Learning the Language of the Left

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Once, for reasons I’m not going to explain here and now, I had the dubious pleasure of spending the night in a shelter: the Union Gospel Mission, to be exact.

It was a horrible, horrible low point in my life, and the Mission didn’t make it any better.

The Union Gospel Mission provides shelter for homeless men. It opens its doors sometime in the afternoon or evening, and those needing a warm meal and a place to stay slowly filter in from whatever hopeless place they’ve spent their day (the Mission kicks out its residents very early in the morning.)

Before dinner, all the residents were gathered together to hear a sermon. I had no problem with this. You’re going to give me a hot meal, a place to stay away from harsh weather and words of hope and encouragement? Win, win and win. I was too happy to attend.

I was wrong.

Rather than uplifting words of hope, the guest minister for the night spent over an hour screaming about the wages of sin, how we were all failures and were hell bound. We ate a half-warm meal in silence and reflection.

After dinner, it was time to prepare for bed. It was required that every man shower, brush his teeth and groom before being allotted a bedroll for the night. Great! Since we were all sleeping in one big room, how much more pleasant that everyone will be washed clean?

We were  put into a line and filed past a cage, where a volunteer scowled at us and handed us each a cup of shampoo, some soap and a towel. Then, the line proceeded to the showers: two stalls with no doors or curtains. Each of us was forced to disrobe and to wash himself while all the other men watched. It was totally humiliating.

After we were all cleaned, we were given blankets and a rolled up mattress. Then we were allowed to find space on the floor to sleep for the night. Quickly, I found I was able to discern the “lifers” from those in transition, like myself. They had bought into their victimhood completely. And, like the dutiful sinners they were, they treated those of us with some shred of hope and dignity left like we were … evil. Men who hadn’t yet come to realize the complete and utter hopelessness of our lives. Who hadn’t submitted to the abject reality of our personal failures.

Why am I telling you this? Because there’s a message here.

We, the conservatives, tend to spin a very negative campaign. “How’s that hopey, changey thing working for you?” “Libtards.” “Lazy welfare moms.”

I learned a truth the night I spent in the shelter: you can’t appeal to someone’s higher nature while simultaneously treating him like he doesn’t have one.

We conservatives are, rightfully, angry. This country has been moving in the wrong direction for a long time, and it’s not just Obama, Reid and Pelosi driving us there. It’s us.

We criticize Hollywood and pop culture for a degradation in traditional American morality. But who subsidizes Hollywood? We do. We smear the left with negative rhetoric but, in a country supposedly made up of mostly center right values, who elected Obama? We did.

It’s easy to sit back and talk about liberal elitists, but when the next words out of our mouths are “Obama zombies” and “stupid liberals,” how are we any less elite in our thinking?

More and more, I’m convinced the conservative message is the right message. And, given how upset people are with the current administration, I have no doubt conservatives and conservative values will make a major political comeback in the 2010 and 2012 elections. But is that enough?


Obama got elected based on promises of hope and change. Promises that, quite frankly, he is keeping, though we all know he’s keeping them in a completely duplicitous and insincere manner. How did he win? Because America reacted to an administration it did not like. America saw a Republican administration it no longer supported and it voted for … change. This country didn’t vote Obama and Democrats in, it voted George Bush and Republicans out.

This is my fear for the upcoming elections: we will be voting against progressive values, rather than voting for conservative ones. Republicans aren’t the “Party of No,” The American public is.

So how do we defeat progressivism? By constantly pointing out what a failure it is? Well, yes, but that’s not enough. We must capture the minds and hearts of the American public. Our message is right and should not be changed, but the way in which it is delivered should.

Conservatives talk constantly about how liberals live in a dream world while we deal with the practical. Well, the truth is people are a strange mixture of logic and emotions, and the practical reality is that we need to appeal to those emotions as well. We need to learn the language of the left, because it is obviously something that works.

Do we use it to sell a lie? No. We use it to “sell” the truth. We need to stop talking about all those lazy, entitled minorities and start focusing on how conservative values offer a path from poverty to success. Liberals and moderates are convinced¬† conservatives don’t care about the poor. We need to show them we do, and that providing opportunity, rather than subsidy, is the real means by which poverty will be ended.

We need to stop focusing on big government being wrong and start focusing on small government being right.

This past 4th of July, I saw too many conservatives cynically celebrating “Dependence Day.” Too many of us use phrases like “Anybody but Obama.”

