Thursday, November 04, 2004

Starting the war for language
I'm encouraged by the numbers in Left Blogistan who are announcing their intention to stay in the fight. I'm even more encouraged by the amount of consensus I see on the larger strategy. We will keep our election year organizations intact. We will build a message machine to counter the Scaife/Murdoch/talk radio/conservative church Wurlitzer. The battle starts today. No surrender! No compromise!

Of course, at that point we revert to our liberal/Democratic heritage and agree on nothing. What message are we going to spread. We all agree that the movement conservative/Republican machine has outclassed us on message and framing for decades. They didn't create their message overnight. Neither will we. Some of their messages were genuine grassroots affairs. The Republican National Committee didn't make up the message, they adopted the messages that the movement conservatives were using successfully in small local battles or among niche groups. We must do the same.

But while we bang together a big message for the future, let me suggest one small immediate message. Bush is basing his claim of a mandate on the fact that he received more votes than any president in history. Like most Bush/Rove messages it is true but misleading. Our clumsy response is usually to try and add nuance to their bold claim. We say, "well that's technically true, but..." His reelection numbers were quite low as a percentage, or as an Electoral College count, or Kerry had more votes than any loser in history. He throws out a timber wolf; we try to bring it down with a bunch of yorkies. And even if the yorkies win, which one made a better impression?

Nuance is for nerds. Nuance makes crappy propaganda. Nuance is for intelligent discussions between people of good will. Nuance is useless for posturing before a rowdy audience. To counter a bold claim, we need an even bolder counter-claim or a sneering put down. Preferably both.

Bush does not have a mandate. More people voted against Bush than any candidate in history (this is true). Bush's "mandate" is a legalistic technicality. The party of law and order made law and the defenders of legality dirty words. Throw it back in their face every chance you get. Call their careful parsings of technical truth "lawyer-like," "boardroom language," or "suitable for an oil company contract."

You get the idea. I'm sure you can improve on my late night suggestions. Get to work.

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