The American people have become addicted to constant stimulus. They sit in front of televisions with a laptop in front of them, fast-forwarding through the commercials and surfing the internet or updating facebook at the slightest lull in the action. Phones are whipped out for even a short wait in a line. Fiction writers know that long descriptions or meandering scenes are the kiss of death. The reader will put the book down and turn back to the computer or television. There is so much competition for people's attention, that the ability to filter and tune-out has become required.
In such an environment, politics is boiled down to "high concept" slogans, that require no understanding and no painful thinking to absorb. The left has been winning this rhetoric war. One reason is that the "stories" of the left are quick and easy and resonate more. This is not because they are more true. It is because people like them and believe them when they hear them. The "stories" on the right tend toward icky things like responsibility and economics, and religion and duty. The stories of the left are popular tropes, like "the underdog fighting against powerful evil". That one works for them, even when they are the ones with the power.
The stories don't have to be true. They just have to be appealing and make the receiver feel good about the slogan-spouters or about themselves.
I'm not sure why libertarians/convervatives are so much worse at creating these appealing "narratives". Certainly a majority of the chattering classes are on the left, by huge margins. But even fiction writers are overwhelmingly leftist - which you can tell by the stories. A writer's world view always comes through in the worlds she constructs. I suspect that there is something about people who are so strongly attracted to "story" that makes it likely for them to end up leftist. Leftists avoid dealing with principles of logic and economics; they prefer airy symbolism and appeals to primitive emotions, like class warfare. Effective stories are all about appeals to deep emotion.
We need to work on the stories. Even if there are more leftist storytellers, they don't have them all. We should look at the stories that libertarians and convervatives have to tell, polish them, develop them. Come up with some high concept lines that work, and use them - over and over and over again. Learn from the left.
As a small start, let's take the "war on ..." tropes. The "Republican War on Women" was infuriatingly stupid and had almost no truth to it whatsoever. But it worked with the low-info voters it was designed for.
So let's come up with some new "War" messages.
- "Democrat War on Business" - I don't think this one would work. Too much of the population has absorbed the anti-business rhetoric of the left.
- "Democrat War on the Economy" - too awkward and abstract.
- "Democrat War on Jobs" - this one works for me. "Jobs" has a positive connotation, and everybody wants more jobs.
- "Democrat War on Prosperity" - I like this one too. "Prosperity" applies to the whole country, but also pulls in echoes of the war on those who are prosperous.
- "Democrat War on Success" - I don't think this one works. I don't think people will buy it.
- "Democrat War on American Values" - this feels true, but it's not catchy enough, and would be resisted by people who identify with the left.
- "Democrat War on the Productive Sector" - awkward and wordy.
- "Democrat War on Work" - I like this one too. It pulls in the issues of encouraging dependency in the population.
So the winners for me are "Democrat War on Jobs", "Democrat War on Prosperity", and "Democrat War on Work".
Other votes, or other candidates for Democrat wars?