The GOP’s strategy this election is to try and terrify voters into voting for them.
There’s less than a month left before Election Day 2014, and the Republican Party seems to have settled on their tried tactic from elections gone past: vote Republican, or you’re gonna die! Okay that’s a bit of an overstatement but in a nice piece in The New York Times yesterday we learned that the world is a scary, scary place and it’s all President Obama’s fault:
The National Republican Congressional Committee is running ads warning that terrorists are streaming across the Mexican border. “Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day,” one commercial aimed at Representative Anne Kirkpatrick of Arizona, a Democrat, says. “Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s back yard.”
Republicans like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana – all possible 2016 presidential candidates – have accused Mr. Obama of leaving Americans vulnerable to the Ebola epidemic. Conservative media like the Drudge Report have created crude puns to rhyme the president’s last name with the virus. The Daily Caller has christened him “President Ebola.”
The use of fear as a motivating tactic in conservative rhetoric is a pretty old and ugly one. So we shouldn’t be surprised that the political party that once ran ads alluding to the idea that a large black man would kill your family in particular if you voted for the Democrats is now associated with websites comparing the president, a black man, to a deadly African disease.
But if you step back some and think about this line of attack, it seems downright silly. The idea that it’s the President’s fault that Ebola is ravaging West Africa is simply ridiculous. And no, in an age of globalization you can’t just wall your country off from the rest of the world when trouble breaks out. But either way, if Ebola is such a danger why are Republicans holding up emergency aid to help combat it?
If we are going to blame Obama for Ebola, why not just blame him for the Red Wedding or why it took so long to catch the Yellow King while we are at it?
Will this tactic work? Probably not as midterm elections tend to be driven by structural factors like which party is in the White House and the state of the economy. And there’s not a whole lot of evidence that foreign affairs influence voters anyway, other than unpopular wars aboard.
The problem here is that parties tend to imitate the political tactics that were employed in past successful election cycles. And 2014 will probably be a successful election cycle for the GOP. Not so much because Obama should have used his Green Lantern powers to create a cure for Ebola. Rather because of the economy, that more Democratic seats are up than Republican ones in the Senate, and the fact that the party that holds the White House tends to lose seats in Congress in the midterms. And so Republicans might start believing that the key to winning is hyping terrorist threats massively out of proportion and general paranoia. Which wouldn’t be good for the country, after all the last time they embraced these themes it didn’t turn out so well.
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