November 3, 2010


How the Democrats were beaten: Progressives globally must counter an effective right-wing election playbook. (David Muir, 03 November 2010, New Statesman)

When we looked at the issue of debt in research respondents would have potent connections with this word. They would repeat phrases and words like: "Neither a borrower or a lender be"; "the poor house"; "the workhouse" and "ruin". This atavistic reaction means that emotion frequently trumps the facts.

Learning from how much difficulty the debt caused us, the Australian Liberal Party unleashed an extremely aggressive debt attack on Australian Labour. Despite the fact that Australia has one of the lowest debt to GDP ratios of just 13 per cent, this had real reasonance with voters because debt is never a good thing.

In order to increase the toxicity of the attack the global right ties debt to a second symbol of national decline - waste.

Rather than acknowledging that stimulus spending may have kept people in jobs, and families together - the right pathologises this spend by saying that it has been wasted. Combining debt and waste is lethal in driving voters away from progressive parties.

The most effective Australian Liberal attack was the commercial "More debt, more waste, more taxes" this played well with swing voters and built upon the success that the Tories had built up in, fictitiously, making the case that so much spend had been wasted under Labour.

Learning from this success, Republican Party and Tea Party affiliates have hammered home that much of the stimulus supported by the Democrats has needlessly expanded the States' ability to waste money.

One example that I came across recently in the States was in what should have been the safe race for Congressman John Hall, in New York's 19th District. Hall became targeted by "soft money" from a shadow group called the National Federation for Independent Business. This ad is a direct steal from Australia as it conflates debt with examples of waste. So successful has this been that the same template has been rolled out into a number of other races with a $6 million ad buy.

What everyone seemed hellbent on ignoring after election day 2008 was that the result put us to the Left of the rest of the Anglosphere, a situation that had no chance of standing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 3, 2010 4:52 AM
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