22 to go: Outrage does not motivate voters.

An apparent specialty of the professional left and PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) is their innate ability to manufacture outrage.  If you frequent lefty blogs and Twitter streams, you’ll see that the demands for outrage are unrelenting. They are always searching for subjects that might piss you off, because that’s what they think gets you reading day after day. Every time I Tweet my list of Obama accomplishments, a few “liberals insist on whining about it.

The problem with Manufactured Outrage™ is, while it might make for a decent marketing tool to other outraged lefties, it’s useless as a political tool. And with about three weeks to go before an election Democrats have to win if progressives are going to salvage something from the most progressive president we’ve seen in our lifetimes, our goal has to be to get the most votes. Manufactured Outrage™ has the OPPOSITE effect.

There’s the cognitive dissonance that permeates the PUB segment of the progressive movement. They are apparently just like right wingers, in that THEY are motivated by anger and outrage, so they think everyone is. As usual, they are wrong. Only those who occupy the far left and right ends of the political spectrum are motivated by outrage. The vast majority of voters are actually de-motivated by outrage and anger. They want government to work, and they want to elect people they see as competent. The reason so many people stay home these days is because they don’t see anyone as competent, because all of the rhetoric is negative. Negative works for the right wing; it works against everyone else.

The other problem with constant Manufactured Outrage™ is that those who propagate it tend to be very condescending to anyone who doesn’t buy what they’re selling. Who are we to tell a total stranger what they should be outraged about, anyway? When our side tells others which political issues should matter most to them, it makes it hard for them to support us. For example, PUBs do not have any special knowledge about the issues than the people who live them. Pasty white college-educated liberals do not have more knowledge about what a working class black woman should consider to be important issues than the working class black woman does. And for you to even insinuate that you know what another voter should care about most is insulting, and does the progressive movement more damage than you know.

If you want to see the negative effect “manufactured outrage” has on the progressive movement, compare the 2008 and 2010 elections.

In 2008, Barack Obama manufactured hope, not outrage, and he won in a walk. People were scared, and they wanted Bush out of there. But make no mistake; they didn’t vote for Obama because he wasn’t Bush. Even John McCain would have been a significant change in leadership from George W. Bush. No matter how you feel about his political bent, there would have been a level of competence that was missing for eight years, and a lot of average voters would have been okay with that. Who in their right mind thinks people voted for Obama based on fear and outrage? Obama motivated voters based on hope. Voter turnout in 2008 was the highest since 1968. They were motivated by his desire to do what he could to make their lives better, and they were motivated by what they perceived as supreme competence. And the progressive movement actually helped him “manufacture hope” instead of “outrage.”

Once he was inaugurated, they reverted back almost immediately. Within a month or two, this strain of progressives peddled Manufactured Outrage™ once again with garbage like:

  • The stimulus wasn’t big enough. (It was actually bigger than expected.)
  • Obama wasn’t magically canceling all defective mortgages and letting people stay in their homes for free.
  • Obama and the Democrats weren’t punishing the banks enough.
  • Obama wasn’t working hard enough to transform the health insurance system to single payer. (Single payer would have been dead in the water.)
  • Obama wasn’t ending the Iraq war fast enough.
  • Democrats were pussies.
  • Blue Dog Democrats were making it impossible to pass anything.
  • Obama was continuing the same foreign policies of the Bush Administration.
  • Obama and the Democrats are a disappointment, because the world didn’t magically change overnight.

That’s just the tip of the Manufactured Outrage™ iceberg. None of the above is even close to rational, to begin with. But just as importantly, the above “narrative,” which was overwhelmingly pushed by the loudest contingent of the lefty “media” dovetailed nicely with the Republican message.

You want to know why we have a Republican House that is preventing the president from getting anything substantial done? Look in the mirror, if you’re one of those who pushed any of the crap above, or any of the other outrage manufactured in 2009-2010. We needed 2-3 fewer Republican Senators. Instead, progressives’ “manufactured outrage” gave us the damn Tea Party. All those Blue Dogs you “outrage manufacturers” blamed for so many horrible things were replaced by teabaggers.

How’s that working out for us? Is it making things better?

The number one electoral strategy the Republican Party employs in every election cycle has to do with depressing turnout, since it’s the only possible way they can win, being a distinct minority. One way they do this is by “manufacturing outrage.” Here’s a hint; they don’t really think Obama is a Kenyan Socialist Muslim Marxist. They also know the man was born here. They don’t really care about abortion, and they really have nothing against blacks or gays, per se. They don’t really even like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Roger Ailes. Hell, for that matter, they don’t even really like the simple-minded, often racist followers they depend on for votes. But by manufacturing outrage, they aim to depress turnout among reasonable people.

Therefore, when our side does little more than “manufacture outrage” and engage the right wing in their “manufactured outrage,” we are actually helping them. We are actually helping the Republican Party to motivate a large number of voters to stay away from the polls. If you want to know why Democrats are always having to play defense? Again, look in the mirror, liberals.

Outrage is not a motivating factor for most voters; it’s just the opposite. There is already plenty of outrage out there as it stands; there is no need to make more. Most voters don’t vote for their outrage; they want to vote for someone who can solve the problems that cause their outrage. When both sides of the debate are trying to push their sense of outrage onto the electorate, they get frustrated and stay home.

So stop manufacturing outrage, progressives; there’s already a glut. What we need – and what will motivate more voters to our side – is more hope.

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