The Nation reminds us that the Right's recent attacks on unions, ACORN, and Planned Parenthood are part of a coherent whole. "While it's obvious that the right wing is out to break the back of the progressive movement," notes author Ilyse Hogue, "it's easy to miss the strategy that guides their selection of specific targets:"
Their attacks are all carefully aimed at the same critical juncture: institutions that work for people in their daily lives and in the political arena, those that connect people's personal struggles across the country to the political struggle in Washington.
Paul Waldman points out how unions in particular "connect your problem to larger political issues" and help to "define those people's identity in economic terms:"
Conservatives, on the other hand, want them to define their identity in any terms other than the economic. You're first and foremost a Christian, or a gun owner, or a heartlander, or whatever, so long as you're not defining yourself by economic class. Break the link between economics and identity, and the party that advocates for the welfare of the wealthy has a much, much easier time persuading you to side with them.
As an example of this divide-and-distract, don't-look-behind-the-curtain tactic, see RightWingWatch's note that wingnuts are planning to hear "testimony" from a 9-week-old fetus (which they call an "unborn baby") in a session of the Ohio state House:
Two in-utero babies will appear live before the committee by an ultrasound projector which is able to not only show that baby's moving arms and legs, but also display--in color--the baby's beating heart.
[I would remark that a functioning brain is far more relevant a criterion than a beating heart, but many anti-abortion activists would fail that test.] Conservative stunts are effective in manipulating the media, which William Rivers Pitt points out when discussing Wisconsin in "The Liberal Media Strikes Again:"
We have a huge story in the making here, rife with old and new politics that cuts across virtually every segment of American life - blue collar workers, unions, protests, Tea Party governors, fleeing Democratic senators, teachers, budget issues, new media, old media, and the power of simple shoe leather - and yet those who represent the protesters in Wisconsin had to fight like wolverines to get just one of their representatives onto the Sunday political talk shows. Just one. As far as the American "news" media is concerned, Wisconsin simply doesn't exist. [...] Were it not for the alternative/online news media, the protests in Wisconsin would be taking place in a virtual information blackout.
Pitt reminds us that this is very different from another recent group of protests that were, when one looked beneath the propaganda, far more corporate-friendly:
Remember the first stirrings of what came to be termed as the "Tea Party" uprising? Never mind that it was created by powerful conservative corporate entities like the Koch Brothers. Never mind that the "Tea Party" was nothing more or less than the GOP base with a new coat of paint. Never mind that virtually everything they were yelling about was based on lies and deliberate misinformation. Never mind that most of them really didn't know what they were talking about, and couldn't spell to save their lives.
Three blivets wreathed in American flags and automatic weapons could stand on a streetcorner with signs reading "Keep Your Damn Government Hands Off My Medicare," and they would find themselves surrounded by camera crews from CNN, MSNBC and, of course, Fox News. But put 50,000 people a day out on the streets of Madison, put tens of thousands more on the streets in every state in the union, and those same news cameras are suddenly too busy covering the Oscars and Lindsey Lohan's ongoing crime spree to make an effort at coverage.
For just one example: the pro-union rallies on Saturday that drew hundreds of thousands to demonstrations across the nation were ignored by the (allegedly liberal) CNN in favor of--you guessed it!--a celebration of the Teatards' second anniversary. (The lesson from this is, I guess, that only right-wing rallies are newsworthy.)
The Right's talent for storytelling is something those of us on the Left should learn to emulate in our often-too-dry discussions. You may have seen a variant of the following analogy recently; if not, it's a good example of what we should be doing:
A union worker, a Teabagger, and a CEO are sitting at a table--in the middle of which is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies for himself and whispers conspiratorially to the Teabagger, "Watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."
The CEO's claim on those cookies is the crux of the matter--after all, he didn't bake them.