January 30th, 2013

Pay attention to Bookworm and get sticky

Bookworm has an important post.

There’s been a lot of advice-giving ever since the 2012 election, in an attempt to address the conservative problem. And make no mistake about it, conservatives have a problem—or rather, many problems.

Much of this advice is good, especially the need to focus on infiltrating and/or retaking the media, education, and the entertainment industries, all of which are almost entirely dominated by the left and have been for quite some time. That’s a long, hard haul, unfortunately, although it is of the utmost importance. But Bookworm’s suggestions are more immediate and less arduous, and they have the advantage of possibly reaping some rewards in something a mite faster than geologic time.

Read the whole thing. But here are a few excerpts:

In a way, the internet has made things even worse for conservatives. While it’s increased information dissemination, it’s also increased information ghettoization. We don’t talk to our neighbors about politics anymore. Instead, we go to a like-minded blog and enjoy the feeling that we’re not alone. But by doing so, we delude ourselves into believing that there are more like-minded people out there than a walk in the community and a talk in the park would reveal. Facebook is more of a marketplace of ideas than the blogosphere, and I can tell you that my liberal friends used it aggressively for political networking, while my conservative friends did not — it part, because conservatives didn’t have any “sticky” messages to disseminate.

The Stickiness Factor? That’s what it sounds like: it’s a message that doesn’t just amuse or intrigue people for a mere minute. Instead, it sticks with them and, even more importantly, makes them act. During the Bush years, the Dems came up with a great one: No War for Oil. The fact that this slogan had little relationship to the facts, or that a ginormous number of people stuck it on the back of their gas-guzzling SUVs was irrelevant. Those four words convinced too many Americans that the Republicans were fighting wars on behalf of Standard Oil…

And finally, there’s the Power of Context, which at its simplest level means that a message has to capture the zeitgeist. People have to be primed and ready to receive the message. In 2012, Americans, fed on decades of anti-capitalist education and entertainment, were more than ready to believe that Romney was a dog-abusing, woman-hating, religious nut who wanted to enslave poor people and blacks. Thirty years ago, people would have laughed at this message. Last year, there were too many people who thought it made a good deal of sense.

There’s more, much more, difficult to summarize.

Conservatives really are not good at this sort of thing. They don’t even tend to think in these terms. Conservatives, as a group, don’t tend to be all that creative; the left is. Conservatives don’t like to compromise their integrity in order to gravitate towards what they see as simple solutions; they like to explaaaain things (I’m guilty of this sort of thing myself) in a rational manner. Heaven forbid they should be thought of as rabble-rousers! (And, unfortunately, the only conservative rabble-rousers on the right lean to the somewhat paleolithic in thought, a la Todd Akin, et.al). The left couldn’t care less what they do as long as it works.

That’s Obama’s great gift to the left. He’s shown them (as if they needed reminding) what works. Not for nothing was he an Alinsky instructor, and he’s gone national with it.

The right must have some creative minds. There are indeed a few writers (David Mamet and Roger Simon, for starters). The right must have at least a couple of people in advertising. But generally, conservatives don’t tend to think outside the box. That was Andrew Breitbart’s great gift: he was a wild man, with a mission. Where are his heirs?

When I really think about it, the only present-day consevative politician (or ex politician?) who has some of these abilities is, interestingly enough, Sarah Palin. She was good at sound bites, for example, and the telling phrase. But otherwise her style was easily, and quite successfully, mocked and reviled, and she made some unfortunate decisions that have reduced her effectiveness lately. But the left immediately recognized her charisma and her potential. They did her that compliment—and that’s why it was so important for them to take her down.

37 Responses to “Pay attention to Bookworm and get sticky”

  1. T Says:

    “[Conservatives] like to explaaaain things . . . in a rational manner.”


    I think you have touched the nerve here. It’s not just “what works” v “rational explanation,” IMO it’s emotion v. intellect.

