Racism works on 60% of White people? https://t.co/c0XFMup0Qv
— T. Fisher King (@T_FisherKing) November 4, 2021
By creating a fake racist moral panic and having the media play along with it? https://t.co/9AN8enAJbO
— Centrism Fan Acct ?? (@Wilson__Valdez) November 5, 2021
wanted an excuse to defend “waving the bloody shirt” and here we are https://t.co/OWzIm46xUP
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) November 5, 2021
Policy is rational. Politics are not. It takes a story to move voters, an emotional connection that tells them something about themselves and the world in which they live or, alternately, the world in which they would like to live.
Without a story to tell — without a way to make the issues of an election speak to the values of an electorate — even strong candidates with popular policies can fall flat. And the reverse is also true: A divisive figure with unpopular beliefs can go far if he or she can tell the right kind of story to the right number of people…
For the first two elections after Appomattox, Republicans held their majorities, winning comfortable margins in 1866 and 1868 (and also excluding former rebels from Congress). But Democrats would soon begin to catch up. Although still in the minority, the party ultimately gained 37 seats in the House of Representatives in the 1870 midterm elections (when the House was just over half the size it is today).
Anxious to retain power in Washington, Republicans took every opportunity to pin the late rebellion on their Democratic opponents, north and south. None of it was subtle…
Democrats, and conservative white Southerners in particular, would come to call this the “bloody shirt” strategy, after an apocryphal story in which Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts used the bloodied shirt of a wounded soldier in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. “The phrase was used over and over during the Reconstruction era,” writes Stephen Budiansky in “The Bloody Shirt: Terror after Appomattox”: “It was a staple of the furious and sarcastic editorials that filled Southern newspapers in those days, of the indignant orations by Southern white political leaders who protested that no people had suffered more, been humiliated more, been punished more than they had.”
If the “bloody shirt” enraged Democratic partisans — if the term itself became, as Budiansky writes, “a synonym for any rabble-rousing demagoguery” aimed at “stirring old enmities” — it was because it worked…
…[T]he Republican Party never took for granted that voters would blame the Democratic Party for its role in the rebellion and vote accordingly. Republican politicians had to make salient the public’s memory of, and anger over, the war. And, I should say, they were right to do so. It was right to “wave the bloody shirt” in the wake of a brutal, catastrophic war that according to recent estimates claimed close to a million lives. That we, as modern Americans, learn the phrase as a negative is an astounding coup of postwar Southern propaganda.
The lesson here, for the present, is straightforward. Democrats who want the Republican Party to pay for the events of Jan. 6 — to suffer at the ballot box for their allegiance to Donald Trump — have to tie those events to a language and a narrative that speaks to the fear, anger and anxiety of the public at large. They have to tell a story. And not just once, or twice — they have to do it constantly. It must become a fixture of the party’s rhetorical landscape…
The GOP Death Cult, of course, has plenty of stories to tell! And if those stories are a combination of wishful fairy tales & outright lies, well… do we expect Our Failed Mainstream Media to speak up about that, when it’s so much easier to just nod & wink?
if it’s so easy why did NYT chicken out?
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) November 4, 2021
One of the mistakes Trump made was being too obviously racist. Suburban America likes their racism subtle, with a bit of class. But boy oh boy, do they like their racism.
— Jeff Fecke (@jkfecke) November 5, 2021
Worth noting that when Republicans lost the White House last year there was approximately zero prescriptive discussion in the press that they need to tack left.
— Schooley (@Rschooley) November 4, 2021
I’ve said this before and I think it wasn’t really the plan, but one result of Trump’s refusal to concede is that stayed the story for months and they never much got around to the traditional analysis of WHAT IT ALL MEANS.
— Schooley (@Rschooley) November 4, 2021
Imagine if the press made as big a "public mood" deal about Republicans constantly voting against things that have a 70 or 80% public approval as they do when a Democrat loses by 2%.
— Schooley (@Rschooley) November 5, 2021
This take runs into the problem of the CRT guy bragging about how it's all political chicanery. pic.twitter.com/CxX3Ou4Tek
— Let's not, Brandon (@agraybee) November 4, 2021
It’s actually less condescending to assume that the people chanting “more racism” are doing it because they want more racism and not because they are too stupid understand the content of their child’s education
— what's a good november joke (@MenshevikM) November 3, 2021