Republican Group Think Doesn’t Translate Well To Web

The free flow of information and ideas has always been a threat to authoritarianism. This applies to the Republican Party and the authoritarian right just as it did to the Soviet Union. The Republican propaganda machine which works so effectively on those who passively listen to talk radio does not work on the more free wheeling internet. The Washington Post reports that Republicans are concerned about their declining support on the web:

The most recent figures from Nielsen/NetRatings provide one measure of the gap. Looking at the Web sites of presidential candidates from the two parties, it found that former senator John Edwards’s site had about 690,000 unique visitors in March, when the Democrat’s wife, Elizabeth, announced that she had a recurrence of cancer. That was more than the combined number of visitors to the sites of the three leading GOP contenders, Rudolph W. Giuliani (297,000), Sen. John McCain (258,000) and Mitt Romney (76,000).

There are other measures as well. No Republican comes close to matching the popularity of another Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, the social-networking triumvirate. The Democrats are ahead in the online money race. The top three Democrats, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama and Edwards, amassed more than $14 million over the Internet in the first three months of 2007; in contrast, the top three Republicans, Giuliani, McCain and Romney, collected less than half of that, $6 million. Furthermore, ABC PAC, the conservative fundraising site, has raised $385 so far for Republican presidential hopefuls; Act Blue, its liberal counterpart, has collected about $3 million for Edwards alone.

To some degree this might be because of less enthusiasm for the Republican front runners, but there are also fundamental differences between the parties which is responsible for. This includes the Republican use of the web to spread the same talking points heard from the rest of the right wing noise machine:

But an underlying cause may be the nature of the Republican Party and its traditional discipline — the antithesis of the often chaotic, bottom-up, user-generated atmosphere of the Internet.

“We’ve always been a party of staying on message,” All said. “It’s the Rush Limbaugh model. What Tony Snow says in the White House filters down to talk radio, which makes its way to the blogs.”

That is certainly an important factor. It gets tedious to read the right wing blogs which repeat the same talking points, regardless of how many times they have been debunked. The lack of original ideas or independent thought among conservatives makes them of little interest to others beyond themselves. While liberal sites differ in how partisan they are, liberal sites are far more likely than conservative sites to present an honest picture rather than always staying on message for one political party.

There are additional aspects of the internet which don’t play well to Republican strategy. Republicans policies are frequently based upon denial of facts, as has been shown in many posts here and elsewhere. The absurdity of Republican positions becomes clear to those using the internet with easy access to information. Republicans frequently base their political campaigns on distorting the positions of their opponents, and misquoting them to make it appear they are taking off the wall positions. This works on talk radio, where ditto heads take in what they hear without it being contradicted. When they make the same claims on the web, readers who care to look beyond the conservative blogs are exposed to the actual beliefs of others. Intelligent readers are far less likely to return to conservative sites after seeing how their claims differ from reality.

Just as Republican policies are being repudiated as not being proper solution to today’s problems, Republican strategy no longer applies. While mass communication allowed conservative propagandists to effectively spread their beliefs in the past, the free flow of information on the web helps to break down the right wing noise machine.

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28 Comments

  1. 1
    Blue Girl says:

    Glad somebody else gets it. The last six years I’ve felt like I was yelling in the fog a great deal of the time.

  2. 2
    Super90 says:

    I had the exact same thought last night, but there is an additional element to the phenomenon : Fear.
    Listen to Rush or Prager any other of the right-wing propagandists and what they do is attempt to whip up their audiences into a frothy state of paranoia – they want people in an irrational frame of mind so that their ludicrous arguments make sense to the addled minds of dumbshits and hicks everywhere.
    Reading, on the other hand, while it certainly can produce emotional reactions, is a much slower-paced and rational activity. Add to that the very democratic nature of it, the ability to leave feedback (like I’m doing now) and countervailing viewpoints and it only makes sense that it is on the internet that progressives are making their stand.
    The irony, of course, is that liberals spent all that time and money creating the embarassing Air America when it was totally unnecessary. We already ruled the future of communication and will continue to do so for a long, long time.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Agree, propaganda just doesn’t come through on the web the same way it does with radio or television.

    There could be some value in a liberal alternative to conservative talk radio, but it would have to be done well. For the most part, liberals are going ot spend more time listening to more informative an objective programing, while conservatives like to have their crazy ideas validated by repeatedly hearing them.

