First, watch these two Americans for Prosperity (AFP) ads: they will show you exactly what the Democratic party is up against this year.
Spoiler warning: the Democrats have got nothing currently up that can beat either.
Anyway, National Review has a nice article (via Instapundit) up about the extremely sophisticated, long-term ad campaign that is producing gut punches like the above: and I particularly want to note the excerpt below, just because it needs highlighting.
[Sean] Noble and his team at [Center to Protect Patient Rights], which functioned out of the office of his consulting firm, DC London, in Washington, D.C., also worked with Americans for Prosperity and several other groups to turn out voters opposed to the emerging bill at the town-hall forums that senators were hosting in their home states during the 2009 August recess. “We knew we had to make that summer absolute hell,” Noble says.
Local AFP chapters activated their networks, and CPPR placed calls to seniors who were considered Republican base voters, people over the age of 65 who had voted consistently in GOP primaries, urging them to come out to the town halls and arming them with talking points… “We packed these town halls with people who were just screaming about this thing,” Noble recalls. Scenes from those meetings, of constituents blowing up at their elected representatives and of public forums descending into chaos, blanketed the news throughout August.
It’s because of stuff like this that the Democrats keep screaming about how the entire Tea Party movement is a tool of the Koch Brothers, and why the Left gets genuinely upset when their argument fails to resonate among more, ah, reality-based folks. You see, the Left has always had everything it needed for a successful populist movement except for actual people. Their ‘popular movements’ (scare quote and sneer deliberate) have always relied on paid protesters and blanket coalitions, all diligently slaving away to puff up the cause du jour. To them, ‘arming people with talking points’ is semantically equivalent to ‘You will say this, and only this, and you will not break character for a minute.’ That it could mean, say, ‘Here are the specific things that this Member of Congress did to support the bill that you already hate with a white-hot passion’ never seems to occur to the average Democratic activist, in much the same way that a person with monochromatic vision may have difficulty intuiting why colors might have emotional overtones. No points of reference, in other words.
So – given the essentially unnaturally inflated nature of all Left-protest – it is not really surprising that the folks on the Other Side at first assumed that the Right has the same problem. Their dawning realization that, no, all genuine populist impulses these days originate on the Right* – and the Left’s inability to draw correct conclusions from that realization – affects pretty much everything going on in this election cycle. It would appear, at least so far, that the best that Democrats can hope for will be a lot of flailing about and desultory appeals to class warfare: it won’t work, but it might keep the Left’s activists in the game.
Or not. I can’t say that I really care, either way.
*Pro-lifers always trump pro-choice activists in enthusiasm. Gun rights activists are so ascendant over gun control enthusiasts in this country that we forget that this is not a law of nature. Obamacare opposition has never been effectively countered by the Left. Using any rational metric, the Tea Party succeeded and succeeds, while Occupy was a miserable failure that accomplished nothing.
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