Over at the Daily Caller, Matt Lewis posted about Jonah Goldberg’s new column.
Jonah’s column is an extremely well written critique by one of the movement’s better modern intellects:
For starters, the movement has an unhealthy share of hucksters eager to make money from stirring rage, paranoia, and an ill-defined sense of betrayal with little concern for the real political success that can come only with persuading the unconverted.
A conservative journalist or activist can now make a decent living while never once bothering to persuade a liberal. Telling people only what they want to hear has become a vocation. Worse, it’s possible to be a rank-and-file conservative without once being exposed to a good liberal argument. Many liberals lived in such an ideological cocoon for decades, which is one reason conservatives won so many arguments early on. Having the right emulate that echo chamber helps no one.
I despise people who don’t think through their ideology. Unfortunately, we have a whole movement that has memorized talking points without thinking about the deeper nuances.
It is why I have ripped Sarah Palin for her love of identity politics.
It is why I have argued for rational discourse HERE & HERE
Fought for civility amongst tragedy.
Sought serious reflection.
The problem is that the echo chamber is so warm. It feeds our narcissistic tendencies. We all want to be loved and right. So, to have a parade of people tell you that you are both just feeds the psyche.
And of course, there are also hundreds of thousands of sheep who will tune in at a certain time to listen to the echo chamber masters.
This, of course, isn’t meant to lump every host into this. There are hosts that, indeed, are intellectually astute. Who wrestle through their ideology and welcome the opposing viewpoints of others.
I try (emphasis on try) to spur rational discourse at every turn. As a medium, the internet is just not a place of rational discourse. For humans, over 80% of our communication is non-verbal. How is it then that new media can properly create and foster informative and thoughtful dialogue?
Unpopular Opinion Alert!
I always believe that we have a duty to self regulate our side of the movement. So, I say this in all love.
Tea Party meetings/rallies aren’t an adequate place to foster this dialogue either. In fairness, some groups are MUCH better at this than others. My question. Why aren’t they all? Too often, going back to Jonah’s point, these meetings devolve into non-stop GOP bashing and whining sessions.
I was at one such meeting which was of a more religious bent. They had discussed an anti-drinking proposal earlier (FTR I don’t drink and have no problems with this), but the meeting had devolved into a giant hem and haw chirping. When I was to give my presentation on grassroots organizing, I told them, “For a group that doesn’t like alcohol, there sure is a lot of whine in here. We have to get things done. We have to talk to our neighbors and persuade them. Whining won’t cut it.”
Forget trying to have a decent argument or disagreement with a liberal. IF you are so adamant that Obama is a muslim. Born in Kenya. Sandyhook didn’t happen. Or any of these other stupid theories and conspiracies. Don’t be shocked when your Facebook friends don’t take you seriously when you try to convince them that there are, in deed, members of the left that want to abolish weapons. They will just put you in the crazy bin.
Conservatism has roots in intellectualism. Education is vital. I get that. But a part of our education has to be…how will this sound to your neighbors?
Granted. Sometimes what we are selling is tough to sell. But what we need is better salesmen not new values. The problem comes when we have dingbats who are mere parrots and not thinkers. We need more Medveds and fewer Hannitys. We need more Ryans and fewer Bachmanns.
Unpopular Opinion Alert #2
We need more conservatives and fewer libertarians.
There is a definitive difference between limited government and no government. Here is a hint. Americans don’t like no government. That is a losing argument. I don’t care if you believe that somehow, with no rules, magically peace and happiness are going to exist like some sort of Ayn Rand wet dream. Thousands of years of human history have taught us that human beings will become tyrannical over other human beings (government or not). Beside the political theory…you just aren’t going to sell it. IF you do feel that government is not the answer, as I do, the way to persuade the addict is to not starve them of their substance. We need a methadone clinic approach. Slowly preaching self dependence and self appreciation. Policy by policy showing suitable options to a government first approach, understanding that we will often have to meet in the middle to see true policy realized.
The question then becomes. How? How do we spark the rational discourse necessary to champion our values? The answer is simple. Talk to your neighbors. Learn from your neighbors. And not just about politics. Everything. Same with your Facebook neighborhood. Can you name ten Facebook friends who will challenge you to think differently on certain things? Or do you just block whomever you don’t agree with?
I have a group of friends whom I thank, privately, for bursting the echo chamber. And they call me out when I disobey my rational discourse principles. (Social media brings out the worst in us sometimes) They are more valuable than the thousands of encouragers. Why? Because they cause me to think through my own beliefs. And we know that if we can persuade the other…then we can persuade our neighbor.
One last aside. When I ran for congress, I was having a heated discussion with two individuals. One was more conservative and the other more liberal. At the end, the conservative had to go somewhere else and the more liberal guy looked at me and said, “I don’t agree with a lot that you said. But I will vote for you because I know you are thinking through it and willing to listen.” That is what middle America cares about. And that is why we keep losing…because we haven’t shown we are willing to think through it and willing to listen.
The Other McCain takes umbrage with Jonah
John Hawkins brings another vantage point and names names!
The twitter links