues in question? Smart and right do not have to mean always wordy.

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Anonymous said...

Really glad you brought this up. Yes! We should use both 'clarifying' bumpersticker zings and the traditional logical explanations. It's the good cop-bad cop of politics isn't it? The combo should work better than either alone.

I've heard plenty of response to 'let the people vote' with chants of LET THE BIGOTS VOTE.
And of course variations on WHEN CLINTON LIED NO ONE DIED.
I personally would like to pick on Schwartzenegger, since the Repubs continue to beat the dead horse of 'activist judges' + 'let the people vote'. So what happened? The CA legislature did vote for gay marriage, and he vetoed it saying it was a matter for the courts. Bad republican! Bad! Get your mantra down correclty you SCHWARTZENWEASEL.

massmarrier said...

Good ones.

And Arnie...boy, does he piss me off. There, he's now "It's for the courts to decide," after he lost in the legislature. Here, it's "The court's will stop this," and then when legislative efforts to overturn SSM failed, it was never, "Okay two branches of government have spoken." Instead, it's "Oh, yeah, real democracy is in ballot initiatives."

These creeps will use any trick they can. I have to wonder what they'll do next after they lose yet the latest amendment drive this year or next. Maybe they'll turn to the courts and beg "activist judges" to rule on some jive.

Keep the slogans perking. I'll do it too.