Going On the Offense: Some Lessons for Our Side
Andrew Breitbart’s recent epic battle with the forces of liberal tolerance is not the most important lesson he offers – not by a longshot. There has got to be someone surprised by the way the Huffington Post fell to its figurative knees to kiss the figurative asses of Van Jones and his commie pals the second they started whining about how Breitbart was speaking his mind, but that someone likely believes in climate change and unicorn rodeos. Liberals treat concepts like “freedom of speech” and “diversity” like lonely teenage boys treat Kleenex; their floor is littered with wadded-up, discarded principles like free expression that have out-lived their usefulness. If you are shocked that the liberal media is anything more than a Ministry of Truth promoting the lamest collectivist clichés du jour, you either haven’t been paying attention, or you are really, really dumb.
No, Andrew Breitbart’s most important lesson – one he’ll happily tell you about and which his bestselling book will describes in depth – is that ten years ago, he was just some regular guy. He wasn’t a Harvard grad or a congressman or a TV anchor. He was just a normal American citizen who had had enough. The only difference between him and everyone else is that he chose to get into the fight by leveraging his growing political maturity with the exploding phenomena that is the internet. And that’s a decision you can make too.
At a superficial level, what my boring communications professors droned on about while my buddies and I took Bacardi hits off a flask in the last rows of the UCSD lecture halls, is true – the medium itself is the message. Supported by talk radio, conservative think tanks and Fox News, the internet and the social media it has made possible – the Facebooks, the Twitters, the podcasting and the blogs – represent the destruction of the old order of political discourse. And that creative destruction is what we represent – the new paradigm that has turned the once mighty New York Times into a pathetic brochure that today sets the agenda for no one but the Manhattan-bound, neo-Pauline Kael set whose members can’t believe those Tea Party barbarians prevailed last November because they don’t know any.
The issue is not whether you can be part of the fight. You can. You can organize, to the extent the Tea Party movement lends itself to organization (Chaos is its best defense against co-opting!). You can start a blog, you can tweet, or you can Facebook (Is that a verb yet?). The number of internet radio shows and podcasts like Jimmy Bise, Jr.’s “The Delivery” are exploding. New radio hosts are coming out of the movement, like Larry “Stage Right” O’Connor, Dana Loesch and Tony Katz – and they are crossing into terrestrial radio. Your opportunity is unlimited.
So the question is not finding a way to participate – the media revolution has given us all the way to do it. The question I get asked is how to do it. Hopefully, this will give you some general ideas.
If you are going into the social media world to work to support the Constitutional conservative cause, you need to understand that you are walking into a fight. The other side is hostile and aggressive and that is why many choose to sit on the sidelines. After all, American is, culturally, a remarkably inoffensive place. The Ugly American myth is perpetuated largely by parochial snobs who think experiencing other cultures means stopping for gas in Sacramento on the way from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe.
In fact, Americans are usually painfully polite in their interactions, horrified at the very notion of giving offense. This is why political correctness has a death grip on the throat of honest discourse; few people are willing to violate the “get along” norms that, in most circumstances, make the United States so pleasant to live in. And that’s why the “No Justice, No Peace” thuggery of the Wisconsin union is so effective; many in the middle are simply so discombobulated by the disruption that they just want it to stop even if it means the disrupters win – peace and quiet at any price.
You need to get beyond this if you want in. You need to not only annoy stupid people, but to develop a taste for it. Otherwise, you’ll be roadkill. Remember: They hate you. Govern yourself accordingly.
At the outset, understand that you should never –ever – argue with your leftist opponents. This may seem odd for a trial attorney to say – after all, isn’t that how I make my living? No, it is not. I never argue with the other side. And neither should you.
No matter what argument I might make to another lawyer, he is never going to change his position. I am not going to convince him of anything – nor is he me. Now, he may convince himself of something – I might supply (without comment) a sampling of the evidence I have or the legal authority I’ll be smashing over his head in court. But trying to argue him into agreeing with me is a waste of time and even risks giving away valuable intelligence on how I intend to defeat him. So I don’t do it.
And I don’t do it with leftists either. If someone is dumb enough to buy into global warming or climate change or whatever Al Gore is calling it this week, or if he really thinks allowing self-righteous, lay-about government paper shufflers retire at 95% pay at age 48 is the moral battle of our time, he’s not going to understand the big words I use much less my substantive points.
No, in law I argue to the judge and the jury – they matter because they make decisions. My opponent is simply an obstacle to be breached in pursuit of victory. Once I engage my opponent, he has an opportunity to respond and to try and seize the initiative. So I don’t. It drives them nuts.
