Understanding and Overcoming the Headwind Against Conservatism (Part 3)

Phrasing.  Target segment.   Demographics.   Optics.  Brand identity.   Push polling.  Vision.  Image.  Equal time.  Messaging.

Am I talking about marketing, or politics?  Well…both.  The American game of politics is essentially an intense marketing battle.

Over the years, I have collected a list of ways in which, despite its dogged determination in the face of adversity, the conservative movement struggles against a strong headwind of superficial platitudes blowing out of the liberal/progressive side. 

Please see Part 1 of this series for a longer intro and the first portion of the list.  See Part 2 for the second portion of the list.

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Here’s the 3rd portion of my list:

24. It’s easy for liberals to claim that conservatives, when in power, are essentially as wasteful and growth-happy as liberals.  (Actually, over the last 24 years they might be right.)  It’s harder for conservatives to elect disciplined representatives to office, and then stay involved in the political process to keep the size and reach of government in check.

25. It’s easy for liberals to claim education policy must be administered at the national level.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain how much more efficient and competitive our educators could be if education policy and funding were kept at the local and state level.

26. It’s easy for liberals to encourage us to be patriotic and spread the wealth around so it’s shared by everyone .  It’s harder for conservatives to explain that people simply will not work as productively to benefit strangers as they will to benefit their OWN household.

27. It’s easy for liberals to self-select activist careers in fields like media, politics, and education that “advocate change” through big solutions.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain that people in those fields rarely have a clue how to stimulate economic productivity and jobs.

28. It’s easy for liberals to claim government must be the arbiter of redistribution of income, as the sole benefactor to the poor.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain the inefficiency of government welfare, and to push themselves to step up to this huge challenge of private alternatives.

29. It’s easy for liberals to define “liberty” as the right to experience a comfortable and secure life, made possible by redistributive policies.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain that “liberty” means the unhindered freedom to lawfully work hard to innovate and earn, burdening others as little as possible, with success or failure tied to their toil and creativity.

30. It’s easy for liberals to claim that big successful businesses are greedy and exploitive of consumers.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain that if we had fewer successful businesses, we’d have fewer jobs, higher consumer prices, and less tax revenue.

31. It’s easy for liberals to market their ideology to a captive young audience due to their unionized stranglehold on K-12 and higher education.  It’s harder for conservatives to market their ideology to the under-25 generation since most students do not want to displease liberal teachers.

32. It’s easy for liberals to proclaim that the judiciary INTERPRETS the law.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain that Article III stipulated judiciary composition and jurisdiction only, because judgement of law violators was the intent — even when judicial review began,  that didn’t mean the unelected judiciary became free to RE-INTERPRET the Constitution.

33. It’s easy for liberals to claim that conservatives are old fashioned, ignorant, and stubborn people.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain that every problem doesn’t need an overnight solution, or even a full solution.  Trade-offs are required, to maintain fiscal stability.

34. It’s easy for liberals to coalesce around their ever-shifting platform during election seasons, as softly portrayed by the like-minded liberal media .  It’s harder for conservatives to unify their tradition-based platform, especially when any little rift is then hyperventilated in the hostile media.

35. It’s easy for liberals to claim economic stability & prosperity comes only via powerful and omniscient centralized control.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain the economy runs better when left to be guided by daily supply & demand signals from the market choices of 315 million free participants.

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I invite you to pick one or two that stand out in your mind, and leave a comment.  If there are any that aren’t clear, let me know and I will clarify using a few more words.  For those you agree with, do you have an example or a strategy to share?  Or if you have one I didn’t think of, please submit it using the same template:  “It’s easy for liberals to….  It’s harder for conservatives to….”

I have more than 40 in all.  I will share the final set in Part 4, with a conclusion.

(photo credit)

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About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control. https://necessaryandpropergovt.wordpress.com/
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15 Responses to Understanding and Overcoming the Headwind Against Conservatism (Part 3)

  1. 35. It’s easy for liberals to claim economic stability & prosperity comes only via powerful and omniscient centralized control.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain the economy runs better when left to be guided by daily supply & demand signals from the market choices of 315 million free participants.

    This is a bit of a strawman, but I’ll forgive you because I understand what you’re driving at 😉

    It’s really basic economics, and to tie it in with your comments on education I don’t think it’s a coincidence that economics isn’t taught in high school. I think ignorance is what helps to keep this particular lie perpetuated.

    It’s important to note that it is somewhat arbitrary to divide life into economic and personal spheres; personal values become economic when we persue our ends with our (always) limited means.

    Hayek has some great thoughts on centralized planning in the Road To Serfdom, and I highly recommend it. CafeHayek.com is recommended as well for Donald Boudreaux’s well written defenses of the free market. His ability to clearly explain free market ideas reminds me much of Milton Friedman (and indeed he is a fan of Friedman).

