A Little Clarity about the Target Audience and Methods

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.


Anonymous said...

Folks, I cant stand this guy who made this video normally.......usually I feel revulsion when he speaks...revulsion when I look at him...
but he has put together a fine video here... you really must watch this video..


Further, and I really can stand Ford or the Ford foundation either.

Ford's Financing of the Communists


Anonymous said...

Correction, Cant stand Ford

Texan99 said...

One of the things that brought me around in my 30s was direct contact with the institutions I'd been taught to believe existed to improve our lives, the first one being the FDIC. At a critical point, a tax expert friend with strong liberal views admitted to me that we could increase total tax revenue by lowering marginal rates, but argued that we had to do the opposite because it was the right thing. In other words, we were to use the tax code to accomplish social justice rather than to provide financial support for essential government functions. The more contact I had with federal representatives, the more I questioned their assumptions about what we should be trying to do, and what tools were most likely to accomplish it. Thomas Sowell about finished me off.

raven said...

"social justice", once it is simmered for a while,
boils down to "let's hurt someone we don't like".

The only success I have ever seen , persuasion wise, was a glimmer of
awkwardness and discomfort shown by my leftist acquaintances when exsplaining how badly obamacare had hit our family personally. When it is close to the bone, it is hard to dismiss as a generality.

Tom said...

If you've been alive 40 years, you've seen tremendous success with persuasion. If we believe Haidt, the last 25-30 years has produced a huge shift. Almost the whole culture has fallen off a left-side cliff. Nothing but persuasion.

If it's true that life experience has a conservative bias, then what's been missing is the conservative explanation to make sense of life.

Nobody changes their current worldview without a new explanation to replace it.

douglas said...

Great post, great questions. Living deep behind the lines in leftist Los Angeles, I have to deal with this all the time. Mostly I work as a subversive- chiming in with something to make people question their givens, or to offer a perspective not like the one they've been hearing all the time- small things, but as you said, it takes time and small things, small shifts to the right. That and, as Tex pointed out, personally running into the mess that the left makes. Lot of that going on right now, so it's really a capital time to make inroads. I also find, as we talk to a lot of people with young families, being that we too have kids, that most folks live their lives in a more or less conservative way (at least the ones who seem most even keeled), and so they're relatively open to questioning the leftist dogmas when it runs askew of their own experiences in raising their kids.

Thursday, I'm going to have to go to my daughters school because some mom whose kids got bullied and there were racial remarks involved, is now essentially going full SJW and trying to mobilize the whole school to 'fight racism', and has literally bullied the Principal to hold a parent meeting about this one or two incidents involving a handful of kids tops- this in probably the least racist school on Earth. So many kids are mixed race, it's hard to generalize. Instead of simply dealing with the problem, she wants to 'educate' parents with links like this- Teaching Tolerance- How white parents should talk to their kids about race. I intend to politely let it be known that I don't want her or the school telling me to read an idiotic article on Slate so I know how to raise my kids- I think we've done a pretty good job of it, if I do say so myself. We'll see how it goes, and if I can manage to make some inroads without going too far so they just blow of what I'm saying. It's ok, I'm used to walking the tightrope around here.

douglas said...

Oh, and more on topic, I think Prager U has been doing great work with it's videos. That's how the kids take stuff in these days, and it seems to be getting a lot of views.