Allen Raymond, a former Republican National Committee operative, shares secrets from the GOP bunker.
By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet. Posted January 17, 2008.
Allen Raymond worked inside Republican election circles for years, until he was convicted of illegally jamming telephone lines to New Hampshire Democratic Party offices on Election Day in 2002. After serving five months in jail, he and co-author Ian Spiegelman wrote How to Rig An Election, Confessions of a Republican Operative. The book details Raymond’s rise in GOP campaign circles; the attitude, tactics and strategies used to win; and how the RNC asked his firm to jam Democratic phone lines, but would not defend him in court after Democrats fought back and pressed court charges. AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld interviewed Raymond about his political education, GOP tactics and his take on the current presidential field.
ALTERNET: The title of your book is How to Rig an Election. Can elections be rigged?
RAYMOND:: Sure. We’re not talking about what people often think about, like ballot box stuffing. Certainly, that stuff goes on here and there. What we are really talking about in the book is how messages are created and delivered to the voting public, in a way that orchestrates and manipulates response. It’s all about feeling an emotion; it’s not about raw issues and logic.
In the book I give a lot of examples of rigging elections by, put it this way, guys like me — I used to be a campaign manager. Once you are all said and done and deliver a message, two plus two equals whatever I want it to equal. The facts and sometimes even contorting the facts to lead voters to conclusions that may not necessarily, if you step back, make any sense — but, in context, make all the sense in the world.
There’s that aspect of it. Then there’s just the more raw aspect of it, which leads up to the culmination of the book, which is the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal.
ALTERNET: Why is emotion more important than facts?
RAYMOND:: Well, because people are looking at the candidates. The candidates are on television, mostly. That’s where they get their information, particularly on presidential campaigns. Less so in congressional campaigns and local elections, but in presidential campaigns, that’s where voters get their information — by watching the television news. The characters are there. They are defined for them. They know what they look like. They can read their facial expressions. They can hear their words if they’re spoken. Largely, that’s where people are getting their information, as opposed to information from print media, which is just not the case anymore.
The candidates can’t help but speak and emote. It’s that famous saying from the Roger Ailes book, “You are the message.” You have to believe what you are saying. And so, in that way, it’s the medium in which most voters are getting their information.
ALTERNET: Is television particularly conducive to contorting the facts?
RAYMOND:: Or just manipulating the emotions, or even orchestrating emotions. Look at the reasons given for Hillary Clinton’s win in New Hampshire, and that’s because of two emotional moments. It wasn’t winning the day with argument. It was two emotional moments.
[for the remainder of this article, go here for AlterNet.]
Steven Rosenfeld is a senior fellow at Alternet.org and co-author of What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election with Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman (The New Press, 2006).