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In search of political magic fairy dust (Part 1)

Don’t let the title of this piece confuse you—my subject is not state Senator Dan Rutherford, Congressman Mark Kirk, or political pay roller John McGovern (Republicans all). Rather, my topic is basic political communications.

The conservative message is how we would solve policy problems, and why we oppose those offered by the political left. That message is not reaching enough people. Until more conservatives realize this, the movement—and the Republican Party—is going nowhere.

Many of the folks who entertain the notion that they are among the best and the brightest political players and political minds are actually acting quite foolishly. Instead of dealing with on the ground realities, they talk as if they’re flying along at 30,000 feet. Here’s a short list of those I’m referring to:

  • People who hold important public or party office.
  • People who work for conservative think tanks.
  • People who write for all my favorite publications such as Townhall.com, the Weekly Standard, and National Review.
  • People who host terrific talk radio shows.

I’d like to shout in their ears: “Hey! Not enough people are hearing you or your message!”

The politicians think getting elected and issuing press releases or giving occasional quotes to reporters is enough. The think tanks and commentators believe that publishing brilliant research, policy reports, and commentary is the Rx. While such activity is important, it constitutes only a small part of what’s needed. Repeat: a small part.

The larger work of reaching the roughly 300 million folks who reside in the land of the free and the home of the brave involves a lot more than using your keyboard or accumulating vote totals.

Over the past twenty years Republicans held power in Illinois and then failed to build. The same is true nationally—GOP control of the Congress and the White House should have only been the start, but it wasn’t. Those vote totals in our favor certainly wasn’t enough.

During those same decades, fantastic research and policy and opinion papers that were written were never in short supply. Our side has worn out keyboards and filled computer memory banks and killed countless trees for the printed word and yet Obama and Pelosi and Reid hold power.

I said on our radio show yesterday that there seems to be a lot of people who believe that there has been a serious attempt to sell conservative policy reforms and that effort failed. Baloney. It wasn’t tried by a longshot.

As someone who lives on the ground and not up there at 30,000 feet, it’s my experience that few people understand the following:

  • The true magnitude and future costs of local, state, and federal government debt (structural and otherwise).
  • Few people realize how much worse Barack Obama is making that debt.
  • Why government controlled health care won’t work and what is the best alternative to it.
  • What school vouchers would mean for American public schools.
  • Why free market capitalism requires smart regulation and a moral people.

It’s not that Americans are stupid—they’re not. I realize Jay Leno’s interviews on the street showing what regular people don’t know can be frightening. But what would be even more frightening is if Leno started to ask some hard-hitting questions of our self styled “intelligentsia.”

Those smart folks don’t seem to grasp that there has been little to no effort put in to developing a delivery system that brings the news and information to the door of people who have not yet heard it.

It seems that many of our elected leaders think it’s 1980 and they’re Ronald Reagan. That might be over-stating it a bit, but why else wouldn’t they be working to find ways to fill in the informational gaps that exist throughout society?

If our think tankers and talkers and political commentators were all so brilliant, wouldn’t some of them start to realize that there is no magic fairy dust that can be sprinkled across the country to ameliorate the woeful lack of knowledge that exists from coast to coast?

Up next: Part 2.

©2009 John Francis Biver

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