Since 9/11, fear-mongering has been a foolproof political tactic. After Orlando, it’s unclear whether it still works.
Written by By Michael Tomasky, The New York Times, 06/18/16
THIS was an important and even revelatory week in American politics, and we should take note of it. Contrary to what I’d argue has been the single most firmly held conviction about this campaign by observers left and right, a terrorist attack did not help the Republican candidate in the race for president. Indeed, it seems to have weakened him.
It’s a development worth dwelling on not only for its own sake, but because it forces a broader reassessment of some of our major shared assumptions about politics and the American people. We — we pundits, commentators, insiders — think we get them, know their collective mind, believe we speak for them. Do we? And if we got this so wrong, what else are we missing?
But first let’s go back in time. Republicans have owned the “we’ll protect you” narrative for decades, arguably going back to the early years of the Cold War, but certainly since Ronald Reagan. They talked tougher than Democrats, and they were more willing to whip the electorate into a state of frenzy about this or that threat — and more often than not, it worked. This we know.