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As a younger voter in 1988, I remember when then-Vice President and presidential candidate George H.W. Bush stood in front of Boston Harbor and slammed his opponent, Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis, for the pollution in Boston Harbor. I was shocked because the U.S. had just gone through eight years of a Reagan-Bush administration that had attacked and dismantled every environmental protection that it possibly could, including fighting the cleanup of Boston Harbor. This was perhaps the beginning of the modern Republican Politics of Projection — accusing your opponent of doing the very thing that you have been doing — as practiced by Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater.

Atwater had a young protégé, Karl Rove, who perfected the Republican Politics of Projection during George W. Bush’s presidency. Thus, for example, we had Bush administration officials approving and abetting the kidnapping and torture of suspects and the illegal warrantless wiretapping of Americans, then turning around and accusing those who criticized such actions of “hypocrisy” and being “out of bounds”.

Today, the Republican Politics of Projection continues in full force. Republicans in Congress vote for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget that would end Medicare as we know it, then raise phony objections about Democrats “cutting Medicare” when the Affordable Care Act cut funds from a private program called Medicare Advantage that is not part of the actual Medicare benefit. Likewise, Republicans raise the spurious charge of “voter fraud” in order to commit the true voter fraud of vote suppression via unreasonable and unfair voter i.d. laws. Or how about when Republicans carp about Democratic-appointed or “activist” judges who “legislate from the bench”, when it is the Republican-appointed, so-called “conservative” judges who do this, such as in the infamous Bush v. Gore and Citizens United cases, with Republican approval. If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were running for president today, Republicans would probably call President Obama fat.

The Republican Politics of Projection can be stated with the Republicans’ own simple term: hypocrisy. It is a very popular and effective tactic in the Republican playbook, and Democrats and progressives need to identify it and speak out whenever they see it, in order to lessen its power.

[Originally posted at]

Originally posted to MessagingMatters on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:34 PM PDT.

Also republished by Political Language and Messaging.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well said! (4+ / 0-)

    The sad thing is the so called "liberal media" bias is also a "projection".  Thus the media, owned by the 1% spins things in the best possible light for the far right.  In doing so they also help the GOP perpetuate the fallacy of the "my vote doesn't count" meme that allows the GOP to keep power.  The fact is, there are more liberals & moderates than there are conservatives.  Thus we must "Occupy the Vote" & throw these traitorous politicians out of office.  I say traitorous because anyone that puts a pledge to Grover Norquist ahead of his or her Constitutional Oath is guilty of treason.

  •  In the twisted right wing mind, (0+ / 0-)

    one progressive in a crowd of one thousand right wingers is an attempted socialist takeover. They want TOTAL dominance, and shameless lying and projection are two of the tools that they use without hesitation.

    au·thor·i·tar·i·an personality (-thôr-târ-n)
    A personality pattern reflecting a desire for security, order, power, and status, with a desire for structured lines of authority, a conventional set of values or outlook, a demand for unquestioning obedience, and a tendency to be hostile toward or use as scapegoats individuals of minority or nontraditional groups.
    Sound familiar?
    •  Irony Alert! (0+ / 0-)

      Authoritarians project authoritarianism onto progressives.

      We'll try and keep you updated with further irony alerts as they happen...and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

    •  See George Lakoff's GOP "Srict Father" model (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It fits right in to what you're talking about:

      •  Great link, MM, thanks. (0+ / 0-)

        Lakoff is spot on, and progressives should take his essential advice about getting better at framing, 'cause until we do, we'll be gettin' framed.

        The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline - physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline.
        Yep, that sounds just about right...wing.

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