Wrong Battle, Wrong Enemy

Ever since the election, there has been something of a battle going on within the Republican Party, as conservatives look for someone to blame for the loss. You can see some of this criticism here at PJ Media, such as Mark Stuertz’s complaint about Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), or Rick Moran’s criticism of the more ideological conservatives within the party. I come not to defend or criticize either side. In fact, both the “realists” and the ideologues are right -- and wrong -- but not for the reasons that they think. The core problem we are facing is that political campaigns should only be the final stage.

Here is the problem: low-information voters are a big chunk of the electorate, especially in the Democratic Party, but the Republican Party isn’t free of them either. These are the voters who could not tell you if the national debt is $16 million or $16 trillion. They don’t know anything about the criticisms of how our government handled Benghazi. Ben Ghazi? Isn’t he an actor? Fast & Furious is a movie, not a scandal. They know that gay marriage is a good thing because all their favorite actors and musicians think it is so cool! And “assault weapons” are those guns they see in movies, firing hundreds of rounds a minute.

I hope by now that you are beginning to get the picture of what defines an LIV: he or she does not read PJ Media or, for that matter, the Huffington Post or any political publication, left or right. The better-informed LIVs read Us or People. Most of an LIV’s knowledge of economics, politics, and history comes from watching movies, television shows, The Daily Show, and stuff that one of his leftist friends posts on Facebook. You know why President Obama won the election? He was doing local radio shows and The View. He was being promoted by rap musicians and actors.

I get very frustrated with the number of Republican congressmen unwilling to put up a serious fight against the Democrats. Yes, some of them really stand for nothing, and some of them have been corrupted by the knowledge that if they don’t support amnesty for illegals, they won’t get agribusiness support at the next election. But a lot of congressmen are facing this harsh reality: LIVs are a big part of the electorate, even in fairly safe Republican districts.

If you start saying things that are contrary to conventional wisdom (you know, like the fact that murder rates are less than half of what they were in 1980, and assault weapons are used in a tiny fraction of 1% of U.S. murders), you will quickly become a kook to the LIVs.

It is not at all surprising that when Republican congressmen have to choose between the 30% of voters who are grossly misinformed or the 5% of voters who can actually tell you what the Kelo decision found or how much deficits increased after Democrats took over Congress in 2006, many members of Congress have no choice but to go with the ignorant ones. They have us outnumbered

So how can we fix this? Not by running clever political ads. LIVs often do not watch political ads, or start out with the assumption that Republicans are all closet Nazis intent on exterminating homosexuals or whatever nonsense some actor has most recently said. Winning in politics is like invading an enemy beach: we need to soften up the enemy first with the media equivalent of an artillery barrage or the troops we land will be mowed down before they even get out of the surf.

The left knows this. They are not just running political ads during campaigns; they are running a continuous campaign through movies, television, news organizations, and entertainment media.

Instapundit has pointed out that for a few million dollars, conservatives could buy up some of the women’s websites that get enormous audiences, and subtly change the political spin. It is a slow process, but over time this approach alters the basic assumptions that many LIVs have about the world. Think about the movie Death Wish (1974): do you think it played a part in changing popular perceptions of civilians engaged in armed self-defense?

Movies, music, and television are other areas where the left has been promoting their message for decades, and when they are subtle about the message, they actually make money at it. Lots of money. We can do it too -- in fact, we might even make more money at it, because there are a lot of Americans who are still fundamentally on the right. Look at The Passion of the Christ (2004): more than $611 million in revenues worldwide. Act of Valor (2012) has brought in more than $81 million worldwide -- considering what it cost to make, that’s spectacular. PJ Media contributor Bill Whittle is wrapping up post-production work on The Arroyo right now. From watching the trailer, I can see where it is going, and I am very pleased, both with the entertainment potential and the subtle message potential.

Here’s the question: are there enough conservatives who believe that we need to soften up the beach so that Republican political campaigns are not mowed down on Election Day?

Even more tragic: why is it that the capitalist spirit is stronger on the left than it is on the right? Sure, the left is rich, but at least partly because they are prepared to make entertainment that people want to watch. So far, I have not found evidence that rich Americans on the right are that interested in making money.