It is fair to say in the world we live in today we are bombarded with a cacophony of many forms of media. All around us we are besieged by information, news and opinion. With the growth of the Internet, the traditional pillars of media, where we accessed information has sublimed into countless forms from blogs to online talk shows to forums. In the past Americans had access to only three stations and a smattering of local papers. With it came a large, mostly non-migratory audience with which one could easily influence. Who would think now that a simple editorial by news anchor Walter Cronkite in 1968 about the Vietnam war would make LBJ say in private despairingly “If I’ve lost Crokinte, I’ve lost middle America” X1.
Today audiences have atomized in to multiple, at times migratory groups. Where some sort of consensus prevailed over large groups, now the world is a friendly environment for like-minded people to react together, fostering at times extreme views. That there are now so many of them means that to be heard, to influence, to persuade (or denigrate, depending on your opinion), one must shout above the raucous environment.
Right now in the United States conservatives, especially the evangelical, Tea Party kind are shouting the most. Whether it is Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Bill O’ Reilly, all they have in common is their ability to howl or berate others. It riles some and in that process galvanizes others to their cause. No matter what newspapers you read, blogs you look at or peruse through the selected articles on websites like RealClearPolitics X2, what you see is a mad, at times angry but certainly mobilized group of people. It is almost primeval in intent but it is nonetheless effective, especially in this increasingly polarized political environment.
The Republicans and their supporters are angry, fuelling paranoia within about the threats a supposedly socialist, possibly un-American President Obama creates for the nation. Whether it be about abortion, increased government or medical “death panels”, they are compelling whipping boys in influencing potential voters this coming November. The Democrats on the other hand seem a disheartened bunch. Although passing (and later validated, somewhat by the Supreme Court this June) probably their most cherished policy of universal healthcare, they have been winded by the blows of the Tea Party two years ago and have been slowly worn down since like water to a rock. They certainly seem the defensive of the two parties and have not come out fighting as hard as their rivals have.
Neither the President nor the Democratic Party has fully latched on to issues as forcefully or evangelically as the GOP. When the Occupy movement rose up last year, there was some meek support and weak notions of association with the cause but nothing on a par with the Republican Party and their visceral fear of government overreach and abortion. They are fearful of taking a serious hold on major issues. The Affordable Healthcare Act is seen as a poisoned chalice when it should not be. The reason why the Healthcare Act is damaged goods to many Democrats is because the Republican Party have managed to fashion the debate to their own cause and consistently attacked it while the Democrats hide like townsfolk during a siege. Some fight has been found within the President’s campaign after the nomination as Romney’s running mate of Paul Ryan, forcefully campaigning that the Republican plans to gut the popular Medicare. Nevertheless one feels that the Democrats and other liberal advocates have been feeling disillusioned and not shouting loud and advocating their policies enough. In the past and especially the Obama campaign of 2008, Democrats and liberal groups were effective in getting people to the poll booths but that is not enough. One must influence and then aid their movement towards the poll booths.
Being able to shout the loudest has allowed the Republicans to fashion the debate, whether it is misguided, deluded or just plain lies. They have manhandled the loudspeaker at the town hall meeting and are shouting from the rafters and some of those people at the back are nodding to what they say. For this reason, the Democrats and liberals need to be more emboldened for the sake of the election campaign. In some ways the actions of the Republicans and conservatives is beneath them and any respectable individual but they need to stand up more and raise their voice. If not, the Republican Party will win big in November.