The paradox of Leftist utopianism and its dystopian art

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim

Six By Sondheim” is a new, well-produced HBO documentary that stitches together the many interviews Stephen Sondheim has given over the years since the late 1950s and then ties those interviews in with six of his best-known or (to him) most important songs. NPR enthused that the show leaves viewers wanting more but, as I am not a Sondheim fan, I wanted less — or at least less of the music.  The interviews, however, were interesting.

My takeaway is that Sondheim is a decent, articulate, intelligent man, who thinks deeply about his craft.  I may not like his end product, finding the endless word play emotionally distancing and the music discordant, but there’s serious hard work and lots of talent behind it.

Sondheim has made a living out of thumbing his nose at critics who complain rightly that his songs are not “hummable.”  Certainly that’s part of why I don’t like his music.  I’m simplistic enough to like pop songs that I can sing later.  Although maybe “simplistic” isn’t the right word.  When Irving Berlin rhymes “farmer” with “potato embalmer,” there’s nothing simplistic about that.  It’s a delightful rhyme scheme that captures in three words one aspect of a farmer’s work.  Likewise, there’s nothing embarrassing about Johnny Mercer’s exquisite lyrics to I Remember You.  “When my life is through, and the angels ask me to recall the thrill of it all, then I will tell them I remember you.”  My primary reasoning for disliking Sondheim’s music isn’t that it’s not hummable; it’s that, to my ears, it’s not attractive.

Certainly Sondheim’s subject matter is seldom attractive consisting as it does of strippers, burlesque, broken homes, and psychopathic moms (Gypsy); deadly street gangs (West Side Story); serial killers (Sweeney Todd); a dystopian view of fairy tales (Into The Woods); attempted presidential murderers (Assassins); a man’s throwing away his life’s talent (Merrily We Roll Along); or broken down marriages (Follies).  Listening to Sondheim describe his life, this deeply negative view about relationships and people in general isn’t particularly surprising.

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd

Sondheim’s parents had an unhappy marriage that ended when he was 10.  Before, during, and after the divorce, he was a pawn in his parents drama and, most especially in his mother’s obsession with his father and her manifest dislike for being a parent.  She hated her son and he knew it.  Indeed, when Sondheim was 40, right before his mother went into surgery, she wrote him a letter saying that the worst thing that ever happened to her was to have him.

Sondheim was also a homosexual who came of age during a time when his sexual orientation was unpopular, to say the least.  There’s no doubt that, in the Broadway world, he could easily have found sufficient numbers of like-minded people to form a relationship that went beyond casual sex.  He didn’t, though.  It appears that  his upbringing left him so emotionally constipated that, as he confesses, he was only able to fall in love when he was 60.

Blessedly, Sondheim seems to keep his politics to himself, but he’s certainly part of the zeitgeist on the Lefter side of the political spectrum.  Those who like him are often the same people who sneer at traditional musical theater, with its bright songs and happy endings.

After watching the documentary, I realized that American art and entertainment present a funny paradox.  Leftists tend to create and to prefer art and entertainment that focuses on the sleazy, irredeemable side of human nature.  Many of Sondheim’s plays exemplify this fact, but the list of gutter-gazing art from Leftists is endless.  Hollywood and Broadway Leftists like, and endlessly produce, movies and shows that focus on the bad guys (Tony Soprano, Walter White), depressing situations (Precious, American Beauty), or sordid behavior (just about every movie out of Hollywood lately).

Fred and Ginger

Fred and Ginger

Conservatives tend to yearn for the type of wholesome fare that Hollywood churned out from the time of the Code through the late 1960s.  These shows involve happy people muddling through to happy endings, bad people getting their comeuppances in morally satisfying ways, suffering people rewarded at the end, etc.  The tear-jerkers involved deeply sympathetic characters who tried to do good and failed, not creepy psychopaths who worked hard at being evil and, even when they got their comeuppance, never repented.