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    • EC, I’m reading “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman currently, and I’ve read Sowell’s “Basic Economics” and Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson”. But I’ve also been meaning to add “Road to Serfdom” to my library. Thanks for the reminder. And I just subscribed to CafeHayek.
      – Jeff

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  2. davidwithastick says:

    32. It’s easy for liberals to proclaim that the judiciary INTERPRETS the law.

    This one requires an appeal to understand human nature. It is our nature to be influenced by our feelings. (Liberals, unfortunately, are governed by their feelings, and that is exactly the issue. More on that later.) We know that when we get into stressful, pressured and traumatic situations, we will act differently than we do when we are calm and thinking clearly and rationally.

    Since we know that our judgment is impaired when we’re in these kinds of situations, the very best course of action is to decide AHEAD OF TIME what we will do and how we will act in when that kind of situation inevitably happens. We practice and we train ourselves to act that way. (The military does this all the time with combat training.) When the worst happens, we can come through that difficult time with honor and dignity, remembering and trusting our clear thinking that we did back when clear thinking was possible.

    That, my friends, is the purpose of the law. When we are not in a tense situation, when we are thinking clearly, not affected by emotion, we agree on a law. We agree that THIS is how we think and act in that situation in the courtroom. Ahead of time, when we’re not yet looking into the eyes of a scared young man, whose life is now on the line because he murdered his employer and employer’s family…but the evidence is tricky, and he was abused by his father, and he is poor and the only reason he was in the store after hours where he worked is to steal some food for his family and steal some medicine for his daughter.

    It’s because courtrooms ARE stressful, and the situations are awful, that we must decide ahead of time, so we can act as we should. Unfortunately, it’s those stressful moments that are charged with emotion, and liberals are guided by emotion far more than by reason because it’s “compassionate” and “human” to be emotional. So they make the wrong decisions – because they have not trained themselves to think. Only to feel.

    There is a way to prove this: In any conversation you have with a liberal, randomly ask two different questions, and pay attention to the kinds of answers you get. Question #1: How do you feel about that? Question #2: What do you think about that?

    The first question has no wrong answer, and will always prompt a robust response, all based on opinion and personal point of view, and, well, feelings. The second question requires reason, and you are not likely to get a very well-thought-out answer. You may even have to clarify the question when a robust answer begins by saying, “No, I’m not asking how you feel about it, I’m asking what you think about it.”

    In raising my children, I have purposely always asked the second question when confronting them about decisions with moral implications.

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  3. libertyandbagels says:

    On central banking, I don’t think Greenspan or Bernanke are liberals. As I posted before, many liberals’ purported beliefs fall right in line with mainstream Republicans. I’m not trying to be partisan as I don’t like either party, I just see that little R or that little D a distinction without a difference.

    Most of the points are rhetoric, and rhetoric is flimsy. Action is what’s meaningful.

    Milton Friedman described himself as a liberal. His definition of a liberal is someone (I’m paraphrasing) who values liberty above all other ideals. Liberty is freedom from control, be it from government, fellow citizens, businesses, etc. That doesn’t seem to fit in with either of your definitions of liberty. Then again, we as a country have so willingly thrown away our liberty, it doesn’t surprise me that people don’t often speak in those terms. Liberty is probably my favorite word, if it matters to have such a thing. It’s probably the best idea we’ve come up with. It’s nowhere to be seen nowadays, though.

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    • Regarding “On central banking…”, if you’re referring to #35, I wasn’t talking about just central banking. I was more broadly referring to overall centralized economic policy control, which is much bigger than just the Federal Reserve. Every dang regulation from the EPA, Dept of Energy, Federal Trade Commision, HUD, FHA, HHS, etc. has an economic aspect to it, which in aggregate make up the economic policy of the government.

      Milton Friedman’s self description of “liberal” refers to the classical version of that word, before it was hijacked by the left. In the U.S., today’s version of classical liberalism is libertarianism.

      I never used the words Republican or Democrat in this 4-part article, and in fact I rarely do so in any of my articles. There’s a huge difference between conservative ideology and progressive (or modern liberal) ideology.

      Regarding “Most of the points are rhetoric, and rhetoric is flimsy.” You’ve read many of my previous articles — have you found me prone to hollow rhetoric? I had hoped everyone would read the intro to Part 1 to understand my approach for all four parts of this article. These aren’t “points.” They’re intended to be extremely concise contrasting statements that point out a juxtaposition of beliefs. The brief 2-sentence format of each is done specifically to illustrate a pattern. If you want supporting evidence (you call it “action”), please stay tuned for the next few years while I probably write a full article on each of these observations. In the mean time, if I haven’t recommended it to you yet, I encourage you to read Dr. Sowell’s book “A Conflict of Visions.”

      – Jeff

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  4. Steph says:

    I will add one that is much less intellectual and more of an annoying thing I’ve noticed about debating with liberals.

    “It’s easy for liberals to shrug their shoulders and dismiss contradictory arguments apathetically. It’s harder for conservatives to push through the intimidation and press them for a real, solid, documented answer.”

    Is it just me or are liberals AMAZING at the “Yeah, I don’t see the point of what you are saying” rebuttal. Then the conservative slinks down into a chair and shuts up. I see this happening all the time and not just to me. When pressed beyond this tactic, there is rarely a good argument to behold. Two cents.

