Let’s start 2016 with a definition courtesy of the Qualitative Reasoning Group at Northwestern University:
What is inertia?
Inertia is a word we use when we talk about matter and movement. Basically, our idea of inertia goes back to Sir Issac Newton’s first two laws of physics:
1. An object at rest tends to stay at rest.
2. An object in motion tends to stay in motion.
Inertia is the quality in matter (matter is anything you can touch) that lets it stay still if it is still, or keeps it moving if it is moving.
If you want to overcome inertia, you have to apply a force.
Most American Republicans and conservatives tend to be at rest — and stay there. They’re not active politically. Those that are — those who are “in motion,” similarly, keep moving — though at a speed which won’t get us to our desired destination.
It’s a presidential election year and still too many low information voters are in a position to stay low information voters.
Much of what I’m going to write this year I’ve written in previous years. Just as a good college course covers the same material year after year, these pages will continue to outline what I see as the most important message next to the Gospel itself: we’re in a political information war, and Republicans and conservatives had better get in the fight in a serious way — and fast.
“If you want to overcome inertia, you have to apply a force.” So how do we overcome the very bad habits of Republicans and conservatives and urge them into the fight? It’s the same solution as with the Gospel. Preaching, teaching, evangelism, and encouraging everyone else to join in the effort. Every individual’s reach is limited, so it’s a numbers game as well as a knowledge game.
If today the Republican Party and conservatives everywhere were to learn what Abraham Lincoln knew in 1858 we’d be on the road to fixing the bi-partisan governmental mess this country faces. Here’s what Abe said at the “Lincoln-Douglas Debate” in Ottawa, Illinois — I’ve altered only the first sentence, replacing “he is exerting” (Lincoln referring to Douglas) with “is being exerted.”
In the first place, let us see what influence [is being exerted] on public sentiment. In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.
Because of the lack of political leadership today it’s easy to despair. The deluge of negative news stories can also lead one to think that the tipping point has been reached when it comes to America as the Founders intended it. I disagree. The right paths haven’t been rejected — they haven’t been presented to the nation as a whole.
There’s a flood…title wave…tsunami (pick your term or your analogy) of great information that drenches America every single day. However, public sentiment isn’t being impacted by all of this wonderful material because it never reaches them. Most voters live in an informational drought.
There are solutions to our current problems. In fact, most of our current problems have been caused by ill-advised government policy so we already know where we need to start. The most important task at hand is to build communications pipelines so that more of our fellow citizens who are in that informational drought will be reached with the political good news.
What will those communications pipelines look like?
Use your imagination. Some will be old, tried and true. Others will be as creative as Facebook and Twitter were when they arrived on the scene. Those of us who support the principles of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence need to innovate, experiment, and start an information revolution so that everyone on our side understands that they have a roll to play. Everyone.
Here’s the harsh truth: if you’re not helping to reach the yet-unreached, you’re not fulfilling your duty as an American citizen.
Where do people get their information? We all know it’s as varied as ever. It’s also clear that the number of our fellow citizens tuning out the political process and choosing to ignore the governmental morass is increasing. It’s hard to blame them. Too much of what does reach their ears or eyes is the same thing they’ve been hearing forever. Almost no one is succinctly and artfully laying out a positive path forward.
One bit of good news is that record numbers of Americans distrust the old liberal media. The bad news is that the best of the conservative new media still has too small of an audience.
I like this quote from a writer over at the American Spectator:
Liberal [media] bias is not a matter of unfairness, but rather a matter of dishonesty — deliberately ignoring some facts, and misrepresenting other facts, in order to misinform the public by portraying to them a politically falsified view of events and personalities.
What can our side do? That’s what this column is going to start addressing once again. Breaking with a failed past is an American tradition. We need only start the process of doing it again.
Image credit: www.trondream.com.