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House Republicans Bet on America Forgetting Their Incompetence in 2014
Fretting over the possibility of losing the House in 2014 due to their inability to get anything done and their plunging approval ratings in the wake of their fiscal cliff debacle, GOP campaign officials have soothing words for Republicans. Don’t worry, they say. The American public will forget a debate that took place two years before the midterms.
GOP campaign officials assured The Hill “(T)hat a debate occurring nearly two years before the 2014 midterms will be forgotten easily by voters and that the fundamentals of the House landscape favor Republicans.”
What they really mean by this is a)they redistricted themselves into relative safety and b) they they think this means that they can ignore what’s happening.
Republicans are missing a few key changes since their heady recent days of reckless obstruction with no consequences. In the interim, the Internet had developed as a place for quick fact checking of propaganda. In the 2012 election, we saw fact-checking play a huge role (largely to the detriment of Republican Mitt Romney) in quickly killing false narratives. Social media was another game changer. When Mitt Romney made his disastrous overseas trip, “RomneyShambles” was trending on twitter and soon became a meme that stuck.
Why did it stick? This is another part where Republicans haven’t caught up. They tried to create their own memes about Obama, paying to promote their memes, but in order to catch on, a meme has to capture the imagination and tickle the fancy of the public by being an exaggeration or simplification of an ongoing narrative. It helps if it’s rooted in an ongoing narrative that is perceived as accurate. Republicans can call Obama every name in the book (and they almost have), but it doesn’t stick with the general public because Obama is nothing like the fictional Republican Obama. The only people believing Republican spin about Obama are Republicans, and there aren’t enough of them to win a national election right now. Yes, they can win localized House elections, but even the Senate races are tougher when you can’t compete nationally.
Even now, Republicans keep pushing their narratives and thinking that they can get away with living in a Fox bubble, in spite of Romney’s epic fail due to right wing epistemic closure born of denial. You have to face reality before you can conquer it in the New World of the Internet. Republicans can’t keep lying and thinking no one is going to catch on.
Republican spin master Frank Luntz still hasn’t sorted this out either.
Luntz suggests that Republicans start saying they are fighting for “American taxpayers” instead of “job creators”. But Republicans are not fighting for American taxpayers; in fact, the people/corporations Republicans fight for often do not pay taxes at all.
House Republicans just spent weeks refusing to give the middle class (American tax payers) a tax break unless the rich got one too. The policies of the GOP do not go with the language Luntz is suggesting. This used to work, but in the age of the Internet (i.e., fact-checking), it’s not working so well anymore.
As the Internet adapts to political needs, it’s also raising a generation whose first response when they hear a politician make a claim is to fact-check it. Unlike the Republican base, younger generations are more prone to be wise to Fox News and right wing media hysteria. They watch Jon Stewart and hang out on social news aggregators where there isn’t a lot of tolerance for talking points.
Are they going to “forget” what Republicans did over the fiscal cliff? Possibly. But what these Republican strategists are ignoring is the polling data that shows consistently lower ratings for Congressional Republicans, lower party identification with Republicans, and growing blame on Republicans. This is called a narrative. It’s sticking because it’s true.
Republicans ran on creating jobs in 2010 and then spent the next two years trying to steal liberty and freedom from women, gays, and anyone whose skin pigment is not lily white. Not one jobs bill (save the tax cut for the rich they tried to pass off as a jobs bill even though nonpartisan economists agreed it would do nothing to create jobs).
The public might forget what Republicans did on the fiscal cliff deal. They might forget that Republicans caused our first ever credit downgrade. They might not know that Republicans obstructed Democratic Job bills. They might not know that Senate Republicans killed a million jobs for veterans or that Republicans voted to cut veteran benefits, seeking to end healthcare for disabled veterans. They might not know that House Republicans voted against Hurricane Sandy relief. They might not know that House Republicans spent millions of dollars putting up fake repeal Obamacare votes.
But what the public does know is that in general, Republicans are not doing their job. Republicans seem to hate the President for no reason, and Republicans seem unwilling to work with this President. They also know that House Speaker John Boehner can’t lead his jihadist tea caucus and that if something really, really ignorant and obnoxious is quoted, most likely it came from a House Republican. Thus, while the public might forget this one fight two years out, they are not going to forget the over-arching narrative about incompetent (and crazy) Republicans being reinforced by Republicans on a daily basis, from Sandy to legitimate rape’s recent House redux.
If Republicans think their messaging is so great, then why are they already plotting to steal the next presidential election via rigging the electoral college? “Reince Priebus now wants to rig the Electoral College so that when Republicans lose they still might ‘win’.”
Republicans are betting on America forgetting their bumbling incompetence and reckless, childish temper tantrums that have worsened our economic problems. I’m not so sure that’s the best plan, but by all means, please proceed Republicans.