Progressives and “Manufactured Outrage”; Why We Lose Elections

An apparent specialty of the professional left and a large number of their minions is the manufacture of outrage.  Look at lefty blogs, and there is no end to the demands for outrage over something. Check out their Twitter streams; they are always fishing for subjects they think might piss you off, and get you reading them day after day. Their followers will demand that you be outraged, too. Whenever I post my comprehensive list of President Obama’s accomplishments, invariably, I’ll get a few stray “progressives” reminding me that I should be outraged that Obama killed an American citizen, and that Bradley Manning had to be naked in his cell for an hour or so, referring to that as torture because, well, the word “torture” is designed to evoke more outrage.

Outrage may make for a decent marketing tool, to attract like-minded people to your blog, but it’s useless as a political tool.

The other night, a prominent far lefty told a bunch of us that we should be outraged because an NFL investigation showed that the New Orleans Saints had a bounty program, where they were paid money to injure other players.  Apparently, this “progressive” doesn’t follow football as closely as I do, because I remember Baltimore (yes, I said Baltimore) Colts players telling me about similar instances back in 1976. But this “progressive” went so far as to demand that the team’s operations be suspended for a year.  I responded by asking him about all those people who depend on the Saints organization for jobs, but received no answer back. Obviously, the statement was a trial balloon of source, to see if it generated enough outrage. It didn’t.

See, folks, here’s the cognitive dissonance that permeates a loud and persistent segment of the progressive movement; outrage actually serves to DE-motivate the vast majority of voters. Only those on the far ends of the political spectrum, left and right, are motivated by the outrage visited upon them. Unfortunately, while the right wingers are motivated to vote for a Republican, often, the left wingers are often motivated to vote for some fringer who can’t possibly win.

Also take note: the condescending nature of many of the “outrage manufacturing” processes engaged in by some progressives actually serve to multiply the de-motivational factor.  Who the hell are you to tell a total stranger what they should be outraged about, anyway? Ever had someone advise you of what political issues should matter most to you? What is your response? If it doesn’t irritate you, then you’re not even close to normal, so don’t even pretend to know what the average voter thinks. You, as a progressive, do NOT have any special knowledge about the issues that matter than the people who live them. This should probably be another column, but suffice it to say, pasty white college-educated liberal liberals with political science degrees 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 had been missing for eight years, and a lot of average voters would have been okay with that. Most voters didn’t vote for Obama because they were motivated by fear and outrage, and if you believe that, you need to pay closer attention. Most voters chose Obama because they were motivated by HOPE. 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.”

But once he was inaugurated, they reverted back almost immediately. Within a month or two, this strain of progressives started “manufacturing outrage” once again:

  • The stimulus wasn’t big enough.
  • 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.
  • Obama wasn’t ending the Iraq war fast enough.
  • How dare the Congress fund both wars!
  • 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.