Quick Thought: The rhetoric of the Republican convention.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tonight as I was driving from Cincinnati to Muncie, I managed to catch most of the speeches of the Republican convention and I noticed some interesting themes in the rhetoric that was common through most of the speeches (Huckabee to his credit seems to have actually written his own speech and didn't just repeat what everyone else said).

The first thing that I noticed was interesting was how many of the speakers, particularly all the business folks, associated success with hard work.  Indeed, it seemed that they were suggesting that if you're not successful and perhaps in need of some outside assistance then it must be the case that you're just lazy and didn't try hard enough.

Given the current conditions of the US economy, I would contend that a lot of folks could use a bit of help and that has nothing to do with how hard they're working.  I'm pretty sure there are a lot of hardworking folks who could deal with a little help getting more affordable healthcare, more affordable education for their kids, and a whole lot of other things.

The second thing I found interesting was the repeated call for improving liberties and civil liberties.  

Is it just me or wasn't it the current Republican administration that was the one that has been going out of their way to degrade civil liberties as much as they can?  PATRIOT Act, FISA, water boarding....  Who did that?  It wasn't the Democratic party.

Another interesting theme that I heard expressed in most of the speeches is the call for change.  Romney called for change, the eBay person, and the HP ex-CEO all called for change.  However, all I heard folks talking about was cutting taxes, top-down economics, and shrinking government.  Aren't those elements of the Republican platform that have been around since Reagan?  

It might be just that I misunderstand what the word "change" means but it seems to me that endorsing the exact same positions that your party has been arguing for since the 1980s isn't supporting change so much as supporting more of the same.

Historically, at least in the last 20 years or so, the Republicans have definitely been the party that has been better at campaigning and who've been better at presenting rhetoric that was able to persuade people to vote against their own interests.  But, this time around, it doesn't even seem like the Republicans are trying.  They're just tossing around really bad catchphrases and sound bites that are obviously at odds to their principles and platform planks.


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