The Parties Who Cried Wolf

Perhaps you're worried about one or more of the serious candidates in this election. There's certainly more press than normal--even from sources not so known for exaggeration--that this election has dangerous choices.

For those worried, it may seem a bit confusing--perhaps absurd--that those voting for these candidates aren't responding to our concerns.

After some thought we would like to put forward a hypothesis: perhaps, for the past two decades, partisans on either side have cried wolf too frequently to be taken seriously.


If we look back to earlier elections, we see much of this: efforts to campaign for our own candidates (whether we are media, voters, or party leaders) have frequently involved dire or even apocalyptic predictions for the election of the opposing party. As recently as 2014, then-House majority leader Nancy Pelosi said that "civilization as we know it would be in jeopardy if Republicans win the senate."  The American Enterprise Institute in 2012 laid out 10 "disasters" that would occur if President Obama was re-elected, claiming that "the damage of a second Obama term could be potentially irrevocable." Such claims from otherwise-credible sources were common, and no doubt social media flared with similarly hyperbolic warnings of the demise of America with each election.

As these attacks flew, the end result backfired: each party's candidates--ripping the other as a scourge upon American values and prosperity--saw the hyperbolic attacks on them as a badge of honor. When a monster hates you, that's a good sign, right?

After years of literally predicting the demise of America during every election, is it any question that such further attacks in this election fall on deaf ears? There are consequences for crying wolf--and the parties are feeling those consequences now.


Erik Fogg

We do politics, but we don't do the thinking for you.