Sunday, September 26, 2010
Winning elections by making the other side lose
Ostensibly each party's goal in an election is to get out the vote for their side.
But remember the story about the two campers in Alaska who're awakened one night by a ferocious grizzly bear poking its head into the tent? As the bear roars, one of the guys starts pulling on his tennis shoes. The other guy says incredulously, "What are you doing that for. You know you can't outrun a grizzly bear." The first guy replies "I don't have to outrun the bear."
Ditto in elections. To come in first, all you have to do is make sure the other guy comes in second. That is, you don't have to get out your vote if you can get the other side's rank and file to not vote.
Southern polling quizzes and poll taxes of yore were the obvious way to do this. Along with notices posted in black neighborhoods telling people to vote on the wrong day or in the wrong place. Or, as in Ohio a few elections ago, they put fewer polling places in places that were majority Democrat, resulting in 10 hour waits to vote in some places, and people abandoning their quest for enfranchisement right and left.
But the best way is through adroit use of propaganda--witlessly aided by the other side's ideological purists--to portray the other side's people as either stupid, corrupt, or simply "not of our tribe." Showing Kerry windsurfing was a perfect example. Guys don't windsurf. Metrosexuals do. You wouldn't want a metrosexual to marry your sister, would you?
This is also always part of a party's backup plan--that is, even if I can't convince you to love my guys, if I can convince you to not love yours, you just might catch the A's game on voting day instead of taking time out to go to the polls.
So as you watch this campaign's hijinks, pay close attention to how each party tries to get the other side's faithful to be, well, faithless.
And remember: the people who voted for Nader elected Bush. They thought there was no difference between Gore and Bush. Does any sane human being on this planet think so today?