  4. 4
    pcon-T says:

    Wow, all you zombies posting here seem to think exactly alike and say basically the same thing. What a pathetic group of losers, stroking each other off in your own echo chamber. Have any of you ever heard a contradicting argument? — oh yeah, from the Bush bully-pulpit machine, right? The one that gets trashed and vilified literally everyday in the media, both foreign and domestic, across the print and broadcast world, and by leftist teachers and professors all across the country, and by Hollywood and the arts & entertainment community — is that the Bush machine at work, stifling free speech?

    Keep stroking each other off, losers. Hope it’s good for y’all.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    The above comment, if anyone makes it through the drivel, provides an excellent example of why conservatives just don’t do well in the blogosphere or on the web. For this nonsense to be taken seriously, they need a closed situation, such as passive listeners at a rally or listening to the radio. It just doesn’t work on a blog where their nonsense has to compete with rational thought.

    Conservatives love to claim they are the victims. Until recently they controlled all branches of the government and much of the media is under conservative ownership. Playing the victim card works for them when they are talking among each other. As with the rest of their nonsense, it just appears silly when in a venue not limited to 100% conservative propaganda.

  6. 6
    pcon-T says:

    Ron Chusie baby here is Exhibit A of what I’m talking about, which is the big circle jerk that goes on at these lefty blogsites, where all the zombies think alike and people like me are as rare as diversity of thought on an Ivy-league campus.

    Oh–ooh–oh–ooooooooooooooooh! Was it good for you, sweetie? Now go have your smoke.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Is the guy for real? I write a post wihch includes a quote from the Washington Post on the manner in which the right wingers, as opposed to liberals, stick to the party line. He comments by accusing us of doing what is described as common place for conservatives.

    To make it more absurd, I note that his comment provides excellent evidence of the problems conservatives have on the web, and he repeats the same attack!

    He’s totally unable to express an original idea. Come to think of it, maybe the conservative blogosphere is populated by a bunch of bots. It’s like the old Eliza program which gives a weak simulation of artificial intelligence by pretty much repeating what was already said.

  8. 8
    jrg says:

    Great post, Ron. I’d go a bit further, though. As more and more people use the internet, they congregate into groups, depending on their interest. Most of the time, these groups are indifferent to politics.

    Over the past few years, Republicans have instituted harmful policies that concern these groups of people. As a result, these groups have turned on them.

    Take Slashdot.org, for example. A few years ago Slashdot was a techie, but generally libertarian site. Politics were sometimes discussed there, but the consensus reached by the posters and moderators was more or less “Repubs suck, but Dems suck just as bad”.

    But this is a group of people who care greatly about privacy.

    ….A few unconstitutional wiretaps and a few Fox news “Anyone who opposes illegal wiretaps is a terrorist” youtube accessible sound bytes later, it’s hard to find a Republican on Slashdot who is not modded down as a troll (not surprising, considering the quality of dissent on this board).

    The lying Republican talking heads that used to be the right’s greatest asset are becoming their biggest liability because the audience has changed. The new audience consists of everyone with a computer and a concern for a particular subject, rather than anyone weak (and foolish) enough to fall for any gassbag who claims to be an expert in every subject.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jrg,

    I was also thinking of the non-political blogosphere when I wrote the post, but wound up not including that aspect. I get a fair number of links from non-political blogs which wind up talking somewhat about politics. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that conservative blogs don’t see as much of this.

    As for Republicans suck, but Democrats suck too, that was generally my attitude pre-Bush. Actually the Republcan Congress had me turning more negative on Republicans even before that, but ultimately it is the actions of the Republicans which have turned so many against them.

  10. 10
    pcon-T says:

    “Great post Ron!” Really, JRG? Ron never would have known, what with you pathetic clones falling over each other to kiss each other’s asses here.

    Do you guys even know what I think, ideologically? You’re so consumed with your blithe arrogance that you don’t care to question, and only revert to your hackneyed references and talking points. Unbelievable.

    It didn’t take me long to get bored with you, so I’m going to leave you with your groupthink echo chamber, for now. I’m sure you’ll be congratulating yourselves and each other on how you manhandled the stupid renegade who dared to break through and challenge the pabulum that goes on here. Maybe you can subpoena some conservatives, libertarians, and others with a diverse viewpoint ot actually visit this filth and engage you in real debate. Frankly, I lost interest in you. Have fun bouncing your tired talking points off each other.

    By the way, Ron, you wouldn’t have to “suspect” what goes on at conservative websites if you actually visited a few and engaged in real back-and-forth debate, instead of the lovefest that goes on here.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    What makes you think I don’t read conservative web sites?. If you actually read this blog before making your inane claims it would be apparent that I do. Of course if you actually read anything here, you would have seen that there is no substance to your original premise.

