If there’s one thing Republicans do much better than Democrats, it’s market themselves in fairly effective ways. Not because they have better ideas, but because they have a few “natural advantages” over Democrats. For example, one of the pillars of conservatism is the resistance to change, which human beings naturally tend to do.
But there are several other tactics Republicans use to manipulate and fool their supporters into believing blatant and ridiculous lies that are easily debunked. While I’m not going to cover all of them, here are five that I feel they’re most effective at utilizing.
1. They keep their talking points incredibly simple: I often refer to GOP rhetoric as “bumper sticker politics.” If it can’t fit neatly on a bumper sticker, or be easily remembered and repeated, then it’s not going to be effective, therefore they’re unlikely to use it. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
- Drill, baby, drill!
- Lock her up!
- Build that wall!
- Tax cuts create jobs.
- Abortion is murder.
- The moral majority.
- Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
- The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.
- Make America great again.
There are plenty more, but you get the point. It’s a classic case of how to indoctrinate people into believing all sorts of foolish nonsense that doesn’t actually make sense.
2. They cherry pick outliers to fear-monger against overwhelming truth: You see this when they claim snow proves the Earth isn’t rapidly warming when discussing climate change or they seek out negative stories from countries with universal health care. They fear-monger by exploiting exceptions to the rule, by absurdly claiming that those exceptions discredit the rule. Republicans also like to claim that any type of uncertainty is “proof” that something isn’t true. Who cares if you have overwhelming evidence, they’ll dig to find anything flawed in your argument, even if that flaw has nothing to do with the overall consensus of fact — then spin that as “proof” that your argument is wrong.
You’ve seen people do this to defend Trump’s ties to Russia. They’ll find one inaccurate claim that has nothing to do with the overall report concerning possible links with Russian officials, then they’ll push the idea that because that one non-important detail wasn’t 100 percent accurate, that means everything else must be inaccurate, too.
3. Religion: This one is very simple and straightforward. Decades ago Republicans realized that one of the easiest ways to get people to act against their own interests is through religion. They branded themselves as the “party of the moral Christian majority,” manipulated people using their faith, and built a party supported by millions of “Christians” who support policies and beliefs that aren’t remotely in-line with the values of Jesus Christ. But because Republicans managed to basically make being a Republican and a Christian (at least in their minds) one in the same, many conservatives seem even more devoted to their political party than their religion.
4. Fear is much easier to sell than hope: Even when Republicans claim they’re being hopeful, they’re pushing fear. Donald Trump’s slogan was entirely based on the idea that things are awful, we never win, and the country is a disaster. We saw historic economic growth during both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s presidencies. However, if you asked Republicans during those times, you’d think everything was awful. One of the key talking points Republicans constantly push is that “your values are under attack and America is being destroyed by (fill in the blank).” They almost always paint a bleak, negative picture of the world. They want conservatives to be afraid of anyone and everyone who isn’t just like them. They want their supporters to feel like the hapless victim whose values and way of life are under seize by liberals, minorities, Muslims, homosexuals, and practically anyone else they can vilify.
The motto of the GOP: Be afraid, be very… very afraid.
5. They know how to stay on the offensive: I’ll say this much, Republicans are masters at getting ahead of a message, pushing it, and staying on the offensive. By doing so, they distract their supporters from realizing that they’re “selling their ideas,” not because they actually have any, but by simply running against whatever Democrats support.
Look at health care, for example. For years Republicans kept ahead of Democrats by pushing the idea that “Obamacare” was everything from a “job killer” to a law that contained “death panels.” All you heard Republicans say over and over again (See #1) was they were going to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” They even shut down our government and voted over 60 times to repeal the law even though they knew they never had the power to get rid of the law.
However, now that they have the power to “repeal and replace Obamacare on Day 1,” like they spent years saying they were going to do, not only has the law not been repealed — but it’s clear they never actually had a plan to replace it.
Yet most of their supporters don’t seem all that upset that, clearly, they were lied to for the past few years. These con artists wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on pointless repeals and a government shutdown to do something that, after finally having the power to do what they built a large part of their party’s platform on for the last several years, they’re not actually doing.
But that’s how Republicans operate. They spend years on the offensive, forcing Democrats to defend their ideas, distracting their voters so they don’t realize that, at the end of the day, the GOP really doesn’t have any ideas — except the same old ones rehashed in the same tired ways.
Again, while I could have listed many others, I’ll end it here. It’s just a shame that the GOP is so transparent in how they manipulate their supporters, yet tens of millions of conservatives don’t see that they’re being played for fools.