• The Republicans outmessage the Democrats. The Democrats, having no effective response, face disaster: They lose politically, either in electoral support or failure on crucial legislation.
• The Democrats then take polls and do focus groups. The pollsters discover that extremist Republicans control the most common (“mainstream”) way of thinking and talking about the given issue.
• The pollsters recommend that Democrats move to the right: adopt conservative Republican language and a less extreme version of conservative policy, along with weakened versions of some Democratic ideas.
• The Democrats believe that, if they follow this advice, they can gain enough independent and Republican support to pass legislation that, at least, will be some improvement on the extreme Republican position.
• Otherwise, the pollsters warn, Democrats will lose popular support — and elections — to the Republicans, because “mainstream” thought and language resides with the Republicans.
• Believing the pollsters, the Democrats change their policy and their messaging, and move to the right.
• The Republicans demand even more and refuse to support the Democrats
On Thom Gunn’s Selected Poems
4 hours ago