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Right Intention: Nuclear Vs. Right To Vote

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Nuclear Vs. Right To Vote

Charles Krauthammer recently wrote a fairly standard opinion piece about the judicial filibuster issue. What I found interesting was this tidbit:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist seems intent on passing a procedural ruling to prevent judicial filibusters. Democrats have won the semantic war by getting this branded ``the nuclear option,'' a colorful and deliberately inflammatory term (although Republican Trent Lott, ever helpful, appears to have originated the term). The semantic device reminds me of the slogan of the nuclear freeze campaign of the early 1980s: ``Because nobody wants a nuclear war.'' (Except Reagan, of course.)

I've been thinking the same thing. Even though the Democrats have a very weak hand in this debate, they nonetheless won the PR war through colorful language and mindless repetition from their media allies. Republicans never seem to win these sorts of word battles partially because there's an inherent victim mentality that influences pretty much every word uttered by the left. I can hear it now "We must be strong about the filibuster, fellow Democrats, otherwise the big, bad Republicans will go NUCLEAR!!!" It conjures up images of mushroom clouds and some wild eyed maniac laughing demonically as he pushes the button. It’s quite effective.

The Republicans need help. And I’m volunteering to help them. As a reformed Democrat, I’m familiar with victim think. Let’s start by running down the Republican attempts in the PR war to date.

“It’s not the Nuclear option, it’s the Constitutional option”. This is pretty weak. There is no imagery and it’s too wordy. Moreover, few will understand the legal or constitutional aspects of this issue. No one will repeat this and it won’t sway public opinion.

“It’s not the Nuclear option, it’s the Byrd option”. This is again weak, and for the same reasons. There is no imagery and few will understand the history of Robert Byrd and the filibuster. This also will not sway public opinion.

“All nominees deserve an up or down vote”. Close, but not quite. It’s too wordy and generates little imagery. I suppose it could conjure up some faint ideas of fairness, but overall it’s ineffective.

But let’s build on the last one. Think for a second. What would a victim say? “Those big mean Democrats are taking away my right to vote!! I have a right to vote on the President’s nominees, and the Democrats are taking it away!”

"Right to Vote"! Perfect. It’s three syllables, rolls off the tongue, everyone knows what it means and has great imagery. It conjures up images of citizens being deprived their fundamental rights, an idea which is always in the public’s mind because the Democrats constantly make these bogus accusations- complete with inflammatory commercials- every election cycle.

And then one has to do what a professional victim/Democrat would do; which is to mindlessly repeat the phrase at every opportunity. Here’s a hypothetical:

Democrat: The judicial nominees are crazed theocrats and unfit for the court.

Republican: Then vote against them. If the nominees are as bad as you say, then it should be a simple matter to make your case against them. But I have a right to vote on these nominees.

D: But these nominees shouldn’t even come up for a vote, they are unqualified.
R: They have received the highest ratings and I have a right to vote on them.

D: So that means you will vote in favor of the nominees?
R: Whether or not I will vote in favor of them is irrelevant. I have a right to use my judgment and vote on them.

D: But they have majority support! They will win confirmation!
R: And the problem with that is what, exactly? I have a right to vote and I intend to use it.

D: I will read the entire contents of War and Peace on the Senate floor to prevent a vote.
R: And I will put together a coalition to ensure that I have a right to vote on the nominees.

D: You would go nuclear! (cue the mock outrage)
R: No, I would protect my right to vote. Your actions are denying me my rights.

As an aside, whether or not it is a “right” is irrelevant. Remember, you are playing a victim. Victims in our society get to invent all sorts of rights.

D: You are trying to prevent my right to filibuster!
R: There is no right for the minority to thwart the will of the majority. That only happens by brute force. Advocating minority rule by force makes you the moral equivalent of white South Africans during apartheid.

The above statement isn’t true, of course. But that doesn’t matter. Professional victims often just make stuff up.

And don’t forget about moral equivalence. It’s a valuable tool of lefties/professional victims/Democrats. Use it liberally. No pun intended.

D: You wouldn’t dare invoke the nuclear option.
R: I have a right to vote and will do what’s necessary to preserve it. I will not allow you to deny me my rights.

D: Nuclear!
R: Right to Vote!

Then the Republicans need to send representatives to every media outlet and work the words "right to vote" into every sentence. It will eventually find its way into public consciousness.

The Republicans should win with this approach. At worst, they will achieve a stalemate in the PR war, which will allow more substantive arguments to emerge. Either way, the Republicans win.


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