Dan Reihl has a long, rambling post that needs editing, but that hits the nail on the head as far as conservatism is concerned. Here are some excerpts:
Conservatism didn’t dominate for a decade under Reagan because the Right suddenly got that era’s low information voters to pay attention to the details of conservative policy. It won because Reagan created a positive, optimistic brand at a time when America wanted and needed something to feel good about itself and they bought it. It really was that simple when you think about it. It will also be critical to turning things around quickly if that’s one’s immediate concern – developing a good brand to sell to a large number of people who don’t really pay close attention to politics …
As far as the branding issue, good luck trying to sell the multitudes on a brand increasingly made up of a bunch of whiners, complainers and hang-wringers, many of them seemingly given over to anger today. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. If anything, the Right spends more time today shooting itself in the foot by giving the culture and broader media exactly the ammunition it needs to make the Right look intolerant, unhinged, fringe and lacking in alternative solutions, than it spends its times looking like something people may want to sign on to …
Stop being so damned negative, always demonizing everyone and everything that doesn’t work the way you want it to. Stop wailing at the top of your lungs at every perceived slight, or wrong. That is not a recipe for attracting people, or growing a movement. It’s a recipe for putting people off and continuing to shrink a movement I see as in at least some trouble from shrinkage, already.
If we want to begin to win national elections again in a reasonably short amount of time, we are going to have to begin to put forth a positive conservative image, not one of a movement that dwells on the most negative of everything everyday, as so many would be conservatives seem to be doing these days. No one wants to join a group of people intent on being perpetually pissed off about whatever they can dig out of the headlines on a given day.
I go onto my Twitter stream usually three times a day, looking for news or something interesting to retweet. And even though I have over 13,000 followers on Twitter, most of what I see all the time are people SHOUTING over this outrage or that. It is not just a turnoff, it’s even worse–it’s boring and tedious. Few people want to listen to this kind of thing all the time.
As I said before, I can’t do it. I can’t spend my life in perpetual outrage. It’s just too exhausting.
Is the outrage justified?
Does the outrage serve any use?
Not one bit. It only eats at one’s own soul, while alienating everyone else.
Venting is a good way to get attention from people who already share your concerns. However, as the election proved, there are many people who are not paying that much attention and who are not all that outraged. All venting will do is run these people off.
One big problem in the US is that many people view themselves as moderates or even liberals, but hold basically conservative positions. I know this because I have friends in this group. For example, I have a Jewish friend who is to the right of even most hard-line conservatives on social issues, and would agree with just about everything that Rush Limbaugh says, if she did not know that Rush Limbaugh was the one who said it (she has never heard Limbaugh speak, but she knows that her friends hate him, and that is enough for her). However, she would never dream of voting Republican and is repulsed by the very thought, and hates conservatives with a purple vengeance. Polls show that she is far from alone.
Effectively, she feels more comfortable identifying herself as liberal than she does as conservative, because she feels more comfortable with the liberal culture and with liberal sensibilities than she does with what she perceives as the conservative culture and conservative sensibilities. She would rather spend time with liberals than conservatives, and with someone like Obama than someone like Santorum or even Romney, even though Santorum’s politics are very close to her own.
Conservatives can make a difference in the US, but we have to stop preaching to the choir. We have to reach out to people like her. However, we will never succeed in doing so as long as we continue being upset, angry, and offended–indeed, these are the very things that turn off people like my friend.
We have to start bringing a positive message to the world, solutions rather than problems, good tidings rather than a constant stream of bad news, hope and joy rather than doom and gloom.
We cannot change the world by being angry and hateful all the time.