Messaging in a time of culture war

Contributed by Suzanne Mead with the support of Tom Sonandres, Carefree

We are at war with an army that hijacks and perverts concepts of liberty and individual choice.

Take Governors Abbott, DiSantis and Ducey. They have made it illegal for schools, businesses and other organizations to mandate the use of masks. At a time of surging COVID-19 infections, this makes little sense, especially since children under 12 remain unvaccinated. And yet, here we are, mid-pandemic, in the middle of a culture war. CNN 8/13

The GOP says: Activist characters (judges and school boards and parents) are defying the orders and “undermining” parents’ rights to liberty and individual choice in favor of mandates and government overreach. We say that it is Ducey's mandates and overreaching that undermine parents, that no uniform school masking-wearing requirement means maskless students endanger themselves and put classmates at greater risk of infection.

Jennifer Rubin, conservative columnist at the Washington Post, recently took a look at some of the GOP’s favorite verbal attacks—Dems are soft on crime; Dems are traitors and anti-American. Then, she called out their hypocrisy—Jan. 6 insurrection and Tucker Carlson’s pilgrimage to Hungary.

She says Democrats need to “flip the script” and run on “democratic values, casting Republicans as the party that sides with violent thugs and traitors.”

"It was riot and mayhem. It was radical and chaotic. And it was unconstitutional. And maybe most important, it was fundamentally un-American — an existential threat and a test of whether our democracy could survive, whether it could overcome lies and overcome the fury of a few who were seeking to thwart the will of the many.” ~Jennifer Rubin, columnist Washington Post

Rubin recommends Democrats take these actions:

1) Set up a “‘democracy corps’ similar to AmeriCorps that pays young people to set up civics programs and teach media literacy, serve as poll workers and engage in other pro-democracy activities.”

2) Mandate civics instruction in grades K-12.

3) When right-wing hacks try to regulate “controversial” subjects like slavery, call them out as crackpots and white supremacists.

4) Make Jan. 6 a day of national reflection in which the heroes who defended democracy are honored.

“The Republicans are the immediate threat to our democracy, but the longer-term problem of civic illiteracy remains. If Democrats do not champion American democratic values, Republicans will continue to trample them.” ~Jennifer Rubin Washington Post 8-8

Defining Democratic values Who are we? Socialists? DemonRATs? Communists?

Democrats are often targets of campaigns meant to stoke hate, anger, and fear into voters. It’s an old playbook practiced by the worst would be autocrats. The relentless attacks are meant to wear the opposition into silence and submission. Is it a winnable war, bucking these verbal assaults?