According to conventional wisdom, the body politic is a one-dimensional universe, with voters on a continuum from ‘left’ to ‘right’, with most found in the middle. Therefore, if a right-wing politician wants to win, he must ‘moderate’ his message, typically by axing policy positions, starting with those that are the most ‘right’ until he achieves 50% of the vote plus one. (Notice how the call to moderate is never given to left-wing candidates, who are labelled inspiration and visionary, but never extreme.)
This strategy rarely works. The only visible result is that the moderating politician’s base, which has already been seething below the surface, now openly revolts. The ensuing acrimony further alienates moderates. This phenomenon I call the Red Tory/RINO death spiral.
It happens because politicians usually misunderstand the nature of ‘moderates’. These people are not in the middle because they are ‘moderate’, but rather because they don’t care. Clayton Cramer, of PJMedia, explains:
“Here is the problem: low-information voters are a big chunk of the electorate, especially in the Democratic Party, but the Republican Party isn’t free of them either. These are the voters who could not tell you if the national debt is $16 million or $16 trillion. They don’t know anything about the criticisms of how our government handled Benghazi. Ben Ghazi? Isn’t he an actor? Fast & Furious is a movie, not a scandal. They know that gay marriage is a good thing because all their favorite actors and musicians think it is so cool! And “assault weapons” are those guns they see in movies, firing hundreds of rounds a minute.
I hope by now that you are beginning to get the picture of what defines an LIV: he or she does not read PJ Media or, for that matter, the Huffington Post or any political publication, left or right. The better-informed LIVs read Us or People. Most of an LIV’s knowledge of economics, politics, and history comes from watching movies, television shows, The Daily Show, and stuff that one of his leftist friends posts on Facebook. You know why President Obama won the election? He was doing local radio shows and The View. He was being promoted by rap musicians and actors.”
What a wonderful term: low information voter. The low information voter doesn’t care about policy. Right-wing, left-wing, who cares? Pass the chips.
You can’t woo the low information voter with policies. This is why the left never tries. What to do instead?
“The left knows this. They are not just running political ads during campaigns; they are running a continuous campaign through movies, television, news organizations, and entertainment media.Instapundit has pointed out that for a few million dollars, conservatives could buy up some of the women’s websites that get enormous audiences, and subtly change the political spin. It is a slow process, but over time this approach alters the basic assumptions that many LIVs have about the world. Think about the movie Death Wish (1974): do you think it played a part in changing popular perceptions of civilians engaged in armed self-defense?
Movies, music, and television are other areas where the left has been promoting their message for decades, and when they are subtle about the message, they actually make money at it. Lots of money. We can do it too — in fact, we might even make more money at it, because there are a lot of Americans who are still fundamentally on the right. Look at The Passion of the Christ (2004): more than $611 million in revenues worldwide. Act of Valor (2012) has brought in more than $81 million worldwide — considering what it cost to make, that’s spectacular.”
While he is right, it is unreasonable to expect Tim Hudak or Stephen Harper to become a movie mogul or tabloid magazine impresario overnight. But there are many things retail politicians can do. For starters, they can target low information voters with cues that they actually will respond to: those that are visual and emotional, not cerebral. Use policies to secure your base. Do both things and both groups of voters will cheer you on.