I want to resurrect a Sept. 13th post made by fellow SCRer Austin called Better By Far. In it, Austin recommends a fine analysis by Wall Street Journal’s Lee Siegel called “The Triumph of Culture Over Politics.”
One of Siegel’s main observations has stuck with me for days. He maintains the reason why Republicans have dominated the White House during the past 25 years is that they understand American elections are about values, not issues.
Ask Americans in poll after poll where they stand on many issues, from the war in Iraq to gay rights, and they will express what are seen as progressive stands. And so Democrats are heartened, take Americans at their word and build campaigns around those issues.
As a result, Democratic campaigns are filled with despair, despair over all that’s wrong in the country; all of the issues that need to be addressed. The war in Iraq is an issue. So is the right of a woman to control her reproduction. The high rate of unemployment is an issue, and so on. And Democrats believe voters can be swayed by a rational discussion of these issues, however dry and dull the discussion might be. (Think of Kerry. Gore.)
But Republicans, by claiming to speak for the culture of “real” Americans, have come to appreciate that most do not vote on issues; they vote for the ideal values of an ideal culture. The futility of the war in Iraq cannot be addressed without voters’ eyes glazing over because the value is that we support our troops and the flag for which they’re fighting. Reproductive rights? We value the life of the unborn and admire anyone who does, as well. Democrats are thus left with the uncomfortable title of baby killers.
Economic figures indicating the latest unemployment rates are abstract ideas. But putting a workshirt and a cap on a candidate while he’s standing in the middle of a corn field makes even a millionaire senator “one of us,” in the mode of the iconic Ronald Reagan who chopped his own wood. (Would Obama know how to do that? Doubtful.) He represents the value of the rough and tumble all-American man, the cowboy, the pioneer.
Even our own Sarah Palin, who’s short on facts but high on values, becomes attractive enough that we can actually consider her qualified enough for the second highest position in the nation and keep straight faces. If our current situation weren’t so sad, it would be laughable.
Freedom. Strength. Family. Church. God. Country. Flag. Babies. Schools. Prayer. These are not issues; they’re values. And these are the values that Americans support.
As long as Republicans wrap themselves around these values, Democrats will continue to struggle. marketing companies fine