One of the benefits of closely observing political campaigns over 25 years is that you get to see how politicians use the same recurring themes, as do political partisans. The right seems particularly fond of declaring every campaign the most important election of their lifetimes, or since some randomly chosen time in the past, or in the entire history of the country. Here’s Dennis Prager taking that platitude out for a spin:
Election Day 2012 will not be a presidential election. It will be a plebiscite.
Americans will not only be voting for a president (and a House and a third of the Senate). They will be participating in a plebiscite on the definition of America.
If Americans re-elect the Democrat, Barack Obama, they will have announced that America should be like Western European countries — governed by left-wing values. Americans will have decided that America’s value system — “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” “E Pluribus Unum” — should be replaced.
The election in November is therefore a plebiscite on the American Revolution. The usual description of presidential elections — “the most important in our lifetime” — is true this time. In fact, it may be the most important election since the Civil War, and possibly since America’s founding.
*yawn* Yeah, yeah, yeah. Conor Friedersdorf says it’s time to retire that cliche forever, and he quotes Prager saying the same thing in 2010:
Next Tuesday, November 2, 2010 is not Election Day. It is Referendum Day. It may be commonplace for commentators to announce that every election is “the most important election in our lifetime” or something analogous. But having never said that of a presidential election, let alone an off-year election, this commentator cannot be accused of crying wolf when I say that this off-year election is not simply the most important of my lifetime.
It is the most important since the Civil War.
Just like Limbaugh, who said the same thing about this election, the 2010 elections and the 2000 election. And others:
Every election is always the most important one ever. Because that’s not a serious argument, it’s a political marketing slogan. It’s the “Just Do It” of politics, with “it” being vote for the guy they want you to vote for and send them money. Work yourself up into a lather, rinse, repeat.