Friday, September 23, 2011

Okay: Time to Assess, Rally, Consistently Point Out Facts, then Repeat, Repeat, Repeat...

Bob Cesca: Cogent voice of reason from the left.
In a recent, well written article on Huffington Post, Bob Cesca explains away Rick Perry's movie-trailer approach to spreading lies that no jobs were created under the Obama administration. The video's fear-mongering apocalyptic feel, typical "American" visuals, and booming soundtrack amount, according to Cesca, to one thing: "The Republican marketing machine is strikingly powerful" and the left ignores this fact at its own peril. But this has always been the case: the right makes bullet point assertions, which go largely unchallenged in the mainstream media, and the left seems to sit by and smite its forehead repeatedly. So, my question is: Why can't the democrats do the same or better than the republicans when it comes to driving the narrative?

Approval ratings are low--
but not just among the right and center.
For one thing, Obama chose to go this alone. No, seriously, he did. He didn't unify his divided base; if anything, he helped split it. Many progressives have felt ignored and even betrayed, as he continuall­y reached out to the right in hopes that his compromise and shift to the right would appeal to their underlying interest in improving the country. That proved to be a huge strategic mistake. By now it's clear that their only goal is to defeat Obama, therefore, a bad economy is actually good for their own political fortunes. It's that simple.

But what happened to the left's narrative? There never was one, really: On one hand, many felt angry and disaffected over his continuation of many Bush policies. On the other hand, die-hard supporters insisted he had a larger plan and that we should all stick with him, no matter what, because the alternativ­e was too scary. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but without a consistent message (or series of messages/facts/themes, the way "change" and "hope" worked so well during the campaign), the left has ceded the prevailing narrative to the lock-step right and its proven Rove Method: make outrageous lies and statements, repeat. The left isn't good at this, even when it's not divided and you replace "lies" with "facts.

The Democrats need to unify the left and present one voice.
For another, democracy is overrated. What? How can one be too democratic? Well, if you look at how effective Karl Rove was in 2000 and 2004, he used a simple but very effective approach to driving the narrative: Establish a few themes, and repeat them, over and over. Rove is no longer involved to my knowledge, but the new right basically uses this method to tremendous effect. On the other hand, the tea party has been known to "target" members of congress who don't tow their line with complete and utter fealty or who are open to negotiate "with the other side." The left isn't so viciously disciplined, however, because, well, that's creepy and a bit fascistic. But some discipline and consistency would be nice.

I remember when John Kerry was running in 2004, and one of the criticisms of his campaign was that the "narrative machine' was too democratic--too many views and ideas, and no coherent theme of what his candidacy was about. Of course Democrats lost in 2004 due in part to the Rove "lie, repeat" approach. This time, ignoring the effectiveness of the Apocryphal Repeat Machine could cost us at the polls again.

Can you hear us now? The Left needs to drive the narrative.
Oh, for fuxxake, so now what? Well, it's time to stop beating up Obama (and yes, I've been beating him up as much as anyone, but the time for that is over) and start driving the narrative by repeating facts that are inconvenient to, and undercut, the right's narrative. We need to circle the wagons and start repeating and sending viral some rock-solid facts like those in Bob's piece.  We need to watch and post and forward videos that repeat simply, undeniable facts, like those from Elizabeth Warren, whose clear-headed, simple presentation of reality needs to be repeated over and over. And yes, it's time to get ughly, and scare the depends right off the old folks and let the women in this country know that the right intends to undo the socialized care that they and their families rely on.

Elizabeth Warren: Listen, Forward, Repeat. If you haven't heard her already, please take a moment to listen to Elizabeth Warren on simple logic and an idea we should all agree with:

A Final Note: If you aren't familiar with Bob Cesca, you should be. He's one of the brighter lights over at Huffington Post. So, hey, Bob, if you're reading this, how about putting some of your own production skills and pals in the industry to work on that front?! Maybe get together with Scott Bateman and Mark Fiore?. Something tells me your videos would destroy Rick Perry's...


  1. hey groobie - you are brilliant! Thank you for the way you distill the information. So much of it out there, it's good to have a clear, bite-sized morsel to take in. Keep up the good work....and the sense of humor helps keep this mess palatable.

  2. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement. Glad you enjoy the blog!