Ignore the Republican Circus




Cross-posted on Winning Progressive


Over at Balloon Juice this morning, mistermix makes an excellent point that the circus-like atmosphere in today’s Republican party is a feature, not a bug in their political strategy. The more that the Republican leaders like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh can focus our political system on fake controversies, petty investigations, and sideshow theatre, the less likely it is that people interested in progressive change will focus on politics and government as the way to achieve such change. As a result, conservatives become a larger part of the voting electorate, and Republican politicians can work to enact their radical agenda.

How should we, as progressives, respond to the Republican circus? Ignore it and focus instead on the long list of progressive victories that the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress has had and how those victories benefit the American people. Rather than blogging or commenting about the latest over-the-top, mindless Republican charge, let’s change the subject and spend our time blogging, writing letters to the editor, phone banking, and canvassing about the positive changes that progressive leadership has brought, and about the further progress we can make if we do not hand the car keys back to the party that drove our economy into the ditch. If Republicans want to engage in a real debate on substantive issues that affect the American people, then by all means let’s engage and win that debate. But when the topic is just the latest fake Republican controversy, the appropriate response is to dismiss it as the ridiculous distraction it is, and then pivot back to how President Obama and the Democratic Congress are focused on helping the American people.

President Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently offered two textbook examples of the right way to approach the Republican circus. When faced with an historically inaccurate and childish attack from Sarah Palin on his efforts to further nuclear disarmament, President Obama responded beautifully:

"I really have no response to that. The last I checked, Sarah Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues," Obama said in an interview with ABC News.

Pressed further on Republican criticism that his strategy restricts the use of nuclear weapons too much, Obama added: "What I would say to them is, is that if the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff are comfortable with it, I'm probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin."

Similarly, when asked on by Wolf Blitzer on CNN about the Muslim community center proposed at the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory in New York City, Sen. Brown responded excellently:

BLITZER: What do you make of this whole controversy over this Islamic center and mosque that's been proposed for near ground zero?

BROWN: What I make of it is first of all, it's a local decision, but what I make of it is Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove and Sarah Palin are looking for another way to distract the public. They tried the 14th amendment for a while and worked for three or four days. Now, they're trying this issue. What matters to people in Chillicothe and Lima, Ohio, what are we going to do to help mall business, partner a small business to create jobs, and particularly manufacturing how do we get people back to work. And people like Gingrich and Palin are masters at changing the subject and trying to distract people.

BLITZER: Is it -- but it's not a popular issue at least according to the polls with the American public, the construction of this mosque at that site. So, I guess, the Republicans if you think they're behind this, they have a point in terms of politics?

BROWN: Well, yes, it's not a popular issue, but it's a local issue. And it's going to be decided by Mayor Blumenthal (ph) in part. I guess, he's an independent now, but was elected as Republican mayor --

BLITZER: Bloomberg.

BROWN: Yes, Bloomberg, I'm sorry. Sure, if you say, should they build the mosque or not, the public may have, you know, be overwhelmingly one way or another, but it's not on people's top list of thinks. Ask five people in Portsmouth, Ohio or Dayton, Ohio, what matters in your life, and they're going to talk about jobs. They're going to talk about health care. They're going to talk about the consumer protection on their credit cards. You're going to talk about things that matter in their lives in Huber Heights and in Evandale, Ohio, they're not going to talk about some building in New York that they don't think about very much except that it's on the national news, and it kind of gets in their consciousness.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about jobs, because that is the top issue right now, and the president and the Democrats, they got a stimulus package through Congress.

This response from Senator Brown was masterful, as it not only refused to give ground on issue being asked, but demonstrated that progressives are focused on pocketbook issues that impact the daily lives of Americans. In the end, Senator Brown even forced Wolf Blitzer to finally turn to a substantive issue like jobs, which is quite a feat given today’s media.

This blog is all about ignoring the Republican circus and focusing the time and efforts of the progressive community on taking the impressive progressive record to the American people. I hope you will join us in this effort.

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