Establishment Republicans are in the midst of what can only be described as an intellectual meltdown. They must be. Whether it’s the revelation that American Action Network attempted to get the ever-controversial, exceptionally talented Lady Gaga to perform for $1 million at the Republican National Convention — an institution, to put it mildly, she shares almost nothing in common with.
Or Karl Rove’s American Crossroads push to defeat, not Democrats, but tea party candidates, the same movement that had helped the GOP to reclaim a majority in the House of Representatives in 2010. To now the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) hailing as a model for future Republican messaging Buzzfeed, a website that drives traffic with pictures of talking cats, celebrity gossip, sexual innuendo, and sci-fi. It’s hard not to ask what the heck is going on.
“BuzzFeed’s eating everyone’s lunch,” National Journal reports NRCC spokesman Gerrit Lansing as saying. “They’re making people want to read and be cognizant of politics in a different way.”Yeah, by interspersing political stories amid pure trivial nonsense with headlines like “Floating Poop In Space — A Confidential Discussion,” “Which Kind Of Gamers Are The Best Lovers?” “The 28 Most Ironic Things That Have Ever Happened,” and “This Guy Is Obsessed With Becoming A Mermaid.”Perhaps I am simply being obtuse. I’m certain the NRCC might respond that it was merely looking at Buzzfeed’s web layout as something to emulate to generate more clicks, something indicated in the National Journal story.
But Lansing went further than that, saying a site like Buzzfeed — which can only be defined as appealing to the lowest common denominator — was in fact some new way to talk about politics. Who knew floating poop in the void of space could be such an effective tool? Here, the NRCC is acknowledging something that Barack Obama already knows and took full advantage of in 2008, which is that politics in America is dead.
Let’s face it. When a candidate’s appeal as a pop culture icon trumps any examination whatsoever of the issues facing the nation, when people are more driven by who’s advancing in Dancing with the Stars than what’s going on in their local community, then perhaps our society really has devolved into a lemming-like mob of sycophants.
Of course this phenomenon is nothing new. Richard Nixon on Laugh-In, or Bill Clinton’s saxophone performance on Arsenio Hall are still talked about as defining moments of politics intersecting with pop culture. However, when political party organs attempt to merge themselves into pop culture, the question becomes not how candidates might make themselves appear more personable to voters with whom they are attempting to connect, but whether now the pop culture tail is wagging the policy dog.
It is reasonable then to ask if the NRCC’s Buzzfeed communication plan will begin to drive House Republican policy decisions in a vain attempt to attract supporters that care more about Adele, zombies, and Doctor Who. Which, while all highly entertaining content, has almost nothing to do with implementing a political program.
So perhaps a better question is how Republicans might better spend their time, instead of figuring out how to win over celebrities, foil the tea party, or obsessing over massive, if not pointless, web traffic.
“Instead of wasting their time surfing the web, Republicans might consider pounding the pavement in towns like Youngstown, Ohio, a depressed community that finally has hope that things will get better, thanks to fracking,” Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson suggests.
Hydraulic fracturing is the technique that is converting energy-rich shale formations into gushers of natural gas and petroleum. Sadly, fracking is under assault in a relentless campaign by environmentalist radicals who want to convince the American people this energy revolution will cause earthquakes, poison the water, and set their sinks on fire.
In Youngstown, there is no guarantee the industry will survive this assault. Already the ever-cringing administration of Republican Governor John Kasich in Ohio is pushing through new fracking wastewater regulations in response to claims that the injections beneath the earth’s surface were responsible for earthquakes near Youngstown.
“Ever since steel and automobiles left Youngstown, it has been dying. But for the first time in a long while the people there can see a way back, they can see how they can return to the pleasant middle class community it once was — but only if the radical greens are stopped,” Wilson noted.
He pointed separately to German chemical giant BASF moving to Louisiana to take advantage of cheap natural gas, saying, “This is the rebirth of hope that we can produce things here in America.”All evidence that manufacturing — and jobs — will come back to America in a big way because of cheap energy. “But fracking represents more than just jobs for Americans,” Wilson added. “Because it will bring back productive sectors to our economy, in the process it will build stable, clean, and prosperous communities — a place where you’d want to buy a house and raise a family, not based on speculation, but because there was a real future there.”
Meanwhile, Republicans are apparently more concerned about the trivialities of pop culture, making concessions on climate change, defeating the tea party, and rebranding itself as “hip” than really getting with it and vigorously defending our economy against these forces that seek to destroy it. Because, every community suffering through this recession is a Youngstown that could be rebuilt— by lowering the cost of doing business in America, whether through cheap energy, less regulation, lower taxes, or a strong, stable dollar. We will not long remain the world’s preeminent economic superpower if all we produce are mouse clicks.
Instead of worrying about what people are posting on Facebook, perhaps Republicans need to get back to grassroots activism, you know, like that “crazy” tea party did back in 2009 and 2010 when it won back the House. It’s time to start talking to the people — in their communities. For, if all that is left of America is Buzzfeed, then it indicates that not only is politics dead, but so are concepts such as individual sovereignty and independent thought — for they cannot coexist in the rampant groupthink that is on display in these places.