Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
* Not all.
It’s not what Republicans are saying about women, Hispanics and blacks that are driving them away, it’s what they aren’t openly saying that is.
The Republican Party is caught in a bind. It knows the future of the party lies in emerging group like Hispanics and Asians. But it’s not ready to give them enough attention to alienate they base they may just allow them to squeak through this coming election. Older, mostly white aging voters.
Unfortunately the message to sooth the groups it needs to broaden its base is often lost in the barrage of sub communicated counter messages that’s actually cementing the wall between the party and those groups. So though Republicans may argue they are not fighting a conventional war on groups like women, there’s definitely a cold war going on.
For instance, upon the announcement two weeks ago that President Obama was changing enforcement of deportation for non-citizen Hispanics between 18-30 who are in college or military service with no criminal record. This was Fox Nation’s coverage in the picture below with the headline
“Obama Administration Bypasses Congress, to Give Immunity, Stop Deporting Younger Illegals.”
Note the article image of older Hispanic men, all under arrest, somewhat disheveled with law enforcement swirling around them. Yet the words in this story covers specifics Hispanic youth who (though illegal) are productive, likely professional in school or in the military. So beside cover “Hispanic” and “illegal” why isn’t the image in this story also reflecting that part of the story? In the same story by Fox Latino, they used a different picture (see below).
And by the way, Fox Nation, eventually pulled in image. But why did it do it in the first place?
Because like the saying goes, actions and picture speaks more than words and the non-spoken message heard over the formal one: “The president is likely letting dirty, dangerous, criminals on the loose.
When a desired message or trait is viscerally communicated rather than specifically said, that’s called sub-communication. Sub-communicated messages allow us to give the “official” or safe stance you can’t be unquestionably called out for while still giving the desired off-the-record message. Kinda like saying “yes” but winking and shaking your head “no.”
And in this case, the picture chosen for this article sends a message beyond the immigration issue. For the Fox Nation’s audience, which fears the consequence of immigration, the image conveys the believed threat, “See, they’re dangerous.”
For secondary audiences like Hispanics, that message cuts the other way. That sub-communicated message is not, “we don’t like immigration” the sub-communicated message is, “we don’t like YOU.” You, as a group, are dirty, dangerous. Not to mention you’re painting of picture of a group (young college and work professionals) that this other Hispanics know is not likely true. So they feel the article and its producers are willing lying about them to boot. And the overall message: we don’t like you and you’re all alike.
This is one example. But when it’s repeated time and time again, Hispanics start to see a pattern. A concerted action. And like I said before, “actions (and sometimes images) speak louder than words. And sometimes they’re remembered a lot longer than make up messages like “our economic plan will benefit you, too!”
Same goes with the recent “War of Women” issue. Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke being a “slut” for wanting birth control subsidized was also sub-communicating a message. Rush may have a somewhat defensible argument subsidizing birth control. But his incorporated comments and judgment about women sex lives by attaching the idea of “slut” sub communicates an additional message that there is something about you (as women) that’s filthy and degenerate. A message that women, whose intuitive sense is to subtext as dogs are to sense of smell, pick that up right away.
Messaging communicated again last week when a conservative legislator was removed from the floor from functional use the word “Vagina” in a speech debating an anti-abortion bill. The defenders of the action may argue decorum. But the actions sub-communicate differently. 1) Telling a woman to shut up. 2) Censoring a word that is relevant to a debate about how babies are born. 3) if men can literally control can control the word vagina, the actual body part can’t be far behind. All that back messaging doesn’t make up for eventual campaign kiss and make up messages of “No harm done, right? You’re still going to vote for us, right?”
The same with blacks. There’s been no “War on black people” explicitly the last few years as much as focused towards the most symbolic and high profile black person. The whole issue of the Daily Caller reporter, Jan Brewer, Joe Wilson and other who have been openly rude, confrontational or hostile in front of the President of the United States. If you’ve seen all these instances, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to hear each of these people pointing and using the word “boy” at the end of their sentences to the President. I can tell you that’s definitely what’s sub-communicated to black people.
Though defenders again argue this is really about disagreements with the presidents, blacks have seen how quickly the same groups that argued absolute respect for the office, no matter the disagreements, during the years Bush Administration, turn on a dime to act in ways previous historically upheld standard simply don’t support.
What’s sub-communicated? Republican/conservatives have two sets of standards. One apparently for “white” presidents. And seeming sub communicates another set for a black president: “We don’t have to respect you because you’re black. You’re (somehow though we can prove it) not legitimate.” Though president Obama is not the president of black people, black people do see their race being dangled out as the exception for not treating people with respect. And like the aforementioned women and Hispanics, they remember that. Which is why you’ve seen black people follow the president his numbers among blacks solidify. Not because he’s black. But since the president is being used as a symbol for derisive messages about blacks, blacks send a message back by supporting the symbol even more.
Some of the sub communicated messages to these groups isn’t done because all Republicans are truly sexist or racist or hating immigrants. In politics, any issue that motivates people is power. And subjects around each group is an issue that can excite passions in their base. So they play the Republican race and feminist card and dangle these groups in front of their base as the real cause of what’s wrong in America. Sure, it’s a quiet way to galvanize the aging and dying off base of the Republican Party, but in a decade or two it will leave a majority of voters who don’t think the Republican Party is working for their best interest.
In the future, regardless of who wins the next presidential election there will be a point where Republican while go on TV, straight faced and seem to be puzzled why Hispanics, Blacks and women just don’t seem to appreciate what the party has to offer. After all, they didn’t “say” anything bad.