We need to stop allowing liberals to paint us as the “Party of No” and start redefining ourselves as the “Party of Yes.” Yes to liberty, to freedom, to the truth of conservative values.

We need to stop treating people who don’t agree with us as if they have no higher nature. We need to engage that nature. We need to change minds, and we won’t do that by simply pointing out how wrong everyone else is; that kind of thinking simply reinforces the victim status we are trying to destroy.

If conservatives win the next election cycle, then fail to fix every problem in this country, we will simply be voted out again next time round. Unless we convince America we are on the right track, rather than simply not on the wrong one. Victory, not a lesser defeat. Truth, not a lesser lie. Good candidates, not less bad ones. American Exceptionalism, not “well, at least we’re not Greece.”

Yes, we should continue to fight progressivism. Yes, we will continue to point out its inherent flaws and insensibility, but we will win the day by concentrating on what will make America strong and prosperous, not what will make it less weak.

We are mighty. We are conservatives. We are right. We are America. Now, let’s get out there and show them why.

5 Responses to “Learning the Language of the Left”
  1. joan in podunk says:

    Too true! I try to point out to people that taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves is the highest honor, and no matter what, freely given charity makes the giver feel good deep down inside. If the government steps in and strips us of our wealth to redistibute to the poor, we lose that good feeling, we lose the ability to pick and choose our causes, and for people in my income bracket, it strips me of my ability to give to places like… well… like the Union Gospell Mission!

    On the receiving end, I think if places like shelters were entirely federaly funded by tax pecentage increases to the wealthy, the people forced to visit them may feel like they are entitled to the services. Like your stoy about Union Gospell- you knew you were going to be asked to listen to a sermon. If the shelter was federaly funded, you know there would be people screaming “I have my RIGHTS to the free meal, but I don’t have to listen to the preacher! Separation of Church and State!!!”

    It’s all a matter of explaining to people that there are a lot of things humans need to do for those less fortunate than themselves, but it is not any man-made government’s job to oversee and enforce those projects.

    • ChrisIsRIGHT says:

      That’s an excellent example. People judge conservatives by how willing they are to buy into government subsidized “entitlement” programs, for one. But how much overhead are involved with those programs? Of course, Union Gospel has a staff, but I’m willing to bet each dollar donated to UGM goes much further than each dollar given to the government for the same basic function.

      In my post, I’m using UGM as an example of what’s wrong, but it can easily be used as an example of what’s right, too.

  2. Joseph Veca says:

    I know one of the reason why many of the volunteers and staffers at teh UGM are so surly, many of them are there pulling their court ordered community service time not because they actually want to be there.

  3. Polly Hoar says:

    Excellent post Chris! I still call myself a liberal but am finding myself getting more and more conservative. I have a knee-jerk reaction to yperbole and name-calling from either side that results in my not listening to what is being said and shutting what could be a valuable source of information out.

    I can ask my cnservative friends to use less vitriol and more compassion in their language but some see that as me trying to make them “pc”. It’s not about “pc”, but accuracy: nothing is all good or always wrong — there are no absolutes. You had the benefit of learning something valuable from your transitory misfortune. Thank you for sharng it.

  4. Good post, Chris. I HATE the bi-polar irrational nature of the American voter. I have always said I’d rather someone have a strong opinion even if I don’t agree with it than someone who runs back and forth unable to take a side. Independents hold a lot of the blame for what we have now. America needs to wake up to the fact that, although the Republicans have really screwed up the last few years (which is why we need term limits), that Republicans GENERALLY make the country better. Lower unemployment and taxes in a pro-business freedom-loving environment is MORE LIKELY to be found at the hands of the GOP. But, when things go sour, instead of getting rid of the messenger, they kill the message and flip the government back to the other side.

    Honestly, I have never in my entire life voted for a Democrat and I probably never will. I strongly believe in the Republican message – even though it’s not always on track. But, IMO, the Democrats are anti-family, pro-tax, anti-business and pro-entitlement, none of which I can embrace under any circumstances. I have never understood the meaning of “vote for the person, not the party” – the person will uphold the ideals of the party so if you don’t like that party, then you shouldn’t expect the person to make you happy. I have OFTEN held my nose and voted – as I did in the last Presidential campaign. I was not a fan of McCain and although I believe he would have been an incompetent president, I don’t believe he would have done to this country what Obama has.

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