My forte is spotting problems, not finding solutions. Thankfully, when I put out a call for suggestions, many of you responded. This post sets out practical list ways to get conservative messaging past the media gatekeepers that so effectively insulted Romney, praised Obama, and squelched or promoted news stories depending upon whether they help or hurt Obama. The media is a giant roadblock that we have to (a) plow through; (b) climb over; and (c) go around. I’ll begin with multiple suggestions from my good friend Lulu, who is both fired-up and creative. Then I’ll move on to all of your practical suggestions.
Perhaps we can do a little community organizing ourselves. There is no question that people like conservative ideas. I see them constantly in my (parenting) workshops with nodding heads all around when I make conservative points, regardless of ethnicity and, presumably, political affiliation. People agree because what I say is common sense and people don’t realize the ideas are conservative.
The following are my ideas but, as you read them, remember that the key thing with these, or any other ideas, is to act quickly. We have very little time to educate Americans at the grass-roots level. The Left patiently worked for 60 years to reeducate Americans. We have to work faster. This means that, if you know of a person or organization with money and an interest in conservative causes, we must move immediately to go beyond intellectual think tanks and blogs that preach mostly to the choir.
Step 1: Rebrand ourselves. Abandon the name Conservative and change it to something that correctly identifies our principles while defying Leftist insults. Some suggestions are Realists, Common Sense Party, Constitution Party. Let’s have a contest, with the winning name going to Reince Priebus. More than that, starting immediately, we should identify ourselves with this new name and leave “Conservative” behind. By the way, my favorite is “Realist,” because it implies the other side is Utopian and fantasy based, which it is.
Step 2: Take good ideas to people with deep pockets. People like the Kochs and Sheldon Adelson are deeply committed to core conservative ideas. Too often, though, they have a traditional approach to spending their money. The Kochs, for example, keep supporting NPR shows. Other rich conservatives endow universities that loath conservative ideas. We need to contact wealthy conservatives and pitch them on ways to spend their money that will shift the paradigm. No conservative should ever buy another wing for Harvard or Yale, or for any other organization that is antithetical to core constitutional, realistic, free-market values.
Step 3: Create an all new cable channel, something that is best done with help from a wealthy conservative donor. One of the things that would be a great gift to America from wealth conservatives would be a new cable channel that isn’t specifically identified as “conservative” or “Christian.” Instead, it would just be a new entertainment channel with fun, funny, exciting programming that, merely coincidentally, entices people with core values and ideas. Remember, the existing entertainment industry has done this on TV since the late 1950s when it started slipping Progressive ideas into shows that were ostensibly “mere” entertainment.
We need a new cable channel devoted all day to Realist principles. Importantly, it cannot claim to be or call itself Christian or Conservative, since that will instantly drive away those we’re trying to educate. Instead, it’s got to be all about entertainment, with values slipped in like a bitter pill buried in a sweet.
A wonderful thing to do would be talk shows (a la Oprah or The View) with women, conservative gays, minorities, etc., as the hosts. These shows would be all heart and deal with people’s day-to-day realities, just as Oprah did. The difference would be that the lovingly-given solutions and messages would focus on individualism, personal responsibility and other tried-and-true core values, rather than on Big Government, finger-pointing, and identity politics.
The cable channel could also have reality shows. One idea would be a show called “The American Immigrant,” which could have inspiring stories about people from all over the world who came to America and made it through their own efforts. This type of show would emphasize a core American identity that rises above race, country of origin, religion, and sexual orientation, thereby fighting the diversity cascade that has left America so fragmented.
Another show, which would be a great daytime show, would be a parenting program with solutions that fall back on old-fashioned principles, such as personal responsibility, honor, hard work, etc. No one involved in the show would breathe the word “conservative,” but traditional values would inform its parenting ideas and solutions.
Another reality show might focus on American philanthropy, at home and abroad. Watching an hour about the good work of Operation Smile or Smile Train, both of which provide doctors around the world to help children born with cleft palates, would help remind us that we are a good, generous, and very fortunate nation.
