Though some may not admit it, Democrats have been largely ineffective in opposing President Bush during the first few months of his administration. One reason for this is the way that Bush has successfully shaped the political debate. In particular, Bush's seemingly innocuous campaign promise to "change the tone" in Washington has proven to be a powerful rhetorical weapon, helping suppress criticism while portraying the President as above the fray.
Conservative PR pro Craig Shirley has created a new front group called "Disabled Americans for Death Tax Relief," which recently ran full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times, urging Congress to abolish the federal estate tax. DADTR claims that millions of Americans would be adversely affected by the tax which the federal government places on estates over $650,000.
Politicians from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton George W. Bush are increasingly using "everyday citizens" as props to create a working-class appearance for policies that actually benefit the wealthy. "But unless we stop behaving as props and start behaving as citizens, we will be passive spectators at the increasingly contrived sport of politics in America," writes Robert Kuttner.
A memo from the National Association of Manufacturers urged lobbyists to "dress down" when attending a rally and photo opportunity supporting George W. Bush's tax cut plan. "The Speaker's office was very clear in saying that they do not need people in suits," the memo stated. "If people want to participate -- AND WE DO NEED BODIES -- they must be DRESSED DOWN, appear to be REAL WORKER types, etc. We plan to have hard hats for people to wear. Other groups are providing waiters/waitresses, and other types of workers."
The elections of 2000 were touted as a coming-out party for politics on the internet. Websites with names like Voter, Speakout, Vote, Grassroots, and Votenet promised to revolutionize politics, gushing hype and dreamy, feel-good mission statements about "using the Internet to promote a more active and informed electorate" and "enabling citizens and their representatives to affect positive, democratic change." After the confetti has settled, howeer, it is painfully clear that online politics was as badly oversold as the rest of the internet.