Red-meat politics of playing to his base....?

Posted by Lee on December 02, 2004

In Reply to: Red-meat politics of playing to his base....? posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 02, 2004

: : : : : : : : Could anyone tell me about the word origin of 'red-meat rhetoric'?

: : : : : : : "Red-meat rhetoric" can refer to a political speech which is loud, brash and in your face.

: : : : : : : The image is one of a piece of beef dripping with blood ,very raw, uncooked or undercooked.

: : : : : : : Most political speeches are well rehearsed and calm with an image of medium well done beef.

: : : : : :
: : : : : : Many thanks, Bruce. I knew the meaning but am still wondering where this expression originally comes from. Does it carry a negative connotation of Red America? I mean red meat is a symbol of uncouthness,unsophistication and possibly uneducation? I guess conservative people in Red America stick to red meat, even though there are many more healthy alternative food such as fish, vegetable etc.

: : : : : I think it is all in the imagery.
: : : : : Someone giving a shoot-from-the-hip type speech, a la Al Sharpton at the Dems Convention, is giving a RAW speech, as it is dripping with emotion, fire and brimstone.

: : : :
: : : : I think it has something to do with giving them what they crave, like the electorate is a pack of slavering dogs, you throw them some red meat rhetoric to keep them quiet and on your side. I had a nice example of that a few days ago, when I asked a (politically and culturally well-informed) female colleague whether her father was still on her case about her not yet being married: "Oh, I just threw him some red meat" she said, meaning she silenced him by informing him that she already had a serious man friend.

: : : We can also call this type of rhetoric "populist", but I think the speaker wants his audience to get fired up, not calmed down.

: :
: : Thanks to you all. BTW, what does the following expression "play to his base" mean? Probably a baseball-related idiom, I guess.

: : "He won legislative victories by exploiting divisions, by the red-meat politics of
: : "playing to his base" instead of seeking middle ground."

: : =

: Well, I don't think "playing to his base" is baseball-related. In the U.S. we have two major political parties, and each has its own "base" of support. Part of the Democrats' traditional base is the labor unions, for example, while Republicans' base includes members of the Rotary Club (small town businessmen).

Brian, thanks a lot. This is not listed in my dictionary, and I couldn't have figured it out without your help.