Joe Wilkens Gets It Right Again

Joe Wilkens Gets It Right Again

A while back I "tipped my hat" to Joe Wilkens for his ability to explain complex issues in a few well-chosen words and, in the process, enlighten readers of his column, "Joe's take," in the Middle Township Gazette. Joe has done it again in his column of November 6, in which he captures the essence of the mid-term elections.

Under the headline, "Democrats Have Let GOP Shape Their Image," he notes that the "viciousness" of the  ads from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey campaigns turned his stomach. Giving credit to a local congressman for remaining "above that sort of sleaze," he took him to task for remaining "an enabler of his colleagues in the Republican Party who promote the worst excesses of partisan gridlock we have seen in our lifetimes — excesses that are destroying the very ability of Congress to address the urgent public needs of the times."

He credits a "clever pollster and focus group guy named Frank Luntz" for helping the Republicans re-brand the Democrats beginning in 1994. He wrote the Republicans "had nothing positive to sell, so they accentuated the negative. The Estate Tax became the 'Death Tax,' Health Care' became the 'government takeover.'"

Joe says "The strategy works, but it's a two-edged sword. The fact is that what the Republicans have to sell tastes awful to ordinary folks. Stuff like privatizing Social Security, or eliminating taxes on the rich and the huge corporations while slashing food subsidies and unemployment benefits can't be sold on their merits. They hurt the Republican brand. That's why you never see ads that tell you what party a candidate belongs to. The Republicans have made the word 'Democrat' poison and their own policies have made the label 'Republican' certain death in campaigns."

A semiretired lawyer and former municipal judge, Joe concludes his column with the following: "The time has come for the Democrats to do a Frank Luntz on the Republican Party. No Republican candidate should be permitted to escape accountability for his political bedfellows, any more than Democratic candidates can."

Beau Weisman, Editor