Thursday, March 05, 2009


I have hopes of influencing the opinions of others, which is why I blog in the first place. My first hope is to influence people to consider Christian ideas. Others are better at this than I, so I usually keep my focus on influencing others to think clearly. Clearing out debris does not lead to conversion - the debris is often carefully-assembled rationalization, replaced by more debris when removed - but illogic is especially uncongenial to pressing through to the truth.

Liberalism gets my especial attention not because it is necessarily worse, but because it is the unweeded garden I myself occupied for so long. I have learned which plants are inedible there. As I have been a near observer of fundamentalist Christians as well, I can offer some words of caution there also. Different weeds, but still some nutritional lack there. Both have the common failing that they borrow some things from Christianity, but elevate the parts over the whole. It is likely that such is the weakness of any lesser truth, and why half-truths are the more dangerous.

Down the list is my hope to influence folks toward conservatism, as much for practical as for spiritual reasons, and even more, to nudge conservatives in libertarian directions. But above all is the general search for weeds - any weeds - in the garden.

So it is with some sympathy that I read Republicans getting all worked up about how they are losing the PR battle among young people, or minorities, or single women, or whatever. Their cause is not fully mine, but I recognise many elements.

One main difficulty is believing that it is only a PR problem. But in all the instances above, it is not just marketing at issue. We are advertising groceries, our opponents advertising drugs. People do not just believe in progressivism because the liberals are cooler and control many persuasive outlets. People also want to believe those ideas, the easier reality where good things come just by wishing. We battle not only against the external competitors for their ears, but their inner voices as well. It is a disadvantage that will not go away.

Those who doubt that this is the case should look at the groups as they are divided up in this country. What groups might we think are most vulnerable to being persuaded by wishes rather than hard choices? The young? 18-25 year olds are a liberal stronghold. Those who didn't finish highschool? A big democratic block. New immigrants, ditto (except those from previously communist countries).

Minorities - blacks, gays, latinos - have this susceptibility for an entirely different reason. As I mentioned in my post about the alliance of Jews with progressivism, those who have been put down grow weary of being always suspicious. They yearn for a place where they can let down their guard and be on equal footing. The Democrats promise this but never deliver. The best one can hope for is to be a coalition ally. The newer rhetoric about Rainbow Coalitions or being a mosaic instead of a melting pot illustrates this more accurately than its users know. The rainbow colors are always kept distinct, each mosaic piece exists as an easily replaceable non-unique part.

Such aversions to hard truth become even more pronounced in spiritual matters. Whole separate post sometime soon.


Retriever said...

Good post. As a friend from church tirelessly reminds me, I have to beware the possible hubris behind the desire to influence others (except, of course, our kids who should hear and obey every wise word we utter and follow our stellar (ahem) example).

I've had some of my youthful aspirations whacked out of me, and am sometimes just staggered by how little influence I seem to have on even those I love. I always had better luck helping unrelated people, people I worked with. An angel on the highway, the devil at home.

What I have to remember (and this may sound too abstract, given the dreadful economic and political unfolding in our country) is that we can't gauge our influence at the time. It's often delayed in effect (a slo-virus? or the seed Jesus talked about, except it die....) or has the opposite effect intended or falls on rocky ground, etc. Only God knows the impact or lack of it we have for good.

For all we know, the awful things going on now in Washington, may mask good things arising in our country as a result of our own unrealized influence and that of millions of others for good. Nobody able to see clearly what impact they have had individually, but together changing things.

But whistling in the dark. RIght now so discouraged that I can relate to the historic Amish impulse to "be ye, therefore, separate"

OBloodyHell said...


I posted a comment which I think is peripherally related to this over on Dr. Sanity's blog

The primary gist of it (other than as a response to an earlier posted comment) was a discussion of an excellent article some years ago by John Steele Gordon, titled "What We Lost In The Great War". I believe that, once you read this article, it makes the cause of the transition from Classical Liberalism to Modern Liberalism self-evident.

Reversing that damage, which has become a serious cancer, needs to be tackled, and I think it's at the core of what modern conservatism needs to challenge.

I think that was one of the key things that made Reagan work, too -- after the "malaise" of the 70s, Reagan made it clear that it was OK to be an American once again -- that we had nothing to be ashamed of. Conservatives lost this voice as the 1990s transitioned into the 2000s. Not only did the GOP begin pandering to every possible group that whined for attention (attempting to sell them their "victimhood drugs"), they began to ignore all the things which got them put into power -- smaller government, term limits, less intrusion into personal lives, and became nothing more than the Dem Party Lite. As the Dems went further and further left, the GOP followed them chasing after the abandoned middle, and doing so knowing that the base on the Right could do nothing -- after all -- what were THEY gonna do, vote for someone to the left of Ralph Nader in protest ?

The Left isn't winning because it's got the better, more appealing product -- as you suggest, what the left sells is Drugs -- because the thing that the Right has is (yeah, ironically) Hope. And that beats Drugs hands down for most people.

The Right needs to get back on target, and make Hope the point once again, and stop attempting to appeal to the escapists (always a minority) who want Drugs.

In about 18 months, I suspect Hope will be in pretty short supply. Which means that the GOP, if it gets its shit together, will have a bear market to deal with