Thursday, August 13, 2009

Urge your conservative relatives to keep watching Fox News


One commentor to one of my posts said:

>>I hope you don't mind if I use some things you said...my parents are Republicans but open to Democratic ideas. They just need to stop watching Fox News. <<

But actually you should encourage them to keep watching Fox News--but then to go to www.Factcheck.org and www.Politifact.com for a reality check.

Offer to watch a show they watch onc day and record it. Then do the factchecking yourself as well.

Make your central point not that Fox News isn't liberal...duh. Make it that Fox News isn't conservative either.

After all, it's not conservative to lie. It's not conservative to shill for special interests--especially when those special interests' interests directly oppose the interests of your relatives. And it's not conservative to be divisive--to constantly seek to make half the country hate the other half...to get close to incitement to riot.

It's conservative to be traditional, to question change, to value decorum and law and order, to be wary about new things. That's not bad. We need people in society to do that so we don't go chasing off after every novelty. Just as we need liberals to keep exploring the new things and report back on what seems to work.

Don't ask your relatives to become liberal. Ask them to become conservative...that is, to be true to conservative principles. When right wing loons disrupt town hall meetings and shout down the other side--how is that conservative? Don't let your relatives defend this with claims about Democratic healthcare reform proposals--they may be right about that, they may be not, but it's a different topic.

A true conservative won't "take it to the streets" unless all forms of redress within the system have been denied him. The voices on the radio say this is exactly the case, but they lie of course. Hoots and catcalls and shouting downing--this must make your conservative relatives shudder. As well they should, because it goes against their principles.

This is a wedge you can use to show how their beloved party has been taken over by the loons.

Look at the public works and the progressive taxation under Eisenhower. Ask what happened to the party of Eisenhower.

Finally, point out how in previous campaigns the Republican Party kept pointing out how personal character was a good guide to deciding who to vote for. They did this especially when Bill Clinton was running and during his presidency, due to his notorious zipper problem.

Yet they're strangely fallen silent about personal virtue today. Possibly because so many prominent Republicans who bragged so loudly about their own virtue got caught with their own pants down--literally. And possibly because the current president's personal life is exactly what conservatives say should be the personal life of a public official.

Obama is undeniably a family man. He loves his wife and children and they love him. He has never strayed--not a hint of scandal in his family life. Nor has he been divorced and remarried, like, for example, Newt Gingrich and John McCain--and so many other prominent GOP officials.

If personal virtue is a guide to public trust when the Democratic president is a bit of a stray cat at home, then personal virtue should be a guide to public trust when the Democratic president is exactly the kind of family man conservatives admire.

See the pattern? Honor your relatives' conservative principles. Praise them for being personally trustworthy. Admit that society needs them, and point to the times in your life that their solidity was a boon to you. Then make them apply those conservative principles to politics, instead of the tribal principles Fox News encourages (i.e., anything my people do is OK and justifiable, no matter how heinous, while anything the other side does isn't OK even when it is OK).

Now go out and talk to Uncle Jack! He'll thank you someday.

BTW the whole point of this blog is to help people talk with zealots--both right and left.

3 comments:

One Salient Oversight said...

I've been thinking lately about the power of propaganda and the reason why it succeeds. Sadly the only way I can write about this is to compare the current situation to Nazi Germany which ends up making me go Godwin... but it is the only direction to go in.

I remember reading Daniel Goldhagen many years ago who argued that the Germany people were willing participants in the Holocaust. This was a controversial claim because it argued that Nazi propaganda resulted from German antisemitism and not the other way around. In the current situation I think there is enough evidence to verify such a claim.

I believe that many within the right wing are using the tools of propaganda to create a dangerous and potentially violent division within society. The intention is not so much to create potential violence but simply to gain political power. Yet despite this, there is no doubt that the majority of America's media is, at the very least, not fully committed to reporting such propaganda. The American situation is thus different to Nazi Germany in that opposing viewpoints are reported in the media.

Yet the presence of alternative viewpoints is not necessarily working. A sizeable minority of Americans believe that Obama was born in Kenya, that "Obamacare" will result in old age euthanasia and various other nonsensical beliefs that are clearly and unambiguously wrong when the facts are analysed. And not only are these facts analysed they are also reported. But the problem is that this sizeable minority has chosen to believe what it wants to believe, rather than making a decision based upon facts and careful analysis. Thus propaganda "works" (in the sense that it acts as both a result of a minority belief and as a reinforcer of minority belief) without having to battle against alternative sources of information. Who cares if the stories are debunked by the alternative media? The only thing that matters is that enough people believe it and are willing to act upon it.

And this then goes back to Goldhagen's controversial conclusion - just as the German people were willing participants in the holocaust, so are the "birthers" and "deathers" and others willing participants in their cause... and will be to blame for whatever violence which ensues in the future.

I'll say this again - although it is distasteful to compare Nazi Germany to the current situation, I would argue that there is no other way of comparison or analysis.

Stevelynj said...

I just found your blog and I am so relieved. It's so great to hear a voice of moderation and thoughtfulness amongst all the shouting. It is so easy to demonize and so easy to mix-up conservatives and "wingnuts". I consider myself a conservative, but I am so embarrassed by those who shout "socialist!" every time they disagree. Eisenhower would, I am sure, be appalled - as would Franklin, Jefferson, and all those others who thought that others should be heard. I'll be checking back regularly!

Stevelynj said...

I just found your blog and I am so relieved. It's so great to hear a voice of moderation and thoughtfulness amongst all the shouting. It is so easy to demonize and so easy to mix-up conservatives and "wingnuts". I consider myself a conservative, but I am so embarrassed by those who shout "socialist!" every time they disagree. Eisenhower would, I am sure, be appalled - as would Franklin, Jefferson, and all those others who thought that others should be heard. I'll be checking back regularly!