I tell my audiences at every opportunity that no war has ever been won without invasion.
But how do we invade an entire culture that has within its ranks the media, the subsidized jobless with lots of time on their hands and the amoral who subscribe to a politically correct theology and don’t have to answer to a standard?
Every conservative knows this challenge, and I have been testing approaches in all my years in media and communication. Like all politics, psychology is key.
My opinion is in sync with others who study this topic every day. One of those is moral psychologist and ethics professor Dr. Jonathan Haidt. He said he started looking at political differences to explain the close mindedness of conservatives, but he ended up seeing conservatives differently when he actually amassed data that proved conservatives to be fairly broad minded.
Another is Matt Zwolinski, associate professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego. He nicknamed himself “The Bleeding-Heart Libertarian.” He said we should start dialogue with the issue of compassion because liberals have been taught to believe that conservatives are not compassionate.
1) Civil discourse and tolerance:
Describe in your initial conversation with someone the importance of civil discourse and tolerance. Their dirty little secret is that they believe we don’t have any ability to engage in either civil discourse or tolerance. If we engage with promotion of those two ideas, and dispel those myths, we open the door.
One article titled, “Jonathan Haidt, He Knows Why We Fight,” says his research shows conservatives play to the full spectrum of sensibilities because the full spectrum is necessary for a healthy society. The New York Times put it like this: “Liberals dissolve moral capital too recklessly. Welfare programs that substitute public aid for spousal and parental support undermine the ecology of the family. Education policies that let students sue teachers erode classroom authority. Multicultural education weakens the cultural glue of assimilation.”
Haidt’s research highlights those crossover areas that are most appealing to a narrower and less tolerant view of culture – or that of a liberal. The same article above points out that “conservatives are much better at understanding and anticipating liberal attitudes than liberals are at appreciating where conservatives are coming from. Case in point: Conservatives know that liberals are repelled by cruelty to animals, but liberals don’t think (or prefer not to believe) that conservatives are repelled too.”
3) What Works:
Cal Thomas wrote a book with that title, and Dr. Matt Zwolinski describes with precision how to get to the meat of the matter:
Dr. Zwolinski speaks directly to what issues are pivotal, point-by-point, and you can copy his blueprint. In fact, he would like you to do just that! In an article he wrote in the Daily Caller, he said:
a) Government is force (coercive).
b) Even if government wanted to help the vulnerable, it can't. It fails every time.
c) Economic growth is important for everyone – especially the poor.
d) Economic liberty is as important as civil liberty in a compassionate society.
e) Freedom is about more than economics. It is compassion for your fellow man.
f) Spontaneous order is powerful.
Dr. Haidt observed the irony that evolutionists believe in survival of the fittest with regard to the natural world, but they then reject the same laws with regard to economic order – another psychologically pivotal component.
5) Connect first, contend later:
Focus on the things you agree upon. Find those pivotal issues that transcend politics. Build the relationship on those things first, and then when the conversation allows, introduce the points above.
I have seen this work again and again.
Many criticized my decision to go on liberal outlets like ABC, Al Jazeera, Comedy Central and others. But the conversion mail I get after those shows outweighs the hate mail and death threats, and even the typical fan mail. I have learned that the way to get to those who follow the statist groupthink, but aren't really thinking for themselves, is to engage them on their battlefield – their turf.
Instead of talking about abortion, talk about life. Instead of talking about Second Amendment freedoms, talk about saving lives. Rather than talking about economics, talk about equality and freedom. Instead of talking about illegal immigration, talk about compassion. Authenticity and heartfelt compassion is key. This isn't about manipulation; this is about relationship. Connect first, contend later.
I do a lot of conservative media, and I love the "atta girl" mail that follows. Honestly, I would have a hard time keeping up this rigorous schedule if it were so thankless that I never got the kudos from those I fight alongside. But as Tsu knew, you can't win unless you invade the other side. You have to be strategic when an opportunity comes from an opening caused by a weakness in the opposition. We should always be watchful for those chances, and we should engage strategically, honestly and authentically.
Hence the saying: "If you know the enemy and you know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and you know Earth, you may make your victory complete." – Sun Tzu