Practical suggestions for bypassing the media and getting the conservative message out

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.

From Lulu:

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).

From Lee:

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.)

From jj:

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.

From Bookworm:

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!!!

From Don Quixote:

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.

[snip]

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.

Conservatives need a new ground game

Maybe I’m in denial, but I’m feeling less depressed than I felt last night and this morning.  Part of my more sanguine attitude is based upon a Taranto principle, which is that Obama now owns the events of the next four years:

Obama has spent the past four years explaining away his failings by essentially arguing he is the best of all possible presidents–that he has done as well as any man could given the “mess” he “inherited” from his predecessor. It is certainly true that he took office under adverse circumstances. But so will whoever takes office Jan. 20. In fact, things are about to get a lot worse because of decisions taken but deferred during the Obama years.

The mess today’s winner will inherit includes not only high unemployment and slow growth but impending policy changes that threaten to make those problems worse. On Jan. 1, unless Congress acts, the Bush tax cuts expire–or, to put it another way, “massive, job-killing tax increases” are about to take effect (that quote is from President Obama). If Obama gets his way–which he likely would if re-elected–Congress will forestall the hike only for taxpayers making under $200,000 or $250,000 a year. That would be good for those fortunate enough to have jobs, but it would not change the tax increase’s job-killing nature, as it would hit investors and small businesses hard.

Then there’s ObamaCare. Although enacted nearly three years ago, it was written so that most of its provisions would not take effect until the next presidential term. “The bottled-up rules to set up President Barack Obama’s health care reform law are going to start flowing quickly right after Election Day,” Politico reports. “As soon as Wednesday, the gears and levers of government bureaucracy are likely to start moving at full speed again.”

The scale of the messes Taranto describes makes it unlikely that Romney could have been a successful president.  At best, he might have stemmed an economic or national security collapse, but I doubt he could actually have improved things.  The systems for self-destruction — massive debt, vast entitlement expectations, ObamaCare beginning to weave into the warp and woof of our social and economic fabric, a dangerous world outside of America’s borders — are already deeply entrenched.  Four years won’t fix them.  (Which may be why voters ignored Obama’s empty 2008 promises and decided that he really need 8 years to fulfill the hope and change manifesto.)

But, but . . . what about Reagan?  He also inherited a dangerous world and an unhealthy economy.  That’s true — but he inherited a different ground game.  Political correctness didn’t exist then.  Skin color diversity (offset by ideological homogeneity) was at the beginning of its trajectory, not the peak.  People still viewed government aid as something one first earned or, if one didn’t earn it, as something one accepted with some degree of embarrassment.  Now, even with no pay-in, they view it as a right, with no shame attached.  In Reagan’s day, our troops hadn’t been fighting a blood-and-guts war for eight years (as opposed to a massive Cold War chess game) against an enemy that neither the Republican nor the Democrat President willingly named.  In Reagan’s day, the intelligentsia may have tried to downplay the Soviet Union, but ordinary people still knew that it was indeed the Evil Empire.  Israel was still loved, not hated, so Americans supported a president who supported Israel.

The ground game has changed.  As Roger Simon says,

So we have a problem with democracy. It’s not working or, more specifically, has been turned on its end, with the masses manipulated against their own self-interest, creating power elites similar to those described in Milovan Djilas’ The New Class.

How did that happen? I think many of us know there are three pillars of our own destruction: the educational system, the media and entertainment (the popular arts).

Those three areas are so corrupted those who legitimately are on the center-right (or anywhere close to it) will increasingly find themselves swimming upstream against a current so great who knows where it will take them. (Think Hayek, Orwell, etc.) We must address ourselves to these three immediately before it is too late. In many ways, it already is. Culture is the mother of politics and mother is turning into Medea.

Okay, fine.  We fight the wars we’re given, not the wars we want.  So here’s my thinking.

As I said, I’m less depressed than I was because I think our culture is such that, no matter who occupies the White House, bad things are going to happen.  Really bad things, both with our economy and our national security.  Seeing as I think the coming hurt is inevitable, I’d rather it happens on a Democrat’s than on a Republican’s watch.  If I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow and begin to consider whether my political leanings of the past eight years have been a temporary aberration, and I’ll even contemplate returning to my liberal roots.  (Unlikely, but if the next four years are an American boom time, we’ll all need to rethink our belief systems.)

Accepting the inevitable, how do we fight back?  As polite conservatives, we’ve always tried to work through the ballot box.  We’ve decried the bias in media (including PBS, which we pay for), academia, and education, but we really haven’t done anything about it.  We tried to vote for people who would stop funding PBS and we whined on websites about the indoctrination at our children’s schools.  We’ve still paid to watch movies and we tune in to TV.

We resent the system, but we work within in.  For all that we talk about the ageless wonders of our Constitution and free-market principles generally, we are short-term thinkers, who keep believing (all evidence to the contrary) that we can kill the Progressive tree, not by attacking the roots, but by taking an axe to the tip-top of the tree through honestly brokered elections.  The fact is that the cultural battle is so one-sided (against our side) that we’d probably lose even honestly brokered elections, ones that did not involve massive fraud and media malfeasance.

We keep doing trying the same failed tactic, even though we recognize that the strong Democrat victories resulted, not because the Left voted, but because they spent 60 years going after America’s social and intellectual infrastructure.  The numbers of actual Lefties are probably pretty small; the number of people who have been taught to vote Democrat without thinking what it really means, is huge.

