Walmart Shelves and the Political Information War

Back in the 1990s when the first super-sized Walmart opened in my town I didn’t like the place. Too big. Too much walking. Almost twenty years later I appreciate those big stores because I can get in some good walking exercise while shopping.

Today I also appreciate them because they represent, among other things, an incredible amount of planning, labor, experimentation, study and investment — things Republicans and conservatives need to learn when it comes to the information war.

What do you need to buy?

Groceries? A grill? A computer or camera? How about shoes — or maybe some stationary? Out of beer? Time for new bedding? Need a TV — or towels? A piece of furniture or some picture frames? Let me guess: pool supplies. Party goods. Rugs. Toys. Flowers, real or plastic. Dishes or appliances of all sizes. The room is too dark — time for another lamp?

This isn’t a commercial for Walmart or Target or any of the other chain stores that stock almost everything. This is a plea to my fellow Republicans and conservatives to start thinking differently about politics. Those store shelves get filled on purpose. We all agree that the free enterprise system provides jobs and consumer goods that raise living standards. But what about the political system?

Our country is going to hell because while our side values economics and is willing to invest our labor there — not enough conservatives understand that similar work is needed to save this great republic from the cultural and economic Marxists.

Last time I granted the premise that wonderful political and policy work is being done on our side. Good-hearted and well-meaning people do a lot of political stuff. My argument, though, is that too little of that stuff involves actually bringing information to our uninformed and misinformed neighbors.

Words to eyes, sound to ears.

Liberty and the profit motive fill those Super Walmarts with a mind blowing number of products.

Where is the similar driving force to make sure that every election cycle sees fewer and fewer low information voters going to the polls?

I believe the motivation does exist on the political right. What’s lacking is leadership that provides the right direction. So how do we lower the number of low information voters, exactly?

First let me tell you how it’s not going to happen. Karl Rove’s TV ad buys aren’t going to get the job done. Nor will the campaign run by your typical political “pro” whose past performances have helped get us to where we are now.

What’s needed is for those with big wallets and big microphones to help ignite a communications revolution on the political right. Just like the work that goes into all of those Walmarts, it will take planning, labor, experimentation, study and investment.

Are you a member of a Tea Party group? Let me ask you: how many of your uninformed/misinformed neighbors is your group actually making contact with? I’m not interested in how many emails you send to each other, web posts you put up that few people read, or meetings you have where you commiserate with those that already agree with you. I want to know this: are you doing the work of a political evangelist?

The same question goes to those who are in local, regional, or state-level Republican Party organizations. It’s time to put less emphasis on titles, fiefdoms, and Roberts Rules of Order. It’s time for you to fulfill your purpose — which is winning hearts and minds which turn into votes.

The same question even applies to those who run think tanks, issue advocacy organizations, and even political websites. In many cases there’s a terrific list of generous donors supporting their efforts. The groups often have an amazing archive of new and old commentary and research, and some talented people on staff or serving as volunteers.

Unfortunately, most of the Republican/conservative industrial complex (as I like to call it) doesn’t do the kind of work that is the equivalent of filling store shelves. They mostly are all about filling the kitchen cabinets of the like minded. (Okay, that analogy might not quite work, but you get my point.)

All products are manufactured, marketed and distributed. When will Republican and conservative figure out the parallel that exists between the policies they’re selling and a Super Walmart?

More on all this next time.

First published in June 2014.

Image credit: