From the archives — six years ago this month:
Consider for a moment your average big time right-of-center political commentator, writer, the typical talk radio show host, or the guy who authors yet another brilliant study outlining a policy proposal. What might be in their mind when it comes to the size of their audience?
In too many cases their work is read/heard/seen by so few people questions could be raised whether their effort was worth it. Obviously I’m not referring to guys like Rush Limbaugh. For the ones I’m talking about — at the positive end of the audience scale we’re talking about thousands — tens of thousands on a very good day — in nation of 310+ million souls. The math doesn’t quite work out for Republicans and conservatives as the last two presidential contests have shown.
I think it’s a safe bet that nowhere near the consciousness of most of these members of the Republican/conservative political industrial complex is the simple dynamic of how political information actually flows. That’s not their concern. They’re paid to write, comment, and conduct research. When you write for a big name publication or opine on TV you might be fooled into thinking that your wisdom gets sprinkled down upon the populace, and much like magic fairy dust, it greatly improves the understanding of the masses. But again I have to be the bearer of bad news: it doesn’t.
Any widespread dissemination of fairy dust is taking place only on behalf of liberals. They own the big megaphones like the K-College schools, they produce the garbage found on TV and in films, and the old media is a wholly owned subsidiary of the political left. If Republicans and conservatives are going to ever succeed in the information war they’re first going to have to think local.
I’m not talking about the “all politics is local” tripe, which I addressed many years ago (read it here). I’m talking about the flow of information at the grassroots, community and regional level.
When you need gasoline for your car and you live in a small town, suburban or urban area there’s a gas station nearby. Think about that — every car in American has gasoline in its tank. How did that become possible? Did some big muckety-muck decree something from high above and voilà!, it’s done? No — an enormous number of people at the street level helped make possible the convenient delivery of fuel to your car.
It is the same with food and grocery stores. Natural gas, electricity, etc., and local utilities. Water, sewer, telephone lines and cell towers. Even schools. All delivered — mostly local — some to your door.
Let me ask you to consider that until Republican and conservative millionaires and billionaires buy major media outlets, radio networks, run Google or Yahoo News, produce the majority of the TV shows and movies, and take over the schools from kindergarten through college — we’re going to have to treat political information more like the local goods and services that we rely upon.
What will that locally-based information dissemination system look like? At the start it will be a lot of local Republican organizations and tea party groups taking the time to go to communications school in order to learn what real outreach to the uninformed and misinformed looks like.
It will involve a lot of people engaged in a lot of low-level activities — such as placing ads in community newspapers. It will involve hanging flyers on doorknobs advertising the existence of a group and inviting participation. It will mean actually making contact with people in the community much like a new dry cleaning business has to do if it doesn’t want to just rely on drive-by business.
Eventually it will require that Republican and conservative elected officials get serious about becoming public opinion leaders instead of just bumps on a log. It will require constant contact — just like the political left engages in 24/7/365 through all available means. But I will be happy with just a start – something small enough to spur innovation and creativity — and big enough to inspire the amount of volunteer activity that will be required to make it a success.
Americans sense they are being sold a bill of goods by the radical political left. The problem is, too few Americans are actually presented with a Republican and conservative alternative. That is what has to change.
There’s more to come on this topic.
First published February 25, 2014.
Image credit: Richard Johnstone.