William F. Buckley figured out the problem in the 1950s and started a cultural counter attack, which ended with the Reagan ascendency.  Whew!  That was it.  We won.  Yay.  We won forever.  NOT.  The Left never stopped its ground game.  Indeed, during and after the Reagan years (including during the Clinton years), the hard Left consolidated its hold over cultural institutions.  We just watched and whined.

We cannot do that anymore.  For the next four years, conservatives need to stop worrying about this candidate or that candidate (which is all we ever do) and we need to start wooing the masses.

My friend Lulu, who comments here and who has been an occasional guest poster, called me today with a wonderful idea:  Star Parker.  Okay, you’re right.  Star Parker is a wonderful person, not a wonderful idea, but she’s the symbol for my friend’s idea.  We don’t need to run Star Parker for office, we need to run her for talk show host, a la Oprah.  She’s engaging, approachable, intelligent, conservative and black.  I hate to add the last, because I don’t like to judge people by the color of their skin, but I’m in minority.  I live in my head, so I relate to people intellectually.  Most don’t.  They need other people to look like them in order to start feeling comfortable with their ideas.

The talk show idea, though is the right one.  We know that most people aren’t high-level thinkers when it comes to politics but are, instead, low-level, emotional reactors.  I do not mean that they are stupid.  I just mean that, when it comes to politics, they engage in a non-abstract, non-theoretical, non-intellectual level.  The old saying is that, if the mountain won’t come to Mohamed, than Mohamed must go to the mountain.  We need to reach out to non-engaged voters by meeting them at their level, rather than insisting that they meet us at ours.

Admittedly, our conservative social infrastructure is limited.  Liberals own the media and the entertainment world.  But how did they get there?  They pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed.  We need to start pushing too.  We need talk shows, even if they start on cable or internet.  We also need to take a page out of the Leftist handbook and start using the courts.  For example, Lulu suggested that, as taxpayers, we have standing to sue PBS to demand that, as long as public broadcasting gets public monies, it must devote 50% of its programming time to conservative programs.  After all, for decades, simply because they rented public airwaves, TV and radio were required to be  neutral.  Why isn’t PBS?

When it comes to Hollywood, we need to come together an create alternatives.  Stop spending your money on movies by people who hate us.  Why are we doing that?  And we should take the money we didn’t spend on the haters and invest it in movie makers (such as Declaration Entertainment) that will make entertaining movies that don’t hit us over the head with their message, but that feed it to us subliminally.  (When we do make movies we always go for the iron hand, rather than the velvet glove).  The Left figured this one out, as Ben Shapiro explains in Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.  We too can change the paradigm without being obvious.

And why are we, who pay most of the taxes, allowing publicly funded schools to discriminate against conservative teachers? We sit back and cheer when an individual conservative teacher sues after being denied tenure, but we’ve never had a taxpayer suit saying that, just as student body’s have to be diverse, so should faculty — and that this diversity includes not discriminating against belief systems.  In other words, we have to redefine diversity so that it encompasses ideology as well as (or instead of) skin color.

We also have to advertise ourselves better.  As Romney’s campaign (and McCain’s and Bush’s too) showed, Republican political “leaders” find our ideology embarrassing and seek to wrap it up in gauzy, often impenetrable, platitudes.  One of my readers, Fern, suggests that our campaigns have a musty, fuzzy look.  The Left identifies us as backwards, reactionary, etc., and we yield.  We’ve certainly given the Left linguistic control.  They’re “Progressive” and “Forward.”  We’re fuddy-duddy “conservatives.”

Obama, a child of the Left, understands that words matter, more than the fact that these so-called Progressives keep trying to recycle ideas that failed in all nations that have tried them.  They’ve got the glamor and the gloss, and those gimmicks sell in a superficial world.

One of the first and easiest things we can do is to start with re-branding.  Keep in mind that calling conservatives “right wing” harks back to the 18th century French parliament, when the non-revolutionaries sat on the right side of the hall.  Is that how we want to identify ourselves — as relics of the ancien regime?  “Conservative” too makes us sound like a bunch of reactionary codgers who can be painted as desirous of slavery (never mind that the Republicans freed the slaves), Jim Crow-lovers (never mind that Republicans opposed Jim Crow), and misogynists (never mind that Republicans are in the vanguard of fighting Muslims and Chinese Communists who treat women and girl babies like disposable property).

It turns out that, in a media rich world, Shakespeare was wrong.  That which we call rose, by any other name does not smell as sweet.  With that in mind, how about starting to call ourselves “Individualists” or “the Freedom Party” or something like that?  Liberals successfully (and mostly under the radar) rebranded themselves as Progressives, leaving behind the musty Victorian taint of “liberalism.”  If they can do it, why can’t we?

Truly, the wake-up call we received yesterday is not about 2012 or even about 2016.  It is about our finally understanding that the opposition has long had a better strategy and endless institutional patience.  We won only when there were still enough voters who hadn’t been indoctrinated.  In 2008, there weren’t enough of us remaining to tilt the scales.  The Left attacked America at the root, and we need to take it back at precisely the same level.

The battle is over.  The war has begun.  Consider this post Ground Zero.  If you have ideas — practical, non-whining ideas that ordinary people can put into effect — post them in the comments section, and we’ll see how far we can disseminate them.  For starters, I am no longer a conservative.  I am an “individualist” who supports a “Freedom Party,” as opposed to a “statist” who supports “Big Government.”

UPDATE:  Others thinking about a new ground game too –

The Colossus of Rhodey

Don Quixote (at our own Bookworm Room)

Ron Radosh

Michelle Horstman