If you’ve heard it once, you’ve probably heard it a hundred times – in politics, perception is reality. In the age of Obama, that is more true than ever. Facts don’t always matter so much in politics. It’s more about image.
“Peter Perfect” is a reality show my family watches from time to time. The star of the show, Peter Ishkans, goes into struggling small businesses and helps them create a new look and a new marketing strategy to hopefully set them on the track to success. Ishkans sums up the philosophy behind his approach at the beginning of each show – “If you change your image, you will change your life.” The same could be said of the political world on a broader scale. If you create a successful image, you can change a country. If that country is America, you can even change the world.
A candidate with the right marketing strategy and willing outlets to broadcast that message can sell the public on just about anything. That is the reality Republicans have to recognize and address if they don’t want to remain the minority party.
Barack Obama the living, breathing human being was not elected President. Barack Obama the Messianic savior who would solve all the problems in the world was elected – along with his amorphous promise of hope and change.
Republicans have been frustrated for years by the disconnect between what voters say they believe and how they vote. On issues like partial birth abortion, immigration and gay marriage the opinions held by the majority of the public do not necessarily translate into the election of the candidates holding like views.
Public opinion polls consistently show an overwhelming majority of Americans identify themselves as “conservative,” even as recently as 2008 when Republicans, the more conservative of the two parties, suffered huge electoral losses. That the candidate with one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate was able to win the presidential election with an electorate that identifies itself as conservative shows just how little facts matter in the world of politics. Hard facts, actual votes he cast on a variety of specific issues in the Senate, could not compete with the media’s perpetuation of the non-specific message of hope and change and love and sunshine Barack Obama put forth.
Those in the media chose not to inform the electorate of Obama’s liberal voting record, or to ask him many hard questions. John McCain and too many other Republicans did not do enough to get that information to the voters. Republicans and conservative Americans are paying the price now.