Recently on The Refinery, our weekly grassroots strategy session with The Party of Choice and The Conservative Union, we decided to begin a series on the tactics of the Left. As far back as Rush Limbaugh’s early days as a nationally-syndicated talk show host, we’ve had discussions on the Right about Things The (Institutional) Left Does, but usually with the aim to point and laugh, or to express our outrage. What we want to do with this series, however, is twofold:
First, we want to isolate one particular tactic at a time, then explain it as thoroughly as possible. By understanding what a tactic is, how to identify it, and how it works; we take the first step to defeating it. Recognizing when a particular tactic is in use against us will help us better navigate the situation and avoid some of the inherent pitfalls.
Second, we want to explore the best ways to combat particular tactics. We hope to consider the audience, the political landscape, the mood of the non-political public, and other factors as we craft responses that the grassroots can employ each time they recognize a tactic being used against them.
Know the tactic, be able to identify it, learn how to defeat it.
And make no mistake; defeating left tactics isn’t merely the job of the politicians. Those tactics work as an amplifier for whatever narrative the left is attempting to push at a given time. That narrative is pushed down through mainstream media and other messaging to regular (and mostly apolitical) people; people at your job, in your family, in your neighborhood. Who is better equipped to reach them – a politician from Washington, or you? We can’t leave the job of increasing public support for our values and principles to our representatives. Even if they were good at it (and most aren’t), we can’t rely on them to reach all these people who aren’t paying attention until the last minute before an election. WE have to work NOW to build that groundswell of public support needed to get what we want.
Our first tactic centered around a piece at The Federalist – ‘We Live in the Age of the Bully’. In it, John Hayward argues that since the tactic is so successful – on the small scale as well as internationally – we will see much more of it in the future. If we want our leaders (at any level) to stand up to bullies, then we have to make sure that fighting bullies, rather than giving in to them, is still a cultural value.
In our first segment, we discussed the article, and Andy claimed that a lot of the examples weren’t actually bullying. What we landed on, however, was that ‘bullying’ is often used by leaders (of schools, of companies, of universities, of nations) as cover for doing something they actually agree with, but aren’t brazen enough to actually admit. Therefore, if a university has, say, invited a conservative speaker which draws protests from liberal students and faculty; the university can disinvite the ‘controversial’ speaker in the name of ‘student safety’, completely ignoring the chipping away at the value of exposing students to a large array of ideas, among other values.
Next we turned to the hypocrisy of the Left as they employ bullying tactics. Charlie Cooke’s article ‘The Left Discovers You Shouldn’t Collectivize Guilt’ contrasted the Left’s convenient about-face on the issue of the ‘political climate’ ginned up by influential leaders. Remember the whole NEW TONE business after Gabby Giffords was shot? How they blamed Sarah Palin? Now that it’s Sharpton and his ilk in the hot seat following the assassination of two NYPD officers, they’re quickly denying guilt. Look for more on this sort of pivoting in a future Left Tactic segment on The Refinery, and check out Andy’s fabulous article ‘Intellectual Cover’.
I’m not sure there’s a bigger bully in our country than the IRS, and in the past few years we’ve seen the agency and its leadership exposed like never before. In this segment, we talk about the importance of keeping the pressure on the IRS, continuing to take advantage of the agency’s unpopularity as well as the egregious nature of their bullying tactics. When Lois Lerner can lose years’ worth of e-mails, and YOU have to document EVERYTHING in an audit, the American people GET IT. We fight back by keeping all their abuses front and center with the general public for as long as it takes to abolish the agency.
The conversation turned to how to talk about Left bullying, one on one with people who might not know they’re doing it. Andy gives a great demonstration of how to make headway with folks who might not even realize that they’re supporting bullying tactics in the name of supporting policies they agree with. Study this segment if you know some inadvertent Control Freaks who haven’t yet seen the implications of the things they support.
In the end, we even developed a hashtag campaign – #BulliesBeLike – to highlight big government bullying as well. Our hope is that by sharing the images we and other conservatives create, we can brand so much of big government excess as ‘bullying’ (it totally is) and teach people on the right how to talk about Big Government in a way that resonates with the Apolitical Middle. Check out the examples below, and let us know YOUR suggestions as you practice taking on this pervasive Left Tactic.
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