The Beginnings of Republican Lying

The average American doesn’t want to be educated; he doesn’t want to improve his mind; he doesn’t even want to work, consciously, at being a good citizen.

“The Lie Factory” was published in the Sept. 24, 2012 of the New Yorker. The success of the Lie Factory has long depended on the truth in the above quote.

This article details what is considered to be the first ever company dedicated to campaign consulting called simply Campaigns, Inc. It was founded in 1933 by Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker pictured below.

The Lie Factory

The Lie Factory

Their first victim was Upton Sinclair who was running for governor of California in 1934. Every day on page one of the Los Angeles Times they posted  what appeared to be a Sinclair quote. Rather, it was a quote from one of his fiction novels and taken out of context. Quoting directly from the article:

“Upton was beaten,” Whitaker later said, “because he had written books.” And, so, those boxes in the L.A. Times:

The sanctity of marriage. . . . I have had such a belief . . . I have it no longer.

The excerpt, as Sinclair explained in “How I Got Licked,” was taken from a passage in his 1911 novel, “Love’s Pilgrimage,” in which one character writes a heartbroken letter to a man having an affair with his wife.

Baxter and Whitaker went on to write the manual for running a dirty campaign and it’s still used today. Here are the highlights as quoted from the article.

“A wall goes up,” Whitaker warned, “when you try to make Mr. and Mrs. Average American Citizen work or think.”

Fan flames. “We need more partisanship in this country,” Whitaker said. Never shy from controversy; instead, win the controversy. “The average American doesn’t want to be educated; he doesn’t want to improve his mind; he doesn’t even want to work, consciously, at being a good citizen,” Whitaker advised.

“But there are two ways you can interest him in a campaign, and only two that we have ever found successful.” You can put on a fight (“he likes a good hot battle, with no punches pulled”), or you can put on a show (“he likes the movies; he likes mysteries; he likes fireworks and parades”): “So if you can’t fight, PUT ON A SHOW! And if you put on a good show, Mr. and Mrs. America will turn out to see it.”

Every voter a consumer.

In a typical campaign they employed ten million pamphlets and leaf-lets; 50,000 letters to ‘key individuals and officers of organizations’; 70,000 inches of advertising in 700 newspapers; 3,000 spot announcements on 109 radio stations; theater slides and trailers in 160 theaters; 1,000 large billboards and 18,000 or 20,000 smaller posters.

Never lobby; woo voters instead. “Our conception of practical politics is that if you have a sound enough case to convince the folks back home, you don’t have to buttonhole the Senator,” according to Baxter.

Make it personal: candidates are easier to sell than issues. If your position doesn’t have an opposition, or if your candidate doesn’t have an opponent, invent one.

Every campaign needs a theme. Keep it simple. Rhyming’s good. (“For Jimmy and me, vote ‘yes’ on 3.”)

Never explain anything. “The more you have to explain,” Whitaker said, “the more difficult it is to win support.”

Say the same thing over and over again. “We assume we have to get a voter’s attention seven times to make a sale,” Whitaker said.

Subtlety is your enemy. “Words that lean on the mind are no good,” according to Baxter. “They must dent it.” Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Baxter and Whitaker mounted the first ever campaign against healthcare. Earl Warren, then governor of California, had proposed it for his state in 1945. The campaign they featured involved themes such as “politically controlled healthcare” and a “forest of fear”.

In 1948 President Truman proposed national healtcare insurance reform. Here is their plan as taken from their corporate papers house in state archives in Sacremento, CA and marked as “CONFIDENTIAL”.

1. The immediate objective is the defeat of the compulsory health insurance program pending in Congress. 2. The long-term objective is to put a permanent stop to the agitation for socialized medicine in this country by (a) awakening the people to the danger of a politically-controlled, government-regulated health system; (b) convincing the people, through a Nation wide campaign of education, of the superior advantages of private medicine, as practiced in America, over the State-dominated medical systems of other countries; (c) stimulating the growth of voluntary health insurance systems to take the economic shock out of illness and increase the availability of medical care to the American people.

They settled on a slogan: “KEEP POLITICS OUT OF MEDICINE.” And they settled on a smear, one that they had used against Warren’s plan: they called Truman’s plan “socialized medicine.”

What has changed today? Not much, Romney is their disciple. Click the link, read the article or, perhaps, this quote from the Lie Factory fits you: “The average American doesn’t want to be educated; he doesn’t want to improve his mind; he doesn’t even want to work, consciously, at being a good citizen.”

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