    You call it “rabble rousing,” which it may be, but in reality it is emotion in the service of the message. Notice the difference in the Romney and Obama camapigns. Romney accurately pointed out the failings and failures of the Obama administration. Obama, as you point out, “roused the rabble.” Obama won.

    You mention Breitbart. IMO that’s precisely what Breitbart did. He met the enemy on their own emotional terms; he told them to “Go to Hell!” He used Alinsky’s rules which they fought by (and fight by) and turned them back on the left themselves.

    When we do see any kind of conservative or traditionalist rabble rousing, it almost always has religious overtones (gay marriage, abortion) which is then used to demonize and deligitimize the the message as one from fly-over crackers who cling to their guns and religion and who would impose those same rules on the rest of us.

    IMO the right needs to seize upon this emotionalism in the service of economic messages and messages supporting individual rights (1st, 2nd, 4th amendment) and then, we need a broad-based media from which it will be heard because it’ll never see the light of day in the current media environment.

  2. George Pal Says:

    “Conservatives really are not good at this sort of thing. They don’t even tend to think in these terms.”

    The term ‘conservative’ should have no place in politics – it is not a political thing. I understand the trope and some need for it in the political arena but because it is not inherently political it is nearly impossible to make a political message of it. Self-identifying conservatives could not possibly match liberals in loquacity to purpose; they cannot make appeals to the abstract, only to the personal. The term ‘equality’ is as foreign to conservatism as it is facile for liberals.

    Here are the problems of the politically ‘conservative’:

    They have no argument; less more, fewer more, decelerated acceleration, is not an argument – it’s acquiescence.

    They have no courage: illegal aliens are criminals; Islam is not only antithetical to American principles, it is hostile to them.

    They have no clue: “People don’t care how much you know, they care how much you care.” That’s the problem, not the solution.

    They have no clue 2: the culture, the institutions, the country, are sufficiently corrupt to be mostly corrupt.

    They have no clue 3: fighting Alinsky with Alinsky is an admission – the revolution was successful; ‘Stickiness Factor’ and the ‘Power of Context’ and GOTV is not counter-revolution.

  3. Holmes Says:

    If you can stomach the language, the Ace of Spades commenters fit the bill!

    I agree and it’s something I’ve been thinking about. Liberals are really good at using language, Conservatives not so much. We like concrete terms. The Constitution means something and that meaning is discernible. The Left? It’s all flexible. Terms, meanings, values. They like to create an impression. And given that we’re creating generations of unthinking morons (sorry, I’ve been reading a lot of Ace comments), who lack the requisite reason and logic skills to either have things explained to them, or even grasp the idea if it was, we’re left with creating impressions. I’m thinking of just a smiling Rubio face on every bus line with the phrase, “Ole OK!” But I’m in the early brainstorming stages just now.

  4. Holmes Says:

    If Hillary runs, and we don’t have the 4 coffins of the Benghazi consulate attacks on display on every channel, then we’re lost. No pulling punches.

  5. Holmes Says:

    “What difference, at this point, would it make?” + 4 coffins wrapped in the American flag. And…scene.

  6. Holmes Says:

    George Pal Says:
    January 30th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    They have no clue 3: fighting Alinsky with Alinsky is an admission – the revolution was successful; ‘Stickiness Factor’ and the ‘Power of Context’ and GOTV is not counter-revolution.

    I think you might be somewhat right here. It’s a sign that we have lost the people. But, to get them back, don’t we have to play by the new rules a bit? In 1791, conservative arguments might hold a lot of sway, now? Honey Boo Boo brains of mush.

  7. T Says:

    George Pal wrote:

    “the culture, the institutions, the country, are sufficiently corrupt to be mostly corrupt,”

    and I offer that it has always been this way; think Tammany Hall and the bribery of 19th c robber barons and the disgraceful treatment of American Indian tribes (nothing new under the sun, you know). That is why Milton Friedman’s observation is so important. He said that democracy is not electing the right people to do the right thing, rather democracy is making it politically expedient for the wrong people to do the right thing.

