After two losses to the farthest left president ever, conservatives have been agonizing over how win back the presidency. More importantly, the truly thoughtful among us have been agonizing over how to win back a once freedom-loving culture drifting ever farther leftward.
On the political front, the debate is over moderates (who might win the middle) and conservatives (who might excite the base). That seems to be the debate that sucks up all the oxygen. I would make the case that if you are focusing on the political front, you are fighting a battle, but have already lost the war.
I take the position that politics, while important, is merely the manifestation of what is happening to the culture. If you lose the culture, you are going to lose the elections. It’s that simple.
I think it was post 2012, where Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit, opined that conservatives should start buying up media, so that they could compete, at least partly, with the progressives’ dominance in the MSM. I think that is a good idea, and would argue that it is far better investment than giving money to another think tank. It isn’t easy, though. First you have to buy the medium, then you have to market it so it is followed. Last, and most important, that medium has to do much more than Fox News and talk radio, both of which do little more than pound the rubble for the already converted – making conservatives angrier and less palatable in the process.
It’s a great idea, but difficult. What if there is an easier way?
What about ads? What if elements of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy funded advertising that promoted our viewpoints effectively? I know that the diffusion of media and cutting the cable cord makes conventional ads less effective, but what about viral ads and the use of YouTube? It galls me that business literally survives by generating memes through ads (Apple, Geico, Verizon, etc. etc. etc.) but the most important memes for the republic are left to lame candidacies for 12-18 months of campaigns, all targeted to the dumbest 5% of the electorate (undecideds). It isn’t working.
How can we use all the tools at our disposal to generate a campaign of ads that brings all the voters we’ve lost over the decades back into the fold?
Again, I don’t mean ads for candidates. That will go on in any event, and they don’t promote foundational ideas for advancing liberty. I also don’t mean Crossroads-style ads that tell you to get mad about Issue X or Campaign Z. While some of those ads work, they do nothing to persuade the persuadable that liberty is superior to today’s growing incompetent and corrupt kludgeocracy.
I’m talking more about 30-second TV spots and 60-second radio ads that lay out the benefits of freedom, and then send folks to where they can learn more. These ads should be akin to a public information campaign, not a political fight. Think of some of the Mormons’ ads, or those asking lapsed Catholics to rediscover their heritage. That is much closer to the paradigm we are suffering from (formerly conservative nation drifting left) than asking citizens to make the world safe from Clinton or Bush.
It isn’t as if the money isn’t there. While I appreciate the efforts of the Kochs to save us from the advancing leftist vanguard, I don’t find them entirely competent in their spending. SuperPACs and candidate ads didn’t work in 2008 and 2012. Again, if you are fighting at the political level, you are already losing.
Conservatives will probably never attain the cultural influence the Left enjoys in movie, TV, news, and other media production. That said, I’m optimistic in that we don’t need to equal their influence. We only need to improve upon what we do now. I think ads might be quite effective. They sell everything else. Why not liberty?
People read billboards, listen to radio, and watch TV. Precious few read white papers.