Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Conservatives Must Learn the Dark Arts of Image Manipulation

Okay, we’ve had the End of the Republic, the degenerate electorate thesis, and the ritual beating of Mitt Romney. I hope everybody has had their catharsis, because it’s time to get serious.

...Punishment is also useful. Every time a leftist media figure employs a degrading stereotype, or insults an innocent party, or suggests that a political figure be assaulted or killed, they need to be punished. The social networks, Twitter and Facebook being the leading examples, comprise perfect weapons for such an effort. Thousands of tweets or emails will send the heads of the network execs spinning, with calls sent out for Larry or Ed or Rachel to drop by the office before they go the studio. Make them pay a price — now they pay no price whatsoever. All it would take is a little organization.

Another method would be to turn around the stereotypes and begin ridiculing the left on the same level — not as individuals, but as clowns. This has become known in recent years as Alinskyite ridicule, though it goes back eons before Hammurabi. Calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” merely generated sympathy for her. Turning her into a clown uncertain what to do with a condom if one was handed to her would have shut the whole campaign down in short order. (How about the Facebook “Sandra Fluke Condom Support Group”?) This kind of thing works, doesn’t take much in the way of effort, and we can be sure the left will provide plenty of ammunition.

The same tools can be used to create more friendly stereotypes, to project the image we want to project. In this election Mitt Romney’s essential decency and humanity were totally lost. Next to no effort was made to put them across. (Romney himself was forbidden to toot his own horn by his religious convictions.) A few years ago, the National Rifle Association, after decades of fumble-figured PR (“We’re only hunters! Honest!”), hit on the “I am the NRA” campaign, featuring attractive NRA members of all sexes, races, and ethnic backgrounds. The campaign worked well, humanizing gun owners and turning back concerted left-wing attempts to characterize the organization as something along the lines of a Jared Laughner fan club. Similar campaigns featuring conservatives or Republicans is not difficult to envisage.

Such efforts are long overdue. The tools are at hand. We need to learn all there is to know about image generation, narrative strategies, propaganda, and the tricks of the media.

The first difficulty will involve members of our own team. A change of attitude is necessary. We shouldn’t expect much from the Northeastern cons — they’re too eager to surrender, and many of them are only nominally conservative at this date. (They probably feel rather flattered by Colbert’s portrayal in any case.)

But the new conservative activists, often dismissed as the Tea Parties, are another story. They are the ones who can remake the conservative image into something that will attract rather than repel. The 2012 election has clearly revealed how high the stakes are. This is a knock-down, drag-out battle, a battle that the movement has so far declined to accept. We must stop refusing to play the game as it has to be played — refusing to learn, refusing to move into a new era, refusing to step beyond the stereotypes.

Above all, we need to stop walking into sucker punches, playing the game the way the left wants us to play it. The world will never respect anyone who allows that to be done to him. The image of the simpering twit is the first one we need to shed....

A Must read. Too much to repost here.

Conservatives need to support their arguments with creative storytelling. - Lee Habeeb & Mike Leven/National Review

...We’ve invested billions in our great think tanks but little in the task of translating that work into stories the average American will care about. Yes, we have Fox News and political talk radio — important outlets, but outlets that narrowcast to the conservative base and are driven by politics and opinion, not storytelling.

What we don’t have is an alternative to NPR. Or The Daily Show. Or 60 Minutes. Or The Charlie Rose Show. Or Frontline. Or Ken Burns. Content that doesn’t scream its politics at the audience but that lures America in with great storylines, not lectures.

Conservatives have a profound storytelling deficit, yet all we do is whine and complain about it. It’s part of our DNA, our whining about the culture, as if we’re incapable of reverse-engineering the Left’s success.

In 1980, Ted Turner launched CNN. It struggled for years to find an audience and became a player thanks to the first Gulf War — and to the spread of cable TV. In 1996, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes launched a news network that leaned right, offering the public a counterpoint to the left-leaning CNN. It didn’t take Fox News long to beat CNN.

So much for that 16-year head start!

You’d think our wealthiest conservatives would want to mimic that accomplishment in other areas of our culture. Why not create an alternative to NPR? It reaches 33 million people with its feigned neutrality. Or The Daily Show? Ridicule is a powerful weapon, and the Left offers Americans much to laugh about....