Learning the Language of the Left
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.