    Remember, this isn’t just my opinion. This all stems from the problem, which Repubicans have expressed concern about, that readership of conservative sites lags far behind that of liberal sites. There are many reasons for this, and your comments provide excellent examples of the biases and ignorance which is typical of the conservative blogosphere.

  12. 12
    jrg says:

    pcon-T,

    357 words, and you still have not disputed either Ron’s post or mine. The original post was regarding the ineffectiveness of conservative bloggers.

    A fancy college word someone might use to describe this conversation is “ironic”. Look it up.

  13. 13
    opit says:

    Not to worry. You don’t know you’ve arrived until the morons come by to bait the ‘liberals’. Thank God they’re in a minority : I think 28% ( or less ) approval for the monsters-in-charge makes that point.
    You might note I’ve put quotes around liberals. That’s because the dummies don’t even know they’re mocking conservatives with that line and it’s bogus to make it extraplusgood.

  14. 14
    citizen says:

    if hillary won the election u would see republican blogs as efficent as dem blogs. republicans arent as mad as dems right now. your blind hate 4 bush fules thease blogs.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    Opit,

    It’s been a steady stream since the beginning here, and before that at other blogs I’ve been at. There always seems to be one conservative who feels compelled to haunt the blog.

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    Citizen,

    Personally I think that something based upon blind hatred will be poorer. That might explain the state of the conservative blogs now, as they are largely motivated by blind hatred, regardless of who controlls the government.

    Liberal blogs are about far more than blind hatred, which is why we have been successful. If we ever game in to the type of blind hatred seen by the conservatives, we’d cease to have influence.

  17. 17
    citizen says:

    just enlighten the blog, if u go 2 consevative blogs there is libs haunting those 2 i dont like talking with 20 people who agree with me, thats to easy.and boring.

  18. 18
    citizen says:

    u have the blogs we have talk radio. blind hatred, the libs bash bush with no evidence every day. saying all kinds of outrageous things. calling him hitler oil monger bla bla bla. at least when we were bashing clinton he actually commited a crime. all the facts side w bush.

  19. 19
    Ron Chusid says:

    Citizen,

    No, not blind hatred. If you paid attention, you would see that liberal blogs concentrate on presenting actual evidence, while conservative sites are packed with material which is easily refuted.

    That is a key reason why conservative blogs don’t do well compared to liberal sites. In contrast, talk radio hosts control the message, so they can do well in situations where their distortions go unchallenged.

  20. 20
    mtm105 says:

    I promise to contradict. Where are the substantial issues on here, like abortion, gun control and death penalty?

    I amazes me how a liberal will advocate the killing of an innocent fetus, yet protect a serial killer’s right to live. It is moronic beyond comparison. You would rather save a tree, than kill Ted Bundy?

  21. 21
    jrg says:

    “I promise to contradict. Where are the substantial issues on here, like abortion, gun control and death penalty?”

    Ah, yes, yet another reason why Republicans are losing the web race – their chronic inability to understand that discussion boards have “topics”.

  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    I see we have yet another example of the intellectual weakness of the conservative movement which leads to the lack of readership compared to liberals.

    Nobody’s impressed by your idiotic straw men arguments.

  23. 23
    citizen says:

    so called winning on the web doesnt traslate into votes. most people who read this propaganda vote dem anyway.

  24. 24
    Ron Chusid says:

    Citiizen,

    Again, you miss the point, This is a sign that the young, affluent, and educated are turning against the Republicans. That’s why the Republicans themselves are so worried about this.

  25. 25
    citizen says:

    u hope

  26. 26
    citizen says:

    im confident we will win in 08

  27. 27
    andie w says:

    By ignoring blogs Republicans are disregarding and important part of the political process in our country.

    While they may prefer the more traditional talk radio, this is no longer the prominent means of political expression.

    Blogs are a place where concerned citizens and activists groups can get their voices heard when previously they would have been ignored. For example, a small non-profit group called the Borgen Project has targeted blogs to generate political support and attention for the fight to end global poverty. They have been successful in getting their voices heard by politicians across the country and in raising support and awareness for the Millennium Development Goals. This would not have been possible without the blogosphere.

    By ignoring blogs Republicans are ignoring the voices and opinions large and politically informed important group of people

  28. 28
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’m not sure that it is so much that Repubicans are avoiding blogs as that there simply aren’t as many people interested in Republican blogs as Democratic blogs.

    Regardless, your model for the use of the blogs doesn’t work as well on Republican blogs, which are more top/down, than Democratic blogs.

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