Monday, December 2, 2013

Political Perceptions

In the United States, politicians often believe that winning legitimizes their campaigns.  There is some truth to this, as a lot of people do vote for a particular person based on the issues.  But I’m finding that the vast majority of the people vote based on what they perceive a politician represents, not necessarily what he or she really stands for.

For example, when Dave Ramsey open the phones to ask his listeners about who they voted for in November 2008 and why, most voters for John McCain stated that it was abortion.  Now, while I believe that John McCain is pro-life, he doesn’t really make a big deal out of it.  It isn’t in his top 10 policy initiatives.  In fact, I doubt he would have nominated strong pro-life candidates to the Federal court benches.

But that didn’t matter.  It was about what the Republican party represented to the pro-life crowd.  John McCain would never have done much to advance the pro-life cause.  But that was the default position of the conservatives who really just wanted to defeat the Democrat.  And so they rationalized their vote by believing in something that was unverified.

This happens with Democrat voters as well.  Black voters cast their votes for Obama because he’s black (technically half-black, half-cracker) and because they believed that they wouldn’t have to pay their mortgage or car payments once he was in office.  Never mind that this wasn’t even on the radar for Obama’s campaign.  And once he got into office, he merely paid off his largest donors using taxpayer dollars and called it “economic stimulus”.

The point is that most voters do not see the individual they are voting for, just the party label and draw their own conclusions based on that.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Often times, the sycophants who support the winners will then declare that their own personal agenda is what won and that now they have a mandate from the people to pursue it.

Case in point, here’s a good example of this:

Political conventional wisdom has it that in a purple state, such as Virginia, support for gun-safety legislation is best played down. As manager of Mark Herring’s campaign for attorney general, I got a lot of advice. One of the things I heard most frequently was that we should soft-pedal his strong record and advocacy for sensible gun legislation. It would hurt us outside of Northern Virginia and wasn’t a voting issue within the Beltway, I was told.

Like much conventional wisdom, this was wrong — and we not only ignored this advice but did the opposite. There were stark differences between Herring and his Republican opponent, Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), on gun safety. Obenshain opposed comprehensive background checks and opposed closing the gun-show loophole. He opposed former governor Douglas Wilder’s landmark “one-gun-a-month” legislation. Obenshain also made a habit of voting for such irresponsible proposals as allowing guns in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.

In short, Obenshain has opposed every constructive proposal to help reduce gun violence.

We knew this would open an opportunity for us to draw an effective contrast; public polling showed widespread support for sensible gun-safety laws, as did our own polling. Hence, more than a year out from Election Day, dealing with gun violence was a fundamental messaging point for Herring. And when the primary was over, and Herring and Obenshain met in their first debate, he drew a sharp contrast with his opponent on guns. We would prosecute that case throughout the fall campaign.

Obenshain’s position against gun-safety legislation was standard GOP fare — but it reflected a state and a voter mind-set that no longer exist. Almost all Virginians support sensible gun-safety legislation. Over the years, the commonwealth has become more urban and suburban, not only in Northern Virginia but also in Norfolk and Richmond. We found broad support in the Washington suburbs, Richmond and Norfolk for comprehensive background checks and ending the gun-show loophole.

Campaigns must make difficult financial choices, and in the general election, we knew we were going to be outspent by as much as three to one. We also knew that two issues would be powerful to voters: gun violence and Obenshain’s extremist views on women’s health issues. We couldn’t afford to focus on both simultaneously, so we started our television campaign on Obenshain’s record on women. Our intent was to start with these issues, broaden the offensive and eventually close by focusing on Obenshain’s record of inaction, or worse, on gun violence.

In this opinion piece, a Democrat sycophant decides that because a Democrat won in the Virginia governor’s race, that means that Virginians want gun control.  If anything, the election proves that Virginians are sharply divided on this issue.  Because Terry McAuliffe won with less than 50% of the votes cast, all this means is that he is the last man standing.  It doesn’t legitimize his policy proposals as a majority of voters did not vote for him, just the largest minority.

But tyrannical ideologues always use this fallacious form of thinking and rhetoric in order further their agendas.  Kevin O’Holleran is part of the Clueless class, who believes wholeheartedly the message of his masters, never suspecting an ulterior motive or that he could be wrong in his assessment.  From my perspective, most professional campaign managers, though talented and productive in their own right, are like this.  Very few are sociopaths like Karl Rove.

The fact is, most people did not vote for gun control in VA because most people did not vote for McAuliffe.  But at the end of the day, whoever wins the largest minority is going to push through their agenda as if they won 75% of the vote.  In Virginia, it gets even more interesting as governors cannot serve consecutive terms and so McAuliffe is going to do whatever he wants without fear of losing the next election.

And so we see how fallacious political perceptions shape policies in government today in the United States.  Nobody ever really wants to admit it, because they are more loyal to a party than an idea or an individual.  But that is the sad state of politics in the United States today.