Propaganda Factors that Boosted Mitt’s Chances (Part 1)

Fair and Balanced Fox Reacts to Obama’s Victory

Don’t look now, but the media deceived you: the 2012 presidential election wasn’t really as close as they wanted you to believe. Nonetheless, it did for a brief time become competitive, and for a fleeting moment it even appeared possible that Mitt Romney had a chance to be elected President of the United States.  If that prospect scares the living crap out of you, you’re not alone. I can’t think of anything that a Romney presidency wouldn’t have made worse, and I can think of many things that it would have made much worse. What caused this near catastrophe? One word: propaganda. One of the most intensive, nastiest, multi-pronged propaganda campaigns in history.

When you look at what he was up against,  President Obama’s reelection was truly miraculous.  The Republicans failed to unseat him; and yet their campaign of deceit was, in a way, quite successful just because it made the race so close. Essentially, the GOP has two options now: (a) conclude that their tactics didn’t work, and play like grown-ups in the future, or (b) conclude that they just didn’t go far enough, and be even nastier next time around. I’d bet the deed to the oil field on the latter.

In the next few posts, we’ll take a look at some specific propaganda factors that likely played a key role in making this election a race instead of a slam dunk.

Factor # 1: Partisan Sabotage

From day one of Obama’s term, many Republicans and other assorted right-wingers were focused on one goal: to make certain he didn’t get reelected. To accomplish this, Republicans in Congress did their best to make certain he failed at everything he attempted so they could portray him as a failure come election season; and it didn’t matter to them that this meant thwarting his plans to boost the economy and put Americans back to work.  They were willing to sacrifice millions of American citizens for their own political capital.

Okay, okay. You’re gonna respond that when it comes to obstructionism, “both sides do it”. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t support that canard. While Democrats supported Bush’s major initiatives about 43 percent of the time on average, Republicans have supported Obama’s major initiatives only about 3 percent of the time on average.

And note that there is a difference between opposition and obstruction. It’s essentially the difference between not liking something a president proposes and not liking the president no matter what he proposes. You’d expect that one party would oppose the other’s objectives about half the time; that’s the whole purpose of having different parties — they’re supposed to balance each other out, and result in a more (nearly) perfect union. At least that’s theoretically how it was supposed to work in those days of yore before the GOP was seized by power-obsessed, no-compromise ideologues.

There’s also a difference between run-of-the-mill obstruction and sabotage. The latter is what happens when you have one party conspiring to block everything a president does in order to make him look bad and get unelected.  And for an added touch of chutzpah, they nominated one of the conspirators as the vice presidential candidate.

It seems strange to recall in my high school civics class making a presentation in which I urged my fellow students and future voters to “vote for the candidate and not the party”. That may have been sound advice at the time, but I can no longer recommend that anyone ever support a Republican in a national election — not just because the core of the GOP has devolved into a cult of Medieval ideology, tin-hat paranoia and vituperative scapegoating; and not just because it practices the most venomous and dishonest propaganda imaginable. But also because it resorts to juvenile stonewalling for political gain. Had this particular assault succeeded, it would have set a very dangerous precedent indeed.

Factor # 2: The Bully Pulpit

It has become quite common — a virtual epidemic — for “conservative” churches to use their influence for political proselytizing, thumbing their noses at the IRS guidelines for tax-exempt organizations to which they’ve agreed to adhere. They know they can get away with this abuse of privilege because the government won’t dare crack down on them, lest they howl about “religious persecution” and elicit outraged sympathy among the ill-informed.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of supposedly subtle exhortations such as “I’m not going to tell you how to vote, but vote your conscience”, wink wink. But quite often, ministers are direct conduits for the most insane and hateful of anti-Obama (read:anti-Democratic) rants: he’s the Anti-Christ, he’s a communist/socialist/fascist, he’s destroying the country and the constitution, etc., etc., etc.  Some preachers even tell their congregations that they’ll “go to hell” for electing a non-Republican. Yes, seriously.

