Mike Lux can’t understand why the networks are getting all giddy about the TeaParty movement. It’s all they ever cover.
To be clear, the tea partiers aren’t the only angry people in America. There are plenty of working class swing voters who aren’t inclined to buy into the tea party stew of racism, nativism, and Ayn Rand style libertarianism, but are deeply troubled that the jobs situation isn’t improving and that no one in government seems to be looking out for them. There are plenty of progressive activists angry at the Wall Street bankers, the health insurance companies, and the other corporate interests that are screwing them, and are angry that too many politicians seem to be in their pocket. In both cases, Obama and his fellow Democrats still have the opportunity to reach them, still have the ability to make absolutely clear whose side they are on. If Democrats show those voters that they will reject those special interests, and fight hard for average folks’ interests, they can still win this election. If they show voters that they are just as angry about what’s been done to regular people as the regular people, they will have a better 2010 than anyone is predicting right now.
The media loves-loves-loves this tea party story, but the tea partiers really aren’t anything new, and they don’t represent a very big group of voters. There is a lot of anger out there, but most of it is righteous anger that Democrats can and should tap into – anger that Wall Street and other bad actor big companies have been allowed to destroy our economy, and that no one is taking them on for it.
I have to go back and do my research but wasn’t OpenLeft one of the places that was dumping all over “the bubbas” during the primaries? You know, the working class women who weren’t in love with Obama because they knew poison when they saw it? Well, whatever. We’ll come back to that later. The primaries are where this problem started. If only Mike Lux would have a Soylent Green moment about them, we could start talking the same language again and get on with it.
Anyway, about the TeaParty. Mike probably already knows the answer to this. There have been reports in various places, the latest in The Big Short by Michael Lewis, that Hill staffers are glued to cable TV. The media shapes their worldview with distortion and misdirection and bad information. Yep, you can put any stupid thing you want on CNN or CNBC and Congresscritters act like Rupert Murdoch and the other media owners have sunk their electrodes deep into the brains of the American public. But it isn’t true.
What the media has the power to do is amplify the voices it likes and mute the voices it doesn’t like. It likes the TeaPartiers because they are militantly anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-progressive. Sweeet! The neo-feudalists don’t have to lift a finger. Well, that’s not strictly true. We know that hard-ass Republican movement conservatives are funding the TeaParties. But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to all of the attention they’re getting.
Nevertheless, there are people on Capitol Hill who are watching that nonsense and getting the heebie-jeebies. OMG, the TeaParty is on the march! They’re in your Walmart. They’re pissed off. They want you to do Republican things and be all bi-partisan and sell out women. And it’s working so well. Congress is scared to death of TeaParty people. They’re so scared that they don’t even see the ax that’s about to fall on them from their (former) friends.
Mike, the media is never going to cover your frustration with the Democratic party. The Democrats aren’t listening to you because they are transfixed by Fox News. No matter how much you tell them they are pissing you off, they will ignore you because you and your rowdy band of progressive activists are not on the TV. If the cameras aren’t covering you marching on the Mall and shouting slogans or throwing cherry bombs through the windows of some Democrat who just voted on the most regressive Republican health care reform bill in history, then you don’t really exist to those Hill staffers. And the cameras are never going to cover you, no matter how many millions you get to march on Washington.
Even Corzine’s loss and Martha Coakley’s defeat won’t register for awhile because it takes effort to analyze the polls and it’s so much easier to hear some blond spokesmodel tell you what those elections really meant based on some slanted poll the network conducted.
If you want to make a difference, you have to stop trying to get your politician’s attention through the media. The people you want to reach are those very same voters you dumped on during the 2008 primaries. Remember the working class? Yeah, well, they don’t even know you exist. They don’t read blogs. But they might read a bumpersticker. They might read guerilla messaging. You can infiltrate them with signs and unanswered questions. You could write a book. Don’t fill it with tree hugging, birkenstock wearing, vegan, recycling crap though. They really don’t care about that stuff. They want to know whether you feel for them and their unemployment status. Do you know what it’s like to work so hard and never seem to get ahead? Have you ever had to take a 30% cut in salary to keep the lousy job you have? Can you sympathize with the newly unemployed couple who can’t pay the mortgage on their house and will soon have no home for themselves and their two kids? Have you seen your friends with PhDs in the sciences wandering around the grocery store, not knowing what to do with themselves because they’ve lost their jobs and their industry has gone to Hyderabad for the indefinite future?
Those are the people you have to reach out to, not your politicians. Not all of those working class schlubs are watching Fox. They are waiting for a different answer.
You will not get good media. If you get to be popular, the parties will dump on you. Your friends will abandon you. You will face humiliation, jeers, lies about you. People will find out where you live and put dead bunnies on your doorstep. You will not get to sit at the kewl lunch table.
You know what? Forget about the media. Hillary did and she almost beat the bastards. She was knifed by her own, not by Fox news. Go around them, Mike. Be the anti-media. Get all mysterious. When you start to attract their attention, don’t return their phone calls. Play hard to get. Deliver your messages without them. When the pols lose and lose and lose, they’ll eventually get a clue. The Republican party is a lost cause. The Democrats have an infection that needs to be cured. But don’t put your faith in either one. Put your faith in the people you scorned in 2008. Women, working class people, Hillary supporters, the FDR style liberals. Get them on board, Mike, and you can turn this thing around.
But don’t expect the media to acknowledge your existence. They have you right where they want you right now. Silent and invisible. Accept that as a given and move on.