Monday, May 31, 2004

We Want You Not To Vote!

This seems to be the most obvious element of Bush's re-Selection campaign.

Today's Washington Post has an article about how increasingly negative and misleading the Bush campaign has been. As impressive as the sheer numbers ("Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total") is the fact that the Bush campaign doesn't seem to care whether or not the ads are truthful. This is not surprising, but what it does say is that Bush and co. don't fear that the public will learn the truth. Or that they don't seem to care if people find out they're lying as they'll still create an echo chamber out of these lies. Beyond the whining quotes from academics that are inevitable in any article about negative advertising, there was one quote that really got to the heart of this campaign strategy. Scott Reed, Dole's '96 campaign manager, said:

"'The Bush campaign is faced with the hard, true fact that they have to keep their boot on his neck and define him on their terms,' Reed said. That might risk alienating some moderate voters or depressing turnout, 'but they don't have a choice,' he said."

This implies that it is an unconvenient fact that they might have to depress turnout. In fact, I strongly believe that this is the Bush strategy for this time around. In the last election, there was a lot of controversy over disenfranchised voters, with charges over Republicans using illegal tactics to alienate minority and inner city voters. Assuming that there was no overt voter suppression; it's undeniable that the low level of turnout in many areas benefitted Bush. It's also been constantly documented that negative campaigning directly impacts voter turnout. What's more, if Bush can instigate Kerry into a mud fight; then Bush can turn around and claim the high ground as the President.

So what else is new? Republicans benefit when voters stay home. How do we convince people that the threats to their rights, their future and their well-being are clear and present dangers with this president so that they actually want to vote?


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