This alliance between political “conservatives” and religious “conservatives” is a bizarre one indeed — among other things, it unites followers of a guy who urged taking care of the poor with followers of guys who say that taking care of the poor encourages indolence, while taking care of the rich encourages industriousness. But it is nonetheless a very powerful alliance, an alliance that is arguably much more effective than the sum of its incongruous parts.

When political arrogance mates with religious arrogance, the offspring is a whole new breed of super-arrogance, resulting in an overwhelming sense of (to use a word that right-wingers love to pronounce with a snarl) entitlement. These people believe they have an inviolable right to have their way. They were quite unprepared for the possibility that their boy might lose, because they really and truly believed that they had God counting the ballots for them. (Even Mitt Romney reportedly was so assured of victory that he didn’t even prepare a concession speech — but he definitely did prepare a transition website for his administration.) When defeat did come, they took it as a sign that Americans had abandoned God (and/or vice versa) and that the End Days are near, just as they have been for a couple of millennia now.

But churches aren’t the only bully pulpits in operation. It also has become a common practice for businesses to pressure their employees into voting Republican, even by issuing thinly veiled threats of termination if they don’t. Again, this is sometimes just a matter of a supposedly subtle hint. But in the case of Bob Murray, Ohio-based CEO of Murray Energy, it was a bit more blunt: he apparently forced his employees to miss work without pay in order to attend a Romney rally, and also pressured them to make donations to the Romney campaign.

After the election, he promptly made good on his threats by firing 156 workers, after uttering a typically arrogant “prayer” asking God to deliver America from its evil ways in supporting Obama’s reelection. Nor is he the only tycoon to take out his political frustrations on employees at the bottom rung. There’s a budding epidemic of that as well.

One sad byproduct of this right-wing arrogance, bullying and acrimony has been the destruction of many personal relations between friends and relatives who have differing political convictions. I have heard of many instances in which Obama supporters have had angry right-wingers sever all ties with them — or have themselves been compelled to sever ties with right-wingers who were being unbearably nasty toward them. So if you voted for Obama, you might want to keep it to yourself if you prize your associations with certain Obama haters. You know who they are. They’re the same ones who called you to gloat after the 2004 election.

10 thoughts on “Propaganda Factors that Boosted Mitt’s Chances (Part 1)

  1. Re: Partisan Sabotage. Only recently did I realize that this tactic was early proof that after the 2008 election Republicans knew that national demographics had finally doomed their angry white man’s party. Party leaders realized that exceptionally drastic measures was the only way they could win in 2012.

    The fact that the MSM let them get away with most of this for four years is disgusting.

    • It was pretty well concealed in the media beneath the “both sides do it” meme, and the assumption that it was nothing more than “normal” obstructionism.

  2. Mr. Propaganda,

    Some things in life are a matter of preference — like what foods we choose to eat and why we choose to eat them. Other things in life have much more serious consequences. When it comes to many core Democratic values, I believe they have dire consequences. I can say the same for some, though not as many, core Republican values as well.

    It is obscene when people choose not to work and demand something for nothing. (That is called stealing.) And it is equally obscene when ultra wealthy people do not spend a huge proportion of their blessings assisting others. That makes them selfish monsters. But it is personal choice whether or not someone tries to work. And it is personal choice whether or not someone wants to give truckloads of money or time to charity. Both should reap what they sow. Should we apply peer pressure to do the right thing? Yes … lots of it. Should we jail people for refusing to work or refusing to give money for entitlements/charity? No!

    It would take volumes of books to cover all the details of Liberal and Conservative values and their implications on society. So let’s keep it simple. Any entity who coerces people by threat of force/violence to do something beyond honoring each other’s rights is always wrong. When we throw this simple standard out the window because it doesn’t make us feel good or stops us from becoming wildly wealthy, people die needlessly.