    In my mind, that kind of brings a whole new flavor to the struggle.

  8. artfldgr Says:

    There’s more, much more, difficult to summarize.

    yeah.. aint those real ideas that mean something and have content a biatch? they tend to be real long… otherwise War and Peace would be a pampleteers giant…

  9. George Pal Says:

    “But, to get them back, don’t we have to play by the new rules a bit?”

    That bit about the ‘bit’, that’s the problem. Fine, give as good as they do.

    ‘Conservative’ ‘Stickiness Factor’ and the ‘Power of Context’ approach:

    Fracking Isn’t As Bad As It Sounds?

    You want the ‘Stickiness Factor’ and the ‘Power of Context’ approach – by all means. Here’s one. Detroit. Here’s another – Obama Lies When He Speaks I dare the ‘conservatives’.

  10. George Pal Says:

    “and I offer that it has always been this way;”

    Yes, corruption, but not on the scale as it is now. The Christian churches have never been so corrupt as they are now. The social engineering in the military; the re-engineering of boys (Ritalin enhanced), the Feminist corruption of girls/young women; the curriculum and pansexual corruption of the universities – ladies, get in touch with your orgasm. The recent capitulation of the Boy Scouts to the Gay agenda, the corruption of the Girl Scouts, and on, and on, and on, and…

  11. physicsguy Says:

    Following along on T’s comment, I disagree that liberals are more creative than conservatives in general. What I will grant them is that they are more creative in emotional channels, and thus much better at “messaging” than conservatives. Not to blow my own horn, but I’ve been fairly creative in my career coming up with some innovative experimental physics techniques. However, those are examples of rational creativity. I, quite frankly, am useless in the creative language area.

  12. ziontruth Says:

    Bookworm may be on the right track, but her contrast of blogs with Facebook means she doesn’t yet realize the enormity of the task at hand. Let me put it this way: If conservatives had a near-monopoly on the Mainstream Media, neither blogs nor Facebook would matter.

    We’re not yet in a world where the majority have given up being spoon-fed by the MSM; it’s still the easiest route to take, the route most people take, and so they do, even in the year 2013. That’s why I think the interests of free people everywhere—not just conservatives in America—demand fixing the MSM somehow, unrigging the game, now rigged in favor of the Marxist-Islamic alliance, and rigging it to the good side. And, since so much is at stake here, in the past year or so I’ve come to care less and less about the legality of the steps involved therein.

    The darkening reality requires thinking outside the box.

  13. parker Says:

    IMO the republicans (few of which are actually fiscal conservatives and anti-cronyism) need to stick to a set list of accurate talking points. There are so many issues of malfeasance on the part of Team Obama it would be easy to make a list of the top five or ten and hammer away at them. They also need to stop letting the MSM set the agenda. Get “sticky” on a consistent message that explains to lazy, low info people how they and their children are being harmed by DC. Jimmy Crickets, blacks and hispanics are doing worse under Obama than the vilified Dubya.

    However, I think few of them really want to do what needs to be done. Their focus is on bringing home the bacon, attracting campaign funds and staying in office, and begging the MSM to admire them.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    physicsguy: I used the term “creative” in the way it’s usually used in everyday speech: meaning, in the artistic and/or wordsmithy, rather than the technical or scientific, sense. As in “the creative arts.”

    If it was a gadget conservatives needed, they’d be a lot better off.

  15. Occam's Beard Says:

    Our problem is simple: plumbing the depths of mendacity is repellent to conservatives, but comes naturally and easily to leftists.

  16. The Elephant's Child Says:

    It has been nearly 3 months since the election and Republicans can’t stop criticizing themselves. Not conservative enough, it’s the messaging, too conservative, anti-immigrant, blah blah blah. Democrats follow Democrat talking points, and they do not criticize themselves nor individuals who represent them. They save their trash talk for — us.

