The GOP’s strength in messaging
by Michael Oplinger | Penn State University
Republicans rule and Democrats stink.
The liberal in me is saying, “What are you writing? Have you lost your mind?”
But the political science major in me is saying, “Absolutely correct.”
The GOP is simply a better party–at least in being unified. Republicans present such a cohesive front that you would think they would be the party to support unions.
At a significantly higher level than their liberal counterparts, Republicans present strong united fronts. Republican politicians tend to develop the same views on the issues facing society. Only recently with the controversy surrounding Paul Ryan’s budget and its impact on Medicare have we truly seen Republicans disagree with each other.
Normally, Republican politicians stay on the same page. It’s like they get a newsletter that outlines the arguments they should repeat constantly on TV. If a Republican politician disagrees with even one party principle, others immediately criticize him. We currently see that trend in action as candidates throw their name into the ring for the 2012 nomination. Tim Pawlenty has had to reverse his views on cap and trade while Mitt Romney is being forced to distance himself from his health care reform plan.
Both men normally would be considered strong conservatives who align with the party on almost every issue. But even one misstep is enough to be told to change your position if you even hope to be elected.
Intra-party fighting rarely appears to occur, and if it does, Republicans rectify it almost immediately. This even applies to members of the conservative media. A Republican dare not disagree with or criticize Rush Limbaugh without expecting backlash and eventually apologizing or “clarifying your comments.”
Conservatives like to constantly harp on the perceived liberal bias in the media. But there is no doubt that the GOP has driven the media conversation for the past few years.
Only in a climate where Republicans ruled could a ridiculous issue like birther-ism be important for so long. Even when President Obama’s birth information had clearly been established, the issue continued to linger. Conservative extremists continued to spew the nonsense while their mainstream brethren coolly and deftly danced around the issue, casting doubt on the president’s records.
There is no secret about what the Republicans did during the debate over health care reform. Constantly on TV harping about the evils of the bill, even if they were fabrications like death panels, Republicans united. Meanwhile, Democrats struggled mightily to promote the positive aspects of the bill.
In the battle of providing the public with clear messages, the Democrats seem like the ignored younger brother at the dinner table trying to talk over his older brother, who is armed with charm and fascinating stories.
Democrats seem completely unable to defend themselves. They lack the consistent talking points to repeatedly state on TV. For whatever reason, the Democrats seem to be unable to say anything together. They simply lack the admirable unity of the Republican party.
Many of their representatives seem helpless to defend their views. Democrats rarely venture into the conservative castle of Fox News to try to promote their beliefs. The only Democrat who has the guts to consistently do so is Anthony Weiner, who seems to get pleasure from riling up conservatives. Yet his strong personality and principles are a rarity in the Democratic party.
Democrats have even failed to fully jump on the Paul Ryan budget/Medicare fiasco. They have not done a good enough job informing the American people on what the budget would do or in tying the Republican party to the changes.
But they had a chance to. The Democratic controlled Senate should have pushed for a vote on the budget as soon as possible. That way, more Republicans would have voted for it and Democrats could have used the vote against them in upcoming elections.
Instead they waited too long. In this week’s special election in New York’s 26th congressional district, the public made its feelings about the potential Medicare changes known by electing a Democrat in a heavily Republican area. Now many Republicans realize they must break away from the Ryan budget in order to be reelected. Democrats again missed an opportunity to develop a serious advantage over their counterparts.
Democrats must learn from these mistakes going forward. With no overwhelming Republican candidate emerging and with the killing of Osama bin Laden occurring on his watch, Obama should cruise to reelection in 2012–if Democrats can get their message unified and their act together.Michael Oplinger is a senior at Penn State majoring in media studies and political science. Michael also is a weekly columnist for the Daily Collegian, Penn State's student newspaper.