The Low Info Express

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Happy New Year!  We’ve gone over the fiscal cliff, thanks to the capable leadership of President Barack Obama.  It was just a tiny pipe dream when Democratic senator Patty Murray urged it a couple of months ago.  Now, it’s a reality.

Republicans have been pretty miserable in the midst of this journey.  Fingers have been pointed at Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.  But who could blame them when the real problem is the weight of public opinion?  Polls showing the public blaming Republicans more than the White House tell us all we need to know.

Among conservatives, the calls for more backbone and a greater articulation of ideas continue.  But Democrats will maintain leverage as long as “low information voters” are in their corner.  They’ve got the bully pulpit and the media.  Meanwhile, the majority of  Americans continue to be concerned with less . . . pressing things.  How can conservatives rally to get America out of its bind?

I was inspired by the simplicity of a book I received as a gift over Christmas: Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions by Gregory Koukl.  If you’ve followed this blog you know that I freely mix politics and apologetics.  I’m not a fan of preaching to the choir, or of drawing out the secret army of people who think like me.  Rather, I take the long view in hoping to persuade others as to their basic beliefs.

As you can surmise from the title, Tactics is primarily about having discussions with others.  What’s striking about Greg Koukl’s approach is that the goal is modest.  When he engages someone in conversation, he’s not out to completely change their views in a half hour.  Rather, he wants to jump start their thought process, or put a stone in their shoe, as he so often says.  After all, most people have not sat down and thought through their most basic beliefs.

Whether it’s politics or religion, the majority of folks are not staunchly rooted in one camp of belief, but are just content to go along for the ride.  Epitomizing these are the low information voters who ushered in President Obama’s second term with all its fallout.

The long slog that conservatives should embrace is the everyday task of gently questioning their neighbors’ assumptions.  This is something that comes on all fronts, from the messages of movies watched and songs listened to, to expectations of government and understandings of human nature.  It helps to be studied up on history and statistics, but even someone with incomplete knowledge, when armed with the right outlook and simple tools of logic, can make a real difference.

On this New Year’s Day, I’d like to propose a toast for a more carefully thought-through 2013.

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Return of Taxosaurus Rex

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I was compelled to illustrate some sort of combed-over neck-biting dinosaur after I heard my local morning commute talk host share this bit of candor from Chris Matthews.

To break it down: after a Republican House member tells the difficulties of the fiscal cliff negotiations and of his own hope for comprehensive tax reform, Chris Matthews rebuffs with what amounts to a lurid confession of his own gut feeling.  He motions with clawed finger at his own neck and speaks of his fellow liberals, “they want to see the bite mark on your neck” and “they want to know that you guys defending the rich have paid a price.”

This post-election bloodlust is entirely consistent with what we saw in the 2012 campaign.  From the White House on down, the Left has little regard for the fiscal or cultural health of the country.  Rather, the fires of antipathy must be continually stoked, against the Tea Party, against outmoded geezers pointing to the original meaning of the Constitution, against anyone who would stop the feel good parade that happily coincides with Democratic politicians’ hunger for influence and power.

Please remember this the next time some distasteful news come out of Washington: Conservatives, through the Republican party, want to put an end to this gross manipulation.  Honestly, rolling government spending back to manageable levels does not stem from a desire to bite the neck of food stamp recipients.

Liberals like Matthews would rather keep afloat the long-failed fantasy of big government activism.  Enough elites are sympathetic to this vision to keep it from dying its natural death.  And as long as that is the case, we will all continue to be hurt by the avenging claws of Taxosaurus Rex.

The Wizard of Bogeyman Narratives

Yahoo News has thrown up (in the fullest sense of the term) a piece by Chris Moody on Grover Norquist.  It’s accompanied by a gaudy, melodramatic illustration that’s more at home disgracing the cover of the now defunct liberal siren Newsweek.  But if by invoking The Wizard of Oz imagery Yahoo wants to claim squatter rights to that niche, that’s fine by me.

Here’s a painful point of Moody’s text:

But Norquist is like a bearded Lernaean Hydra, which grows only more powerful the more you attack it. The evidence? A majority of Republicans have not publicly joined the rogue moderates, reinforcing the narrative that they remain under Norquist’s binding spell.

Where is this “narrative” coming from?  Perhaps Mr. Moody is describing an out-of-body experience, because it is media that drive narratives, and he is very much a part of that enterprise.

That Republicans don’t budge on their no tax pledge is a point even Chuck Todd can understand.  There is an electoral base that must be answered to.  And no, these constituents to whom congressmen are accountable are not drooling, rabid, or themselves cult followers of a giant, green, bearded head.  Some segment of the population even finds their demands sensible.

Of course, it hurts the noggins of liberal journalists too much to try to draft anything other than “GOP beholden to extremist” pieces.  They could try an expose on Michael Moore, who recently touted–under delusion–a strong re-election mandate as a justification for President Obama to lead a righteous charge off of the fiscal cliff.  But then again, journalists are supposed to target powerful and relevant voices.

Our media corps’ oblivious lopsidedness is the price of the free market, where people with big soft hearts–and reasoning most often just as soft– funnel into a self-selecting army that’s out to change the world.  Thankfully there are today many means of recourse to soft pieces like Yahoo’s Norquist essay.

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