'Extreme' tactics defeat proposed laws.

Position:Public Policy - Brief article

Support for a generally liked policy can be lowered significantly simply by associating with a group seen as "radical" or "extreme" The findings show why attacking political opponents as "extremists" is so popular--and so effective, notes Thomas Nelson, coauthor of a study published in Political Psychology.

"The beauty of using this 'extremism' tactic is that you don't have to attack a popular value that you know most people support. You just have to say that, in this particular case, the supporters are going too far or are too extreme."

This tactic of attacking a policy by tying it to supposedly extremist supporters goes on all the time in politics, Nelson claims. For instance, foes of Pres. Barack Obama's health care reform initiative attacked the policy by calling Obama a "socialist" and comparing him to Adolf Hitler. Going the other way, foes of the conservative values espoused by the Tea Party have called members...

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