Not to get all Dale Carnegie on you, but as we hash out this defund ObamaCare debate, it’s important that we strive to understand the other guy — what he’s thinking — what’s in it for him.
In some cases, when we put ourselves in the other guy’s shoes, we discover (usually to our dismay!) that the other guy is just doing precisely what we would do were we in his shoes. This understanding usually serves to foster a more civil debate and to make us better able to defend our own positions.
The good news is that two prominent bloggers — representing disparate wings of the conservative commentariat — have written about “the disconnect” today. This is helpful.
Let’s begin with the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, who explains the disparity between what’s good for conservative media’s ratings and page views versus what’s good for a Republican party worried about winning national elections:
“Even if you are among the top radio talk show hosts, you may get 10 or 15 million listeners, less than 10 percent of the presidential electorate. The idea that they are representative of the electorate as a whole, the GOP as a whole, or even all conservatives is silly. Their audience is intense but tiny in electoral terms.”
In other words, being a wildly successful conservative media personality requires convincing just a sliver of the population to passionately love you. How could this arrangement not result in demagogues? Different incentives will almost always give us different results.
While Rubin writes about the disconnect between conservative media and the broader electorate, RedState’s Erick Erickson writes about the disconnect between grassroots conservatives and the establishment. And I think he helps us understand why a lot of great Americans are fed up with politics as usual, and hungry for some straight talk:
“A lady called my radio show Wednesday night. She and her family are already feeling the effects of Obamacare. During the 2012 election she was frustrated because she did not think Republicans were willing to fully prosecute the case against Obamacare. After the election, she felt they’d given up completely. She gave up because they gave up.
This fight has given her hope. It’s the first hope she and many others have had — a hope that the GOP hasn’t given up. Consequently, she is really angry at the pundits and analysts she likes because of how dismissive they seem of the one action the GOP has done that gives her hope.”
Now, you might dismiss this as fostering false hope. But it is, at least, hope. And that’s not nothing. Conservative opinion leaders who are skeptical of the defund ObamaCare must take great care to avoid alienating Americans who are desperate for a glimmer of hope.
Likewise, conservative politicians and media personalities should avoid misleading and manipulating credulous Americans who are understandably vulnerable as they witness the America they know and love slip away from them. In other words, don’t be evil.