Since the November election, in conservative gatherings, large and small, in the media and one on one, I’ve heard one consistent point that everyone seems to agree upon; not addressing what the problem with the election was, or how to solve it, but addressing instead what it is that we need to fix (no, I’m not sure how the two are not one and the same either), that being: our ‘Messaging’.
That, and, of course, that we need to ‘reach out’.
We’ve got to fine tune our ‘messaging’, we need to ‘craft’ our messages so as to appeal to the women, and to the mex…(‘wait, they don’t like being called that’) the Hisp… (‘wait, I hear they don’t like being called that either‘)… ullLahteeeenOHhhesss (‘I think they like that), and the Youth… (‘wait, I hear kids today don’t like that) the ‘millenials’ … etc.,etc.,etc.
For 2013 everyone wants to ‘reach out’… ok, fine. Towards what? To accomplish what? With what?
I’ve heard from all quarters, that we need to stop studying and talking about that old Founding Fathers stuff, and concentrate on newer and more popular strategies, winning strategies, no less! Those are sure to help us to reach out! Right?
Well, I’ve got my same old question. How are you going to reach out to anyone, when you don’t really know what it is you believe, and what it is you are for? How? Even among grassroots conservatives at a state wide gathering last month, I saw little evidence for their understanding of what they are for… or maybe I should rephrase that – everyone knew what they were for, but few seemed to understand why they should be for those positions.
The prospects at that point for strategically reaching out and communicating the value of those positions to those who don’t believe as you do… are somewhat limited.What is it, do you suppose, that they would be able to ‘strategize’ about?
Conservatives like to talk about the Constitution, but then in the same breath that they are voicing the importance of a nation united under the rule of law, I listened to them bandying about ideas of pursuing single state nullification, enthusing about such things as a ’10th Amendment process’ (process?!) and of how some states have pushed to nullify this or that national law, and we need to too! (If you don’t see the problem there, you probably have a severely irony deficient diet, take two John Adams and call me in the morning).
And on top of not being able to effectively reach out even amongst ourselves, these same conservatives seem to want to to ‘reach out’ to people who ARE different from them, to entice the Mex…Hisp…ulateenohs, the Yout… Millenials, and democrats too!, with the message of ‘be more like Ozzie & Harriet‘, or some other cultural memory … and they expect to succeed in that by by phrasing it more… strategically?
Well, if you’re going to ‘reach out’, you’d best check that what you are seen to be reaching out from, is more attractive than repulsive. Reaching out with “Hey, I really like Cinco de Mayo, vote GOP & be more like Ozzie & Harriet, si? I really love the beer & salsa and btw, vote republican!“, ain’t gonna work out too well for you.
If you want clever slogans, those slogans have to refer to something, something that everyone knows or knows they should know… if you simply reduce your positions to meaningless slogans, then the competition who is offering meaningless slogans plus benefits, will win.
As they have been.
I tried putting my two cents in at that meeting, that it’s not a matter of making a message more timely, but more timeless. That you can’t appeal to people by ‘reaching out’ to them, when those you’re competing with are reaching out with goodies… that they have to be made to understand your message themselves and see for themselves why it is important to their lives, or fuhgedaboudit. I got a few nods… but the conversation went right back to the need to craft a more appealing message, which is about all I’ve been hearing ever since.
Fine, you want a message? Here you go:
- If you want to communicate a message, first make sure that you understand it.
- If you want us to support candidates, try promoting, and supporting, candidates who actually understand our message, and who are willing and able to articulate it and defend it.
Short of that… please, if you have to make your ‘message’ more appealing to this or that group, or more timely, then you don’t have a message that’s worth their time to listen to. Any message that doesn’t measure up to that, is folly, fad and, in the last analysis, failure, and that is the only message you will succeed in communicating… which is the message that I intend to press in these pages in the year 2013.
So, please, before you reach out, first reach in. Reach in to find your principles and work on understand them first, you have to understand what it is that you believe and why, before you can communicate a worthwhile message about it – note: that doesn’t mean that I think you don’t know what positions you favor, believe me, we all know you do; what it means is that if you want to sell others on their value, then you need to understand the ideas behind those positions you support, you have to reach in to understand what they mean. I’m sorry it takes time, that’s the way it is. Deal with it. It’s a new year. Welcome.
The fact is, that if you can’t show how those positions you support today, flow from the same ideas that led to those truly radical ideas our Founders expressed (note: Not the quotes Adams & Jefferson might have made, but why they made them), in the likes of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (as proposed), then… you might begin to grasp why it is that conservatism, as a political movement, has failed in the last few presidential elections. No one believes your message – including most of those you elect to legislate it.
Reach in to understand why you are who you are, and believe what you do, demonstrate it in your actions, communicate it in that way to your fellows, consistently, and you may again foster a movement worth reaching for.
That’s the long ball game we are engaged in now, not necessarily to win this or that election (though that too), but to win the hearts and minds of the future.