Monday, December 06, 2004

A Month After the Election

A Month After the Election
by Pete Burakowski


I, like half of the nation, have been quite frustrated with politics in the States these days, but I didn’t have the whole “I can’t believe this happened” reaction to the presidential election. What liberals forgot was that this election (or any election for that matter) was not about whether a candidate was most capable, most intelligent, adequately experienced, appropriately flexible, or the strongest leader, but rather if he was PERCEIVED as such.

I feel that one of the biggest problems with the Democrats was that they either refused to or were incapable of dumbing down their key points into catch phrases. Talk to the average voter (who is not an academic or theoretician) about their rationale for voting and you’ll find that they just regurgitate watered-down, vague slogans.

Why is this? I believe that a lot of it has to do with the nature of our daily interaction with politics.

Expressing a conflicting political view is taboo in social conversation in the States. Thus, few people (regardless of political affiliation) are ever forced to restructure or reconsider their stance and whoever gets to them first gets the vote. When I studied abroad in Europe, I discovered that there is a much more open environment for such conversation in many countries, especially in relation to foreign relations. This led me to wonder, why the difference in social norms? My guess is that it has to do something with geographic size. If you travel 500 miles in mainland Europe, you may have gone through three countries. How could you not care about your relationship with your neighbors in that case? Do the same thing in the States and, from most starting points, you will still be in the same country (special note: the exceptions to this would be the blue states).

So, if you’re a liberal, how do you make a better showing in 2008? Find yourself a simple, easy-to-read, bumper-sticker-or-t-shirt-worthy phrase and plaster it everywhere, such as the wildly successful Republican “flip-flopper” and “God hates Democrats” campaigns. My suggestion would be “Donkey Party likes Kittens,” which may be false, but, remember, PERCEPTION is all that counts. If someone supports the Republicans, you could say "So you hate kittens, eh?" and then they're really screwed.

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