Opinion: GOP goes ‘full tribal’ to hold the Sixth

In a TV ad endorsing Republican hopeful Dan Moody for the vacant 6th Congressional District seat, U.S. Sen. David Perdue reassures voters that Moody can be trusted because “he’s one of us.”

“One of us,” as opposed to “one of them?”

Actually, yes. That “us vs. them” mindset has become the running theme of the GOP’s attempt to hold the 6th, which ought to be a safe seat for Republicans. They’re not running on repealing Obamacare or slashing Medicaid or the president’s strategy in Syria, whatever that might be. They’re running on cultural identity, on “people like us” taking sides against “people like them.”

Look at the multiple TV ads bought by the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund, a Washington-based superPAC. The primary, repeated message of the CLF’s multi-million-dollar campaign is that Democrat Jon Ossoff is a vague but dangerous “one of them.” As one CLF ad begs 6th District voters, “don’t let them hijack our congressional seat.”

The Georgia Republican Party took up the theme in a campaign mailer, noting that filmmaker Ossoff has sold documentary work to Al Jazeera and concluding that “once you’ve worked for them, you can’t work for us.”

In her latest email fundraising plea, GOP frontrunner Karen Handel also puts it right out there: “them vs. us,” it says in the subject line. She makes a similar charge on her website, claiming that Ossoff is “not one of us.”

“We can stop them,” Handel says in a web ad, “… and deliver for us.”

The National Rifle Association even launched a radio ad in the district, claiming that Ossoff was born, raised and educated in Washington, D.C. That’s blatantly false; Ossoff is a Georgia native who grew up in the 6th District. In one of life’s little ironies, though, the NRA’s description does apply perfectly to the D.C.-born Handel.

Such appeals to group or tribal loyalty are common in politics, particularly in off-year or special elections when turnout is sparse. Both parties indulge in it, although it’s usually more subtle and couched in code words. I just can’t recall a race in a long, long time in which the division between “us” and “them” has been such a major, explicit theme. The narrative reinforces the notion that “we” and “they” share no common values or goals, and have no grounds for compromise.

And of course, questions of group identity are still marked more obviously by race than anything else. It’s no accident that in a Sixth District that’s 70 percent white, the GOP’s anti-Ossoff ads feature photographs linking him to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson and U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Most voters may not consciously grasp the message being communicated to them, but political consultants know it strikes home anyway.

Basically, the GOP is attempting to take the “us vs. them” narrative of a struggle for cultural dominance that served as the heart of the Trump presidential campaign and transplant it to a congressional race, and they’re doing it in part because Trump himself has destroyed the ideological certainty of what it meant to be a Republican. They are divided on foreign policy; they are divided on trade policy. Their divisions on health care are so profound that the Republican-dominated House still can’t produce a replacement for Obamacare. And a lot of Republicans harbor a deep and perhaps growing unease about the fact that their party has given us Trump as president, a man whom they neither like nor trust.

How do you generate party unity in the face of all that? You go full tribal.

——————–

ADDENDUM at 1 p.m.:

A new Washington Post poll adds some evidence to the power of partisanship to shift viewpoints, particularly on the right.

The poll found that 86 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats said they support the missile strikes against Syria launched by President Trump as punishment for the use of chemical weapons. Only 11 percent of Republicans said they were opposed.

In the same poll in 2013, however, just 22 percent of Republicans said they supported missile strikes against Syria by Barack Obama under almost identical circumstances. Among Democrats at the time, just 38 percent supported those strikes.

Put another way, Republicans are almost four times more likely to support strikes launched by Trump than by Obama, even under almost identical circumstances, while the position of Democrats is unchanged.

 

Reader Comments 1

1768 comments
Lunaville
Lunaville

The Republicans have nothing to appeal to voters in the 6th district except racism. I just viewed an anti-Ossoff ad wherein every actor was a white boomer. The refrain was "Ossoff is not one of us." The ad is disgusting. In a just society, it would cost the career of every Republican in the race for years to come.


The only "dirt" the Republicans have turned up on Ossoff is that he went to college and is a Star Wars fans. The ads focused on that issue amount to:


"Jon Ossoff went to college. He is educated. Can we really trust an educated man represent us?


Jon Ossoff once had fun. Would you want to have a beer with a man capable of having fun. Of course not."


At this point, the most persuasive reason to vote for Ossoff are the awful anti-Ossoff ads.

Scott Pike
Scott Pike

Democrats started Us vs Them. Keep drinking the Kool Aid and don't worry Allah will take care of you. Ossoff ads don't even say he is a democrat to fool people since the vote is not along party lines. Republicans don't tell the NRA how to write their ads either. Ossoff will not win in the long run anyway. I surely hope so as you said before you blocked me Jay that we are not as smart as you educated city boys. I am ready to take a test against you any day Genius Jay. What year was it you won last writing award?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

I see TD is back spreading more lies.


