McCain campaign complained that media is not covering him before they complained that media is covering him. Another example of a debate between John McCain and John McCain? Well, when you have a bad product, it is best not to have it reviewed. There is a reason why crappy movies are not shown to critics before they are released in theaters. McCain can win if he never ever shows up on TV between now and November. That way, many will be duped into thinking he was still the charming maverick he was back in….when was it, 19th century?
Not that media is actually slamming McCain like they always do with Democrats (remember how gleefully they went along with Dean Scream, Swift Boats, Edwards’ Haircut, Cackling Laughter of HIllary Clinton?) – they are just gently reporting on what he’s doing and saying. Or what his campaign is doing. And that is damning enough. As nobody really knows if McCain knows what his advisors are saying but says something different anyway (in which case someone is lying and deceiving), or he has no idea what they are doing in his name (in which case he is a horrible manager and cannot be trusted to run a chess club, or just senile).
Which brings me to voters, especially those usually called low-information voters. Especially as the campaign this year will be exceptionally nasty, as the GOP has no product to offer (unlike last two times, LOL), so they act in desparation and will be hitting really hard, with all sorts of idiotic stories and outright lies about Obama (and about dangerous potential supporters or VP hopefuls). Which are getting harder and harder to swallow even by Corporate Media, but may still be persuasive to some of the voters McCain desparately needs.
How would they react to a clip like this on CNN in which Obama reminds people that McCain is a Washington insider who did nothing good (about energy independence) in 26 years there, and Mitt Romney (a GOP veep hopeful) pretty much agreeing with it and adding a linkage between Bush and McCain(?!):
Is this good or bad for McCain? Who knows?
Do not forget that half of the country are non-voters, i.e., people who do not vote although they are eligible and capable of doing so: they are US citizens (here or abroad), they are over 18 years old, and are not completely incapacitated by physical/mental/health problems at the time of election. Oh, and not in prison (due to laws craftily and presciently written by Republican lawmakers who wanted to make sure some of those Black guys are not free to go to the polls).
When asked ‘Why?’, the non-voters usually say they missed voting for being too busy (or “was it today, really?”). But when prodded further, their stock response is “they are all the same”. This dangerous meme, about politicians of both major parties being “all the same” is there for a reason. It has been carefully planted into the minds of the general population. It is in the same taxonomic category with Broderism aka Compulsive Centrist Disorder (preventing the move leftwards of the Overton Window by anchoring the middle, thus keeping the Far Right within the realm of polite conversation). It is designed to give GOP credibility, i.e., that their ideas are not batshit crazy, or if they are, so are the Democratic ideas. It is designed to appeal to basic human laziness – the Republicans know that people who know nothing don’t vote Democratic (or don’t vote at all). It also appeals to the “can’t we all get along” sentiment, which many people have, as the political debate is poisonous because Republicans purposefully make it so. Nastier they get in public, more people will, they know, retreat from politics and not vote, which is good for GOP (they squeak by miniscule margins every four years, as you may have noticed, and large rise in voting numbers works against them).
How to get the non-voters to vote? The “pull” (as opposed to “push”) media environment is not just bad for science communication, it is also bad for politics. No matter how much we may appeal to them, they will not see those appeals – they skip the politics/election news and go straight to Entertainment/Fashion/Sports. The only time they start thinking about politics is when they personally start to hurt. And they are now. They are starting to pay attention. They may turn into zero-information voters or low-information voters (becoming a high-information news-junky takes some years and some background to attain, so very few will be able to get to that stage fast enough) and WILL VOTE. For whom? Probably against the party that hurt them over the past eight years.
Over the past couple of years, more people are registering to vote (i.e., switching from being non-voters to voters) than usual and most of them are registering as Independents and Democrats including in North Carolina (where some of those Independents may vote for Libertarian Bob Barr and mess up McCain that way).
Zero-information voters are people who vote although they do not pay any attention to the campaigns at all. How can they do that? They know exactly which party they are voting for and it does not matter one bit who the candidates are, or policy proposals, or any of that stuff. They have decided decades ago (either inherited from parents, or decided when young) which party they belong to and every four years they vote straight party ticket (that party can be either one – unfortunately, Democrats have such voters as well). They will vote based on stereotypes and slogans about the two parties that may have not touched reality since the 1950s, but that does not deter them at all. And they vote. Perhaps this time around, some of these will actually start paying attention. And if they make an effort to get seriously informed, some may change affiliations, and of those, most will switch their vote to Democratic.
Low-information voters occasionally catch a glimpse of political news, usually from Corporate Media or radio talk-shows. They are not just low-information voters but usually also mis-information voters as they naively believe what they read/hear/see in the media (bait, hook and sinker). And they tend to follow the media narrative inasmuch it fits with their preconceptions, i.e., their party affiliation and ideology. They pay some attention, but to the wrong sources. Getting them educated is probably the hardest – they are not blank slates that one can inform and educate. They are full of misinformation that first has to be debunked, before they are capable of absorbing new information that is more reliable. And even then, they tend to vote by emotion rather than knowledge.
The transformation of non-, zero-, and low-information voters into high-information voters is not something that GOP wants to see happen. Why? Because once you start looking, you see that there is no ideological Left in the USA (it is miniscule and powerless). Republicans are ideologically driven, nasty, greedy, nutcases. Democrats are mostly non-ideological technocrats who want to get the job done, are far too likely to make compromises (“better something than nothing” crap) even if those are horrible (middle ground between good and bad is bad, not semi-bad), get surprised when the Republicans play them, and generally make a mistake of giving Republicans a benefit of the doubt for being human, including adhering to the norms of human decency.
Those who pay attention and get informed recoil in horror when they see what GOP is all about. Lies and deception in the name of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, greed, and general male (and female) insecurity. How do we get more people informed? And how do we prevent the GOP from preventing us from getting more people informed?