A related tactic that we can expect from the left is using language, not to communicate ideas, but to create a kind of rhetorical fog that obscures real issues. The ridiculous “war on women” is just the most recent example. Hillary Clinton speaks of extremists who want to control women, and mainstream Americans interpret that as referring to countries in which women cannot show their faces in public, not to countries having a woman as Secretary of State. But then she hints, with a straight face, that these extremists might live right here at home. “Extremists” include Republicans who question the Obama Administration’s unconstitutional intrusion into the business of religious institutions. The rhetorical fog of the “war on women” keeps the focus away from the real issue, which is the administration’s strategy of wearing away every remaining limit on the power of the state over private citizens and institutions.
The left’s self-serving use of language, like their tactic of pitting one group against another, could easily backfire if voters actually see the tactic for what it is. Liberals demand the “right to privacy” even as they take over private healthcare, work to undermine the secret ballot in union votes, and snoop into school lunchboxes. They demand “tolerance” unless they hear something they don’t like. They want “diversity” on campus unless Ann Coulter comes to speak. When we peel away sweet liberal rhetoric and behold liberal reality, we see a bold, calculated effort to use language to deceive, and that is a political turn-off. For these tactics to work, the left relies heavily on their allies in the news media to keep the focus on the rhetoric and away from the reality. And that brings us to the hard reality facing Republican candidates this fall. If we treat media bias as in-kind contributions to the Obama campaign, and if we add that to Obama’s billion-dollar war chest, the Republicans are at a huge disadvantage. It will be very hard for Republican candidates to focus voter attention on reality instead of rhetoric. The only way around that kind of media power is an engaged and passionate grassroots campaign, one that cuts through the media’s rhetorical fog at the neighborhood level. Republicans might want to reconsider their arms-length approach to the tea party.