Looking at the differing artistic fare the two political cultures generate, you’d think that it was the conservatives who were the utopians and the Leftists who were the harsh realists.  In fact, though, Leftists are the utopians who fervently believe that, if they can just figure out the correct political coercion, they will perfect human kind, turning each man into someone who joyfully, and without greed, rancor, or violence, gives of his labors to support everyone else in the world.  Conservatives, on the other hand, recognize that humankind is inherently greedy, rancorous, and violent, and seek to create voluntarily enforced social, moral, and economic systems that harness and control these innate tendencies in a way that’s simultaneously beneficial to the individual and to society at large.

Presumably, this paradox can be resolved as follows:  Leftists use art to establish that the world, especially the American world, is a terrible place because it lacks the guiding hand of a loving police state.  Meanwhile, conservatives use their art aspirationally, to encourage all people to cultivate voluntarily their better selves, or to put their “baser” instincts (i.e., greed) to a use that lifts up their own lives while improving and enriching the world.

Thomas Sowell has a knack

It occurred to me that Sowell is somewhat Victorian in his ability to come up with pithy summations of large ideas.  In a pre-typewriter age, brevity was virtuous.  These are some of his thoughts for today, but I urge you to click on the link and read them all:

President Obama really has a way with words, such as calling the problems that millions of people have had trying to sign up for ObamaCare “glitches.” When the Titanic sank, was that a “glitch”?

[snip]

No one seems as certain that they know what the Republicans need to do to win presidential elections as those Republicans who have lost presidential elections, such as Mitt Romney, John McCain and Bob Dole. Moreover, people take them seriously, and seem not to notice that what the losers advocate is the opposite of what won Ronald Reagan two landslide election victories.

If you believe in equal rights, then what do “women’s rights,” “gay rights,” etc., mean? Either they are redundant or they are violations of the principle of equal rights for all.

[snip]

Those who want to “spread the wealth” almost invariably seek to concentrate the power. It happens too often, and in too many different countries around the world, to be a coincidence. Which is more dangerous, inequalities of wealth or concentrations of power?  [Emphasis mine.]

Really, I’m not just saying it to be polite:  Go read all of Sowell’s thoughts for today.

John F. Kennedy — to the right of today’s establishment Republicans

I’ve never been a John F. Kennedy fan, primarily because I found the Kennedy hagiography so distasteful.  Even as a teen, I seem to have been immune to, and even repulsed by, Leftist politician worship.  Over the years, I’ve learned, of course, that Ted Cruz and John F. Kennedy would probably have been very happy working together.  Jeff Jacoby’s article is as good a distillation as any I’ve seen about Kennedy’s true political conservativism.  I still find room in my heart to dislike Kennedy’s narcissistic hedonism but, if he ran today on his 1960 political platform (only substitution Islamists for Communists), I would vote for him.

Three degrees of separation

I enjoy reading my Liberal-Lefty friends’ Facebook posts because they are so insightful into the mindsets of the Left.

One insight that I have gained over time is that the differences between us conservatives and the Progressive/Left are so profound that they are unlikely to ever be bridged, barring some cataclysmic, life-changing events. What I have tried to do is understand why this is so. I share this with you because I greatly appreciate the insights that Bookworm group has to offer on such issues – be it “yay” or “nay”.

Our disagreements appear to come down to three levels of separation.

1) First, there are objective facts (OK, I am being deliberately redundant here). These are easy enough to resolve. Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock world has arrived: everybody is so overwhelmed with information that we can’t absorb and process all there is to know and we therefore choose our facts selectively.

As Ronald Reagan said, ““It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

In discussions, factual disputes are easy enough to resolve: my typical response to Liberal /Lefties is simply tell them to “Google it”. Amazingly, many apparently don’t know that you can Google entire texts or sentences. A good example was the recent George Zimmerman trial…many people with whom I disagreed told me outright they were too busy to bother looking up facts. The Left operates on so many facts that just aren’t so.

2) The second level of separation involves our assumptions or premises. These are tougher to resolve, because we assume and presume events based on our past experiences. I suspect that we humans are hard-wired to build assumptions (true or false) as a defense mechanism: for example, my cave ancestors probably assumed that to allow a saber-tooth tiger to stand in their path was not a good thing and that such assumption is one reason why I stand here today.

