Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It's Still the Same Old Story

I came across this photo on, and I had to copy it, even though the next is not central to the point of this post.

Was it necessary to know one single item of policy, one bit of biography, or one iota of political background concerning this man to decide not to vote for him? Take a good long look at that face and try to remember where you've seen it before.

I know a lot of high school deans have seen it, because it's the face of persistent adolescence, the face of insecure defiance of the reality that one is clearly in over one's head, or that one has been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. If it weren't on the face of the President it might be cute in a boys-will-be-boys kind of way. When one gets good at it, it can carry one a long way in life. But President?

It seems such a simple thing to look at that face and say to oneself, "Here's trouble." And simplicity will have to serve as the best segue way I've got, cuz the subject today is simplicity of message.

Today's raging debate is over the "revelation" in the New York Times that the NSA has been monitoring phone calls of US citizens without warrants. Lefties are screaming that the President has broken the law, while righties are calling them a bunch of Chicken Littles. It's not an event that's going to tip the scales either way, however. The lines of battle are familiar. The arguments are well-worn.

Though the American brand of social conservatism is certainly a very complex philosophy, the not so secret secret of its recent success has been the simplicity of message the right has been able to get across to Americans. "Ya gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet," goes the routine, and it hits home. Disregarding the true motivations of the neo-cons, this is the home-spun public rationale behind everything from pre-emptive war to the Patriot Act to this latest dust-up over the NSA.

"Liberty and Justice for just about all" is the creed, and it's the very pragmatism of this approach that appeals. Applying fundamental freedoms to each and every citizen of this country is just too exasperating to deal with. The correctness of it is politically based, and an obstacle in the desire to "git er done".

This is, of course, woefully short sided. Many of these folks who think a little internal spying is okay because, after all, they have nothing to hide, would certainly change their tunes in a hurry if they realized that their tax returns were one of the first places any self-respecting investigator would look. But the administration is counting on its supporters not to take that next logical step. When some of those eggs that need to be cracked are the "collateral" damage of war the hawks are counting on a lack of connection that our true enemy, hatred, grows in the hearts of those whose homes and families are shredded by poison shells.

And when Republicans cut health, education and welfare to pay for military-industrial adventurism, they rely heavily on the masses's non-realization that this priority is based on a future where they don't intend to need us.

It is on that last point that progressives may find their own simple message to counteract the conservative line. We need to get across to Americans that the reason conservative leaders spend so much on foreign wars is because their business is not with us.

We need the message to be, "America, we want to invest in you!"

Keep it simple.


At 7:02 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

Being a staunch Republican means not having to ask permission, just forgiveness when the thing goes south.
But by then, you know, being a Republican also means never having to say you're sorry.

Very complex, indeed.


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