Labeling your political opponents as unfeeling and uncaring is little like the trick question “when did you stop beating your wife?” The only difference is that it’s not difficult to refute the premise of the trick question but next to impossible to refute a label. When labeling your opponents as uncaring, a negative image is immediately created in the mind, especially for the uninformed. Those on the receiving end are immediately put on the defensive. Logical arguments with those that put feeling over reason are going to lose every time.
When Republicans tried to cut back on entitlement spending, they were always attacked as heartless and cruel. A few years ago, there was the infamous commercial the Democrats that depicted of Paul Ryan pushing an old woman over a cliff when trying to balance the federal budget by writing cuts in Medicare. The irony is that Obamacare pulled out $700 million out of Medicare in order to help fund the new healthcare law.
Most often a ‘counterattack’ is going to be weak or ineffective, because no one wants to be on the receiving end of such strong accusations. It’s a little like the Stockholm syndrome but instead of identifying with your captors, you identify with your opponents’ statements by accepting their premises and then trying to reconfigure them into your own, which is usually a losing proposition.
This technique of getting out in front of your opponents and creating a negative image has been perfected by the Democrats. It’s like the reverse of creating a good first impression. They’ve learned a long time ago how to invert it and how powerful it can be by creating a negative first impression for their Republican opponents (e.g., Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin). So over time, a situation has evolved where one might think of the Democrats as the Party of the Heart and the Republicans as the Party of the Head, the very old but real “head versus the heart” dichotomy. Democrats have essentially defined the terms of political debate by appealing to and manipulating subjective feelings over objective reason.
Democrats learned a long time ago that by appealing to the heart, it’s a much easier route to get the voter’s attention and to win them over to their point of view. When Republicans and conservatives have been accused of being racist, sexist, homophobic, or the party of the rich white male for so long, it’s easy to accept because of the simplicity of the message and also because it appeals to a sense of victimhood. Everyone loves being either an underdog or rooting for the underdog. It endows moral superiority despite that fact it’s almost always rooted in distortions or outright falsehoods.
Police brutality is the latest issue in the way the left manipulates emotions in order to perpetuate its message of persecution by a mythical right-wing establishment. The cases of Trayvon Martin in Sanford Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island were all used to exacerbate black discontent in order to advance the Democrats’ underlying agenda of maintaining their control over a large constituency rooted in the emotions of dissatisfaction.
The gay marriage debate has entered a new phase with the decision of one unelected Supreme Court justice, Anthony Kennedy, to cast a vote based almost entirely on dignity and “feelings.” Over the years, less than three percent of the population has successfully swung the Democrat Party from being against gay marriage, including Obama himself, who said during the ’08 presidential campaign: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now for me as a Christian, it’s a sacred union. God is in the mix.” If dignity and feelings are the criteria for settling legal disputes, the written law becomes secondary to the whims of personal opinion.
The problem with always appealing to the heart is that it is always changing. Basing one’s decisions on the heart sets one up for failure since feelings are always in flux and therefore can’t be counted on as a standard of truth. One only needs to consider divorce or buyer’s remorse as examples of how one makes a decision that over the long run (divorce) or short term (buyer’s remorse) can overturn what initially was thought to be creating a permanent and positive condition to one’s life.
The Republicans, as the Party of the Head, have believed in the timelessness of principles, that the decisions made today should be rooted in that which will last and that which is true today will be true 10, 50, or 200 years from now. But unfortunately because the culture at large has bought into the myopia of the Party of the Heart by putting its faith in feelings and instant gratification. This is a nearly impossible mix for reason to overcome when it comes to shaping public opinion.
It’s also the reason why the mainstream media is such a powerful ally for the Democrats because of its ability to slant coverage to appeal to the heart despite that fact it’s an unreliable standard when making decisions. The media, especially television, intended to transmit objective information, now appeals almost entirely to subjective feelings. Until Republicans can learn to challenge the premises of the Democrats and their allies in the media, they’re destined to always be playing defense in a losing battle when appealing to the head over the heart.