Who Cares About the Truth?

What wins elections today? The midterm elections have spurned heated discussions about witches and whores. And the the elderly are even beating each other up over political lawn signs. But is anyone’s mind being changed by these debates? According to a report I heard yesterday on CBS radio, successful media outlets are making a point of leaning left or right as consumers are looking less to media for information than to have their own views backed up. The trend is ongoing that the more neutral CNN shows have lower ratings, while FOX tops ratings and talking heads on the left and right are winning more and more viewers.

If that is the case, then it seems like whoever has the clearest simplest message wins, whether that message is true or not. George W. won on fear. Obama won on hope. Will Republicans wipeout women in congress this November over money?

There isn’t a shortage of money going into the campaigns.

According to EMILY’s List, a site “dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office”:

There’s never been a question of which way the wind blows for Fox News’s various talking heads: decidedly to the right. But Fox’s parents company, News Corp., poured a cool $1 million this summer into the coffers of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business lobby that’s blanketing the nation’s airwaves with attack ads against Democratic candidates.

And yet, EMILY’s List is trying to do the same thing with Nancy Pelosi, urging women voters to not let the GOP “Turn back the Clock for Women.” In an attempt to raise $500,000 by Friday Pelosi cites the possibility of healthcare reform repeal and reversal of Lilly Ledbetter legislation.

They also have this video up on the Emily’s List website:

The message to Democrats seems to be to get out and vote or face repeals of laws already in place. And vote for women, but only Democratic women. Scary, but confusing. And what about the economy?

Republicans are saying: we will put money back in your pockets, protect your children and reduce government spending. Clear enough message, but is it true?

Sarah Palin’s call to women to “protect their cubs” moves women into action. Palin, however, fails to mention that she and her fellow grizzlies don’t back policies that are good for children or women, like federal programs aimed at helping low income children get healthcare or domestic violence bills. Remember Palin, was mayor of a town that charged victims of assault for rape kits.

Nonetheless, the Republicans’ message is clear. Take your country (and your money) back. Obama is spending your money and taxing you for things that only help those pesky poor people.

In the response to my recent op-ed “Female Voters, We Need You“, I noted that many of the comments consisted of women telling me they were definitely going to vote, and vote Republican. I realized that Republican women are determined, angry at those who oppose their views and paying great attention to those that back their views, but what if those politicians are selling them a bill of goods?

According to NY Times columnist and professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University Paul Krugman’s recent article, “Hey, Small Spender,” government payrolls are dropping, and government spending “rose only 3 percent over the last two years — a pace slower than that of the previous two years, and slower than the economy’s normal rate of growth.”

Krugman goes on to explain:

Why there’s a widespread perception that government spending has surged, when it hasn’t — is that there has been a disinformation campaign from the right, based on the usual combination of fact-free assertions and cooked numbers. And this campaign has been effective in part because the Obama administration hasn’t offered an effective reply.

And, Mr. President, the people want real answers about what you are going to do for their bank accounts.

So are questionable concise campaigns going to beat out muddled Democratic messages come November? Probably.

If Democrats want to win they need to get better and clearer messaging and fast. Maybe that’s the thinking behind Pelosi’s “Don’t Let the GOP Turn Back the Clock” campaign. But is that enough?

A friend of mine told me that when she met Obama, he replied jovially to a question about Republicans attacking him. He said, “I don’t see them picking up a mop to clean up this mess they left.”

Pick up a mop.

Now that would have been a better slogan. It would remind everyone how we got into this state of peril and press that Americans have to pull together to right all the wrongs that got us here. Pick up a mop. Get out and vote. And don’t let your pocketbook override your values.

This column first ran in Huffington Post Politics