What the Left can learn from the Right
In a recent poetry workshop, when confronted with my belief that poetry is not a widespread art form in this country in this day and age, my professor responded that Republicans are the current masters of poetry.
I don’t like to give Republicans credit for much, but I like the idea of poetry being alive today, so I listened.
Poetry, he reasoned, is the manipulation of words. An art form used to disseminate information to an audience, and a way to use succinct language to convey a message. And who has mastered the use of this art form other than The Right?
Sarah Palin, for example, coined the term “death panel.” Now, Sarah Palin doesn’t even know what magazines she reads. So I’m not about to dub her a master of language. But, like all politicians, she has a team of writers telling her what to say, and that team coined the term “death panel.”
What was Sarah Palin talking about? Who knows. It had something to do with her criticism of the health care bill then under construction. But the point is this: People heard “death panel,” and they knew they didn’t care what she was talking about. They simply knew they didn’t want it, whatever it is. No amount of intelligence, discussion, or information was going to undo what Sarah Palin did with two words. No matter how good that bill might have been, if it involved a death panel, no one wanted it.
We, The Left, on the other hand, were pushing for a “public option.” What does that even mean? That language carries no weight. It does not tug at the heart strings, incite people to action, or succinctly convey its message in those two words.
Our failure to manipulate language in the way the Republicans do is killing our ability to push forward our agendas.
Republicans subscribe to the paternal construct. There is a father figure, a leader, a man in charge. What he says is word, and everyone follows. Democrats, on the other hand, subscribe to the idea of being equals in a family unit. We value everyone’s opinions, and the result is that there are too many cooks in the kitchen.
The Right puts a ton of money into ONE big think tank. That think tank probably came up with “death panel.” The Left funds tons of think tanks. Lots of really smart people not working together, but working on their own to contribute to the greater cause. We spread ourselves too thin, and it’s not working.
Republicans know how to run things. Democrats come up with great ideas and think from the heart for the good of mankind, but what good are our good intentions if we lack the ability to implement them?
Obama’s pick for Supreme Court Justice is not a hard core Leftist. She is middle of the road, and many of her political views are unknown. She was chosen so Obama wouldn’t have to defend his pick politically, because the Supreme Court is not supposed to be about politics. But the truth is, the Supreme Court has made more political forward movement in this country than the other branches of government combined. And The Right always puts a hard core Right Winger in when they have a chance, because they want their agendas pushed through. Why on earth wouldn’t we do the same?
What I am saying is this: Democrats need to learn to operate like Republicans and still think like Democrats. We need to learn from our enemy, take the best of their skills, and implement them to attain our own ends.
We may even need to hire Republicans to teach us how to do it. Republicans care about one thing above all: money. So pay some of them enough that they will teach us their Republican ways and show us how to implement them. We need to get to a place where we are choosing Leftist Supreme Court Justices, working together for one common goal at a time, and coining the Leftist version of “death panel.”
In a day and age where the news is fed to us in 140 characters via Twitter, where information goes viral via a few lines of text in Facebook headlines, where attention spans are shrinking, and where the majority of the country relies on being spoon-fed their information through a few words or lines of succinct language at a time, we need to learn to beat Republicans at their own game. Admit their strengths, learn their ways, and use poetry to overcome evil.