We go through life building mental templates on how the world works in order to short-circuit decision making and evaluation. Otherwise, we would soon be overwhelmed with indecision. As long as our world templates work for us, we continue to hold onto them. Many formerly Liberals (e.g., David Horowitz, Bookworm) only became conservative when one or more events (e.g., 9/11) rendered their previously comfortable world views untenable. For me it was Reagan’s second term, when his policies led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and an economic resurgence. I, young man at the time, knew then that my Democrat world template had been very, very wrong.

I use the word “comfortable” deliberately, because our templates represent our comfort zones. Losing that comfort zone is terrifying. Imagine if all of a sudden nothing in the world made any sense to you; you would feel totally deracinated and quite possibly insane. You would also feel a deep sense of personal failure, as in “how in the world could I have been so deluded?”

And, the older you get, the more frightening that sense of loss, confusion and failure would be. So, the older we get, the more desperately we defend our mental templates, selecting and force-fitting “facts” to fit our own perceptions of reality. I believe this is where modern Liberalism and Progressivism are today (Google “Paul Krugman”). As Thomas Sowell put it, people of the Left expect the world to conform to their misperceptions. Eventually, however, reality hits like a 2 x 4 between the brow…as in “Detroit”.

I believe that this dynamic also explains the sheer viciousness expressed by many on the Left when the presumptions of their world templates are threatened (as by Sarah Palin or by black conservatives, for example). This is also the reason why I believe that world Islam will fail, because it doesn’t work and eventually people in Muslim worlds, aided by the internet, will eventually realize this (some of my Middle Eastern friends assure me that many already do). Reality is a harsh mistress.

This level of separation helps to explain why Liberals and Conservatives usually talk past each other. We try to rationalize our positions to each other, but our rationalizations only make sense if the other party shares the same assumptions and understandings of how the world works. We operate from completely different templates.

3) Faith. This the most difficult and potentially dangerous degree of separation, because it addresses fundamental values that are non-negotiable. Our “faith” defines how we perceive ourselves and our place in the world, irrespective of facts, logic and reason. I cannot, for example, “prove” the veracity of my Christian faith. Environmental extremists and atheists cannot “prove” the righteousness of their positions. We just “know” that what we believe to be true is true. There is no logical argument that I know of that can challenge faith-based values. Our values define who we are and how we perceive the world to be. Utopian fascist ideals (Progressivism, Nazism, communism, Islamism, etc.), for example, are defined by a faith in a future to come – they require no proof. Abortion is a similar issue of faith and values – there is no middle-of-the-road compromise if you believe abortion to be murder and that murder is wrong (a value proposition). Psychologists have claimed that only very powerful shocks to the system can challenge faith.

I have no dealing with the first degree of separation. I admit, however, that I am totally stumped on how to address (2) and (3). Any ideas?

HuffPo’s Ann Coulter article a perfect example of the way the way the Left demonizes conservatives

I’ve noticed that the mainstream media keeps calling Colorado moderate when it reports on the fact that a Democrat legislature and a Democrat governor are trying hard to up-end Coloradan’s Second Amendment rights.  I haven’t paid much attention to Colorado over the years, but I can say this with certainty:  whatever it was in the past, there’s nothing moderate about a present in which the legislature marches lockstep with the full Progressive agenda.  At some point, Colorado stopped being moderate and, politically at least, became Left.  To continue to call it moderate is simply the media’s way of trying to shift the definition of “political center” to the Left.

That’s why I was much struck by a Huffington Post article that described Ann Coulter as “ultra controversial.”  Yes, she’s outspoken, but most of her stands are right in the dead center of American conservative politics.  Heck, she was Mitt Romney’s biggest cheerleader — yet they demonize her.  The following is my take, which is all Bookworm, even though it got published first at Mr. Conservative:

coulter

The ultra-Leftist Huffington Post has launched yet another attack against author and speaker Ann Coulter — this time because of Coulter’s take on Sen Dianne Feinstein’s response when Sen. Ted Cruz (R. Tex) reminder her that her attempted gun grab ran completely counter to the Constitution. Dianne Feinstein, unable to mount a credible constitutional counterattack, instead expressed emotion-fueled outrage that someone would dare talk to her that way.

