The party that cried wolf, far too many times

The Republican National Committee is actively working to elect an alleged child molester to the US Senate. And the president of the United States is taunting a nuclear-armed dictator on Twitter with juvenile name-calling, while his associates receive subpoenas and indictments for their potential roles in Russia’s interference with our presidential election.

Despite all this, Republicans control the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.

Sure, the Republican Party is a mess. So why do Democrats keep losing to them?

Perhaps it’s because, after years of over-the-top fearmongering, the electorate has simply stopped taking them seriously.

AP Photo/Dawn Villella

In 2008, Sen. John McCain ran for president. A war hero with a distinguished record of service to the country, McCain had carved out an identity as a centrist, straight-talking Republican who was capable of working across the aisle.

Nevertheless, Democrats savaged McCain. Progressive third-party groups ran ads saying his temper was too volatile to be trusted. Liberal columnist Paul Krugman of the New York Times said McCain was not a moderate, but “a man of the hard right.”

Democrats did the same thing to Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney was a successful businessman. He was a revered leader in his church whose philanthropic efforts will probably never be equalled in the sphere of American politics. He was a popular governor of a liberal state who implemented Obamacare-like healthcare policies that resulted in dramatic improvements to the Massachusetts health care system.

But again, Democrats demonized him. They claimed he was a cruel capitalist because his company shut down factories that were losing money. And they went bananas when Romney proactively attempted to hire more women because they took issue with him describing the resumes he had elevated as “binders full of women.

The arguments that beat McCain and Romney have just kept getting louder and more outrageous. Every Republican candidate is going to end Medicaid and take away Social Security. Every Republican-driven policy will result in grandma being thrown over the cliff. Every candidate for president or Congress is part of a Koch-driven conspiracy to enslave the nation.

Crying wolf over and over, louder and louder, with millions of followers on the internet echoing the latest apocalyptical outrage, Democrats leveraged the fear of the end of the world for political gain.

But by the time the real wolf showed up in 2016, voters didn’t believe them anymore. Republicans and rural voters had become so disillusioned by the character assassination of perfectly honorable public servants like McCain and Romney that they simply stopped taking anything they said seriously.

So when Democrats said Donald Trump would ruin America, there was a collective eye roll. They’d heard the same thing about Republican candidate after Republican candidate, and they didn’t buy it any longer.

And instead of getting a president who used “binders full of women” to try to instill gender equity within his cabinet, we got a president who brags about grabbing women by their crotches.

Democrats continue to cry wolf, and their reaction to the recent tax reform bill is a prime example.

There may be a perfectly reasonable debate to have about the economic impact of corporate tax cuts, but Democrats aren’t engaging in one.

Instead they are losing their collective minds.

The same liberal activists that showed up wearing hazmat suits to protest rule changes in the US Senate are now staging publicity-stunt arrests in the office of Sen. Susan Collins, the person regarded as perhaps the most reasonable human being in Congress. Collins has decades of proof of her intense love for the state of Maine, her finely-tuned priorities as a legislator, and her willingness to stand up for what’s right even if it’s hard.  

But listen to the rhetoric of the Maine Democratic Party and others on the Left, and you’d think the rapture is upon us.

This is why Democrats are in the position they’re in. No one buys this nonsense anymore.

When every issue is portrayed as the end of days, eventually no one believes you.

This is why, despite the nonsense coming out of both the White House and the Blaine House, Democrats continue to lose at the ballot box. They’ve become extremely good at creating an outrage cacophony, but it’s come at a price: their credibility.

Despite all the mania gripping American politics right now, the path to a steady future is through reasoned debate. The morally outrageous conduct of today’s Republican Party should allow Democrats an easy path to victory. But their efforts are limited by their own absurd conduct.

If Democrats want to find their way out of the political wilderness, they need to focus more on truth and less on volume.

Because over the long term, being believed is far more important than being heard.


Lance Dutson

About Lance Dutson

Lance Dutson, a principal of Red Hill Strategies, is a Republican communications consultant. He has served on the campaign teams of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Kelly Ayotte, as well as the Maine Republican Party.