Long gone are the days of the stump speech delivered from an actual stump, ink-smudged handbills slung around by the town crier on the corner, and outdoor debates in Civic Square amplified only by the reverberation from nearby buildings. No more. Today’s political arena may have more to do with NYC’s Madison Avenue than D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue. Campaigning can cynically be viewed as an epic marketing battle.
Over the years, I have collected a long list of ways in which the conservative movement struggles to generate energy against the strong headwind of superficial platitudes blowing out of the liberal/progressive side.
Here’s the 4th and final portion of my list:
36. It’s easy for liberals to utilize a century of accumulated “how-to” manuals to train new community organizers to propagate their ideology. It’s harder for conservatives to captivate the electorate with the simple traditional philosophies of individualism, true liberty, and limited government.
37. It’s easy for liberals to claim that tax rate increases will raise more government revenues. It’s harder for conservatives to explain how the CBO and OMB budget analysts use models that ignore the disincentive effects of higher tax rates and the resultant hindrance to economic growth.
38. It’s easy for liberals to provide welfare subsistence such as food stamps and look the other way when it’s spent on non-essentials. It’s harder for conservatives to explain that Maslow’s hierarchy advises attention to one’s basic needs first, before seeking self-actualization – particularly appropriate for users of OPM (other people’s money).
39. It’s easy for liberals to express their ideology in terms of “fairness” and “equality of outcomes” via 30-second video bites and 6 word bumper stickers. It’s harder for conservatives to express their response to such oversimplified assertions — we need 10-15 minutes.
40. It’s easy for liberals to work for government and vote for governors who will govern in a way that enlarges government and feathers the nests of government workers. It’s harder for conservatives to explain this insidious symbiosis is morally hollow and fiscally unsustainable.
41. It’s easy for liberals to point only at current events to decry “judicial activism” when a recently-passed law is overturned in the courts. It’s harder for conservatives to explain that judicial review is SUPPOSED to use the 225-year-old Constitution as the yardstick.
42. It’s easy for liberals to promise that insured “choices” such as comprehensive women’s health services are every female’s right. It’s harder for conservatives to explain why public funding of these elective “choices” is a repugnant violation of our religious freedom.
43. It’s easy for liberals to use their instinctive activism to rally small but concentrated and collective interests to dominate the political arena. It’s harder for conservatives to rally their large but dispersed and individualistic coalition to combine their voices and their votes, especially in local and state elections.
Conclusion for this 4-part series
When I recently brought up some of these issues as a commenter on a liberal blog, I was characterized by the author/moderator as being “a bit long on self pity.” I took this to mean he either doesn’t realize liberalism has these inherent advantages in ease of salesmanship, or he does know but isn’t the least bit sympathetic about the tilted playing field.
Even a brief perusal of the contents of Saul Alinsky’s 1946 book Reveille for Radicals and his 1971 book Rules for Radicals is enough to convince you that the leaders at the nucleus of the liberal/progressive movement are fully aware of their advantage in the biased media and political arena, and they have every intention of pressing that advantage as long and far as possible.
If you periodically sample the talking points of liberal pundits and callers on radio and TV, you’ve no doubt noticed they have a reflexive rebuttal for every conservative assertion. If you listen long enough and look for the pattern, you’ll realize that every liberal rebuttal stems from one of three assumptions:
- If you’re a Conservative, you must be unintelligent;
- Or if you’re intelligent, then you must be misinformed;
- Or if you’re intelligent and well informed, then you must be evil.
They then punctuate their rebuttals with some form of the sentiment “Now shut up and sit down.” They rarely allow for the possibility that conservatives are well-intentioned. And they NEVER allow for the possibility that conservatives are correct.
Therefore, we will never win over the deeply entrenched liberals who have a significantly different life vision than ours. But we can invest time to persuade the “undecided” and “uncommitted” and “independent” folks. To me conservative ideology leads us down a better road…but even if it’s perceived to be a tie, here’s the ideological tie-breaker: Which vision — liberal or conservative — is, in fact, affordable??
In this Battle of Ideology, the most confounding irony of all is this: Conservatives do not naturally want to be arguing and defending their views in the public arena. Like Clint Eastwood said at the 2012 RNC, “It is just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play closer to the vest. They do not go around hot dogging it.” But every day that they keep to themselves and keep quiet, the Progressive Hive grows larger and gets rooted deeper, and conservatives lose a bit more of the individualistic way of life they cherish for themselves and their offspring.
I would like to close this series with a rallying shout to fellow conservatives: Most of us do not seek politics, but sooner or later politics will seek us — right where we live and worship. We must deeply tap our core principles, tirelessly explain our vision, and closely work together to fight this battle on ground chosen by us, not our political opponents.
Like Ronald Reagan, we must not concede the field to superficial liberal platitudes. Like him, we must patiently communicate.
Paradoxically, we must form a union of individualists.
I hope this series has in some way helped to clarify the battlefield. For me, it now serves as a delicious menu from which to choose my next 43 articles. If you have a favorite you’d like to discuss more, please let me know.