Coulter had a field day with Feinstein’s “helpless wittle me” response. Speaking to Sean Hannity, Coulter pointed out that both Feinstein and fellow “I am woman, hear me roar” feminist Hillary Clinton, the moment they got called on bad conduct (in Hillary’s case, very bad conduct), practically burst into tears.

Based upon these women’s pathetic responses to challenges to their conduct as political professionals, Coulter cracked one of her usual sarcastic, over-the-top jokes, with a little bit of gleeful exaggeration wrapped around a large, solid core of truth:

I used to think women just should not be able to vote. Now I think at least liberal women should not be able to hold office. Every time you try to have a discussion with them, they become hysterical, they cry, and they want to show pictures of dead children. As if our position is “we don’t mind a few dead children.” Our position is “concealed carry” would stop these slaughters.

Except for what are obviously quips about women and voting, everything Coulter said was accurate: in the past few months, Hillary used hysteria to avoid questions about the four men who died in Benghazi while on her watch; while Feinstein has used everything from maudlin statements about children’s dead bodies to shakey-voiced refutations about her constitutional ignorance.

It began by dismissing her as “ultra-controversial.” She isn’t really. Ann Coulter is a solid, middle-of-the-road conservative. She’s against abortion and Islamic terrorism, and for small government, secure borders, and the Second Amendment. If that’s “ultra-controversial,” so is roughly half the country.

What upsets the HuffPo crowd about Coulter is that she tells the truth. She has no patience for political correctness, and she’s willing to force Leftists to face the absurd reality of their policies. For example, HuffPo says that Coulter got heat in February for pointing out that America’s gun crime is a “demographic” problem. Tragically, Coulter is right. FBI statistics show that, if one removes from the equation black-on-black crime (which usually occurs in Democrat-ran cities), America ends up with gun crime rates comparable to those in Europe.

Coulter does not say this to be racist. She says it to point out the liberal policies that turned blacks into poverty-stricken government dependents have robbed blakcs of their God-given right to stand up as moral men and women. The high black-on-black crime rate exists, not because blacks are in any way inferior, but because liberals incentivized them to be so through decades of aggressively-pushed abortions that have decimated the next generation of blacks; welfare policies that have made black men useless and that have destroyed the bond that should exist between man and woman, and mother and father; and a form of soft racism that never calls blacks on their crimes – as one would call any person one respects – but instead says that blacks can’t help themselves. This attitude is the underhanded liberal way of making the ultimate racist statement; namely, that blacks have less moral decency and self-control than whites.

It’s that ugly truth about their own racism, and its horrible effects on blacks in America, that the HuffPo crowd cannot tolerate. They try to shut her up because she holds a up mirror to their faces and says “Your policies have failed – and you’ve destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives in the process.”

Principles aren’t a big thing over at the HuffPo in any event. Its founder, Arianna Huffington, made her career jumping from one famous person and cause to another. On three occasions, she’s been credibly accused of plagiarizing other writers’ work in books he published under her own name. In England, she was a liberal democrat. In America, she married Republican Michael Huffington, and suddenly became a Republican who stuck with him as he won a House seat. She left her husband after he lost a Senate bid and then decided to reinvent herself as a Democrat.

Huffington is an opportunist and a dishonest one at that. It’s scarcely surprising that her publication would be hostile to someone who points out that Liberals have no fixed moral points, and that their policies are terribly destructive.

The courage of our convictions — NOT

In one of the comments to my earlier post about Ted Cruz, Mike Devx noted that Cruz is attractive because he has “the courage of his convictions.” That particular phrase tied in with something I’ve been thinking about for the last few days, regarding freedom of speech, or rather the lack thereof, when it comes to Islam and Leftism.

The starting point for my thoughts was this Topher video, in which he focuses on the importance of free speech:

As you can see, Topher structured the video around the argument that so much of what we accept as true today started out as highly unpopular speech that the majority tried to quash through censorship both official and informal.

