Friday, June 23, 2006

Why Bickering is Politically Advantageous to Repugs

The head of my program at SEIU sent out the transcript of a fantastic Obama speech at the 2006 take back America conference. That speech can be seen here.

While reading the speech a vaguely related thought occurred to me: bickering is a politically advantageous strategy for republicans.
if we imagine conservatives and liberals in classical political terms, conservatives favor smaller government and liberals bigger government. traditional republicans continue to bluster on about government inefficiency, the wonder of unregulated markets, and deregulation. Democrats like Obama continue to advocate government as a source of solutions and refuse to believe it is the problem. In his speech, Obama attacks cynicism head on.

So how does bickering fit into all this?
public debate has led to widespread cynicism, in larger part because of petty squabbling, negative attacks, and partisanship. The negative ads have been very effective in getting repugs elected. My point doesn’t have to do with the immediate efficacy of negative campaign tactics so much as their long-term impact. The volleys of negative ads back and forth increase cynicism. The result of this is that once dems and repugs get to DC the people who elect politicians believe less in their ability to lead and make policy than before all the attacks. One of the results of the partisanship, bickering, and a decline in the quality of public debate is that people come to see view government less positively. This flows right into the republican shtick about government being the problem. It is far easier to believe that government is the problem when it appears sickly, dirty, corrupt, and petty.

I suspect someone has articulated this problem before but, for me at least, it is new. my initial instinct is that this argument flows in favor of candidates like edwards and most recently Obama who preach hopefulness and breaking through the cynicism.


At 6/23/2006 , Blogger BZ said...

Likewise, the Bush administration's criminally ineffective response to Katrina played right into the Republican frames: "See, look, government can't solve your problems!"

At 6/23/2006 , Anonymous alan said...

So what do you think is the proper Democratic response? How to avoid looking like bickerers while still showing the public what's wrong with the Republican administration?


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