Skip to main content

You've got to love Nate Silver and the other folks at fivethirtyeight.com. They keep digging out lumps of clarity whilst every one else is flinging mud and going stark staring ape droppings.

They've cast some historical light on why a small group of fearmongers are beating up a sitting White House & Congress in the Health Care debate. See this great piece by Tom Schaller which links to another great piece by Scott McLemee about the similarities between today's right wing propagandists and the "Agitators" of the 1930s depression.

Recommended reading, and it turns out, this fresh new hell is neither fresh nor new.

This is a short diary which is mainly just to direct folks to a couple of interesting essays (linked in the intro) at Fivethirtyeight.com and insidehighered.com which give us some historical perspective on how propagandists can win an asymetrical fight with a powerful incumbent government.

The similarities between people like Glen Beck and the "Agitators" from 1930s radio and newspapers are striking. Scott McLemee's conclusion is that a big part of effectiveness of these fearmongers is not that they drive any specific agenda but rather that their rhetorial technique has the effect of freeing up and surfacing fears and predudices that were already deeply planted. The key is that the crazys were already crazy inside, they just needed to be set free.

What this means in terms of how we can overcome this very real and present threat to civilisation is tougher nut to crack. But I think we may be able to start from here. The crazy's will be crazy and that's just life. Where we lose electoral contests is when reasonable folks in the centre get infected by crazy ideas that get filtered so that they seem less crazy. It's important that we, the forces of truth and light (I had my irony pill this morning) keep pushing back in ways that make it clear that these ideas are coming from a crazy place.

I'm not at all familiar with the history that McLemee is talking about. I wonder if anyone else out there can enlighten us further about the "Agitators" of that time. In particular I wonder about these questions, did they suceed in undermining any of FDR's agenda, or if not how did FDR and Co overcome them and win the debate?

Originally posted to robertbe on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 04:31 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HylasBrook, lizard people

    Boston born, Kennedy loving, bleeding heart, white liberal Democrat, and loving it.

    by robertbe on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 04:31:03 PM PDT

  •  I really like Nate ... (0+ / 0-)
    but I think his recent posts bashing Obama at 538 are a bit much and not entirely convincing.

    For example I don't think Obama is "losing the framing war".

    I like being talked to like an adult, not a 9-year old.

    Long words?  Grammatical sentences?  LOVE IT!!

    YMMV.

    I get "suaviter in modo", Mr President. May we now have some "fortiter in re"?

    by tapu dali on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:27:37 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site