We tend to think of censorship as something that arises because we fear the power of “the Other’s” ideas.  Certainly that is the animating purpose behind all those hate speech laws throughout Europe, and the hate crime laws in America. Both are predicated upon stamping out the overwhelming temptation of an enemy’s words or acts.

Here’s the thing, though:  If we trusted in ourselves we would not be so afraid of the Other. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case if Islam, which includes as core doctrine the requirement that its practitioners must stamp out any opposing speech, ideas, or religion. A self-confident ideology would not be so paranoid about potential opposition.

The same is true, of course, when it comes to Leftism. Marx didn’t make censorship a core ideological demand, but Leftism invariably leads to censorship.  This is true whether we’re talking about government ukases or about the social strictures of Political Correctness. Leftism knows, because history has shown, that when people start to speak out against Leftism, Leftism falls by the historic wayside.

What’s so deeply depressing in today’s political scene is the fact that conservative politicians are so desperately afraid that their own ideology is too weak to compete.  Rather than taking the Islamic or Leftist tact of imposing censorship on others, they preemptively impose it upon themselves.

America’s conservative politicians have Stockholm Syndrome.  Despite recognizing that the opposing party is their enemy, they have become so cowed that they seem truly to believe that there’s something wrong about equal treatment under the law (as opposed to the affirmative discrimination the Left encourages), about the virtues of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and about other common conservative and libertarian principles.

In some ways, I know I’ve just stated the obvious — the more you believe in yourself, the less scared you’re going to be of the other guy.  Nevertheless, we need to remind Republican politicians that there is no virtue in preemptive surrender to the other side.  If you’re going to die anyway, at least die fighting, with your own banner bravely flying.

If I were in charge of CPAC, I would ignore the Democrats entirely.  Instead, I would spend the entire time educating conservatives about conservativism.  They need to believe affirmative, rather than passively, that to the extent the American people want freedom, equality under the law, and affluence, conservative ideals are the ones that are going to take them there.

Conservatives: if we’re so smart how come we keep getting out-maneuvered politically? *UPDATED*

We conservatives think we’re pretty smart. We have time-tested ideas, great thinkers (Thomas Sowell, Mark Steyn, Milton Friedman, Jonah Goldberg, etc.), and people support our values in the abstract if the questions don’t have political labels attached.

Given appealing messages and smart messengers, why do we keep losing? Why was our most recent political candidate, who is supposed to be a business genius, incapable of running an efficient campaign right up to and including a functional get-out-the-vote effort? How did we find ourselves in a position where Pres. Obama proposes sequestration, then refuses to offer a budget that would make sequestration unnecessary, then refuses to negotiate with the Republicans, and, at the end of the day, is the one who comes out smelling like a rose in the public’s mind?

How did we end up with a president and a Department of Justice that decide not to defend the law of the land when it comes to the Defense of Marriage Act? Whether not you support that policy, shouldn’t the chief executive be tasked with the responsibility of defending it to the Supreme Court?

Again, if we are so smart why are we losing on our main issue — the budget — and not even making any headway on other issues that will irreparably change America’s fabric? These changes, such as immigration, marriage policy, leading from behind overseas, etc. may actually be changes for the good, but shouldn’t conservatives have a voice in them? Right now, both in DC and in our own cities and states, we’ve been cut out of the debate.

I have no answers to all these questions. I know that, when I see the headlines, I get frustrated. I cannot tell if conservative voters have a knack for electing ineffectual candidates, or if the Democrat media juggernaut is so powerful that we have reached the point at which there is nothing we can do anymore to penetrate Or affect the public debate.

If it’s the former we can perhaps make changes at a grassroots level. If it’s the latter, it seems to me we’ve already lost. It’s time for us to pick up our pathetically small number of marbles, go home, and make our peace with the America that is unfolding before our eyes.

I’m usually fairly enthusiastic about taking on semi-lost causes. I am not, however, very sanguine about taking on absolutely lost causes. If we, the party of tried and true ideas, as opposed to the the party of ideas that have failed every time; if we, the party of genuine intellects instead of sophists, cannot make our case; and if we, the party tackling real issues, such as economic meltdown and national security, as opposed to the party prevailing on cosmetic, made-up issues, such as free birth control and cell phones, cannot make our case, and cannot penetrate the media smoke, we are DOOMED.