    Republicans, stung by Democrat criticism, often buy into the criticism. We can’t stop criticizing George Bush, and of course we must tear apart all failed candidates. George Bush was a very good president, Mitt Romney may well have been a great one. Could we concentrate on why the Progressive Project is doomed to be a complete failure instead of the things Romney should have said?

    We lost the last election for several reasons, none of which was immigration. Barack Obama spent four years using the age-old Big Lie technique.” George W. Bush caused the worst recession since the Great Depression and although I’m working really hard, I just need more time.” Four years, constantly. When you tell a big lie often enough, people believe it, and I know reasonably intelligent people who do.

    The Obama team recognized early on that Obama could not run on his first term record, so he didn’t. He patched his community organizing skills onto an extremely good cyber-campaign. Most voters are low-information voters. They just don’t have time to be very deeply informed about politics, which comes after other stuff in their lives like earning a living and raising kids. Because they are low-information, they are easily swayed by false claims that they are unable to refute.

    What were Republicans doing all this time? Criticizing their own potential candidates. And after we had a nominee, criticizing his gaffes and the things he should have said but didn’t, and he wasn’t conservative enough.

    To that, add the inexplicable inability of many states to actually get ballots to the military overseas. In spite of laws forcing them too, it was worse than ever. Did anyone ever hear any more about that plane that supposedly went down with all the ballots on board? And then there were the dead people voting, and the people who registered just that day, and the ones bussed in. But, Republicans, 32 months later are still yammering on about immigration although people who are in the Latino community tell us they are more concerned about government benefits. That’s my take.

  17. The Elephant's Child Says:

    (Not 32 months later —3) Let me add that while we have been so busy being self-critical, the Left has started their campaign to tear down future candidates. Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan are all going to be thoroughly dissected and destroyed if possible. We just have such a splendid batch of Republican governors who are busy saving the economy for Obama, that they may have trouble when the record of the Democrat governors is so dreadful.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    The Elephant’s Child: although much of what you say is true, there’s also room for messages such as Bookworm’s, which is not critical of specific candidates and is about a technique that sounds helpful overall.

    I agree on the tendency of Republicans to destroy each other. I have written about it many times, and it was something I tried to fight during the primaries. It seems very deeply entrenched. And it is very counter-productive.

  19. thomass Says:

    We are bad at bumper stickers.

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    thomass: we are especially bad at sticky bumper stickers.

    But I suppose all bumper stickers are sticky.

  21. holmes Says:

    NOBAMA didn’t take off like we expected.

    How about, “Hillary Clinton: she eats children”? Again, I’m still working out the kinks.

  22. The Elephant's Child Says:

    Goodness, I meant no criticism of Bookworm. But I seem to have hit a lot of websites today that are wallowing in the awfulness of Republicans/Conservatives.

  23. neo-neocon Says:

    The Elephant’s Child: Well, I didn’t think you were criticizing Bookworm, really. And I’ve long agreed about the tendency of Republicans to eat their own.

  24. Francesca Says:

    I custom ordered a magnetic bumper sticker that simply says “BENGHAZI” in blood-red letters. Who knows if that is sticky; however, I am doing my part in keeping that word alive.

    My other sticker: STOP SPENDING. I have had people from around town and even in the national parks compliment me on that one.

  25. Capn Rusty Says:

    We could start by letting the Rino Establishment know that there is no way in hell the Jeb Bush could be elected.

  26. beverly Says:

    Tornado weather tonight.

    “Dover Beach”

    By Matthew Arnold

    The sea is calm tonight.
    The tide is full, the moon lies fair
    Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
    Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
    Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
    Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
    Only, from the long line of spray
    Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
    Listen! you hear the grating roar
    Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
    At their return, up the high strand,
    Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
    With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
    The eternal note of sadness in.

