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Dr. Seuss and the Failure of Identity Politics

The brain trusts of both political machines, and the Left in particular, have forgotten their Dr. Seuss. In all seriousness, a basic lesson from Seuss, if learned, would completely change the tone of politics.

They invest so much time and energy dividing people into groups, playing one against the other, with the intent of maximizing their votes. It’s outrageously cynical. You’ve seen it: the 99%, the “War on Women”; race politics; same-sex issues; urban/rural; and “bitter clingers”. There has been a political approach approximating the ancient military tactic “Divide and Conquer”.

The hard fact is, they play these games for only one reason. They work. It’s classic Madison Avenue marketing. Target a demographic, and craft a message with them in mind. Don’t waste time selling your own position, just cut down the other guy. Emotional appeals are a much better use of ad revenue. Right?

Usually, yes. But this time around, something has changed. The public aren’t biting. Have the campaign wizards finally overplayed their hand?

For example, since the Republican primaries, the War on Women rhetoric has been floated, offered, declared, and trumpeted. To what effect? One month before the election, Sandra Fluke drew a whopping ten people. Oh, how the mediocre have fallen! She used to BE somebody. A major Democratic convention speaker famous for … something… wait… oh, right — wanting taxpayers to shoulder her burden of $10 / month contraception. Did she ask for a data plan for her Obama-phone while she was at it?

Then there’s that tired old race card. How many Samuel L. Jackson wannabes out there have admitted to voting for Obama “because he is black”? And how many others have portrayed voting against Obama as “proof of racism!” Would MLK have ever degraded himself with such nonsense? (Is that what he meant by “the content of their character”?) Is it funny or tragic when televised celebrities carry on with race-baiting histrionics at every mention of Republicans? Maybe both?

Even they eventually tire of race-baiting. Then they default to their refrain, “Businessmen are evil.”

In the debates, could anyone fail to notice how Obama emphasized Romney’s personal wealth? Specifically, his pensions. Because (did you know?) he’s rich. Privileged. Something-something-Chinese-companies, too!

CNBC ran a story that Obama — not Romney — has taxpayer-funded pensions worth millions. Some of which probably IS invested in China. (Oops.) Romney’s detractors tried to pass him off as a tax-dodging fatcat. The Left’s answer to “birthers” harangued Romney for tax forms. Turns out, he is fully paid up. Gave to charity, too! In their vernacular, he’s “paid his fair share.”

The “taxers” must have exhausted their outrage, or surely they’d be clamouring over the appointees to the Obama administration with, uh, discrepancies(?) in their own taxes. Because they will insist on everyone paying their “fair share”. It’s about justice, not politics. Right? Right???

And now, the Democrats have gone nuclear with two hail-Mary ads. The first is the demeaning spot comparing voting for Obama to losing one’s virtue. (I’m surprised the feminists have taken that lying down. So to speak.)

Speaking of losing virtue, the best/worst example yet has to be the one with children singing. You probably know it. They packed everything into that one. Eat-the-rich, dying planet, animal rights, homophobia, infrastructure, education, oil, Big Bird, war, China, health care, it’s chock-a-block full of all the favorite rhetoric.

Forget, for a moment, that it uses guilt, emotional appeals, deceit and hyperbole as levers to manipulate. Ignore that it sounds like the hackneyed work of some washed-up jingle-writer. The commercial is pitting children against their parents. Did mom and dad vote Romney? Then they are evil! (Didn’t the Soviets cultivate greater allegiance to State than to parents? Trained them to rat out their family to the State? Is this not the same basic sentiment?)

The politics of division comes so naturally to this bunch, that nothing slowed them down before rounding this corner. Political life, for them, long ago ceased being about ideas and ideals. Now it is just winning. It’s gaining or preserving power. If children are effective pawns for motivating the sheeple to vote, so be it.

But maybe the public is finally tired of being taken for granted. Tired of being manipulated. Tired of politicians playing the angles, triangulating voters; looking for the biggest levers to move the most people; always campaigning, but never leading.

People cannot truly be labelled as blocks. It’s reductionistic. Whether people are black, white or otherwise, North or South, Urban or Rural, American or immigrant, rich or poor, religious or not, or any of a thousand other categories we might dream up, we are something substantially more than that. We each have our own complex set of hopes, dreams, ideals, values, fears, loves and hates motivating our decisions. They are as unique as a fingerprint. And woe to any party that takes them for granted.

The Republican (so-called) establishment have already paid that price — courtesy of the Tea Party. Many of the Old Guard have been thrown out. If the Democrats find themselves in opposition come November 7, they will need to do some of their own housecleaning. And maybe read that Dr. Seuss book. The one about an elephant.

Take particular note of the line: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Lower Image: Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss); World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Wes Walker

Wes Walker is the author of "Blueprint For a Government that Doesn't Suck". He has been lighting up since its inception in July of 2012. Follow on twitter: @Republicanuck

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