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Can Democrats Stop Republicans from Winning Big in 2014 and 2016?

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Next, for the sake of discussion, let's say that certain voters have been culturally conditioned to avoid the fighting spirit -- perhaps in the name of "tolerance." How many self-styled independents and liberals and progressives prefer to imagine themselves as "tolerant" -- compared to the more vociferous conservatives?

Moreover, let's say that they have also been culturally conditioned to label the fighting spirit in the political arena in negative terms -- for example, hate speech. In short, because their cultural conditioning has taught them to avoid the fighting spirit, certain voters do not understand how they can label the fighting spirit in a positive way.

However, when we deliberately strongly oppose the fighting spirit advanced by certain politicians, we have no choice but to engage out own fighting spirit in fighting against them. Thus we must retrieve our views of political emotion from the culturally conditioned view that labels the fighting spirit negatively.

But let us consider what can happen to us when we allow our fighting spirit to be viewed negatively. When we do this, we will tend towards a flight reaction or a freeze reaction, neither of which is likely to motivate very many of us to vote.

Charles M. Blow's Article

I think that liberals and progressives need to appeal to the political anger of mainstream, moderate people, both white people and people of color, I don't think that liberal and progressive politicians and commentators should necessarily strive to sound as histrionic as conservatives usually sound.

For example, in his column titled ""Suicide Conservatives'" in the New York Times online, dated February 8, 2013, Charles M. Blow says, "Rhetorically, the G.O.P. is the party of calamity. The sky is always falling. Everything is broken. Freedom is eroding. Tomorrow is dimmer than today."

In a word, right-wing conservatives sound paranoid.

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Ah, but couldn't left-wing liberals and progressives work up their own distinctive left-wing paranoid style -- to match the right-wing paranoid style? Yes, this is a possibility.

But most American voters are not right-wing conservatives or left-wing liberals and progressives. On the contrary, most American voters tend to be moderates, not right-wingers or left-wingers.

Ah, but hasn't there been a rightward drift among American voters in recent decades, so that even seemingly moderates tend to be right-center, rather than left-center? Yes, this has happened over the last half century or so. In other words, in the 1960s and 1970s, many mainstream, moderate white people were willing to go along with the liberal views at that time regarding black civil rights and women's roles in society. But certain liberals from the 1960s and 1970s have become locked into the liberal views of the 1960s and 1970s. But most moderate, mainstream white people have shifted away from those left-center views and shifted toward more right-center views.

As a result, liberals and progressives today should not work to create left-wing counterparts to the well-worn right-wing conservative themes listed by Blow. Nevertheless, liberal and conservative politicians and commentators today need to understand that those well-worn conservative themes are designed to arouse political emotion, most notably fear and anger. Political emotion is necessary to move and motivate American voters to turn out and vote in elections in 2014 and 2016.

So if most mainstream, moderate white voters today, who still constitute a big block of American voters, are center-right, which kind of paranoid rhetoric is most likely to appeal to them -- right-wing conservative rhetoric, or left-wing liberal and progressive rhetoric? Or would it be possible for another kind of rhetoric to appeal to them -- other than either right-wing or left-wing paranoid rhetoric?

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Oddly enough, I myself have written this essay about how liberals and progressives need to use political emotion more effectively without making much effort to use political emotion in the process of making my points. For the most part, I have written this essay as analysis, using the articles by Saletan and Edsall as points of departure for my own discussion of the issues involved in motivating voter turnout, with some supplementary points from Blow's article. In short, in this essay I myself am not trying to strengthen and improve voter turnout. Instead, I am looking forward to the elections of 2014 and 2016 and discussing the kinds of considerations that liberals and progressives need to work on to strengthen and improve voter turnout in these upcoming elections -- by appealing to mainstream, moderate voters to vote for the Democratic Party, instead of voting for the Republican Party.

Unfortunately, as I've said, those mainstream, moderate voters today tend to be center-right, not center-left. For this reason, left-wing paranoia is not as likely to appeal to many of them as right-wing paranoia may.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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