Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Let America be France: Vote for Kerry

According to the New York Times Senator Kerry might just have a new slogan for his presidential campaign: Let America be America again. The phrase apparently has Stalinist roots, which probably doesn't mean much to modern-day Democrats as long as it works.

My issue with the phrase is that it seems to encapsulate the exact opposite of the modern Democratic Party's ideology. The last thing that tax-and-spend liberalism or multicultural liberalism wants is for government to just let people be the way they want to be. Just think of all the money that government must be spending on multicultural programs to teach people that "hate is wrong"; the government wouldn't be spending that money if it could trust people to just "be Americans". Or take note of the doom-and-gloom predictions about global warming connected with the file "The Day After Tomorrow"; would films like that even get made if liberal Hollywood thought ordinary Americans could just be left to preserve the environment on their own without some kind of government intervention (such as the Kyoto treaty)? How many of those left-wing types who think that American patriotism is equivalent to fascism think that government can just allow Americans to just be the way they are?

Or, from another point of view, here is a quotation from Jaques Ellul in "Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes":
[The individual] clings to it not only because the slogan is easy to understand and to retain, but also becuase it permits him to "find himself in it." It tends, further, to produce stereotypes in men who did not have them before the crisis situation.
I don't know about you, but a slogan such as "Let America be America" doesn't seem connected to any practical advice for this individual to "find himself in it" (which is why the poetic context must be getting so much attention). From the point of view of propaganda, it seems like a slogan that tries to motivate the masses to achieve a great act of nothing is destined to useless.

Of course, the real drawback to adopting a loser slogan is that it practically invites your enemies to turn your own slogan against you. Bill Clinton was a genius behind this kind of stuff (just ask Bob Dole about how well his "a bridge to the past" slogan worked out). If I were President Bush, I'd have my campaign chairman start working on "Let America be France: Vote for Kerry" bumper stickers.

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