From the Dispatches archive six years ago today (with some minor edits) — how to address abuses of constitutional powers:
Thomas Jefferson told us what’s needed:
I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
In what way are Americans hearing about conservative solutions to public policy problems? Talk radio? Sure, some folks are, but not enough listen. Are they reading the terrific articles at AmericanThinker.com or any number of other first rate websites? Sure, some are, but that number is too small to make a difference.
Where are Americans getting their news? The Fox News Channel? Even if they are viewers are only getting a part of the story. Fox News isn’t “fair and balanced” on everything. Are they reading LifeSiteNews.com or FrontPageMag.com? A relative few are. It’s a safe bet that Google News and Yahoo News and CBS Radio News are more likely to reach them than the previous sites mentioned.
So what are Republicans and conservatives doing to “inform” the “discretion” of the American public “by education?” Tell me. What are they doing? I’m not asking anyone to cite boutique websites or the preach-to-the-choir conservative groups. I want to hear about genuine mass communications efforts. Think about it and if you come up with any send me a note here.
In their book American Political Thought: The Philosophic Dimension of American Statesmanship, professors Morton Frisch and Richard Stevens wrote that big policy challenges requires leadership that is able to “take the whole nation to school.” We have as many big policy challenges facing us today as ever. What we lack is leadership. Unfortunately, before America will see that kind of leadership, conservatives and Republicans must be taught some of the most basic aspects of American politics in the new century.
My message is simple but it’s going to require a lot of repetition so it’ll sink in. They have to:
• Realize that we’re in an information war and our side is getting its butt kicked. There’s no mystery behind the fact that there are so many “low information voters.”
• Understand mass communications. If conservatives did, we wouldn’t be in our fourth decade of having society’s primary conduits of information almost completely in the hands of the political left.
• Learn that the job ahead requires “all hands on deck.” It’s not just up to political or party leaders, the conservative press, or think tanks and issue advocacy organizations. When a country goes to war everyone has a role to play. Every conservative has a circle of people they can reach.
• Accept the fact that if they’re not reaching beyond the already-converted then they’re not really helping. Our side must shift into full-time outreach mode if we’re going to win support for turning the country around.
What does “full-time” outreach mode mean? We’ll get into that next time.