I don’t get in many fights on the internet. You’d think that I would, being a conservative and a tea party founder and internet addict. But really, I don’t enjoy getting into the name-calling and troll-fighting that occurs so often in the political sphere. I learned from a master that there are people who will eat your days with pointless counterpoints, and so I try to find more productive things to do with my time.
There’s still plenty of opportunity for debate, though, and I’m happy to have reasonable discussions about the best ways for conservatives to get what they want. That’s part of what we do here at Free Radical Network, whether at this site or on our Facebook Page (which you should already have liked!) – we try to broaden the discussion, and focus on solutions. Sometimes that starts serious debates, most recently over offerings likeGeorge’s Immigration piece, Chris’s GOP Gender Gap article, JD’s focus on perfecting political strategies, or my TXGOP Platform dissection. We want our readers to explore what it means to be a conservative, to find ways to get the liberty and prosperity we’re after, to become more active and effective advocates for limited government and unlimited success.
One of the first rules we instituted for our writers is the No Rant Rule. Essentially, we won’t publish a piece in which the author merely wants to vent. That was a very deliberate decision, too. It’s been clear to me for a long time that while rants occasionally make us feel better for being able to blow off steam; they also have the potential to demoralize us, and can lead to hopelessness and surrender. That’s the LAST thing we need in this long fight to turn things around.
So the rule is: if a writer is going to point out how bad something is, he also has to propose solutions and action items. Informing readers of bad policies or criminal behavior is only Step One. Having set that scene, we feel it’s important to make it to Step Two, and discuss what we can practically do to address the problem identified. There are plenty of places on the internet where you can get yourself worked up over an issue. What we strive for is a way to direct that anger and frustration, and to use them to actually make headway against the things that are going wrong.
All that said, in some recent discussions I’ve noticed something that has begun to bother me tremendously. Whether I’m discussing, say, how Millennials choose candidates, or how uninformed the general electorate is, or how welfare recipients work the system, or how minimum wage laws are damaging to low-skilled workers, inevitably someone chimes in with ‘What do you expect? ________are just idiots. Nobody cares what they think anyway.’
Maybe they are; I’m not interested in arguing that point. But if I’m going to get the things I want, I need to win elections. And if elections are about numbers, then I need to find more people who will vote like me if I’m going to win. That means convincing people who aren’t active to become active, or convincing people who don’t vote like me that they ought to. It means persuasion, and it means salesmanship.
So I’m mystified by people who believe that this is the way to win people over to our cause:
Dexter was an amusing character, and nobody doubted Dexter was smart. But Dexter certainly wasn’t able to convince people that he was RIGHT.
Likewise, I’m going to go out on a limb here, and state that telling someone that they are an idiot might not be the best way to get them to listen to you and your ideas. And it might even turn off the bystanders who are witnessing your self-indulgence. It may feel good to get that off your chest, but when it’s over, have you really accomplished anything? Have you gotten us closer to liberty? Have you persuaded anyone? Have you recruited anyone new for our side?
Pointing at people who aren’t engaged and involved and writing them off as ‘stupid’ is not productive. Sure, you might be correct in your assumption, but so what? Being right isn’t enough to win. You can shout ‘Constitution!’ all day at this administration, but until you wrest power away from them, you are just wasting your breath. That’s what my goal is: stripping the government of as much power as I can, and returning it to the people. The same people, I point out, that our allies are in the process of calling ‘stupid’ on a regular basis. Chew on that.
And if you’re stuck at Step One – just venting your rage and frustration, without considering what to do about it – stop. Take some time to think about real-world, practical, doable things that you can do to start fixing it. Ask yourself ‘Is this tactic getting me closer to what I want?’
Get to Step Two, now, rather than become overwhelmed and depressed about how bad things are. Get moving. Learn how to be more effective, learn how to be persuasive, and let’s go convince more people that they agree with us. Because we don’t have a lot of time to waste.