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« Sanders unloads | Main | Marco Rubio, a beggar of one »

May 27, 2015


Peter G

Wehner's argument is essentially this:

It would be a serious mistake however not to consider why voter turnout is so low or why Republicans have come to dominate so many State Houses. These are not merely indicative of a lack on interest by voters else it would affect both side about equally. It isn't all technical factors like gerrymandering or voter suppression. It isn't money. No amount of money spent is done to persuade people not to vote. Not voting is a conscious decision. And if the wider electorate aren't buying what the Democrats are selling then they'd better start wondering why.


Wehner's analysis is something like looking at a wheelbarrow full of apples and oranges reflected by several fun house mirrors. Congratulations for your patience in pointing out the main flaws. He has certainly provided a convenient "frame" or context for his argument; lies, damned lies and statistics. Wehner is cherry picking Pew's data for results that seem advantageous to Republicans. He's got a point on terrorism, but in another poll Pew names the issues most important to Americans. Among the results are "Since Barack Obama began his second term in January 2013, the economy has declined 11 points as a top priority, and improving the job situation has fallen 12 points (from 79% to 67%). ... Currently, 64% say reducing the budget deficit is a top priority ... down eight points since 2013." He also brushes off a wide range of policy priorities not favorable for Republicans, noticeably Social Security, Medicare and the environment:


The conventional wisdom has been that midterms are dominated by older voters who are less mobile and more likely to be registered, less Democratic and less liberal. The Dems have been trying to fight this for years. However, it might be more advantageous to just make better, less timid, appeals to voters. Why vote for Republican Lite?:


The GOP has a better weapon in the midterm elections: fear. In 2014 for example the Beltway Media and the Fox/talk radio propaganda machine pounded the country with fear-mongering about Ebola, ISIS terrorists infiltrating across our borders, the Ferguson disturbances, etc. Those motivated old white religious people to mob the ballot boxes, while Obama's determined efforts to downplay the Democratic message in order to save the likes of Mary Landrieu de-moivated Democratic voters, who tend to be much less susceptible to fear than conservatives (a lot of us even took our names off the listservs that were flooding our inboxes with Sky Is Falling messages a dozen times a day).

Sad to say, fear, especially when turned into anger, is the one of the most potent political weapons there has ever been, and conservatives both are masters in its use and have built a powerful apparatus for that use.

Peter G

The thing about that is the stats Bob produces courtesy of Nate Silver suggest otherwise. They do tend to argue on the left that low turnouts are caused by failure of the Democratic Party to offer authentic progressive candidates. To which I reply, what do you mean by authentic progressives? Because quite a lot of them aren't the least bit progressive, the policies they offer would be toxic to huge swathes of the voting public. If fear is the motivator then we are left with the inescapable conclusion that quite a lot of the potential voters on the left aren't afraid of the consequences of not voting.

The Raven

Oh noes! The Obamunist menace is coming to get you! So where is Noam Chomsky in the Democratic party? Where is the Trotskyist wing?

Um, well, maybe not.

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