In previous posts on persuasion, I've been sloppy with language and that's led to some confusion. I've also changed my mind on some things based on comments to my posts. I plan to continue writing about this, so I'm going to try to clarify a couple of things. I'll do that by answering these two questions:
When I post on persuasion, who am I talking about persuading? What do I mean by "persuasion"?
Who am I talking about persuading?
According to the Pew Research Center, the following was the breakdown of the American body politic in 2014. (Click over to read their full descriptions and stats.)
The Partisan Anchors
Steadfast Conservatives 12%
Business Conservatives 10%
Solid Liberals 15% [This is Pew's term. I call them Progressives. - TD]
Total = 36% [Something is 1% off -- rounding issue?]
Less Partisan, Less Predictable [I.e., the Middle]
Young Outsiders 14%
Hard-Pressed Skeptics 13%
Next Generation Left 12%
Faith and Family Left 15%
Total = 54%
Bystanders, Total = 10%
We aren't going to change the partisan anchors, but that's only about 1/3 of the population. The potential target audience, then, is the 54% in the less partisan category who might be open to persuasion, and the 10% of the bystanders who are typically young -- maybe they'll grow into old apathetic types, but maybe not.
I often write in terms of opposing Progressive ideas, but that's not because I think hardened Progressives are persuadable. It's because Progressive ideas and Conservative ideas are in competition for the middle 2/3s. Enough of the middle votes to swing elections, and although they aren't terribly partisan, they'll eventually pick a Progressive or a Conservative candidate. If the only ideas they are familiar with are Progressive, they'll probably vote that way.
That's the basics of "who." Go for the middle and the young.
What do I mean by "persuasion"?
I am not talking about engaging an individual in discussion and argument with the purpose of bringing about a complete conversion from Progressive to Conservative or whatever. Or, from Progressive to Conservative on one point of contention. Like pretty much everyone who's commented on my past posts on this topic, I don't think that's realistic.
I'm not even talking about engaging someone in the middle in reasoned discussion and bringing them around over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer. That's also not reasonable.
People change slowly and, as Gringo pointed out in an earlier thread, they change themselves, you don't change them. I agree that life experience is one big factor, but to result in change, the person has to explain that experience to themselves in some way, and that explanation leads to change.
We can't change people, but we can offer explanations. They can take them or leave them or modify them or whatever. But the Progressives have their explanations all through the culture. If Conservatives don't at least offer their explanations, they lose.
And this isn't a one-time discussion, either. I'm talking about relationships, friendships. We can't just spout our ideas; we have to demonstrate them and show that Conservative ideas lead to good lives.
To take a completely different tack, I'm also talking about statistics. Relationships are best, but this is a numbers game as well. The culture has been moving left because the left has been dumping its answers into the culture. Anyone who is undecided is simply far more likely to encounter Progressive ideas in many different forms and places than they are Conservative ideas. That, too, is a form of influence and persuasion.
We need to match them, eventually, movie for movie, novel for novel, TV show for TV show. We also need to return to being a force in the university, with a critical mass of Conservative professors in every field. And by "critical mass" I guess I mean "enough to have an impact on the student body and make the rest of their field take Conservative ideas seriously again."
That's the basics of how: Build personal relationships in the middle and do our part in building a critical mass in the entertainment industry and universities.
One more point: It's taken Progressives several generations to mess things up this badly. I suspect it will take several to repair the damage. That's my time frame.
There are a lot of implications of all this, and I've oversimplified to get all of this into one coherent post. I'll discuss these ideas more in some future posts, as I have time.
Finally, this is a work in progress. I'm still working through this myself, so it'll be a bit chaotic. But maybe those other posts on persuasion will make more sense now.
I'm not betting on it, mind you. Just, hoping. Anyone want a drink? I need one. I heard there's some good mead around.