Later today (or earlier today depending on when you read this) I will be on TMI with Aldous Tyler on Madison Student Radio. My segment will be dealing with the state of political dialogue in this country and how we on the left can do a better job of selling ourselves to the larger public. It is that latter part of the issue I want to deal with here today.
Because I have to tell you: we do a rotten job of making our case. I know we have the better arguments. When you talk about any issue, whether it’s the environment, economics, foreign policy, civil rights, or whatever else you care to think about, overwhelmingly the data come down in our favor. The debate is over on some of these issues. Despite what right wing, austerity obsessed pundits want to say, Keynsian economics works, not just on paper, but in real life. It has been shown to over and again. That however, is not the problem with our message.
Not to put to fine a point on it, we are smug as hell. We know we have reason on our side, and rather than walk through the points out with those we are trying to convince, we usually just berate and belittle them as idiots. We have our fun with working class conservatives who vote against their best interest rather than reach our hands out to them. I thought we were in this to make the world better for everyone, including them? Maybe I am naive.
These are people who are victims of a billion dollar a year propaganda machine, so of course they are convinced to work against their best interest. It is our job to show them how they are being manipulated, and we can do it without making them feel stupid. We can tell them how they should be flattered that selfish jerks like the Kochs are willing to spend that much money to influence them, because that means without that money these people would easily be able to see the truth. Most folks are smart enough to get it, they just don’t get a chance to with the information assault, most of it very cleverly crafted, that they live under.
These discussions, these debates, should not be about winning or losing, because when we make it that we all lose. They should be about coaxing out the truth, a truth we on the left know we have mostly uncovered. Free health care, a stable welfare state, sustainable growth: these are not difficult concepts, and an open dialogue, without judgement, without the smug “you-just-don’t-get-it” attitude is the best way to shed light on them for our neighbors so we can all start working toward the world we all deserve.
- Great leaders aren’t smug (cbsnews.com)
- smugness (mad2site.wordpress.com)
- Austerity Bites, especially if you can’t Math (metafilter.com)
- Gerry Hassan: Empathy lacking in political debate (scotsman.com)