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    • Your observation is a good one, and is similar to one provided by DavidWithAStick in the second comment to this article.

      I recently wrapped up a back & forth comment session with a liberal blog writer. It was an utterly fruitless exchange. The “crux” of every one of my points was negligible to him, and the “crux” of every one of his points was negligible to me. The psychology of the unconstrained vs. the constrained vision is an amazing juxtaposition of brain styles.

      – Jeff

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  5. “26. It’s easy for liberals to encourage us to be patriotic and spread the wealth around so it’s shared by everyone . It’s harder for conservatives to explain that people simply will not work as productively to benefit strangers as they will to benefit their OWN household.”

    I think this story is a good example to counter the progressive argument: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/01/20/145360447/the-secret-document-that-transformed-china

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    • Thanks, EC.
      I’m sure you also know that Jamestown (Virginia), which was Europe’s first settlement in North America, had a difficult time starting out as a collective. Only when each man was allowed his own private property did prosperity arrive. Here is a concise account of that story.
      – Jeff

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  6. “28. It’s easy for liberals to claim government must be the arbiter of redistribution of income, as the sole benefactor to the poor. It’s harder for conservatives to explain the inefficiency of government welfare, and to push themselves to step up to this huge challenge of private alternatives.”

    I think the stepping up part is the biggest challenge. Unfortunately, many people simply want lower taxes so they can keep more money for themselves, and never have to give a dime to anyone else. While I may disagree with their decision to not be in any way generous, that’s exactly the sort of thing that is behind the idea of liberty: People get to make their own choices, for better or worse. One of the ways that government has been able to get so entangled in our lives is because it’s attempting (I’m being generous here) to solve problems that actually exist, like poverty.

    With liberty comes responsibility. To ignore need because we have no legal obligation to someone is exactly what breaks down society and only opens the door for further government “help”.

    Some further thoughts of mine on the matter from a couple months ago: http://theexistentialchristian.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/individual-responsibility-and-the-tragedy-of-the-commons/

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    • EC,
      Private charity organizations, and more importantly the individual citizen’s attitude towards regularly giving a portion of his/her property to nearby folks in need, are very important. If a person calls him/herself a limited government conservative but does not give significantly to charity regularly, I submit they’re not conservative — they’re just self-absorbed hermits.
      Since I earn my livelihood from the aerospace industry, I fully recognize that my salary and benefits come originally from the taxpayers. I work hard to help the armed services ensure the defense of this country’s liberty and freedom, and I strive to do my daily work as cost-effectively as I can. But I also contribute weekly to the United Way, I donate a lot of goods to the Salvation Army, and I give away 25% of my vacation pay each year to charity. My wife volunteered for years with local sheriff and police departments in the DARE program to keep school kids away from drugs. This is our positive attitude towards community needs and local self-sufficiency. Without such private commitment to helping others, I agree that just complaining about high taxes and big government is pretty shallow.
      Figuring out how to encourage everyone to adopt a giving attitude is a challenge, but if it could happen then we’d be on our way to having limited government, economic prosperity, AND an efficient safety net for truly needy people in America.
      – Jeff

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  7. bullright says:

    I think you lumped it up well under marketing, which is how I’ve come to see the progressive side.(Marketing gurus with a minor in demographics) I realize to a certain degree politics is marketing and the right has a deficiency in places. But what they have done on the left is like what infomercials did for late night TV. Except they aren’t marketing widgets, with a money-back guarantee if not satisfied. And the sad part is that people accept this “marketing” the same a commercials, and targeted audiences buy accordingly.

    “31. It’s easy for liberals to market their ideology to a captive young audience due to their unionized stranglehold on K-12 and higher education. It’s harder for conservatives to market their ideology to the under-25 generation since most students do not want to displease liberal teachers.”

    This one is a great example of that. It could be that the exact strategy they use of indoctrination could be one solution — driving youngsters to question the theories, seek other views, shifting to the right not left. At least I see it has for some. As to winning them over, obviously we can’t and do not have the same means, nor would we. But when presented with both sides as two options I believe it does win over many. The same probably applies to Keynesian economics. The more they see it in practice, the more they might question and reject it. Its one hope. And there is a whole lot of reading material on the right, which they won’t be exposed to in the classroom.

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    • Bull, when you got to Part 4, did you click on the links for Alinsky’s two books? They both contained chapters about the importance of education on propagating the radical left’s vision.

      And check out The Radical Education Views Of Bill Ayers. It is no coincidence that the left has firmly secured ideological control over the publically-funded education system in America. Between public education, the news media, and the entertainment media, they’ve got so much power to “manage” cultural opinion…it’s alarming.

      That’s why my conclusion in Part 4 emphasized the need for conservatives to communicate their values and reasoning patiently and often, and the need to work together as effectively as the naturally-activist left does.

      – Jeff

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      • bullright says:

        I am not familiar with the material in those sources. But I have touted a primer on the subject for years titled None Dare Call It Education. It’s a little dated now but gives a pretty good outline of the problems which have come from both sides of the aisle. The left has made it an artform though. What I call the outcome-based (ends justify the means) road to serfdom.

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