Is It Helpful, In Politics, To Be Mean-Spirited?

People who don’t regularly communicate with the Democratic Party have no idea what a cesspool of hatred that organization is. It has one means, and one means only, of rallying its supporters to contribute money and to vote: that is to personalize every issue, and to demonize every opponent with smears that would make an honest man or woman blush. This email is typical; the Democrats sent out several, almost exactly like it, over the past week:

From: Democrats 2014
Date: April 26, 2013, 11:23:53 AM CDT
To: “Hinderaker, John H.”
Subject: bad news (tomorrow)

John — we have some bad news.

After spending hundreds of millions trying to win the White House, the Koch Brothers are shifting their fortune towards destroying President Obama’s progressive agenda — and it all starts TOMORROW.

That’s right: this weekend, the most influential Republican donors in the country will meet up at the Koch brothers’ secretive annual conference in Southern California to plot a Republican offensive against President Obama’s agenda.

You and I worked too hard in 2012 to let double-dealing, right-wing billionaires, like the Kochs, prevent us from making real progress.

To keep pace with the Kochs, we need to hit 400,000 donations by the big FEC fundraising deadline coming up in a few days.

Suggested Support: $3.00

Donate $3 or more to support President Obama’s agenda before the FEC deadline.

Let’s make sure the Kochs know that there’s a whole movement standing between them and President Obama’s agenda.


Democrats 2014

The lowbrow tone of this email is typical; they are all like that. And this isn’t the product of some fringe group, it comes from an official organ of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee–the entity that is trying to capture the House of Representatives in 2014. Also note that the email never mentions (let alone discusses substantively) any policy issue. They never do. They are all about demonizing Republicans.

The Koch brothers, of course, are the Democrats’ favorite demons. This cartoon, which is making the rounds among Democrats, depicts the brothers as terrorists, i.e., the Tsarnaev brothers. It includes a reference to the Los Angeles Times. So buying a newspaper is just the same as blowing up innocent men, women and children in a crowd of spectators. That sort of hate-mongering evidently appeals strongly to the liberal mind:

The race the Democrats are focused on right now is in South Carolina, where Mark Sanford unfortunately won the Republican primary in the 1st District and is being opposed by Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who, as the Democrats never tire of pointing out, is Stephen Colbert’s sister. It is, evidently, her sole qualification for office. Note how the Democrats personalize the race by framing it in terms of another Democratic bete noire, John Boehner:

From: Democrats 2014
Date: April 28, 2013, 12:19:11 PM CDT
To: “Hinderaker, John H.”
Subject: Elizabeth Colbert Busch

John — This would be mortifying for Speaker Boehner:

When Boehner endorsed Mark Sanford, he must’ve thought the South Carolina special election would be a piece of cake. Districts don’t get much more Republican than this.

But Elizabeth Colbert Busch (Stephen Colbert’s sister!) is on the verge of proving him wrong. With 9 days left, Elizabeth has a narrow lead over Sanford!

Now Sanford is pulling out all of the stops to smear Elizabeth. We’re just $250,000 short of what we need to fight Republican attacks in races like this.

Suggested Support: $3.00

John, can you chip in $3 or whatever you can to help us immediately fight back against Republican attacks?

Mitt Romney won this district by 18 points and a Democrat hasn’t held it in 30 years. It would really sting Boehner if Elizabeth won this seat.

But winning seats like this is going to take everything we have. We have to stay strong and meet every Republican attack with the truth. Can we count on you?

Thanks for your support!

Democrats 2014

Despite the Democrats’ references to “smears” and “truth,” there is, as always, no reference to any actual issue, and zero factual content. The appeal is strictly us against them, and the emotion that drives Democrats to contribute, and to vote, is hate.

It is impossible to imagine the Republican Party communicating in this fashion with its supporters. Republicans cling to the old-fashioned notions that elections are about public policy, that voters want to know the facts, that honest disagreement is possible and that voters should be motivated by idealism, not hate. But the Republican approach, honorable though it may be, is getting trounced. Despite the Democrats’ endless blabbering about Republican “millionaires and billionaires,” the Democrats consistently raise and spend more money in race after race, cycle after cycle. And the venom employed by the Democrats–at this stage, the party of Jefferson and Jackson has nothing on Rebecca Martinson–evidently works, as we saw from the turnout in both 2008 and 2012.

It is not in the cards for Republicans to become as mean-spirited as Democrats, but it is essential, I think, for Republicans to understand the game the Democrats are playing and realize that the endless flow of hate spewed out by the Democratic Party poisons the public’s perception of all of the good Republicans try to do in Washington and around the country.