Spin has been a part of politics for as long as I can remember. Today we have gone way beyond it and I fear it imperils our democracy.
It probably predates me, but as long as I can remember candidates, good ones anyway, would answer questions by conveniently only presenting the sides of an issue that reinforced and/or sold their point. (Much like a textbook salesperson.) With the advent of recordings, a now somewhat ancient practice of saying one thing to one audience and in a matter of sometimes minutes saying the total opposite to a different audience ended. Now, at least days separate the flip-flop; often only a matter of a day or two. As evidence I offer the statements of several 2022 Republican candidates after they won their primary and now are facing a general election electorate.
There is an art in politics of answering the question you wanted asked, not the one that was asked. Bill Clinton was perhaps the best I ever witnessed at that. It didn’t exactly answer the question but it also did not give the opposition a soundbite they could use. The latter may be more important in their campaign manager and press spokesperson.
Then there is the art of spinning. That is simply to make a statement that on its surface at least sounds good. To the informed voter that is useless chatter but they are not about to be swayed anyway.
Staying on message is important and it does give the voter a good idea of where the candidate stands on the issues and what their priorities are. She is anything but flashy, but I offer New Hampshire Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan as a prime example of someone who is fantastic at getting her talking points in. It’s like she knows the “time remaining on the clock”, will quickly answer the direct question and then pivot to get multiple points across; in the process letting voter know where she stands on issues that she wants them to be aware of because she thinks they will resonate positively for her.
Republicans on the other hand are generally bad at that. A recent example is North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis. When questioned about Lindsey Graham’s recent national abortion ban proposal, he basically answered the question by talking about inflation. A few weeks earlier he showed his concern about inflation by voting against the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. In poor Thom’s defense he is far from the sharpest knife in the Senate drawer!
To anyone paying attention and possessing an above room temperature IQ many 2022 Republican candidates have a huge credibility gap. How many scrubbed their campaign websites of their abortion stances during this campaign? Do they actually think all that material disappeared forever and that voters won’t be reminded of it? Are we to believe that they lied or had an epiphany?
I for one actually like a robust debate on the issues. A major problem is that the parties can’t seem to agree on what they are. I could write a book on this issue alone but I trust my readers are smart enough to come up with a plethora of examples on their own.
To exacerbate the above problem the two parties can be talking about the same issue and come up with radically different perceptions. Many of us – and I’ll include myself – were shocked when democracy was the number one issue on voters minds in a recent poll. I’m in the mainstream and fear that democracy is under attack by what President Biden calls the MAGA Republicans and right wing terrorists. That would include the people who attacked the Capital Building on 1/6. The official Republican National Committee position, as outlined in a resolution, is that those people were engaged in, “Legitimate political discourse.” Many on the right consider them patriots and those incarcerated to be political prisoners.
We are so far off topic that we can’t even seem to agree on what the topics are. We can’t even agree on who the good guys and bad guys are. I find that concerning!
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