Sorry to be such a downer, but we ought to be winning, and we’re not, and at a certain point we need to take responsibility for our manifest and multiple failures. Our candidates are bad, our thinkers don’t communicate outside of the community of true-believers, our ideas are unappealing, and we’re being encircled and destroyed by peanut-brained media talking heads.

Pfeh!

UPDATE:  It occurred to me that an alternate caption for this blog could have been “When it comes to messaging, we’re reaching each other, while they’re reaching everyone else.”  Did I say “pfeh” earlier?  I double that pfeh! now.

This is what I’m talking about — pithy posters for conservatives

I mentioned last week that, in today’s short-attention span universe, we can reach voters with analysis.  That’s a sad fact, but a true one.  They need to have neatly encapsulated thoughts that they can share on Facebook or tweet out to their world.

My fellow Watcher’s Council member, Michael Haltman, who blogs at The Political Commentator, has assembled a lovely starter collection of pithy posters that spell out conservative bottom lines in a memorable and appealing way.

If you see one you like, spread it around.  Or tell people about all seventeen of those pithy posters.  And while you’re at it, maybe you should buy a Rubio water bottle.  He’s figured out — at least as to this one — how to de-fang the media.

Alinsky put his brilliance to the service of the wrong gods, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t brilliant. I’ve highlighted my favorites:

  • RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.
  • RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.
  • RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.
  • RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.
  • RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
  • RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.
  • RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.
  • RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.
  • RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
  • RULE 10: “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” It is the unceasing pressure that will result in the reaction of the opposition that is essential for the success of the campaign.
  • RULE 11: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.
  • RULE 12: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.
  • RULE 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Conservatives need to start following at least some of these rules, and we need to do it hard and fast.

To convince voters, conservatives need to learn that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

I spend ridiculous amounts of my time trying to convince my children that, while “Give me that!” and “May I have that, please”, mean the same thing, their chances of success are much greater with the second phrase.  I repeat ad nauseum that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  People respond not only to a statement’s core message, but to the packaging around that message.

Advertisers have always understand that packaging is as important as, if not more important than, the underlying message.  Will a specific car, beer, or aftershave really turn an insecure, badly dressed young man into a sex God?  Of course not.  But if you’re a car manufacturer, and you have the choice of buying advertising hours that say to the young man “This car drives well” or spending those same dollars to say “You will be a suave chick magnet if you drive this car,” which ad would you choose?  Advertisers know that sex sells.  Or if sex is usable, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

1956 Monarch car advertisement

Politics is also a two-tiered structure.  There’s the product, or ideology, and there’s the sales pitch to sell that ideology to the greatest number of people in hopes of garnering their votes.  Democrats have fully mastered the sales pitch.  Republicans haven’t.  Democrats say “Look at this picture of dead children or pathetic (and perhaps dead too) minorities.”  Republicans say “Look!  We have a chart.”  Honestly! The last time charts made a difference was in the 1992 election, when Ross Perot whipped out his little pieces of cardboard — and back then, all those charts did was to tip the election in a Democrat’s favor.

There’s certainly a lot of data to drive Republican charts.  Indeed, back in 2011, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), put together a clever little video comparing Perot’s federal debt and spending charts to the numbers Perot would use if he were making the same pitch today:

I liked the video. You probably did too. The problem, though, is that you and I are high information voters who respond to facts and analysis. Though it pains me to say this, we are not the norm. The vast majority of people are probably never going to be high information voters in any society, but there’s also no doubt that a Leftist-controlled education system has rendered Americans almost incapable of either appreciating or understanding hard data.

As the 2012 election proved, facts on the ground (joblessness, flabby economy, disastrous foreign policies) are just too deep for most voters. Properly manipulated, they find it more emotionally satisfying to stick it to a mean rich man who puts dogs on car roofs and wants all women to carry their rapist’s fetus.

