During the halcyon years of Democratic congressional- and state-dominance (ca. 1933-1994) Dems loved to lampoon GOP campaign efforts with the faux slogan: “Vote Republican! We’re not as bad as you think we are!” This passed for political high comedy back in the day when many communities and even entire states would supposedly elect a “yellow dog,” if it were on the Democrat ticket. Not many Republicans got elected. Whether the “slogan” was responsible was never clear.
Republicans, like Nelson Rockefeller (R-NY) for instance, were considered basically harmless, so long as they were scattered in small clumps. They were expected to keep quiet, mind their manners, and respect their Democrat betters. GOP politicians like Gerald Ford (R-MI) made entire political careers during an era when Democrat rule was near-absolute. An exemplary man in every respect, the genial Mr. Ford made his mark by going along and getting along. Ditto for Bob Dole (R-Kansas) and many others. Democrats finally got too far out of control, causing voters to throw them out in 1994. Republicans took both houses of Congress and began to roll back the excesses of six decades of Democrat rule.
After a decade of Republican control, Democrats regained Congress in 2006. In 2008, they took the presidency in a wave of anti-Bush, anti-war, anti-Wall Street fervor. Jobs were disappearing, the stock market crashed by over 50%, and the housing and mortgage markets had collapsed. People were afraid, so they turned to Democrats and their wunderkind, Barack Obama, for salvation. The first woman Speaker of the House promised “the most open, the most ethical Congress in history.” (And we believed her – at least some of us.) Our first black president declared that he would fundamentally transform the nation, give jobs to the unemployed, and stop the rise of the oceans. The media seemed to believe him, bowing down at every sacred word. Young people squealed and screamed like they would at a rock-star’s appearance. The euphoria at his ascendancy to the nation’s top political office was unprecedented. One journalist thought Mr. Obama was hovering above us “almost like God.”
But the times (as Bob Dylan once sang) “are a-changin’.” The Democrat/Obama tidal wave has crested and subsided. Unprecedented spending has slowed. And a great wave of aroused citizenry – popularly called the TEA Party (Taxed Enough Already) – has swept across the country. Some long-time establishment pols – e.g., Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) – have been defeated in their party’s primaries. Ironically, Senator Specter switched from Republican to Democrat in 2009, in order to dodge a likely primary challenge from Pat Toomey. Instead, Rep. Joe Sestak challenged and defeated him in the Democrat primary. (Recent polls show Mr. Toomey and Mr. Sestak neck and neck.)
Others, like Senator John McCain (R-AZ), managed to overcome Tea Party challenges by getting “scared straight.” I have never heard Senator McCain - a.k.a. "The Maverick" - talk so conservatively as in recent weeks, while he fought off Tea Party candidate J. D. Hayworth. The Tea Party minions – millions strong – have turned the political scene on its head, in both parties.
Democrats pretend to be happy about running against Tea-partiers, assuring themselves that voters will reject the “extremism” of those candidates. But they are whistling past the graveyard. The Dems’ central problem is that the Tea Party people are not extreme. They are ordinary, sensible Americans – the kind the country is built on – not wild-eyed crazies who want to dismantle our political and social fabric. After watching Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and their band of brigands conduct a 2-year pogrom against business, investors, health-care providers, insurers, banks, etc., The People (whose interests Mrs. Pelosi constantly invokes) have risen up and are preparing to “throw the bums out.” Democrats not in denial know exactly what is coming, and they are running scared.As a basis for some kind of breakwater against the wave they know is on its way, Dems have resurrected the slogan strategy, in several variations. I list a few:
- Vote Democrat – We’re not extremists like the Republicans.
- Republicans want to take your Social Security away.
- Don’t let the Tea Party steal your country!
- Tea-partiers are racists, bigots, wing-nuts and crackpots. (They’re not normal people like us.)
- Give Obamacare a chance to work. (You’ll love it once you know what it is.)
- Stick with the Democrats. (We’re not as bad as you think.)
These slogans are not meant to be ironic. They’re not constructed as jokes, like the old faux slogan cited earlier. In 2010, Democrats have sunk so low that they can’t actually run on their own “achievements.” They’re reduced to fear-mongering – trying to scare voters into electing them and rejecting the “scary” GOP or Tea Party. Will it work? Doubtful.
The Social Security boogeyman ploy (first mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls) is so old that moss grows on it. (Does anyone listen to this stuff any more?) Worse yet, it’s the Obama Democrats – not Republicans –trying to cut Medicare and old-age pensions. Retirees have now gone without cost-of-living raises for two years in a row, under President Obama. This is all done according to law, not by Mr. Obama’s whim, but it does tend to reduce the credibility of the scare-tactic against the GOP.
There’s an old political maxim: “You can’t beat somebody with nobody.” Right now, Democrats out in flyover country are trying to keep President Obama and their party’s record invisible, as they keep up an ominous drumbeat of “Doom! Doom! Doom!” over the prospect of Republicans regaining political control in Washington.
Democrats have (as DeNiro would say) Nah-thing! Nada. Zip. Their boy-president has run up a mountain of debt, engineered a socialist Rube Goldberg job on American health care, and fiddled like Nero as unemployment ran up to 10% (and stayed there). “We’re going in the right direction. It’s all going to get better,” he promises. But voters can see that it’s not happening. The “hook” is already reaching out to pull Nancy, Harry, Barney and the others off the political stage.
“Give him a chance,” grumped my young relatives in 2008 and early 2009, when I warned about where their idealistic young president would take them. (I was accused of being a “racist” for not joining in the Hallelujah chorus at his coronation.) Well, he had his chance. He got nearly everything he asked for. Media acolytes have sore lips from kissing the ground after he passed by. Now, after two years of ruinous policies, politicians of his party are trying to hide from his record and run on absurd slogans about their opponents. Their boat is going over the falls, and nothing they or the media or Mr. Obama can say will stop it. To Mr. Obama’s undoubted shock, the time has come when words alone will not do it.
The slogans are fun, though. Maybe Democrats can get Stephen Colbert to help them write some new ones. (Note to Dems: the “George Bush caused it” slogan is not working. You need some new material.)