And I treat leftist nimrods the same way, particularly as part of my Twitter antics. I don’t argue for their benefit. I don’t care if they change their minds. I argue only to influence undecided people who have no firm opinions and to reinforce and boost the morale of people who already agree with me. Those are the two ways you contribute to the cause within the social media – influencing the undecided and supporting the committed.
The proper way to deal with the leftist opponent – whether a Twitter troll or a Facebook fool or some dingus who calls into a radio show – is to quickly assess the opponent. Is he smart or dumb, evil or just misguided, ignorant or superficially informed, emotional or calm? Note how the substance of the opponent’s argument is not a consideration – you are not going to change his mind so don’t bother trying. Rather, your initial assessment needs to determine who you can best use your opponent’s statements to swing undecideds our way and to remind our own folks that they have it right already. It’s judo – use their own statements to knock them down and pin them for all to see.
My favorite tool is humor because it is the most devastating weapon – a couple decades in the infantry taught me to hit hard and keep hitting. An effective attack using humor renders them utterly ineffective – if people are laughing at them, they will never take them seriously. Witness Breitbart's constant retweeting of the most vile attacks on him - he laughs at his opponents, driving them into a frenzy. Moreover, people remember humor. Fortunately, our lefty friends provide us a bounty of ammunition.
Humor is particularly effective to point out the hypocrisies and logical chasms that characterize the leftist world view. Remember, the goal is not to convince the opponent himself he’s wrong – if he had any sense he wouldn’t believe his pinko nonsense in the first place. It’s to swing those who have not made up their minds and to support those who have. A 140-character cutting dig at some liberal disconnect – one of my perennials is pointing out that a hallowed icon of the party that paints itself as the vanguard of racial enlightenment was a Ku Klux Klan kleagle – is worth a whole article on how Republicans really aren’t racist.
That’s another important thing – never fight on their ground. In the military, you select the place where you want the battle to happen because; naturally, you pick the place where the terrain favors you. In this struggle, you never want to be fighting where they choose, which means never acknowledging (even implicitly) their obnoxious assumptions. Racism is a great example – the liberals want you on the defensive about race, explaining and denying their slander. Never give over the initiative like that – attack!
Talk about their high tech lynching of Clarence Thomas. Point out how the liberal media elite has all the ethnic diversity of Thanksgiving at Robert Byrd’s place. Never concede, never explain, never fall into the trap of treating their hallowed prejudices about conservatives as anything other than the slimy propaganda it is.
There is also the tone issue; you’ll hear much about “civility” from the liberals – as long as it’s convenient. But just as soon as incivility becomes more useful to them – like in Madison – you’ll see the whole “new tone” meme disappear faster than a hot buttered blueberry muffin on Michael Moore’s breakfast table.
Be “civil” only to the extent it suits your personality and the audience. Remember, Americans are nice people; the undecided tend to shy away from aggressive attacks. However, those on our side sometimes welcome them as proof that someone is – finally – fighting back. Personally, I need to call a drooling moron a drooling moron, usually with a couple additional adjectives and some speculation about his mother’s voraciously open-minded attitude toward the physical act of love. You may want to be more delicate. Follow your heart – and know the audience you want to influence.
Every one of us has a role in this struggle, whether you have a big bully pulpit like Andrew Breitbart or you are just one person fighting within the confines of your own Facebook friends list. To prevail, we need to spread the word to those who have no firm opinions yet and, just as importantly, let those who agree with us know they are not alone. A key liberal tactic is trying to make people feel like some sort of loner freak for believing in the things our Founding Fathers put into the Constitution. Conservative college students, teachers, bureaucrats, entertainers and such find themselves surrounded by loud and hostile liberals eager to crush them should they speak up. Our job is to let our isolated brothers and sisters know that they are not alone – they are with us even if it’s probably better for them not to put those “Palin 2012” stickers on the bumpers of their Priuses.
That’s why nothing makes me happier than a “re-tweet” of one of my “I am a Conservative” Twitter messages, or a comment on a “Big” article where the writer says, “I always felt this way but never had it put into words for me before.” It means I gave an electronic high five to another believer in the greatness of our country. That’s the juice.
This has not been an exhaustive treatise on how to enter the new media discussion – it is simply a few ideas to help you find your unique voice to articulate what you believe and to share it with others. Get into the arena. Say what you think – a lot of Americans died to make sure you can. But think about what you say and how you can say it best to make your point, to sway more people back to the Constitutional conservative values we share, and to back-up our allies.
Sure, we are surrounded by the liberal mainstream media and the elite they serve, but that’s okay. It gives us an edge. It means we can attack in any direction.