    The combination of some core Conservative and Liberal values made this nation great. I would argue the majority of the contributing values — such as hard work, taking risks, and trying to be profitable are responsible for the lion’s share of our nation’s prosperity. And occasional access to social safety nets has made our nation kinder and gentler. But make no mistake. Pure Liberal values will tear this country down even faster than pure Conservative values. We desperately the best parts of both philosophies.

      • Mr. Propaganda,

        I was trying to bring some balance to your post. My previous comment applies to your post in two ways:

        First, your post paints a picture that all liberal philosophy is wonderful — the be all end all that will make our nation fantastic. I pointed out that some of the core liberal values are obscene because they require that government take a substantial amount of most citizens’ property (money) by force. That violates citizens’ rights to keep their property. And the reason for taking that property is to provide years of freebies to people that make horrible life choices and have no interest in being accountable for their choices. Such a value is directly counter to the basic notion of justice and is very destructive for a society.

        Second, any entity that believes such practices will tear apart the fabric of society should fight with everything they have to stop such practices. I would argue that such efforts are commendable — whether they come from the Republican party or churches.

        Note that I was careful to point to specific policies and responses. It would be wrong for any entity to block policies which are good for our nation simply out of spite or to try and make the other side look bad.

        To emphasize my point, consider a situation where Republicans decided it was time to imprison anyone who refused to work and they wanted to tax the poor and give it to the rich. I would fully expect Democrats and churches to oppose such a policy with ferocious tenacity … and I would be supporting their efforts. I hope that you would agree.

      • My post is not about “liberal philosophy” nor any other. As always, it’s an analysis of propaganda. My distaste for Mitt Romney is not because he is conservative. (He isn’t.) My appreciation for Barack Obama is not because he is liberal. (He isn’t, at least not very.) And liberalism is certainly not as you are trying to represent it. It is not about — to use a Fox soundbite — people wanting “free stuff”.

  3. Demucrats end librulz ar tu en luv wit dur oan mined end cunsurvtivs end reepublicanz ar en luv wit dur oan kine tu bee uv eny hulp tu duh rest uv us.ef duh constutushun wur rittun tuday et wood tayk twenny yerz tu ugree tu rite We the people.

  4. I wonder if Republicans can define where to make the distinction between just being lazy and deserving to collect welfare, or who genuinely needs assistance to live one’s life? Does the Vietnam Vet who lost both legs deserve some social safety nets, while someone with severe epilepsy does not? Does someone who is blind deserve it, while someone who has chronic pain does not? If there is no way to make such a distinction, then should we refuse to give anyone assistance from the government–even those who fought and were crippled after answering their countries call to defeat Al Qaeda, or ISIS? And if we need someone in the authority to decide who is worthy and who is not, who then is qualified to make those decisions? uncomon_sense, the pope, Sarah Palin, or the President, or does only your hairdresser knows for sure?

    Instead, what about continuing to let Doctors make that decision and honoring the contributions of generations of working men, who faithfully did their jobs for years, and had large portions of their money withheld by Social security before becoming ill, and no longer being able to support themselves or their loved ones? Do you only respect who are productive instead of leeches that cannot “pull their weight?”

    Unless you place all your faith in soup kitchens cardboard boxes used as beds in the winter, or think anyone who can still breath is not disabled, then how can you rationalize anyone receiving any kind of assistance at all?Isn’t it especially hard give someone a hand up if he or she no longer has hands? Do you make and exception for paraplegics, or think that their relatives who are hardly staying financially afloat themselves, should always agree to take on the problems of their disabled or needy family members and provide them with food and board for life?

    I can understand how, in the case of a drug addict or pathological drug users, the virtue of not enabling their destructive behavior is preferable. But a minority of disabled people are like them. So, Is all you want to do, to throw them a bone and say tough luck buddy, DEAL WITH IT?! Or do you realize that we are all one step away from unforeseen accidents and debilitating illnesses, and that we will all require some sort of extra help from the societies around us eventually? Even a billionaire can be shot by a criminal, kidnapped and imprisoned, or die a painful and unexpected death! So, who are we to say who we refuse help to–especially if we have never walked a mile in thier shoes?

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