Communicating a progressive worldview requires telling a story and countering the “Nobel Lies,” or beliefs, from the CWCs (conservatives without conscience) with facts.
For progressives to win back the “biconceptuals,” who are typically referred to as “independents” and recently supported Republicans in the 2010 election but supported Democrats in 2008, we need both the story, or progressive narrative, and the facts which require the progressive narrative.
Don’t even bother trying to convert the hardcore CWCs. Their strict-father, authoritarian, upbringing has almost totally turned off their natural ability to empathize with others. CWCs are almost totally about me and believe every individual is on their own and totally responsible for whatever circumstance they find themselves in. CWCs don’t understand “systemic causation.”
Part of most progressive narratives is caring for others – of all kinds. Progressives are about ‘we.’ Progressives have grown up in a protective and empowering family environment and have kept their empathy in tact. Some progressives have even grown their ability to empathize and put their beliefs into a life’s work – think Mother Theresa.
To highlight this ‘we/me’ gulf between progressives and CWCs, remember the campaign slogan from the 2010 Obama team – “Yes We Can.” Contrast this with a poster on the radio set for Glenn Beck that I saw recently – “Yes I Can.”
As for the biconceptuals, their ability to empathize or demonize is dependent on the stronger narrative. When the CWCs control and define the narrative, think dog whistles, the biconceptuals can’t understand stand-alone progressive facts, that are randomly and inconsistently mentioned by progressives, and instead, they either don’t vote or vote with the CWCs. When progressives control or define the narrative, biconceptuals understand the facts, dismiss the CWC beliefs, and vote progressive. Their swing votes have made the difference in the last two national elections. The stronger narrative has been the key to their votes.
During discussions between progressives, they all get the facts. They understand, without saying it, the narrative behind the facts. Biconceptuals, however, need to be reminded of the progressive narrative before they can accept the facts. For them, the progressive narrative, which still exists in their brains, can easily be turned off by the infinitely repeated (and thus stronger), fear based (even stronger), CWC narrative – think “death panels” and how we almost didn’t get a national health care law. The progressive narrative can also be turned back on with sufficient repetition of the progressive narrative.
My favorite bumper sticker is still, “Fearful People Do Stupid Things.” This includes voting for CWCs as exemplified by the 2010 election and all the new Tea Party member in our new Congress. Biconceptuals have been scared stupid by the CWC narratives.
So, to get biconceptuals to accept political facts, a progressive narrative must be added to the conversation which reconnects them to their ability to empathize. Over the last two years, they have have been scared out of caring for others. Help them re-activate their ability to empathize. Tell a personal story of empathy that makes the facts obvious and dismisses the CWC beliefs.
You can try using empathetic narratives on the hardcore, “double high” authoritarian, CWCs, but they will either start yelling at you, unholster their gun, or just say yes to put a stop to what they consider an ‘insane’ dialog.