13 Comments

A timely, and important exhortation! At this point in time those of us who are truly concerned with preventing an authoritarian take-over, or illiberal subversion of our still liberal democracy need to understand that we are in a political cold civil war and that the peacetime methods of taking the high road is actually a self-defeating pathway, because the enemy forces are slinking along through the dark ways of the valleys, and back-rooms with a speed born of desperation to maintain power, and secretive engagements that are intended to poison as many people's minds against Democratic and liberal government actors and agents as can be swayed over to vote because of the fears they are inspiring in average-minded voters.

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Dec 27, 2023Liked by Noah Berlatsky

Orange man BAD. BAD, BAD orange man!

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Right wingers say "orange man bad" a lot--ostensibly to caricature the liberal position but really because they realize it's a powerful message that the liberals haven't sufficiently capitalized on. They're so afraid of that simple formulation that they are trying to neuter it before we even say it.

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Dec 27, 2023Liked by Noah Berlatsky

All I can say is I hope it will work. I do agree that there is a decent chance it will work. But this one is going to look and feel too close to call for quite a while, I think. The amazing part is that Trump is the political master of the playground chant "I know you are but what am I?" E.g. he's currently working hard to paint Biden as the anti-democratic threat and the Biden family as the extremely corrupt family business. That generates a blur of negativity for those who don't have the leisure and resources to sort out who the bad guy really is. Saddest part is Biden has done quite a lot of good given the limited cards he was dealt, the refusal of certain senators to override filibusters and the extreme partisan opposition. But its hard to sell getting a quarter of a loaf to folks who don't understand why you didn't get two whole ones, so negativity may be the best card he's got.

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Dec 27, 2023Liked by Noah Berlatsky

The way to win elections is to go negative early and often, deny that you are going negative, and accuse your opponent of going negative. It was ever thus and will ever be.

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While I think your advice is good for pundits and most officeholders, I think Biden is holding off in part because of the constant drum that he is "running the persecution" against trump. Basically, he should probably accentuate the positive, but everyone else not directly involved in the current prosecutions should pile on. And rather than focusing on trump's general awful character, focus on his "plans" and his awful record--children in cages, taking military funds to build the wall after Congress refused to vote him funds, and a tax cut that barely benefitted most people and which is set to expire in 366 days as to them.

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I think we need to make it clear just HOW Trump is "Orange Man Bad"—his stance on unions and labor, immigration, Putin, and his vengeful fearfulness of losing everything is driving him to embrace more extreme positions...and like Caligula with the Roman Senate, the Republican Party is just clapping along like a bob of seals.

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It's been proven across decades and across countries, negative messaging loses elections. The person making optimistic statements wins. Always. It's a fact, not speculation.

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yes. Orange Man Bad. Throws rocks at toddlers in his middle (upper, but daddy didn't spend much on ostentation so take your pick). Orange Man Always Bad. Bad child, bad man. Why don't begin our stories before twice impeached, 91 ties indicted, why doesn't the list begin with ten year old who threw rocks at two years old. So then we know. He was forever. Orange Boy Bad and matured into Orange Mad Worse (maybe).

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