Republican Fear-Mongering: A Great American Pastime

It’s no secret that the Republican Party has historically struggled to adapt over time; this should not be particularly shocking, as they are the conservative party.  It is their mission to maintain the status quo and act as the proverbial toddler being dragged to the doctor’s office kicking and screaming the whole way.

Blogger “Political Pawprint” thinks that there is a way for the GOP to move towards a hipper, cooler image that might appeal to all the young folk out there on the interwebs using that darn google machine. She writes:

“Democrats really know how to capture audience’s attention through humor or appearing relevant and get America paying attention as well as support their platforms, while Republicans use more logical or “boring, standard” tactics to get their side of the argument out there. If Republicans want to win in the upcoming elections, they will have to change this and shift to the same emotional and appealing tactics that Democrats are using. In other words, Republicans need better PR, which includes but is not limited to speeches, appearing in videos, having strong social media platforms, etc.”

It’s crazy how wrong this is.  

Yes, Obama is the first social media president, but in terms of political savvy, the Democratic Party is routinely destroyed by the conservative political machine that has coined such charming terms as death panelsdemonized a non-profit geared towards helping low-income families, and continually exploited the religious ignorance of middle America by fooling them into voting against their own interests year after year.  These fear-mongering gems are prime examples of the Republican style of politicking — inspiring fear in an ever fearful voting block that cowers behind Obama Derangement Syndrome and loud shouting (because it would be egregious to leave out political phenom Donald Trump).

To say that the Democratic Party appeals to emotion more than the Republican Party is laughable and terrifying.  It really just means that the Republican Party is doing a great job of fooling people into thinking that the talking points they push are actually policy informed ideas and not, as Jon Stewart so elegantly puts it in relation to Fox News, bullshit.  The GOP has built their entire strategy upon appealing to fragile, irrational emotions.  Planned Parenthood kills babies (my heart hurts), Democrats want to eliminate small business (but the mom n’ pop store down the street), we need guns to protect ourselves from all of the terrorists who are coming to kill us (AHHH IM SO SCARED).  

It further pains me that Political Pawprint not only fails to recognize the purely emotional appeals of the Republican Party, but even claims that they use “logical or ‘boring, standard’” tactics.  She readily recognizes that some Republicans refuse to acknowledge climate change, a heavily accepted scientific fact; in what universe is that compatible with logical thought?  Straw man question and spoiler alert — it’s definitely not ours.  

Furthermore, this kind of argument seems like advocacy for more political dishonesty in an already dysfunctional political climate.  Political Pawprint thinks the answer to the problems of the Republican Party (and political success) is rebranding.  In reality, we should be working towards a system that rewards straightforward communication about real-world policy ideals, not PR games to fool an uninformed electorate.

Yes, Republicans need to stop being dinosaurs and accept the internet age; but to say that they are not emotive and are actually logical is just patently false.  The best thing they can do to regain relevance with younger generations is to distance themselves from the Fox News/Tea Party uber-lie propagation machine and stop with the fear-mongering.  They might find that if they stop the disingenuous kicking and screaming, they will end up with a metaphorical lollipop.  

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3 thoughts on “Republican Fear-Mongering: A Great American Pastime

  1. The flaw in your argument is your complete disregard of the intent of Political Pawprint’s post. She’s a PR student, so her analysis of the advertising and PR functions of both parties is expected and academic. I’m a political science and public relations student, so I can advocate for the prevalence of the ideas represented in her post. I’ve been a student of political strategists from the left and right, and the agreed-upon narrative is that YES, Republicans are worse rhetoricians and communicative artists. I’ve studied hundreds of ads and speeches from both sides. From a PR perspective, Democrats have always been more articulate. That’s all she’s saying in her post, under the lens of a clearly articulated PR analysis. You missed the point of her post entirely, and instead revert to your personal ideological banter against the republican party platform rather than engaging in her discussion about rhetoric.

    Her post remains true to reality. I just sat in on a conversation with Obama’s former speechwriter Jon Favreau and he’s the artist of the emotional. I’ve also met Jon Lovett, Obama’s other speechwriter, who is all about exposing the “Art of Bullshit.”

    This is not a BAD thing, it’s a rhetorical tool that’s exercised expertly by democrats, and could be mastered more efficiently by republicans. Whether you like it or not, there are strategists, PR practitioners and chiefs of staff crafting PR and advertising strategies for campaigns every day for both parties. It’s something us PR people think about often, so you shouldn’t antagonize an entire profession simply for having misunderstood it.

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    • Alexa, I think you’ve missed the point of this article, just as you claim this author missed the point of Political Pawprint. This article details some of the non-ideological issues with the Republican party’s political platform. You want to cover up these flaws with ‘better PR’; the author (reread the last two paragraphs)–and I agree–think that this behavior is dishonest and antithetical to democracy. Democracy is founded upon the idea that people’s choices direct policy and action. When people are not given the full picture (lying’s more sinister sibling), their efficacy is diluted and the system breaks down. Why would someone want to advocate for covering up somebody’s skeletons in the political sphere? Our system requires constant checking and rechecking of ideas in order to be most effective and when critical discourse is diluted and changes into pandering (as so much PR seems to be) we are worse off. Of course, political strategy is important in such a big, busy world, but PR doesn’t seem to be helping preserve the democratic spirit of things.

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  2. I am also a Political Science student and I agree with this post. Although I cannot purport to study or know the art of Public Relations, it doesn’t seem true that Democrats are more reliant on rhetoric. In fact, I think the Republican Party relies quite heavily on rhetoric, as their party platforms often refer to fairly vague and emotive concepts, like “the importance of the American family”, “staying true to American values”, and “protecting our homeland”. In the past, repeating these kind of phrases, and invoking a sense of American traditionalism, has allowed the Republican Party to maintain a core of voters, as you say in your post. But times have changed, and that repetitive rhetoric is not popular among our generation.

    I think the true reason that the Republican Party is in decline has nothing to do with PR, and everything to do with their ideological fallacies, as you stated. In my opinion, which seems to be the opinion of many others, the Republican Party is simply out of touch with changing society. They don’t need better PR or advertising, they need better people, and better policies.

    I can’t imagine a social media ad against Planned Parenthood, for example, becoming popular with young people, even if the Republican Party were to create one. It’s not because Republicans are bad at social media, it’s because millions of young people support Planned Parenthood and rely on those services. As that example shows, changing Republican PR methods will not be helpful unless they also change their outdated policy positions.

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