    Sophocles long ago
    Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
    Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
    Of human misery; we
    Find also in the sound a thought,
    Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

    The Sea of Faith
    Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
    Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    Retreating, to the breath
    Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
    And naked shingles of the world.

    Ah, love, let us be true
    To one another! for the world, which seems
    To lie before us like a land of dreams,
    So various, so beautiful, so new,
    Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
    Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night.

  27. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    Do this little experiment as an example. Here in Hartford WTIC-AM plays generally conservative talk all day from 5 AM to 5 PM. Mornings are local guys with Rush then the former GOP GOvernor in afternoon drive.

    But all day the news breaks have local news guys reading AP news and MSM type local news. So every half an hour you get the MSM take on all the stories.

    See if this happens in your local. Only the destruction of the AP monopoly will help.

  28. thomass Says:

    neo-neocon Says:

    “But I suppose all bumper stickers are sticky.”

    Yeah yeah, its probably time to get on facebook.

  29. thomass Says:

    holmes Says:

    “How about, “Hillary Clinton: she eats children”?”

    I have guns on the brain do to all the talk… but the first thing that came to mind was the night before Christmas… Hillary holding people up at gunpoint so she could [re]distribute gifts the next morn.

  30. thomass Says:

    Is it wrong? WHO CARES?

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    “But the left immediately recognized her charisma and her potential.”

    And so did we. Which is why it was easy for some us to recognize that the problems in this nation didn’t just come from the Leftist alliance. Not with the things that went on in that campaign at least. The scrutiny on her didn’t just expose her lack of corruption, but exposed the GOP’s internal workings on the matter.

    As for Breit Bart’s heir, you can see him at the front lines here.


  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    yeah.. aint those real ideas that mean something and have content a biatch?

    The critical difference is not the length, but the nature of the format. Some people write spontaneously, others have to tailor things ahead of time to produce something longer than 2 paragraphs, while others mostly rely upon short summarizations of what other people think.

    A master at a subject need not come into existence having already known how to summarize complicated ideas and compress them into shorter formats, but the expectation is there that with enough experience and time the results produce itself.

    What matters isn’t whether people think that is long or short, but whether they are the ones doing the work or shirking the work.

  33. DonS Says:

    The left has several huge advantages.

    One of those is that their answers are all simplistic. It takes little to understand that it is nice to give needy people the stuff they need, it takes a much deeper understanding to realize that just giving them stuff doesn’t work.

    The left’s simplistic approach is consistent accross the board, with respect to crime (ban guns), the environment (ban drilling), healthcare (provide it for free), etc.

    Backing this up the left has control of most of te media, including media like CNN and PBS that appears balanced and objective, and hence is much more effective with subtle propaganda.

    The left has a huge advantage reaching low information voters.

  34. Ann Says:

    The deck is so stacked against us, that I’m almost at the point where I think we should just sit back and laugh.

    Let our elected representatives in Congress work hard behind the scenes, in their committees, go on the Sunday news shows, etc. But the rest of us, especially conservative talking heads on TV, should maybe just laugh in the face of their interrogators.

    Call it the Mark Steyn approach. Who knows? It might work simply by grabbing the attention of low-information voters.

  35. Ymarsakar Says:

    “especially conservative talking heads on TV”

    Those people are some of the most susceptible to Leftist bribery or blackmail.

  36. T Says:

    Ann (@2:31)

    “The deck is so stacked against us, that I’m almost at the point where I think we should just sit back and laugh.”

    Let me repeat my Milton friedman comment from above (@4:33): “democracy is making it politically expedient for the wrong people to do the right thing.” That’s why it’s so important to shake off the occasional despair and “keep on truckin’.”

  37. GayPatriot » Social Liberalism: The Power of Slogans Says:

    […] rather call attention to this noteworthy post by Bookworm which I learned of as a result of this post by Neo-neocon.  Bookworm’s post is about the need for conservatives to focus largely on messaging which […]

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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