Friday, June 24, 2011

Language Matters

As we mature we can see things from a different perspective that we just don't possess as a younger person. We bring our past experiences as we age, or at least we hope. I have been thinking a great deal about these experiences of late. As a younger person I wasn't comfortable in my own skin and couldn't always express my thoughts very well. So remembering my past experiences even when I was young was a good way for me to put my thoughts together. Here are some of the things that I have experienced and witnessed.

I traveled a great deal outside of the U.S. when I was younger. Mostly Europe, but I spent some time in the Middle East. I also travelled to a few countries that were just lifting the veil of communism. I saw brutality out in the open, but was most surprised the reaction to the other people out in the streets when this brutality had taken place. They basically just ran away. As an older person I have a better understanding of geopolitics and it isn't all that surprising due to the fear that these people lived with on a daily basis. Ending up in jail in Egypt could very well cost you life and limb in the most literal of senses. The population didn't dare talk about overbearing police in public. There was no cable news shows to talk to.

I remember when I came home from Israel I almost got down on my knees and kissed the American ground I was standing on. Israel is a beautiful country and I have been back several times since my teenage years. I love it there, but I would never live there. The everyday very real threat of war and violence is a great deal for the mind to wrap itself around. At least for me. And by far Israel was the safest and most free country that I visited in the Middle East.

Life and career went on. It included doing fundraising for politicians. Even a presidential campaign. The 2004 George W. Bush re-election campaign (yeah you can partially blame me). I learned so much during that campaign. I never worked so hard, learned so much, or had such a feeling of accomplishment on election night. We won against many barriers. The CBS lies so close to election day, an unpopular war, and a media that hated the President.

One of the most important lessons I learned from this experience is that a presidential election is won by a relatively small number of independents in a handful of states. Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri are some of the usual suspects. These voters don't normally pay a great deal of attention before September or October. They are generally not primary voters and a healthy percentage of them only vote during a presidential election years. They vote mainly on kitchen table issues and are very turned off by the extremes on both sides of the aisle. In some ways the presidential campaign comes down to a personality contest. Which person do you want showing up in your living room over the next four years. ridiculous to me, but for some reason not to them. This is not to say that negative campaigning doesn't work, obvious since both sides do it, it does work. If it didn't you would hear it anymore. But, campaign realize that there are lines that they cannot cross without running the risk of losing more voters than they would pick up. It is control tested to death. Campaigns spend a great deal of money doing the research.

The electorate also doesn't want to be lied to, at least not in terms of short-term. It seems that Americans still want to hold onto the notion that Medicare and Social Security are not in real trouble, but basically speaking they want to believe that a politician is capable of telling the truth, saying what they mean, and meaning what they say. What they don't want to hear about is FEMA camps for the masses, forged and or missing birth certificates, and that we are now living in a police state.

As the presidential election campaign season is gearing up I have become increasingly concerned of some of the rhetoric and hyperbole that is out there. The independents aren't going to buy into it and more than they bought into the far left claims of Bush's fascism and the police state he had created during his first term in office. It is more than likely these claims helped get him elected by swaying some of the independents away from the candidate that they associate with those claims. Even if that politician isn't using those terms themselves, guilt by association is alive and well in presidential politics.

Our society is open enough that we see images from around the world of real cases of a police state. We all saw the video of the young woman in Iran being murdered for showing up at a protest. The images of Tiananmen Square are now iconic. The images that we see of America are of average citizens showing up at tea parties across the country. Not one single arrest and no citizens being stopped at getting out their point of view. We have no curfews. We have free and (mostly) fair elections. We all witnessed the peaceful exchange of power in the House of Representatives in January. Not things that normally happen in a police state or FEMA camps.

By jumping on the crazy train of hyperbole and sheer exaggeration we get a one way non stop ticket to the acceptance speech of Obama's second term. Not an acceptable outcome as far as I am concerned. An outcome that will not allow this country to recover from the over-spending and choking over-regulation that is killing growth in this country. Presidents become even more ideological in their second terms, no elections left and they have the freedom to create their "legacy". history back this up.

This is not to say that we don't talk about the over reaching government. We talk about in terms that people relate to in their own lives and own life experiences. It is no accident that you never heard a high-ranking republican saying that Obama was born in Kenya. It would be political suicide with independents. They will not elect someone who they believe are part of the lunatic fringe. Campaigns spend a small fortune on messaging and testing that messaging for a reason. Language matters.


Fuzzy Slippers said...

Excellent post, JACG, and you're right, language does matter. I'm not so sure about the FEMA camps, but I'm dead certain that a police state is being established. It's no accident that the TSA is using abusive search procedures on every citizen, with no due process and no cause (except they bought an airline ticket). It's also no accident that these same procedures are being rolled out to other mass transit systems (trains, ferries, buses, subways) and to shopping malls and sporting arenas. A police state doesn't just pop up over night, and it doesn't exist without the (at least initial) acceptance of it by the people (usually through arguments about public safety and security). This, too, is backed up by history.

