This system is so enduring, so entrenched, that it makes political change exceptionally difficult to achieve. How do you change someone so successful, someone who has wealth and power while feeling so inordinately good about him or herself?
I am speaking obviously about the so-called thought leaders here — the wannabe solons of New York, Washington and Los Angeles who dominate our media and entertainment and tell the hoi polloi how to live and think. These people have little incentive for change, even though in some cases their careers are in jeopardy. It’s hard for them to make a connection between the current economic uncertainty and the system that nurtured them for so long.
So what do we do to encourage change? Here are some preliminary thoughts.
Be humble. Few, if any, of us make drastic alterations in our lives and thought because someone won an argument. We have to come to things ourselves — or think we have. We have to own our change. These things take time and happen when we least expect them, sometimes when we don’t know they are happening.
When you see someone who is ripe for change, encourage him or her, but do it gently, responsively, and not confrontationally. And do not look for or expect an entire ideational shift. Be grateful for what you get.
As I write this, I am still a social liberal and likely to remain so. I have changed only in the economic and foreign policy areas. Many are like me. Be glad we’re here. We’ll try to accept you too, if you’re socially conservative.
Most of all, do not gloat — on the inside or on the outside. Generations of therapists have warned us of the perils of our “need to be right” (not politically but personally). The therapists were correct in their admonition. Remember, the goal here is the political change of others, not to be victorious ourselves.