No doubt about it — when it comes to bumper-sticker-sized slogans, Republicans have it all over Democrats. In fact, I can’t think of a single slogan of this type — or any other type — emanating from the Democrats. Whoever it was that came up with “it’s the economy, stupid” isn’t around anymore, and no one has taken his place. While I’m mindful of the fact that slogans don’t always win elections (“In your heart you know he’s right” didn’t propel Barry Goldwater into the Oval Office), part of the Democrats’ problem as we approach 2012 may simply be that they’re at the bottom of the class when it comes to sloganeering.
The nice thing about “class warfare” and “job-killing” is that they can be used to criticize any and all economic programs proposed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. They’ve taken the place of the one-word slogans “socialist” and “communistic” employed by Republicans to discredit programs set forth by Democrats from the 1930s to the 1950s. Well, that’s not quite true: occasionally, Obama is accused of being a socialist. His opponents on the Left take strong exception to this description.
Because of their wide applicability, “class warfare” and “job-killing” can and are repeated time and time again. When Congress is in session, it’s an almost daily event. When primary season is approaching, as it is now, it is a daily event. You’d have to escape the confines of the U.S. to avoid being browbeaten. Regardless of your political persuasion, these slogans have sunk into your subconscious mind. If you’re on the fence, it may tip you to the Republican side — that’s the intent, after all. If you’re against the president, your pre-existing condition is reinforced. If you support the president, you’ll experience a severe case of revulsion, and you’ll accuse — justifiably, in my view — the Republicans, not the Democrats, of instigating class warfare and killing jobs. It is disingenuous to argue, as Representative Paul Ryan did today, that increasing taxes on millionaires to help fund the jobs program “punishes job creation” and incites “class warfare.” During the Clinton era, tax rates for the wealthy were higher than now, millions of jobs were created, and there was no class warfare. Wealthy Americans didn’t wait until the Bush tax cuts to stop playing golf and go to work.
“Class warfare” and “job-killing” are the current examples of pure, unadulterated propaganda. What is the purpose of propaganda, especially propaganda that’s repeated over and over again? It’s to crowd-out serious thinking, investigation, and consideration of the motives and programs of the propagandists. A media that thrives on 30-second sound-bites — the verbal equivalent of bumper stickers — thrives on it. There’s no equal-time provision for a party that gets an F in sloganeering.
The Democrats suffer from sloganeering-deficit-disorder. It may cost them the presidency.