Back in the 1950s, in the aftermath of World War II, there came to be what was known in this country as the “Red Scare.” Hollywood writers and directors were blackballed from working, the US House of Representatives conducted investigations, and Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin claimed there were many “Communists” in the government, including the army.
Calling opposing voices “Communists” or “Red” became a useful tool for Republicans of that vintage to gain credibility and electability.
Later, in the 1990s, radio host Rush Limbaugh railed about “Femi-nazis,” like Hillary Clinton, being a mortal threat to the freedom of Americans, not to mention the dominance of men. The “political correctness” of liberals was an extension of the branding of “Femi-nazis” as a continuing threat to free speech. The “nanny state” was further evidence, in their minds anyway, of governmental control over our lives.
In recent years, right wingers have labeled any opposition as “the mob” or “the left” in an attempt to label or brand Democrats and the media as working in tandem. They decry “cancel culture” as an attack on freedom, because they’re all about freedom – except when it’s about abortion rights or any opposition, like Liz Cheney.
“Pro-life” is really pro-fetus. They couldn’t care less about a person’s life once he/she is born. And those “activist judges” who interpret the constitution, as opposed to originalist judicial philosophy, are demonized – as is the concern of “packing the court” with more “activist” judges.
The same people exalt “job creators” as those with a talent for creating wealth and subsequent employment to help justify special treatment for them, specifically in the tax code. The owners of the means of production just want the government to cut out the “red tape” because bureaucracy and regulation are impediments to freedom. But, when it comes to protections for workers, especially for those in the “sharing economy,” there is little in the way of sympathy or benefits for those working a “side hustle.”
The term “sharing economy” is utter bullshit. Nobody is sharing anything. Consumers get charged full freight for riding in someone’s car. Sometimes, they pay more due to “dynamic or surge pricing.”
Now, we have a war in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is an expert at branding, maybe more so than the American right wing. Putin’s “whataboutism” has limited criticism of his military adventures in Georgia, Chechnya, and Syria. Now, he accuses Ukraine of “false flag” operations, shooting and bombing their citizenry and buildings. They similarly accuse the Ukrainians of using “crisis actors” – people hired to make an event look “real”.
As we head into the midterm elections, you can be certain you’ll be hearing a lot about “wokism,” critical race theory, identity politics, and other branded items that the “cultural elites” and “virtue signalers” want to shove down the throats of unsuspecting Americans.
The Republicans are far better at branding and labeling Democrats than the reverse, and their messaging reflects it. Their use of branding has befuddled the Democrats and it is clearly an advantage that the Democrats have yet to figure out and overcome.