Perils of the Echo Chamber

by Brien Jackson

Atrios makes a salient point:

I’ve written before that I think part of the problem that conservatives/Republicans face is that their mythology has become a bit too complex for mere mortals (people who don’t listen to Limbaugh and read The Corner obsessively) to comprehend. They reference rogues’ gallery of enemies and various “bad things” that most people have never heard of. Simply trying to navigate through the various wingnutty minefields while throwing out the appropriate red meat has become difficult to do, and the result is incomprehensible to most of the country.

You saw a lot of this coming from the McCain campaign, especially once the economy tankes and they were just phoning it in. What happens is that once you go totally down the rabbit hole that is the blogosphere, left or right, eventually you develop short hand for concepts, critiques, and a basic insider language. And that works out just fine for the communities, but it wouldn’t work so well if you started using that language to talk to everyone else as a politician. Imagine if Barack Obama were asked about some unfair criticism from The Washington Post and his answer was “time for a blogger ethics panel.” We’d all get what he meant entirely, but 99% of the country would think he was totally fucking insane.

And that’s basically what happened to McCain last October, somewhere around the “share the wealth” mini-controversy. The right-wing blogosphere understood that as a short hand for full blown socialism, especially after they’d hacked it up endlessly for days. And if you read a lot of right-wing blogs, you at least understood what the point of the critique was supposed to be. But if you didn’t follow the conservative noise machine, you had no idea whatsoever what was so controversial about wanting to promote broad based economic prosperity. Which perhaps shows how out of step with most people conservative bloggers are, but at the very least shows why you can’t cut corners with your messaging campaigns. Had the McCain campaign walked it out a bit more and laid the groundwork for what these buzzwords were supposed to mean, they might have had some success with it. At the very least people would have been able to understand them. Instead they started running a campaign for the echo chamber, and everyone else was just sort of scratching their heads wondering what the hell was going on. Bobby Jindal repeated that mistake last night.

 

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