A few months ago I read a book that included a section which touched on what the writer called the “shameless sister” of World War I propaganda—the advertising industry.
Early in the 20th century, President Woodrow Wilson and his team perfected the use of slogans. To get reelected in 1916 they used the line, “He kept us out of war.” That was a bit ironic because soon after winning reelection he pushed to get America into the war. Fortunately, they had a slogan ready to sell that—the goal was to fight to “Make the world safe for democracy!”
The pro-war camp went on a full court press. Posters were everywhere. Street boys were paid to hand out flyers. Newspapers printed bogus letters in support of the war. In theaters paid spokesmen gave four minute patriotic (pro-war) speeches. Even at school, teachers pushed the war on the kids who in turn were to go lobby their parents. Some things never change.
After the war, advertisers took what they learned from that pro-war push—that “a good slogan could sway the masses…”
The book made what should be an obvious point in the year 2012: “if you hear something often enough and long enough…your resistance gets ground down…absurdities start to make sense.” While the writer was referring to the power to get people to buy a product, Wilson’s slogans paved the way showing how it could work in the political arena.
I’ve written at length (see links here) on the topic of Republican leaders and their ongoing failure to connect with a busy population on important issues such as homosexuality. Only once in a while does a conservative argument see some daylight in this media and pop culture driven society.
Instead, it’s all wall-to-wall leftist bunk. Townhall.com columnist Steve Deace recently gave this example:
[H]ave you ever noticed that homosexual behavior itself is still not widely portrayed in mainstream pop culture? For example, how often do you see two dudes making out on network television, or two guys waking up next to each other the next morning naked under the sheets like you do heterosexual couples? Why is that? The answer is simple: while the American people have de-stigmatized those practicing homosexual behavior, they have not de-stigmatized or affirmed the behavior itself.
This explains why pop culture propagandists always make sure the well-adjusted, wise, and well-liked characters in movies and television are those ensnared by homosexuality. They know on a base level most Americans still view the behavior itself on a spectrum ranging from bizarre to repulsive, so homosexuals are depicted much more than homosexuality is.
How can it be that the political right is still so flat-footed when it comes to communications, which is by far the most basic element of politics? My argument is that the entire problem is one of personnel. Very few of those who run for office or manage campaigns or pontificate on cable news shows can be said to rank among the best and the brightest. Most of the quality people we need are raising a family, building a business, or working one or more demanding job.
Until Republicans find a way to get better people into the political fray—we will not change course and get about the work of fixing this country’s problems.