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August 02, 2004

Rebranding political protest

John Perry Barlow suggests a fresh approach to protesting at the RNC: Dancing in the streets, revolution with a smile

Barlow's argument is simple: A dour, peaceful protest will just be ignored. A surly, nasty protest will spark ridicule and probably harsh reprisals. So, we have no choice but to stage a fun, happy protest. [Link courtesy of Mark Kleiman.]

My plan for the RNC is to show just how much All American Fun it is to be part of the liberal cultural elite. I'm going to wear my elegant but demure white silk dress and my designer flats. Thad will don a dark suit and wing tips. Arm in arm, we're going to show the Red States what a great time we're having in our bastion of liberal, secular, multicultural democracy--and why "Democrat" is a brand everyone wants a piece of. The same classic marketing strategy has sold untold billions of dollars worth of statins, platinum credit cards, and breakfast cereal. It can sell democracy, too.

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Dems would be doing themselves a serious favor if they took this approach. Sadly for them, I can't believe for a moment it will be anything like that. Anarchist punks will do what they do best, provoke police into arresting them, and even the more peaceful protesters will engage in crass, simplistic sloganeering, embarrassing themselves and their cause, making Bush and the GOP look classy in contrast. It's a shame, too, because that's a golden opportunity that will be wasted.

even the more peaceful protesters will engage in crass, simplistic sloganeering

You mean, as opposed to what will be going on inside Madison Square Garden?

Touche. Although I imagine what happens inside will be more thought-out and respectful. (It was no different in Boston in this regard).

Okay -- but if any of the RNC speakers say "evil-doers," "we've turned the corner," "we're staying the course," "we won't cut and run," "a sovereign Iraq," "protecting the sanctity of marriage," or "protecting the sanctity of life" (w/r/t embryonic stem cells), or introduce any new coinage as stupid as "axis of evil," "mission accomplished," or "bring it on," you owe me a beer. (And I'll need one, too.)

It's a deal. If the protesters are more obnoxious, I get the beer, but the people speaking are more obnoxious, I owe you a nice, tall, cold one.

Alternatively, you could owe me one if the Kerry campaign doesn't get around to doing something significantly different than this before, say, Election Day.

That reminds me. I need to write up something about that if there's one thing that annoys me about the Kerry campaign, it's that it makes me sympathetic toward the Bush campaign. That's just unforgivable, in my book. Thank god for third parties, even if they can nominate candidates as their major party counterparts...

Err, that should read at the end, "even if they can nominate candidates every bit as weak as their major party counterparts..."

It's a deal. If the protesters are more obnoxious, I get the beer, but the people speaking are more obnoxious, I owe you a nice, tall, cold one.

Not so fast -- that's not quite what I meant. What you propose above is what we in Brooklyn call a sucker bet. Isn't it a given that the leaders of the frickin' free world are supposed to be reliably "more thought-out and respectful" than a bunch of shit-disturbing punks out looking for trouble? I won't bet you that none of the protesters will annoy the shit out of you -- some of them surely will.

What I will bet you is that, at least once during the convention, one of the carefully selected, carefully groomed, ostensibly "moderate" prime time speakers (Guiliani, Bloomberg, Pataki, Schwarzenegger, etc.) --who the Republican party have explicitly chosen to put the best possible face on their party for a national audience -- will say something at least as crass and simplistic as the protesters.

Keep in mind, this means if Schwarzenegger quotes from a Schwarzenegger movie at any point during his convention speech, I win by default. Fair is fair, after all.


That Onion article is pretty funny, but tell me, have you actually read Kerry's platform? I expect you will disagree with much of it (and much of Bush's platform too, I should add), but it's ridiculous to say Kerry doesn't have specific, detailed policy proposals, or that he's not giving people real reasons to vote for him.

It's not Kerry's fault the Heathers in the mainstream media don't do policy anymore. Like it or not, the responsibility is now on the rest of us to do our own homework.

Also, let me throw in a freebie -- I will happily buy you a beer if any prominent Republican (other than McCain, natch) denounces or repudiates this appalling Swift Boat Douchebags for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt garbage. And if Bush or Cheney denounce this smear campaign, I'll buy you a bottle of nice French wine.

[I don't understand why the Kerry campaign doesn't already have Wes Clark out there shredding these lying bastards.]

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