In this non-intellectual universe, it’s almost irrelevant what a political party’s message is. What matters is whether the party can position itself as the good guy party, regardless of its ideology, while simultaneously positioning the opposing party as the bad guy party. The Democrats do this masterfully.

As an example, think about the administration’s recent decision to put women on the front lines: Conservatives responded to this announcement with talk of military missions, battle readiness, logistical problems, changing standards, etc. — all of which are sensible and appropriate responses to an administrative fiat that will, more probably than not, have a negative effect upon military missions, battle readiness, logistics, and standards.

Women in combat

Democrats bypassed all that “tech talk” and, instead, went in for the kill: Republicans hate women. Never mind the unspoken part of that sentence, which is that “Republicans hate women, because they won’t allow women to go into situations where they are extremely likely to be killed and raped.” If you speak the unspoken, you get a very clear idea of Cloud Cuckoo Land that Leftist’s inhabit. But never mind about the reality behind the ideology — the Left sells sex and sizzle.

No doubt because I am the quintessential word person (although I have no knack for clever quips and pitches), I’ve been harping on this issue for years. When it comes to the Democrats and Progressives, there’s a message to their madness: We, the Democrats/Progressives are good; they, the Republicans/conservatives, are bad. Everything flows from that.

Fortunately, given that my voice has no resonance in world outside of my blog, better thinkers than I am are making the same point. David Horowitz, who understands Leftist thinking from the inside out, urges Republicans to stop the anguished, self-involved, navel gazing and to begin the hard work of communicating to voters in language they understand. He argues, correctly, that the Left is fighting an epic battle, complete with villains and heroes, and we’re still whipping out our gosh-darned charts.

Horowitz’s article, though long, is worth reading in its entirety. I’ll just leave you with a few of his conclusions:

A Winning Strategy for Republicans

1. Put the aggressors on the defensive.

2. Put their victims — women, minorities, the poor and working Americans -­-­ in front of every argument and every policy in the same way they do.

3. Start the campaign now (because the Democrats already have).

The Weapons of Politics Are Hope and Fear

The weapons of political campaigns are images and sound bites designed to inspire the emotions of fear and hope. Obama won the presidency in 2008 on a campaign of hope; he won re-election in 2012 on a campaign of fear.

Hope works, but fear is a much stronger and more compelling emotion. In a political campaign, it is directed at one’s political opponent. Democrats exploit this emotion to the hilt; Republicans often seem too polite to even use it.

Please read the rest here.

Lee Habeeb and Mike Leven are also engaged in the work of using a prominent forum (National Review Online) to publish a series of articles aimed at shaping a coherent, and salable, political narrative for conservatives.  This week’s installment is “The Moral Case for Conservativism.”

As with Horowitz, Habeeb and Leven urge a level of public discourse that avoids charts and data, and that frames an epic battle in the same way that Progressives claim politics as an epic battle — except that, in this version, we’re the good guys:

If there is a single reason why conservatives continue to lose the battle of ideas, it’s because we don’t make the moral case for freedom and free markets. Our political class instead makes the economic case for our philosophy. Our smart guys are so impressed with their own intelligence, they think we can win the debate using numbers and data, charts and graphs, and political tactics and strategy.

It’s the Left’s secret advantage. They create the feeling that they care more about the average American because they make the moral case for their philosophy.

One of the advantages this confers on the Left is this: They get to play large ball, while we play a dour brand of small ball.

As with Horowitz’s article, I urge you to read the whole thing.

Those of us who spend our time following politics understand that we are engaged in a battle for America’s heart and soul.  On one side is an ideology that dreams of subordinating the individual to an all-powerful state.  History proves that this has never turned out well.  On the other side is an ideology that dreams of allowing each individual maximum freedom in a state that exerts minimum coercion but that, instead, provides a stable infrastructure and a level playing field.  Our own history demonstrates how successful this approach is.

Put another way, life is imitating Star Wars, with an epic battle taking place over America’s future.  We’d better call our agents and make sure that they let the audience know that we’re the rebels, not the Empire.  Once we’ve established that we’re the good guys, we — the ordinary people who aren’t paid political operatives — need to put on our thinking caps and figure out how we can contribute to winning this battle.