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Don't Get Smart, Get Stupid!
April 13, 2002
By Michael Gronewaller

This article is a response to Don't Just Get Mad, Get Smart.

While I do agree that civility and intelligent dialogue are useful tools among intelligent people, and I am a great fan of eloquence and reasoned stances, I am starting to wonder who our audience of voters should really be.

I have an abiding suspicion that what is really hurting us as Democrats is not "spineless" Congressmen, open-zippered leaders, or even the evil media (as opposed to the fine upstanding journalists they employ -- er, choose to publish).

I really think the problem is that we as liberals are in general far more intelligent, well reasoned and educated, and will go to astonishingly great lengths to convince people of the integrity and validity of our fair and well thought out arguments. The audience, in case anyone has been paying attention, isn't always getting it! I suspect the problem is not the speaker - it is most of the audience. Our problem with getting our message across to people outside "the choir" is our understanding of the intelligence of our greater audience.

In a country where more than half the population falls below the average IQ, we aren't playing our cards right. I agree that vituperative language and bellicose attacks do more harm than good and should be avoided, but likewise, 30 minute speeches don't play to the 30 second attention-span crowd, and these are the guys whose single-minded lack of attention to details and whose votes in swing states are giving us heartburn.

Let's be real for a moment and recognize what the Republicans already know: the ground-swell of voters in any election are not brilliant, meticulous thinkers. They are "one slogan, one vote" people who are betimes merely profoundly stupid, and on the other hand may be quite intelligent but not have time nor motivation to arm (burden?) themselves with topic education, extensive reasoning, careful argument, etc. These are the folks that Republicans have so brilliantly co-opted with alliterative slogans such as "compassionate conservatism"; these are the guys who for whatever reason, nature or nurture, only have room in their brains for one-sentence mission statements, and no brilliant rejoinders. These are the guys who buy everything the spin doctors hand them, because it is handed to them in a catchy two-word phrase, a change of subject, or else just a blatant denial in the face of overwhelming evidence. These are the guys who prove conservation of energy is literally all in the mind.

We do need a "grand conspiracy" of the left, specifically to recognize and swing the vote of the basic ignorant American; the American who thinks that ANWR will pipe oil directly to our gas stations from Alaska, Americans who think that torture is okay in some circumstances, Americans who don't have a clue about separation of church and state, who think that the right to bear arms means the right to form seditious militias like Waco and pack heat at the grocery store, Americans who think that everything that isn't white and uptight is foreign, suspicious, and possibly a terrorist, Americans who think that anyone who is not their particular brand name of Christian is not really an American, and Americans who don't have the foggiest clue what civil liberties and the constitution of our United States of America is really about.

Why are these folks self-described "conservatives"? Well, for starters someone convinced them they were conservative in one or two sentences, and they believed it. And because Republicans have brilliantly given them the no-brainer one-slogan leads they need to wrap up their "speaking points" on politics: Anwar (now spelled out in the media), "the American Taliban", "battlefield detainees", the War on Terra, more Compassionate Conservatism, Gun Grabbers, Pro Life, Faith Based Inititiatives, Homeland Security, lying liberals, tree huggers, welfare thieves, single parent families, Gay Agenda, Defense of Marriage, and a dozen other one or two word sound bytes that don't stand up to even a first order predicate argument, but have captured the two remaining firing brain cells of the folks who think they are being passionate about their beliefs.

The fact is that we must recognize that underinformed people run the gamut from just plain "too busy" to profoundly stupid. We don't have to hate-monger and fear-monger like the Republicans, but we do need to make the message MUCH simpler and easier to remember, if not to understand. If we can't develop our own catchy two-word boilers for every given situation, then we need to just join 'em, because we are being too "smart" for our own good, and we're beating ourselves.

Let's practice: "What is the government hiding?" When the government becomes secretive, suspends FOIA and refuses to hand over papers documenting public policy development, it is hiding something. (Question: what are they hiding?) When a Republican doesn't give a direct answer to a direct question, you can be 100% certain that they are lying or attempting to mislead about something (Why are you evading the question? What are you hiding Senator?) If everything about this administration is above-board and honest why are they trying to wrap so much of it in the flag and hide it?

The problem in Israel isn't "the situation in the middle east". The middle east is a big place, most of which has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel. The problem is Israel, a tiny, self-entitled portion of the middle east. You can be against the Israeli militarists and against Palestinian violence AT THE SAME TIME without being anti-semitic; at the very least, you are allowed to have an opinion of your own, including the luxury of not favoring sides.

There is no pipeline between ANWR and government oil reserves. We have to sell that oil to Japan for cash to purchase oil on the international market. ANWR will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil! Love the environmentalists, give lots of money, but the environmental argument is too complicated and long for Joe Blow, and is NOT a one sentence counterargument to "National Security". Let's practice some more: (repeat until blue) ANWR will cost more than it cures. ANWR will make the oil moguls richer and won't do anything for our gas prices at the pump. ANWR Won't Work.

Not everyone who is Afghani is Taliban, and not everyone who is Taliban is Al Qaeda (wait, that's way too complicated, we'll leave that one alone).

The president isn't doing a great job on "the war". The president isn't doing a particularly great job on anything, at all. Just say it over and over like a mantra. When someone on the other side finally succumbs to this proven Republican method of brainwashing, they will reveal as their reasoning, under Federally sanctioned torture, that it's all because of Clinton, or they may just helplessly and mindlessly repeat that the president isn't doing a great job on anything at all, burst into tears and stalk off in a confused and self-righteous rage.

It's really not nice to say "name one thing" to a silly Republican when they aver that the president is doing a great job on the War on Terra; they just start reflexively mumbling crap about Clinton for some unfathomable reason. These are the morons we need to brainwash to our side - the Republicans have already proven that it can be done, using the code word "Clinton", and that they are pretty good at it, and they have legions of mindless supporters vacuously babbling two-word slogans for every major issue to prove it.

We just need to make the pithy two-bit riposte a cornerstone of our political strategy and do what the Republicans have done so well for themselves - don't get the smart guys, get stupid!

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