Obama himself has stated that he wants a "civilian security force" that is "just as well-funded and well-trained as the military." Why do you think that is? What purpose could it possibly serve in a free society? So I'm with you on the FEMA camps / birth certificate issue, but not on the police state. One is being built around us, sold to us as security, and before long, we'll not have the freedom left to stop it. The only way police states are over-thrown is after they are established and by revolution. That is not what I want to see in America. And I do not want to see the American people so cowed by government authority (police state style) that we run away when we see someone treated violently by people in "authority."

History is full of lessons, and one that we can learn most from at this time is Russia. And maybe Germany. Neither countries' people woke up one morning in a full-blown totalitarian regime, the changes were incremental and designed to first win public support and then, apparatus in place, to suppress and quash public outrage. These things were done in the name of the people and of freedom (yes, really), and they were done under the same ideological banner that flies over this president. To me, this is fact, not hyperbole.

That said, your point that indies will not believe or see what I believe and see is a good one. Luckily for our side, no indies are likely to hear/read/see my opinion on this. Indeed, the indies you describe are not reading right- or left- wing blogs, they are not watching FOX or MSNBC; they are living their lives and will "tune in" in September/October 2012. And they will tune into their local media (evening news on tv and their local newspapers), maybe an alphabet media evening news show, definitely CNN.

One thing that does resonate in regards to this type of voter: I live in lala progressive land, but the indies outnumber both dem and rep registered voters combined. They are not "independent," however, they are lifelong JFK democrats who either don't understand or don't know what happened to the dem party that they supported their whole lives. The language that matters to them is language that points out that dems are not dems as they've always understood them, that the American Dream they still believe in is still attainable, that the communist threat that they rallied behind JFK against is not only alive and well but moving in. This is why Scott Brown's JFK ad worked so well here. These are hard-working, often blue-collar working Americans who may only vote in presidential elections as you say and who are ripe for the picking. And yes, your point about their not responding to "fringe" rhetoric is very true. They don't. But keep in mind, too, that they don't hear it, except in the lies that are created and disseminated by the LSM. These are not people who read blogs or even get their news online; they are "normal" people who focus on family, work, and community.

BackInTheStacks said...

Thanks for the reminder. Making ourselves seem ignorant and juvenille helps no one but the opposition! FYI I quoted & linked you on twitter (@backinthestacks)!

Just a conservative girl said...

I get your points generally speaking. But first, you say it is being created, but it is not in existance as of now. That is all the middle will see.

My main point is the MSM will pull out these statements from the tea party (where most of this comes from) and report on it during the election cycle. You mark my words. It will hinder whomever is running against Obama. They are going to have a hard enough time as it is, why make it harder? Obama is not going to walk away from the presidency easily.

They are real ways to get people to see the things you discussed. You just have to word them properly. And you are 100% correct that the democratic party has been taken over. The job of the rest of us to make sure people are aware of it without sounding like the lunatic fringe.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

I get your point, JACG, but we know for a fact that they don't need anything from the TEA Party (or any "fringe" group or individual): they make it up. They have done this time and again, some big, some small, all damaging. You aren't suggesting that you think that if every conservative were a model of balanced rhetoric and middle-of-the-road views the media would do anything differently? I get the "don't feed the beast" thing, but seriously, even if no on ever said or did anything remotely "fringy," the LSM would still report that we did. It might be "coded" or it might be a flat-out lie, but they are not going to change what they say and the lies they make up.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

[quote]They are real ways to get people to see the things you discussed. You just have to word them properly. And you are 100% correct that the democratic party has been taken over. The job of the rest of us to make sure people are aware of it without sounding like the lunatic fringe.[/quote]

This has been on my mind for some time (since the Brown campaign and talking to so many here in MA), and I've been trying to think of ways to do this that would reach the demographic we're discussing (Indies who are really JFK dems or even conservatives but turned off by "fringe" rhetoric on both sides). How can we do this?

Just a conservative girl said...

I would be a millionaire if I knew. But, we do it carefully with facts.

An easy way to start with the NEA website, show them to parents who have kids in public school. I don't think that people want teachers promoting communism, but if you just tell them they tune you out. Show them the website. Once the lightbuld goes on for one or two things, they will go start to look at others. Once they look into it honestly they will see it for themselves. Education is the key. Beating them over the head with harsh language will not work. That I know.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

[quote]Beating them over the head with harsh language will not work.[/quote] Who does that? I use harsh language all the time (and intend to continue doing so because it's what I think, feel, and believe), but the fact is that not one indie has ever come by my page. Leftie trolls, sure, but mostly I, like every other small blogger, preach to the choir. I'm not sure this is the big deal you think it is.

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