Editor’s note: From the Dispatches archive — this article regarding how to save the country was first posted on October 1, 2013.
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 gets to them.
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 an 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 media. The bad news is that some of the new media isn’t any better, and most of what dominates the dominate news avenues is garbage.
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.barbwire.com.