I had a U.S. Senator encapsulate why liberalism has such appeal for people in a way that I hadn’t fully appreciated before.
Liberals ideas are easier to sell, he explained.
To some degree, I’ve said this before, but not in the way he meant.
Ron Johnson, the Senator in question, is a freshman conservative Senator from central Wisconsin. He’s a former businessman who unseated long-time U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.
He’s an accounting whiz, has debt and deficit numbers he can give you off the top of his head and has, as a politician, not bowed to the political pressures of the political establishment in Washington.
All of that aside, he’s also got a great feel for messaging.
I asked him pointedly how, with an electorate with such a short attention span, do Republicans get their message out when issues like “the economy” are so nuanced.
He sort of stared blankly at me and said “What do you mean nuanced?”
It seemed to be his way of saying the issues are pretty clear: we have an unsustainable fiscal policy and a political system with a ruling class having no intention of fixing it.
Sen. Johnson went on to explain that he’d urged his fellow Republicans in Congress to condense the message, focus it on Obama and make sure the Right was people about the issues in the right (pun intended) way.
The reason the Republicans needed such a concerted effort despite having facts (don’t ask a liberal what that word means, they have no idea) on their side was that liberal mythology was the lazy political argument both for the people and for politicians.
Politicians as the vehicle of liberalism was not something I’d considered before. I got why people believed in liberalism and the laziness of the thinking that liberalism is predicated on, but I hadn’t thought of the political argument a politician makes for liberalism.
After all, the political messaging from politicians and the media is what shapes political ideology in this country.
Most people are either too dumb or too lazy to come up with their own ideas.
But think about it: if you’re a politician,what is more politically advantageous for you: to say you want everyone to have their things paid for, or to say you believe in the work of the individual?
Obama had 29 psephologists working on his campaign in 2008 and they continue to work on his messaging. What are the words you hear? “Fair,” “just,” “equal.” How can you argue against fairness? Equality?
Except his policies are neither fair nor equal.
If you’re a Democrat, you have the power to say: we don’t want to make cuts, we want your Medicare to stay the same, your Social Security to stay the same.
The problem is, in order to pay for all of these entitlements, we’ve actually had to raid the Social Security fund. There’s no money in there. I’m serious.
Conservatives want to make cuts, balance the budget, put term limits on politicians, make sound fiscal decisions and focus on a pro-growth agenda, rather than a pro-government growth agenda.
The argument for conservatism is harder, even if it makes the most practical sense by a mile.
Sen. Johnson’s message to me was clear, “I think President Obama is on the path to re-election,” he said.
If Republicans can’t get together and get the conservative message to the people, then Sen. Johnson is unfortunately right.