7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left
An appreciation of Dennis Prager and multimedia celebration of his magnum opus, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.
June 8, 2012 - 7:00 am
In grappling with the intellectual and cultural battles between Leftism, Islamism, and Americanism, it’s often easy to forget that real flesh and blood bodies try to put these theories into practice. Observe the connection between Barack Obama’s mother marrying two foreign-born men and her career as an anthropologist immersed in third-world cultural study and advocacy. Then consider the unhappiness that came as a result: both marriages ending in divorce and a young Barack Obama left to live a rudderless life leaping from one questionable father figure to another.
This piece of the pie should be considered when thinking about the challenge PJ Media’s CEO Roger L. Simon posed on May 9, when he lamented the frequency in which political blogging becomes little more than preaching to the choir:
What we really want is a way to get our message out to the other side so that they actually read and consider it.
The tragedy of democracy in our times is that this may no longer be possible. People do not want to be disturbed by opposing views. They don’t even want to think about them. Too much — life, careers, family, friends — is at stake. Why upend it for anything so mundane as the future of our country?
There are two competing components of Roger’s appeal: Yes, we want progressives to consider conservative ideas. But we also have the practical world in mind. We need to formulate arguments so people will wake up now, realize the dangerous economic and terrorist threats exacerbated by the Obama administration, and vote for Mitt Romney this fall.
Is that too much to ask for? Reading Still the Best Hope and its encyclopedic collection of arguments, some might be tempted to think Prager has crafted the ultimate tool for converting leftists to the Right. And just in time for the election too! They’d be wrong.
There are other, more effective ways to spread American values and set the country back on the right course other than through a single-minded focus on the Left vs. Right model. Here are 7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left. In laying out these points I’m going to: A) Show what happened when I presented some Prager-style arguments to a leftist. B) Propose strategies for how American values should be promoted today. C) Stress the importance of connecting the ideas of Still the Best Hope with the themes Prager developed in his previous books and I hope he pursues for his next. D) Present a buffet of ideas in a multimedia format combining text, image, and some of my favorite videos from Prager University.
For my first point, I’ll address the path to victory this fall before dealing with the bigger question of the problem with evangelizing conservatism in the remaining 6 points.
7. There are More Than Enough Apolitical People Out There Whose Minds Remain Unconquered by the Left.
With the yelling debates on the cable shows it’s easy to stumble into the belief that America is a “deeply divided” country. When looking at the numbers, though, actually only a small percentage of Americans participate in the Left vs. Right battle. There are plenty of other untapped pools of persuadable voters apart from those preset to oppose us.
Four facts about American political participation to keep in mind:
- Only about half of Americans vote for president.
- Just over a third of Americans vote in non-presidential elections.
- For the 2010 cycle, only 0.19% of the population donated $200 or more to a political candidate, party, or PAC. This group of donors accounted for 66.5% of the money received.
- In Septemer 2009 Pew polled on political participation in the previous 12 months. They selected 11 different political acts and found that 63% of Americans had engaged in at least one ranging in involvement from just signing a petition (32%) to attending an organized protest (4%.) Thus, the Pareto principle holds for politics too: “Taken together, 34% of all adults did one or two of the above activities this year, while an additional 16% took part in 3-4 activities. A highly-engaged 13% of Americans have taken part in five or more of these activities in the last year.”
- Only half of adults can name all three branches of government.
- Only 74% of Americans know that the United States declared independence from Great Britain.
- Only 54% can define “free enterprise.”
- Only 7% of Americans can name the first four presidents and only 30% know Thomas Jefferson was the third.
- 73% of Americans have no idea the United States fought communism during the Cold War.
Keep that last number in mind as I now explain six reasons for the futility of trying to shift others from Left to Right.