After the unexpected smackdown Obama gave the House Republicans, the rightwingers and Republicans are making clear that they are doubling down on the ‘Party of No’ obstructionism that has allowed them to monkeywrench hcr.
There’s not exactly a shortage of people offering all sorts of advice on getting messages across. One thing that seems clear is that presenting a laundry list facts and figures does not motivate adequate numbers of voters, either in the election booth or in polls and other gauges of ‘the mood of the country’ in between elections. Now I’d say that the notion of ‘the mood of the country’ is a pretty ludicrous construction. The best we can probably do is to talk about the predominant for now mood of various constituent groups of various coalitions. However, as the current teabagger infighting shows, even that may be several bridges too far.
Looking at blogs like Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, Think Progress, Crooks and Liars, Redstate, Town Hall and any number of others will show that posters and commenters at all these sites also express ‘internal’ dissension and outright infighting. Still, on specific elections and big issues like hcr, what are at other times loose groups tend to tighten up and coalesce around candidates and issue positions, especially when confronted with such polarized choices as they pretty much inevitably are in the US.
As I noted above, facts and figures alone, however impressively arrayed, do not generally pull voters into a dedicated orbit around a candidate or policy position. I have not yet really dug into the book, but I’m tending to think Drew Weston is right when, in The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, he argues that narratives, by reaching our emotions, are more persuasive.
As the rightwingers and Republicans have demonstrated, those stories and ’emotional truths’ need not actually be grounded in reality. However, when the narratives are actually based in fact rather than distortion, they have the beneficial effect of attracting the not insignificant number of voters who are persuaded by facts and figures.
Together with people who respond more positively to emotionally undergirded narratives, they might form a coalition that can counter the Party of No agenda of the rightwingers and Republicans.