April 08, 2006

Politics: The Slogan That Should Have Been

I know, I know: there's been a bunch of activity in Canadian politics of late, but I'm a little distracted by reportd from Down South just now, okay? You really want a bit? Try Declan's post on someone else's coverage of the throne speech, or take a frikkin' Valium (tm).


Many people may remember the slogan that got Reagan elected president for the first time. It was a time to be scared of just about everything: Russians, terrorists, nuclear meltdown, pesticides, oil embargos... (Let me know if any of this sounds familiar) So Reagan, being an experienced if mediocre actor, used that to fuel panic among the population with his slogan.

"Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

Worked like a charm, leaving Carter's White House to scramble for explanations and the Republicans to bask in the reflected halcyon days that current frustration and bad memory provides.

A bit later, Clinton became president over Poppy Bush with another, more specific slogan:

"It's the economy, stupid!"

Simplistic enough to appeal to Republicans, but still requiring some thought ("What's he mean by that?") to appeal to Democrats. It was a winner.

In this last election, the Democrats went simplistic again, but also to a war-time sound, which the Republicans already had wrapped up:

"Bring it on!"

As we all know, Kerry folded like a house of cards the instant the election was stolen. (Don't think it was stolen? Go look up why exit polls are the first place a junior statician gets their start.) It was a slogan that lacked even the inspiration to motivate the erstwhile leader in the biggest challenge of his life. It also didn't require any thought at all, making otherwise solid voters vote against, rather than for. Always a risky prospect.

The slogan that should have been used, and should be used in these mid-terms, harkens back to the previous two, successful slogans:

"Do you feel safe?"

It provides a reminder to the voters of what was promised, as compared to what has been provided by the folks in charge. Much of the right-wing base is in a perpetual state of pants-wetting panic over, well, pretty much everything. There's a reason for this: the folks they listen to are trying their damndest to keep them under their beds and shaking with fear. When, for instance, is the last time you heard of a new "Terror Alert"? Here's a hint: when was the last election? Former Security czar Tom Ridge even admitted that they were manipulated for political reasons. As for those folks who need a bit of thought in their slogans, when they ask "What do they mean by that?", there's an answer. Actually, several of them:

Do you feel safer with the war on drugs? I wouldn't.

Do you feel safe about the condition of the enviroment? Not in this lifetime!

Do you feel safe about your job? Can't imagine why.

Do you feel safe that the rule of law prevails? Are you kidding me?

Do you feel safer about catching terrorists? Not yet.

Do you feel safe about your health? In another country, maybe.

Do you feel safe that, with the war in Iraq, this will be the end of it? Not on your life. Or your family member's lives. Or any one else's lives.

Heck, when it comes down to it, even Bush should be afraid: his most devoted supporters are criticizing him over his incompetence... at prayer.


posted by Thursday at 6:04 pm


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