What was it this morning ? That the Dems spent MILLIONS !!! in Kansas.


Nothing worse in this world than being a liar. 

gotalife
gotalife

Why is tillerson meeting with a war criminal?

gotalife
gotalife

trump is trying to improve his poll numbers so he tossed assad over the cliff.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

Take a minute to care for your own mental health today. A lot going on out here.

gotalife
gotalife

Hopefully billo will not come back and fox finally fires that pervert.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@gotalife 

Loofa-boy is on vacay now, and word is they will tell him stay on it.

Kamchak
Kamchak

 SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS !

gotalife
gotalife

" Life is a box of chocolates."

honested
honested

If Jon Ossoff is elected, world leaders will no longer be able to politely enjoy chocolate cake while they rain destruction on others!

gotalife
gotalife

Funny how no employers are arrested.


Perhaps we should deport the right.


They just can't get along with others.

MaryR.Shelton
MaryR.Shelton

 ?pt? I ?aw the ba?? draft which ?aid $4076, I have faith ...that...my ?eighb??r? m?ther wa? tr?ley bri?gi?g i? m??ey i? their ?pare time at their lapt?p.. there be?t frie?d ha? bee? d?i?g thi? f?r ??ly ?i?etee? m??th? a?d re?e?tly paid the l?a?? ?? there mi?i ma??i?? a?d p?rcha?ed a ?ew Alfa R?me? 

www.smart-job5.com ???????

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Haven't you heard?

Pootie fired him so he had to find a new way to make money posting.

td1234
td1234

AG Sessions announces that if an illegal is deported and re enters the country illegally then they will be charged with a felony. 

td1234
td1234

@honested Yes it is part of existing law and the AG has instructed the prosecutors to that they no longer has the discretion of charging with a misdemeanor. 

honested
honested

@td1234 

Will he be charging them personally?

Has a statute been readied for such an occasion?

MaryR.Shelton
MaryR.Shelton

@td1234 ?pt? I ?aw the ba?? draft which ?aid $4076, I have faith ...that...my ?eighb??r? m?ther wa? tr?ley bri?gi?g i? m??ey i? their ?pare time at their lapt?p.. there be?t frie?d ha? bee? d?i?g thi? f?r ??ly ?i?etee? m??th? a?d re?e?tly paid the l?a?? ?? there mi?i ma??i?? a?d p?rcha?ed a ?ew Alfa R?me? 

www.smart-job5.com ???????

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

Now for the visual of Ernest T. Bass with an iron fist!!!

You just can't make this nonsense up!!!

rimsky
rimsky

@Kamchak So far we identified 5 Russian moles in Trump swamp.  Coincidence I don't think so.

honested
honested

@rimsky @Kamchak 

If the russians would have known how cheap and easy it was, they would have just bought off conserrrrrrvatives and not bothered with a military buildup!

MaryR.Shelton
MaryR.Shelton

I can see what your saying... Raymond `s article is surprising, last week I bought a top of the range Acura from making $4608 this-past/month and-a little over, $10,000 this past month . with-out any question its the easiest work I've ever had . I began this five months/ago and almost straight away startad bringin in minimum $82 per-hr .www.smart-job5.com

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Great!  Send the Rs and their children and grandchildren to Syria to be the boots on the ground, the grunts, the cannon fodder!

rimsky
rimsky

A former Bush administration official and retired U.S. Army colonel blasted President Donald Trump’s White House for its seeming inability to manage just about everything.

“I see so much rank amateurism at work here,” Col. Lawrence Wilkerson told Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s “All In” on Tuesday.

++++

I don't understand why our cons don't see it.  

rimsky
rimsky

Daily Mail Settles With Melania Trump Over Modeling Story

President Donald Trump’s wife, 46, had sued the publisher of the Daily Mail in Britain and also filed a $150 million (120 million pound) lawsuit against it in New York, claiming the article had cost her millions of dollars in potential business.

A person familiar with the situation said the settlement was worth less than $3 million, including legal costs and damages.

+++++

Daily Mail was wrong publishing that about Melania. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@rimsky


Agree. But lets not kid ourselves here. Melania is the prototypical trophy wife. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@McGarnagle @rimsky  Its a tabloid. They make stuff up.


Just like the National Enquirer. Which BTW our President reads and considers gospel. 



rimsky
rimsky

@honested @rimsky I don't think I can put it in public forum.  I have my opinion about her which is not Kosher.

honested
honested

@rimsky 

Just what sorta 'potential business' are we talkin' here?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

  The State balances its budget every year.  Something about it being a law.


Easy to do when you are a poor rural red state with blue state federal dollars pouring in.

rimsky
rimsky

This Idiot in Chief in the WH will make Bush 43 look like Mensa material.