And why in the world are we burying our humor at 3 a.m. (Greg Gutfield’s Red Eye) or leaving brilliant humorists like Steve Crowder to fight to be visible on the internet? Why is Dennis Miller’s main platform the radio? I love it that he’s there, but can’t his informed, lightly edgy, sardonic humor grace a TV show too? Too often, we’re all talk and no entertainment. People want to be entertained. Humor is a great medium for introducing new values.
The cable channel could also have history shows for children. Again, they wouldn’t proselytize directly, but they’d offer a view of America that combats the Howard Zinn view that currently permeates their education from kindergarten through graduate school. One of the main things to do would be to educate people beyond their simplistic, ill-informed belief that the Constitution is simply a slave document. We should have a fun show (good graphics, interesting facts, humor) that puts the Constitution in context and, most importantly, explains how the Bill of Rights came about and why it matters.
We could also have documentaries with pro-Israel histories, honest stories about Communism (let’s talk Soviet gulags and Chinese re-education camps), and Fast and Furious exposes. Another fruitful idea would be to team with F.I.R.E., a non-partisan organization, to create a show making people aware of free speech restrictions on campus.
Fox itself should be encouraged to offer daytime talk shows, or perhaps to create a new affiliate — something along the lines of “Fox Social.” Again, this wouldn’t be “conservative TV.” Instead, it would be fun, human, empathetic, and based upon conservative and realist values. Indeed, it might be useful for the station to have a lot of entirely content-neutral shows, such as cooking or home decorating shows, just to drive up the audience.
Step 4: Conservative movies. This is a no-brainer. I keep waiting for Declaration Entertainment to make something more than wonderful videos and, instead, to head for the big screen. When it does, conservative bloggers should support it with everything they’ve got. And speaking of support, conservatives who love movies need to go Cold Turkey and stop supporting Hollywood. We give the Left a free pass when we whine about their movies but still pay money to see them.
Step 5: Stop complaining about how Progressives use the courts to achieve their ends, and starting doing the same ourselves: We have advocacy groups fighting for churches, for pro-Life causes, etc. It’s time to get a legal advocacy group that fights for equal access to publicly funded institutions. That group needs to (1) sue PBS and NPR to get 50% ideological diversity in every minute of their programming; (2) sue every publicly funded school in America (from kindergarten on up) to force ideological diversity in its faculty; (3) start having a say in local school boards.
This last is an important one. To date, the only school board fights in America have been about evolution versus creationism (a fight that goes back to the 1920s), and about books that supposed advocate witchcraft. We need to start making the school board and education department curriculum fights about conservative values and about equal presentation of those values. The fight should focus on economics (free-market versus Big Government), American identity (get rid of Zinn or at least counterbalance him), and national security (we’re not evil when we protect ourselves).
If you’re a convert from liberalism, figure out what made you convert. Maybe we should all just focus on converting one person a month, each of us. And for every ten of us, in one year, there will be 100 (figuring that some conversions won’t “take”) and in two years, 200 . . . and so on. (I, Bookworm, will add that using the Leftist approach of personal attack and name-calling will not convert them. They will just avoid you. Entice them with ideas, common sense, empathy, and the Dennis Prager trick of creating clarity, which often leads to agreement. Incidentally, my experience with the Dennis Prager approach is that people invariably end up agreeing with my realist ideas, rather than my agreeing with their Leftist ones. I still haven’t gotten them to change their knee-jerk Democrat party affiliation, but I’m working on it.)
Fight for it as if you want it. jj’s right. He’s not talking about mean fighting for a political office, because you want to win. He’s talking about fighting for an ideological world view. Romney’s goal was the presidency; our goal can’t be that limited. We have to use enthusiasm, energy, and creativity to change the zeitgeist. It’s not about winning elections; it’s about changing the paradigm.
Figure out a way to convince young people that there’s nothing cool, hip, and rebellious about embracing establishment politics, pushed by old guys and gals in Washington, on Madison Avenue, and in Hollywood. What kids should view as cool, hip, and edgy, is to think for themselves and to reject the media sales pitch that inundates them.
All of us should put our money where our mouths are. One easy thing to do is to supp0rt the band Madison Rising, rather than the dopes who use their music to preach racism, welfare, and violence. If Madison Rising can making a living providing hard-driving conservative rock, other groups will get inspired. Lee echoes my belief that we should use the marketplace to change the zeitgeist.
A lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking has been talking about, “Oooooh! We must find ways to broaden our appeal to women and to Hispanics.” I think WE don’t need to “broaden our appeal” (i.e., change to become Progressive? What else can that mean?) But what we need to do is to EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE WHAT IT IS WE ARE ABOUT. And such as it is, the route of effective communication is controlled by the “lame stream media.”
So, how do we get Rachel Maddow and Soledad O’Brien, and Chris Matthews OUT? And the voices of reason in? I say, put our money where our mouths are. STOP WATCHING ANY PBS AT ALL!!!! No more Big Bird! (Okay, so CNN’s rating are in the tank. And Jon Stewart doesn’t have a huge audience either, comparatively speaking.) Make demands of advertisers and sponsors: Stop supporting the lies propagated by the “Main Stream” Media, or we will stop buying Mr. Clean.
Someone else (here or at another blog) suggested an Oprah for the Conservatives. (I forget who they specifically mentioned.) I love that idea. Not an “Oprah FOR THE CONSERVATIVES” so much, and an Oprah who happens to be conservative. Because really, a lot of the Oprah fans are deep down inside conservative about a lot of things. Money matters to most people. And with a popular day time talk show personality making the info Keynes and Hayek and Bastiat accessible to the masses via mass media, well, we could educate oodles of concerned couch potatoes.
I learned a loooooooong time ago that it is virtually impossible to argue with liars. And I have never solved that problem, except LIE ONE’S SELF. If you don’t have the facst at hand, make some up. And if they challenge you, challenge them to prove it. That’s what they do. And that is what happened in this election and one four years ago… And the MEDIA HELPED WITH THE LYING!!!
First, we must get over this notion that anyone who disagrees with us is ignorant and immoral. Certainly, many on the left (especially in the leadership) are both of those things. But there are millions upon millions of highly moral people who simply disagree with us. Many of these people are open to being made less ignorant and persuaded to our cause.
Second, we must pay attention to the message and how we present it. Obama’s ads were dishonest, but sharp and persuasive. Romney’s ads were unfocused and ineffective.
For example, here in central Florida, with its many retirees, Obama ran weeks of ads saying that Romney would turn Medicare into a voucher program, basically telling seniors that their own Medicare was in peril. Bookworm posted a reasonably effective (though too short) commercial featuring our own Senator Rubio. So far as I saw, it never ran here. Instead, Obama’s ad went unanswered for weeks. Finally, in the last few days of the campaign, Romney ran ads clarifying that his plan would not change Medicare for anyone over 55 and would give a choice to anyone under 55, and even that ad didn’t say what the choice was. That ad was far too little and far too late.
Third, we must find ways to stand firm in our principles while being flexible in our positions. For example, it would not violate our principles to support a path to citizenship for all immigrants who seek it. America is a land of immigrants and it is, if anything, against conservative principles to close the borders to those who seek a better life here. I believe that we could be more successful among Hispanic voters, and completely consistent with our principles, if we put forward a plan that (a) allowed a short path to citizenship for all who sought it, but (b) cut off benefits to all those who did not seek citizenship. Immigrants who are now here illegally would be given the opportunity to choose which course they desired. I believe a plan can be put together that would, at a minimum, not turn off Hispanic voters but still be true to conservative values. If that much is accomplished, Hispanics will become Republicans in large numbers because they largely share conservative values, especially regarding family and religion.
Incidentally, regarding our ad communication failures, Don Quixote doesn’t just point out a problem with Romney ads, he offers solutions that could be used for all Realist (or Individualist or Free Market) ads.
Ultimately, we are helpless only if we are inert. If we sit and spin ideas around in our heads and just talk to each other, reinforcing our own beliefs, we will lose. We must sell our ideas outside of the usual circles. Further we can win only if we find common ground with the identity groups Obama targeted (women, minorities, gays, etc.). While we may have marginal disagreements with those groups, my suspicion is that there’s still time (but only just) to bring them together with us on core free-market, individualist, constitutional values.