On CNN’s Reliable Sources today Howard Kurtz interviewed David Frum who in 20 seconds explained how Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are now running the GOP. Frum said, “Fox, like Limbaugh, has an interest in pushing the Republicans to the margins, making people angry.” The Republican Party is being forced to deal with the fact that angry powerless feeling people don’t vote. They tend to stay home.
Here is the video from Media Matters:
Host Howard Kurtz asked Frum, I’ve got about 20 seconds. You recently wrote, “The Republicans originally thought that Fox works for us, and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.” What does that mean?” Frum answered, “What that means is that Fox, like Limbaugh, has an interest in pushing the Republicans to the margins, making people angry. When people are angry and alienated, they don’t vote. They succumb to feelings of helplessness. What people need right now are feelings of power, that they can make a difference by participating in politics.”
Frum’s point is that the more anger Limbaugh and Fox News whip up, the more they are pushing Republican supporters out of the political process. Frum earlier pointed out all of the right wing talkers and especially Rush Limbaugh inflates their audience numbers. Kurtz pointed out that Limbaugh claims to have 10-15 million listeners a day, and Frum corrected him, “On any given day. And there’s a lot of deliberate inflation of what the audience is for this kind of talk. It’s not that big.” Frum knows the inside. He worked in the White House as a speechwriter for George W. Bush. He knows what he is talking about.
The reality is that the Republican Party has no base of issues to run on anymore. The GOP has atrophied since their big 1994 Republican Revolution. They need something to motivate their base, and anger is the simplest most basic tactic there is. The problem as Frum points out is that there is a fine line between anger as a motivator, and anger as an excuse for powerlessness. The right wing was angry and motivated to stop the health care reform bill, but they could only sustain their high level of anger for a few months. Anger alone can’t stop legislation or flip control of Congress.
Democrats were angry at George W. Bush but they were not able to defeat him or take back Congress in 2004. The Republicans will not be an effective party again until they get past their anger and actually give voters a reason to support them. When the GOP starts telling voters what they will do if they win an election instead of campaigning on vote for us if you are angry at the Democrats, they will have something. Frum is right. Voters need to feel empowered and enabled, not angry and powerless. Fox News and Limbaugh provoke anger because it makes them a lot of money. They could care less what their actions do to the GOP.