The politics of perception
One of the more surprising things of late, at least to me, is the short memory the left seems to have. As I’ve observed them over the years, one of the things I’ve noticed is they seem to understand the saying “in politics, perception is reality.” Or at least they did. And it was why they tried to seize and control the narrative. If they could fashion the perception of the people to be to their advantage, then the “reality” would follow. One only has to think back of the 8 years of GW Bush to watch that in action.
But now it seems they’ve either forgotten that point or think they’re immune to it. Or maybe they’re just better on the offense than the defense.
Take the IRS scandal. They continue to push the line that it is a phony scandal. But what’s the perception of the people when it comes to the IRS in general? Well, you’ll find very few who harbor kind thoughts about the agency, even if it has never crossed their path during their lifetime. The IRS is a tax agency and no one is particularly fond of tax collectors. So when the agency is implicated in an apparent scandal, the left trots out the “phony scandal” meme expecting that sort of a hand-wave to magically make the scandal disappear off of the public’s radar screen.
However, it hasn’t, has it? Why? Because the public’s perception of the IRS fully allows what is being said about the agency could be true. They have absolutely no problem believing that the IRS was used for political purposes. The public’s interest in the scandal has remained high. So perception being “reality”, the left trying to deny something that the public perceives as being true or at least having some truth to it isn’t a good situation to be in, is it?
Immigration has the same problem. While the left would like to characterize what is happening on the border as something like a “children’s crusade” and then damn anyone who is against it as hating children (their usual “got to the extreme” tactic at work), the public perceives this differently. That’s evident by the protests in various towns where the government is trying to house these illegals. So again, the left is trying to create a meme the public just doesn’t buy. They understand what unregulated and uncontrolled access means in terms of cost, disease and many other factors. Perception? That Democrats are defending the indefensible and trying to blame the problem on others. The fact remains that this White House has never seriously addressed meaningful immigration reform … even when Democrats had solid majorities in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House.
A third problem the left faces is an incompetent president. He seems more and more disengaged, confused, and weak. The meme the left continued to push during the earlier days of Obama’s term was that those who criticized him were racists. But the public perception has built over the years has little to do with skin color and a lot to do with character or the lack thereof. Foreign policy disaster after foreign policy disaster are hard to deny. Oh Democrats have certainly tried to put a good face on all of it, but it remains a disaster to even the most low information voter. You can almost literally see America’s power waning as this man remains in the White House. And the lack of respect he’s shown throughout the leadership of the world points to much more that “race”.
This isn’t a secret to most of the public. So when the left tries to fight the perception of incompetence and ineptness with “racism”, it sounds incredibly hollow. Incompetence is usually fairly obvious. In this case, it is very obvious. Add to that the strident application of “racism” broadly against anyone who criticizes Obama and it fits most of the population at some point or another. It’s not an argument meant to persuade, but instead to shame. And when individuals assess their motives for saying what they said and realize that the left is just flinging poo in an effort to shut them up, “perception becomes reality”.
These certainly aren’t the only problems the left and Democrats face. But they’re the most obvious. Perception is being fashioned daily by a president who simply isn’t seen as credible anymore by a very large portion of the population. And instead of understanding that and attempting damage control, they double down and defend the indefensible.
You have to wonder what the toll of such a defense will be in both the midterms and the next presidential election.