William McKenzie: GOP’s angry face could scare swing voters

SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson talks about angry political rhetoric's effect on voters.

By William McKenzie

When Pat Buchanan  kicked off the 1992 GOP convention with his “angry-man speech” about the decline of American culture, I was in the press section, thinking, “that’s just Buchanan being Buchanan.” I had heard his radio show countless times while living in Washington, so I knew his frustrations. He had made the same points in columns and speeches. So I didn’t think much about it.

Boy, was I wrong. The lid almost blew off the Astrodome as his heated words about “a religious war going on in America” stunned swing voters. Some delegates lapped up his call to battle for America’s soul, but that speech left Republicans playing catch-up from then until Election Day, vainly trying to show Americans they weren’t that cranky.

The GOP would be wise to remember that history before Republicans get too far down an angry trail again. . .

There’s a point at which this anger could scare off pivotal independents. Matthew Wilson, an SMU political science professor, rightly observes that angry Americans won’t vote for President Barack Obama anyway. The GOP needs to worry about undecided voters.

As Wilson also says, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush campaigned differently — and successfully.

Read the full opinion piece.

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