(The Guardian) -- For more than a generation, conventional wisdom has portrayed Republicans as the sole defenders of the American flag, the great stewards of patriotism, the gun-toting, tough-talking party of law and order. This myth has been pushed relentlessly on talk radio, on Fox News, and through every facet of rightwing media. It has long been presented as fact by the traditional media, putting Democrats on the defensive as they have struggled to shake ingrained perceptions that they are meek and unpatriotic.
The pervasive narrative of “strong” Republicans and “weak” Democrats helped place George W Bush in office. It painted John Kerry, a decorated veteran, as a coward. It is a narrative that has had an iron grip on political discourse since the Vietnam war. In the words of a Bush administration official, for Democrats “it’s never stopped being 1968”.
Former Obama adviser Samantha Power explains the history: “President Reagan of course did more than any other person to entrench the Republican reputation for toughness on national security. He ran his election campaign against Carter’s apparent softness, brought the Iran hostages home upon taking over the White House, nearly doubled the US military budget, invaded tiny Grenada, and staged covert operations throughout Latin America and beyond.”
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